alt=a variety of computer devices - laptops, desktops, tablets, phones - come together to form an eye with a globe as the iris.

Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Thursday, May 20, 2021, is the 10th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD was started to help people, especially developers, be more aware of the need for digital access and inclusion, for the more than 1 billion people with disabilities/impairments.

Digital access and inclusion

People with any disability deserve the same experience with digital products and web-based services as those without disabilities. Global Accessibility Awareness Day strives to help improve the recognition of digital access and inclusion for those of us with any kind of impairment.

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

I discovered there is actually a set of web content guidelines for this. The Web Content Accessibility  Guidelines ( WCAG ) are a set of recommendations for making web content more accessible. 98.1% of homepages have at least one WCAG failure. The most common failure being low contrast text. Something those of us with macular degeneration know only too well. 1

Many of us with vision problems have wished we could look over the shoulder of the software developers and webpage designers as they work. Our suggestions might help them understand what is needed to allow easier access.

Accessibility apps and keyboard shortcuts

In celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I’d like to share a couple of the accessibility apps and keyboard shortcuts that I’ve discovered for Windows 10, Apple, and Android. Some are built into our devices, and others need to be downloaded, with some free and others requiring payment. A couple has been suggested as helpful to those of us with declining vision, a few I have tried myself and some my blind friend has used.

Voice Over

Voice Over, comes built-in on Apple devices. It’s one of the easiest to set up and use, giving audible descriptions of what’s on your screen. It’s easily accessed by asking Siri, or tapping your device. You can also adjust the speaking rate.

Microsoft Edge

On a PC, Microsoft Edge has a built-in screen reader easily accessed by right-clicking your mouse. Or use the Windows application menu (shift key + F10), then select 'Read Aloud'. You may need the magnifier app to find “read aloud”.

Screen readers

Different brands of android phones have different names for their screen readers. Samsung has a voice assistant, Amazon has voice view, Google pixel is the android accessibility suite. They all have similar features.

Be My Eyes

Be My Eyes is an amazing free app for both IOS and Android that anyone with vision problems would find helpful.  It allows you to connect with a sighted volunteer through a live video connection. There is no limit on how often you’re able to use this. It’s available in multiple languages.

I watched a video where a woman with low vision had a volunteer choose the colour of the thread she needed! My friend with 2% vision has downloaded this app but has not used it yet. She showed it to her son who was very impressed and signed on as a volunteer.

Other helpful tools

Other helpful apps worth checking out might include: Seeing AI, useful for identifying faces, reading “snail mail,” even recognizing faces among other things. Tap Tap See utilizes your device's camera and voice-over functions to take a picture or video of anything. Then it identifies it out loud for you. Color ID Free, is a colour identifier.

There are so many new and helpful programs, applications, and devices to help those of us with declining vision. Global Accessibility Awareness Day will hopefully remind those supplying us with the information we want and need to make it more easily accessible.

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