Thursday, May 16, 2019 marks the 8th anniversary of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD was started on Joe Devon’s blog in 2011 to improve awareness of digital accessibility. Celebrate GAAD with us this year by following @gbla11yday on Twitter and tweet using the #gaad hashtag. Don’t forget to check out the GAAD Facebook page too! 

There are many different ways that you can participate in GAAD, including attending a public or virtual event, contributing directly to a digital accessibility effort (such as captioning a video), and by checking out the compiled OLC resources below.

Man interacting with computer using assistive technology
Man interacting with computer using assistive technology
Hands typing on Braille keyboard
Eye tracking system
Eye tracking system

According to the US Census Bureau (2018):
40.7 million people live with a disability in the United States. They represent 12.8% of the civilian non-institutionalized population.

Have you ever wondered what digital accessibility means?  GAAD invites you to take an hour and try some of the activities below to experience the impact of digital accessibility on persons with disabilities: 

  1. Go Mouseless For An Hour
  2. Enlarge Your Fonts
    In Chrome, go to Settings > Appearance; In Firefox, go to Options > Language and Appearance; In Microsoft Edge, go to Settings > Reading; In Internet Explorer, go to Settings > Accessibility > Click “Ignore font sizes specified on web page”
  3. Check for Sufficient Color Contrast
    Try using a contrast analyzer, such as the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker or download this one from The Paciello Group.
  4. Check the Order of Elements
    Navigate through a page using only the TAB key to see whether the order of page elements is logical.
  5. Surf The Web With A Screen Reader For An Hour
    Try the free screen reader: NonVisual Desktop Access (NVDA).
    Mac users can enable VoiceOver.

A full list of activities can be found at

Revisit Resources from OLC/WCET’s Year of Accessibility

In 2018, OLC and WCET initiated the Year of Accessibility to raise awareness among their members and to gather further information. OLC and WCET began partnering on a series of blog posts, webcasts, and conference sessions addressing accessibility issues in digital learning. In addition, OLC and WCET surveyed their members to obtain additional information about the state of accessibility at member colleges and universities. Based on the results, the two organizations plan to continue the partnership to meet member needs and better serve our student population.


Web Accesibility and ComplianceDesigning for Web AccessibilityStrategic Planning for Web AccessibilityLEARNER USER EXPERIENCE DESIGN

Blog Posts:

  • Digital Accessibility: The Partnership between Vendors and Institutions – Kelly Hermann, Vice President of Accessibility, Equity & Inclusion at the University of Phoenix, offers several steps and considerations to keep in mind when it comes to vetting potential partners and learning more about their approach to accessibility. (Hermann, 2019)
  • The Role of Procurement in Digital Accessibility – Cyndi Rowland, Executive Director of WebAIM, outlines five actionable steps that should help you stop digging deeper, and help you get out of an accessibility hole, in part, through accessible procurements. (Rowland, 2018)
  • Accessibility & Procurement: What do we need to know? – It often feels like there are many more questions about accessibility than there are answers. This is especially true when it comes to deciding which content, tools and/or products we are going to bring to campus and use in our courses. (Hermann, 2018)

On-Demand Webinars:

  • Accessibility in Courses and Services: The Exploration Begins – This webcast kicks-off a series of jointly-sponsored events and activities focused on accessibility issues. We begin with a conversation about common questions we hear about serving those with disabilities and the far-reaching benefits that accrue from doing so.
  • The Language of Accessibility – During this webinar, accessibility and disability services experts will share the common terms we use and explain what they mean as well as provide tips, strategies and resources so our colleagues across the campus can ask thoughtful questions, make reasonable requests and demonstrate their commitment to access and inclusion for all learners.
  • Web Accessibility: Trick or Treat? – There are no federal regulations to guide efforts and it feels like a giant guessing game with multiple right answers and no clear indication of what will protect the institution from a lawsuit or federal complaint. This panel of “been there, done that” experts will share their tricks, tips and strategies for making accessibility a treat, and a little less scary.

Other OLC Resources

Online Workshops

Take your awareness of digital accessibility a step further by completing the OLC Accessibility Badge, or join OLC for an upcoming accessibility workshop this summer:

White Paper

  • Access and Accessibility in Online Learning: Issues in Higher Education and K-12 Contexts – Accessibility in K-12 and higher education is becoming an increasingly complex terrain to traverse as schools increase online materials and instructional delivery options. This white paper provides an overview of critical terms, legal precedents, and other considerations for course designers, instructors, and administrators as they work to improve the educational experiences of learners with disabilities. (McAlvage & Rice, 2018)

Blog Posts

  • Insights from the Field: Crafting a Shared Vision for Web Accessibility – Wendy MacColl, OLC Institute faculty for the Strategic Planning for Web Accessibility online workshop, joins us to answer our questions about the importance of having a strategic plan when tackling this important issue. (Garrett, 2019)
  • When We Talk About Accessibility – Online Network of Educators – When we talk about accessibility, we’re talking about more than regulations and statistics. We’re talking about our choices to exclude or include, to deny or provide access, to divide or unify. We can come closer to our shared ideal of open access education by design. (Glapa-Grossklag, 2018)