Global Accessibility Awareness Day, 15 May

Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the whole idea started from one single blog and its now in its 2nd year. I’ve already lost count of the number of Tweets (#GAAD), interesting articles, webinars, marketing content and infographics that have been published today to mark the occasion and half the world is just getting to work!

There are 2 questions about Global Accessibility Awareness Day that I have been asked today.

1) Why does accessibility require its own ‘global awareness’ day? 2) What are UK communicators doing to ensure they are providing accessible information to diverse audiences?

I think the answer to number 1) is reasonably straightforward. According to the UN there are an estimated 1 billion disabled people in the world – disability takes on lots of different forms, the definition is broad.

In fact, 285 million people in the world have some kind of visual impairment, 39 million of whom are blind. The World Health Organisation states that 360 million people have disabling hearing loss. An estimated 10-15% of the world’s population have dyslexia and 774 million people in the world cannot read or write.

With the proliferation of digital communications, accessibility has become a global issue because disabled people are finding that they cannot easily access digital, print, audio or video communications. In our world, information — and reach — is key and I’m supporting Global Accessibility Awareness Day because I want to end ‘exclusive’ communications practices that discriminate against disabled people. I also think that whether you’re trying to reach audiences in the UK or across international borders, accessibility needs to be factored into your campaign strategies.

I’d really like to know the answer to the second question as my impression is that awareness in PR & communications about accessibility (and how to deliver it) is still lacking.

Catherine is Director of Big Voice Communications, a specialist inclusive communications consultancy advising how to ensure your communications reach the widest possible audience. Chair of CIPR’s Diversity Working Group and a member of the PRCA’s Diversity Network, Catherine was previously Director of Communications at Business Disability Forum for 7 years; leading an award-winning rebrand in 2012. 

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