This week, we’ll share local happenings and resources so that you get inspired. Accessibility awareness is all around you, right underneath you, and right down the street.

The set-up

Our team is stationed all around Planet Earth. That’s right, we’re global! We’re also people who care deeply about accessibility and inclusion, and we put our money where our mouths are every damn day. We want to invite you along for the journey.

The vision

For this year’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), each one of us will be going to represent our hometowns and share with you how we’re celebrating GAAD. Think of us as your friendly, neighbourhood street reporters, drumming up some awareness wherever we live. Where’s that? Glad you asked! Our team: Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Seattle, Hawaii, England, Scotland, Australia, New York City, the Phillipines, Kentucky, and more! This week, we’ll share local happenings and resources so that you get inspired. Accessibility awareness is all around you, right underneath you, and right down the street. Check out some of our team’s plans for a homegrown GAAD 2016. Let’s start with our Wonder from Down Under, Julie Grundy, where the morning has already arrived!

Julie Grundy – Perth, Western Australia

Kangaroo crossing road sign in Perth, Australia

This year for Global Accessibility Awareness Day I’m doing something new: I’m hosting an A11y Bytes event in Perth. I belong to a great accessibility meetup group who get together for breakfast once a month, and we host an annual Accessibility Camp as a small, casual conference. But a lot of people can’t make it to a breakfast meetup or the camp, so I’ve been looking for ways to do some evening events. Sarah Pulis has been organizing the A11y Bytes events on GAAD for a few years now in Sydney and Melbourne, and I asked if Perth could join in. We’ve got local experts talking about document accessibility and demonstrating how people with vision impairments use screen reader software. We’ve also got developers from Seamless and Humaan showing how they’ve improved the accessibility of their carousel and modal plugins. I’m hoping people enjoy themselves and learn about how they could use their own skills to remove barriers in the way of everyone using the web!

Stuart Ashworth – Glasgow, Scotland

The Clyde Arc in Glasgow, Scotland at night

To generate a little hometown awareness, I posed a couple of questions to the web developer Slack groups I’m part of. A web designer friend had some interesting perspectives to share.

 

Why do you think websites aren’t often developed with an “accessible-first” mindset, in the same way there is a definite “mobile-first” mindset at the moment?

  • Some designers think of accessible design as something that will curb their creativity, and that accessibility equates to simple and boring designs.
  • The natural habit of designing for ourselves takes over to some extent. We all have mobile phones, so it’s easy to design for that user, the visibility of the use-case is big. We don’t all have disabilities that hinder our use of the web and so it’s harder to relate to what is required to make a website accessible.
  • It’s easy to justify “mobile-first” to bosses—you can tell them X% of users are using mobiles, so if we cater to them we can sell £Y more products. It’s much harder to quantify the benefits of accessible design and unfortunately that makes it harder to get signoff for budget/time to spend on it.

These are the kinds of objections we in the accessibility community face all the time. The good news is, we’re not phased by any of them and have incredible content that addresses each one. There’s Nic’s great post on thinking inclusively, which, if anything, calls for more creativity than less. And we’ve got Devon’s awesome keyboard accessibility for mobile post and tutorial, which shows us how to think accessibility-first and mobile-first at the same time! And we’ve got Elle’s impassioned call to action about making the business case for accessibility.

Jeff Smith – Amherst, NS

Downtown Amherst, Nova Scotia. A view of the Baptist Church and court house

My area (Cumberland County) in Nova Scotia has a lot of playgrounds for kids, but none of them are accessible. Most have climbing structures surrounded with sand or pea gravel that may prevent access for children and parents with disabilities.

Last fall, the Nova Scotia government announced it would be supporting the construction of a “natural accessible playground” in Springhill, Nova Scotia. Not only will this playground provide access to children with disabilities, but parents with disabilities will be able to play with their kids. I’m incredibly excited to see our provincial government recognizing the need to support physical access in the recreational space. This is more important than ever, given our culture’s shift toward less active lifestyles.

Additionally, the Nova Scotia government introduces the province’s first accessibility legislation this year. I’ve been in touch with my local Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), Terry Farrell to find out more about the physical and digital access initiatives he’ll be supporting during the crafting of the legislation. I’ll report back this week when I connect with him!

An illustrated globe with humans all floating around it, hands raised in unison

Stay tuned for more SA updates across the globe. We’re going surfing, we’re visiting historic printing houses, and we’re hanging out with the makers and talkers in our towns; you don’t want to miss what’s next! In honor of this year’s GAAD 2016 celebration, remember that from East to West, beach to hills, and everywhere in between… accessibility is right where you are.