9 May 2013 marks the 2nd annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (#GAAD). The day is dedicated to getting people talking, thinking and learning about digital accessibility (web, software, mobile, etc.) and users with different disabilities.
While the target audience of GAAD is primarily the design, development, usability and related communities, the events are open to anybody who may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by all.
Events around Australia
A number of events will be held across Australia in support of GAAD:
- The Melbourne Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design meet-up will be holding lightning talks on 9 May at 6.00pm.
- A11Y Bytes will be holding lightning talks in Sydney 9 May at 6pm.
- The Brisbane Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design meet-up will be holding lightning talks on 9 May at 6pm.
- The Canberra Web Accessibility & Inclusive Design meet-up will be holding lightning talks on 9 May at 5.30pm.
On 9 May 2013 I encourage you all to get involved. Attend one of the events and take part in the discussions on Twitter or Facebook to help spread the message of inclusion.
Also, experience the impact of digital accessibility first-hand by taking an hour out of your day and trying one of the following activities:
Unplug the mouse and use only your keyboard
Take a look at some of the guides below and then try to use some of your favourite websites using only the keyboard
- How to Use Your Computer Without a Mouse
- Back to Basics: Learn to Use Keyboard Shortcuts Like a Ninja
- How to Use Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts
Turn off your monitor and browse the web with a screen reader
People who are blind or vision impaired can used technology call a ‘Screen reader’ to use their computer or browse the web. A screen reader is a text-to-speech application that reads out what appears on the screen to the user.
WebAnywhere is a screen reader that can be used by simply visiting a website in your browser. To try WebAnywhere follow these steps:
- Visit http://wa.cs.washington.edu.
- If it doesn’t start automatically, select the ‘start WebAnywhere’ link at the top of the page.
- Use the search box at the top of the page to type in a website address and go to a different website.
- Turn off your monitor and try browsing websites using only WebAnywhere and your keyboard.
You can use the following shortcut keys to interact with WebAnywhere:
- CTRL – silence WebAnywhere and pause the system.
- CTRL-L – move the cursor to the location box where you can type a URL to visit.
- Arrow Down – read the next element on the page.
- Arrow Up – read the previous element on the page.
- TAB – skip to the next link or form control.
- CTRL-H – skip to the next heading.
- CTRL-I – skip to the next input element.
- CTRL-R – skip to the next row by cell when in a table.
- CTRL-D – skip to the next column by cell when in a table.
- Page Down – read continuously from the current position.
- Home – read continuously, starting over from the beginning of the page.
Experiment with accessibility features on your mobile device
The Windows 7 Operating System has a number of built-in accessibility features, as does the Mac Operating System. iPhone, Android, and BlackBerry devices. Take some time to explore the features and try them out.
iPhone users can also take a look at Five Great Ways To Use Accessibility Features For Your Own Benefit, Even If You Don’t Have A Disability for an overview of accessibility features on Apple devices.
Watch videos of people using Assistive Technologies
Take a look at these videos of people using various Assistive Technologies
- How Blind People Use The ATM – YouTube
- Enable – People with Disabilities & Computers (6 Parts)
- Using a screen reader with the J K Rowling Harry Potter website
- Running blind: How Simon Wheatcroft uses his iPhone to see
Try disability simulators
VisionSim for Android and VisionSim for iPhone/iPad (free mobile apps) see the world through the eyes of a person experiencing one of nine degenerative eye diseases including: macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts.
- Colour Blindness Simulator (online)
- Color Oracle (for PC and Mac)
- WebAIM Dyslexia Simulation (online)
- WebAIM Low Vision Simulation (online)
- WebAIM Distractibility Simulation
- What’s it like to be visually impaired?
Test colour contrast using the Colour Contrast Analyser
The colour contrast between some text and its background is one of the easiest things to test. Give it a go by downloading the Colour Contrast Analyser Tool, and following the instructions for using the Colour Contrast Analyser available on the Vision Australia website.
Share your experiences
Let us know how you felt, the things you learnt and share your overall GAAD experience by either leaving a comment on this post, tweeting using #GAAD or by posting on the Global Accessibility Awareness Day Facebook Page