On the 3rd Thursday of May, we encourage designers, developers, usability professionals, and everyone else to take an hour to experience first-hand the impact of digital accessibility (or lack thereof).

The GAAD Foundation gratefully acknowledges Jennifer Smith for getting in touch and offering to update this page’s content.

Turn Awareness to Action

More people are learning about access and inclusion thanks to Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). Next, we can move from awareness to action with some simple steps no matter what industry or role you have. Everyone can play a part in the community as we are stronger together.

The following tips can help you jump start or help create your own ideas. So, pick one thing, dive in and act.

  1. Watch a Disability Awareness video. There are a lot to choose from both online and offline. To begin, here’s a 3-minute Disability Sensitivity video that has an audio described version, too.
  2. Read about updated disability language. This is a great Disability Style Guide from the National Center on Disability and Journalism. Or, check out the book Demystifying Disability by Emily Ladau.
  3. Incorporate your newfound knowledge into daily life. Once you’re ready for more, choose a topic from the following sections to journey onward. One step today leads to another and another.

If you’re a subject matter expert, look no further than this great list of actionable ideas for GAAD.

Make Social Media More Inclusive

Almost everyone has a social media account, and this is a great place to dig in. Learn to create flexible social media posts so they adapt no matter how we consume content. Ready…set…go:

  • Add Image & Video Descriptions
    • Descriptions give info about the image or video in different formats. They also help people with vision disabilities and online search engines access the content! The more technical terms are alt (alternative) text, audio descriptions, and transcripts. Depending on the content type and platform, you can add each in their own way. A simple online search can turn up recommendations for ‘how-to’ instructions.
  • Use Captions
    • Captions provide visual access to audio. This helps not only D/deaf and hard of hearing folks, but also people who aren’t native speakers of your language. Most people default to viewing social media with the sound off—that’s 83% in the U.S. alone! Captions also help with auditory processing and improve comprehension. Captions for the win!
    • Edit captions when you can. While auto-captions are a great start, they often make mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes are laughable. But most often people miss out on the true message, or worse…read demeaning or harmful content. Many tools that create auto captions allow users to edit them in a flash.
    • Understandable captions. There is no strict rule. But, when text is too small, big, variable or fast, our minds work harder to keep up. If you don’t want people to miss things or skip your post, sans-serif, medium sized fonts are best. Keep the caption flow at a readable pace. This helps folks with hearing and learning disabilities or who are non-native speakers. This also helps when people simply have the sound turned off. Here’s a great guide to readable captions that can help.
  • Make Text Readable
    • Plain language. Posts are hard to read when you use too much jargon or fill them with back-to-back hashtags and emojis. This content is unreadable for most people, including folks who use assistive technologies. Improve your content by:
      • putting hashtags at the end. Also capitalize the first letter of each word like #DigitalAccessibility.
      • keeping emojis to a minimum.
      • removing extra spaces or tabs to format text layout.
    • Contrast of text color and the background is essential. This makes your post readable for people with vision issues or where there is poor lighting. Steer clear of things like white text on pale backgrounds. Instead, either have the text or background be light and the other be dark. Search for ‘contrast checker’ to find your favorite one that works for your set of tools.
  • Use Diverse Images
    • Highlight disability and add representation. If you run a social media account or use stock collections, be thoughtful about images. Don’t just paste in a pic of a model sitting in a hospital wheelchair. Fold in real people using sign language, mobility aids, white canes, hearing aids, and more. Getty Images and “Disabled and Here” offer diverse libraries that include people who aren’t well represented in advertising and media.
  • Learn from the Community
    • Disabled creators are online sharing free resources and their lived experiences. Engaging with their conversations, events, and activities helps you grow in your practice. Listen to access challenges. Understand how to navigate and adapt. Celebrate wins in achieving inclusion. These spark more knowledge and understanding for us all.
  • Double check.
    • People may consume your post without seeing, hearing, or using other senses. This could be due to multi-tasking, broken tech or a disability (both permanent and temporary). If you re-watch your video with sound off, or read only the text of the post without the picture, does it still make sense? Adjust as needed so info isn’t provided only through one sense like sound or sight.

