May 15 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)! GAAD was created a few years ago by Jennison Asuncion and Joe Devon as an annual opportunity for people everywhere to try to see through the eyes of a disabled user of technology. This can mean anything from using your computer for an hour without a mouse or trackpad, to muting the television while you’re playing a game. You’ll notice quickly that while some media is perfectly easy to consume, some can be very frustrating. What’s more, often the most frustrating media could have easily been made accessible if the developer had simply thought ahead.

That’s why GAAD was specifically created for design and development communities—those who “build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use.” The idea was to give designers some easy and memorable lessons in accessible design. However, GAAD provides an excellent opportunity for all technology users; you don’t need to be a designer to learn something about disabilities.

Here are some more ideas for awareness activities:

  • Adjust the contrast on your screen so that the colors are black and white, or nearly black and white.
  • Play a game with only one hand.
  • Try using the Internet with a screen reader. Windows users, check out NVAccess, Mac users can use their computer’s built-in reader VoiceOver. Then turn off your computer screen altogether and just listen to the vocal instructions from the reader.
  • Increase your computer’s font size and see how your favorite websites handle the change.

To learn more, be sure to visit the official GAAD website or Twitter.

Want to learn about how game developers are embracing accessibility? Stay tuned to Pixelkin for an article on Accessibility Jam later this week.

This article was written by

Courtney is Pixelkin's Associate Managing Editor. While working with the Girl Scouts of Northern California, she mentored young girls in teamwork, leadership, personal responsibility, and safety. Today, she spends her time studying adolescent development and using literary analysis techniques to examine video games.