Social Media Pro Tips

Go deeper with It includes guides, glossaries, and platform updates. It also has help to take you to the next level in accessible social media.

Inclusive Events and Meetings

Communication & Registration

Accessibility starts from the moment you begin planning. An inclusive event means people with diverse needs know if, how, and when they can request what they need.

  • Language and terminology. With our needs as diverse as our spectrum of humanity, so is the language we embrace to communicate. Refer to a reliable guide, like the Disability Style Guide. This helps create inclusive messaging throughout your event.
  • Accessible Registration & Communication. Use accessible content to share information and register attendees. Accessible forms, emails and videos also adapt to support busy, distracted travelers. This allows folks to outline their needs in a way that lets everyone know they’re welcome.
    • Event accommodations include captions, sign language, food allergy support, and advanced walkthroughs. Also, support for personal care attendants and sensory notifications, experiences and kits. Know that each person has distinct needs.
    • Accessible communications include text alternatives in images, video captions and audio descriptions. Send attendees accessible PDFs, documents, forms and emails. If this feels like a lot to start with, use tools with built-in accessibility checkers. You don’t have to become an expert overnight. Plus, there is tons of help online to assist you with whatever you are making. And don’t forget accessible social media to help spread the news (with tips provided on this page).
    • Feedback. Get info from attendees before, during and after the event. You’ll want to know as soon as possible when things need fixing. Consistent contact methods that get to problem solvers helps everyone stay happy. And remember to make your contact/feedback loop accessible. For example, if people who are D/deaf can only call a phone number for help, they aren’t included. Use a number that allows for text messages and voice calls so you are accessible.

In Person

  • Location. When booking your space, have someone go in person to check it out. True accessibility includes working elevators, ramps, parking spaces, visible signage, and restrooms. It is also doors and halls wide enough to navigate with wheelchairs and mobility aids. Passing local building inspections doesn’t always mean it is fit for an accessible event. For example, did it consider outdoor space for service animals?
  • Staff Training. Event staff with disability etiquette knowledge can help everyone feel safe and supported. This Disability Sensitivity video helps event staff learn how to address people with disabilities. Learn when to offer help, how to speak to assistants, when to intervene for safety and much more.
  • Sound. Avoid segregating audiences by providing captions on main event screens. Also use microphones for speakers and audience questions to amplify the sound. Reserve seats at the front for people who need captions to help everyone get the most out of the session.
  • Light. As much as possible, find natural lighting or adjustable lighting to avoid fluorescents. Flashing lights and strobes are problems for a lot of folks, so avoid them, too.

Online & Hybrid

To make an in-person event truly accessible, you can open it up to online attendees and make it hybrid. The tips here also hold true for online only events.

  • Platform. An accessible platform is key as it can allow or prevent full participation. Great platforms support live captioning, blurred camera backgrounds, and adjustable layout options. They also support screen readers and other assistive technologies with accessible features. A quick web search can outline details of which platforms offer these options.
  • Moderators & Speakers. Include the full hybrid audience when sharing presentations, taking questions or holding discussions. The most inclusive folks describe what is only visible or audible to present it in many ways. This aids people who couldn’t see or hear…whether in the room or online, and whether they have a disability or not.
  • Less is more. Help people concentrate on your message. You can do this by reducing the density of content in slides and using plain language. Event support can help with reducing background noise in the room and online.
  • Help. Provide an easy way for people to get help before, during and after that doesn’t rely on them being at the event. Make helpers available to troubleshoot technical issues, and guide folks on the platform. Also provide follow-up after the event if there are lingering questions.

Want more on Events & Meetings?

You can start with this Accessible Event Guide. Also, check out the Accessibility Conference Guide to witness a lot of these tips at an event.

Bring in Disabled Speakers

While the field is growing, there is still more demand than can be filled. When looking for speakers and experts, keep these things in mind:

  • Not everyone with a disability is an expert about accessibility. They are an expert in their experience and may not want to share or speak about it. Also, when you’ve heard one person’s experience with a disability, you’ve only heard that one experience. There are others with different interpretations. Where we live, our history, opportunities, family and disability all impact our outlook. And know that no one can speak on behalf of everyone with a disability. Disability and accessibility are complex topics. Each have nuanced answers about making and building accessible experiences.
  • Value their time. Experts, influencers, and leaders don’t speak for free. It takes time to tailor presentations, travel, and prepare for events. The time used either impacts a career or other responsibilities in work and life. When making a request, come to experts with your budget, or in-kind support. If you work for a volunteer group with no funds, make your request clear. Consider asking for recommendations rather than assuming they will work for free.

Looking for some speakers?

Notable accessibility conferences around the world have great speakers to draw from. So do professional networks such as LinkedIn and local MeetUp groups. Each have their own specialized way of helping you search for the right person to fulfill your needs.

Make Accessible Digital Experiences

There are more online references than we can list on this page. But, here’s a short one to help you focus your work. With the top million website home pages in the world still inaccessible, there’s easy work to do.

  1. Contrast is essential. As mentioned earlier, contrast helps people see in poor lighting or with poor vision. Steer clear of things like white text on pale backgrounds. Instead, either have the text or background be light and the other be dark. Search for ‘contrast checker’ to find your favorite one that works for your set of tools.
  2. Images and Alternative Text. Going back to our social media tips, alternative text gives info about the image. It is also known as alt text and helps people with vision disabilities access the meaning from a graphic in text form. This decision tree can help you learn how to use it in various situations.
  3. Label Forms. Knowing what info to put into what part of a form helps us all succeed. People need guides that are visible and communicate to assistive technologies. Learn about labeling form controls to aid in building flexible forms.
  4. Link and Button Names. What you see isn’t always what you get when navigating with assistive technology. There are times when a link or button looks good on a site but doesn’t act the same when using a screen reader or other tech. Improving this isn’t rocket science. What is an accessible name? guides folks on what it is and how to fix it.
  5. Document Language. Setting a language of your page lets technology know how to translate written text. This helps auto translation tools and assistive technologies like screen readers. To learn how to use the more than 8,000 language codes, check out this document and content language article.

Dig Deeper on Digital Accessibility!

If you love learning, dig in! You can check out the Fundamentals Overview from the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Or use the MagentaA11y Checklist to apply the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). You’ll find endless creative ways to build a more inclusive digital world. And if this is your niche, there are several places to go for continuing education online:

Go beyond the top 5
  • Caption a video – 3Play Media, Vimeo, and YouTube all provide info about caption support. You can either edit auto-captions or use a transcript to help create captions.
  • Write a blog post – Share what digital accessibility is and what your actions are for improving experiences.
  • Create a demo video – Show how you use an assistive technology, then upload it to YouTube.
  • Run an accessibility checker – There are so many free tools that can test the accessibility of web pages from Accessibility Insights to WAVE. Once you run a tool on a page, take the results and put in place the suggested changes.

Buy Accessible Equipment & Software

For folks in procurement or supply chains, you can also play a role! Disability touches every part of our lives. It impacts employees, customers, and consumers in a permanent, temporary, or situational way. Buying accessible products creates more marketplace demand and provides adaptable support for everyone.

  • ICT and ACS and VPAT…Oh my! While acronyms are overwhelming, learning how to use these can take the worry away. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a term for a digital experience from software and apps to computers and more. Compliance of them is in an Accessibility Conformance Statement (ACS) or Voluntary Product Accessibility Template (VPAT). The ACS or VPAT help compare the accessibility features and issues of products you may buy.
  • Ask for it in your contracts. What better way to support accessibility than to ask for it in your scope of work or contract? This includes work with any supplier, contractor, agency, or other third-party.


Thanks to contributions of the superb worldwide community of accessibility professionals!  It takes us all working in harmony to build a more accessible world both online and in person. This is a short list of contributors whose work informed this page. You may want to follow them online for more tips, info, and tools to help you grow. Many more contributed to this page who were not named or chose to stay anonymous. Our gratitude overflows for their tireless dedication to our community.

  • Jennison Asuncion
  • Joe Devon
  • Meryl Evans
  • Catarina Rivera (a.k.a. Blindish Latina)
  • Karen Mardahl
  • Shaun Conner