As the CEO of a group of companies that specialize solely in accessibility solutions, I can say with pride and certainty that the GAAD Foundation remains a constant source of inspiration for us all.
Moreover, as we all prepare to celebrate the 11th annual GAAD on May 19, we must recognize the tremendous impact the GAAD Foundation continues to make on advancements in digital accessibility. In particular, we acknowledge and thank Joe Devon and Jennison Asuncion for their dedication to growing this event year over year. Their commitment over the past decade to driving change within technology development to include accessibility as a core requirement results in a better world for more than one billion disabled people globally.
Providing equitable access to individuals with disabilities should be everyone’s mission—and we look forward to participating in transforming that awareness into real action. But what constitutes real action? Though I’m sure there are many interpretations, I like to focus on how organizations and end-users interact with technology.
As the digital age continues to evolve exponentially, many organizations struggle to ensure that their customers, partners, and team members connect in ways like never before.
Making it easier for organizations to create an inclusive environment, complete with equitable access for all and without barriers to entry, is where real action becomes tangible.
Here begins the definition and scope of what “digital technology” truly means. First, of course, websites play a big part in all of it. The worldwide web is the primary driver and source for global communication and access to information. But there is far more. Customer portals, intranets, mobile apps, business systems, kiosks—all these digital interfaces represent a world where equitable access is also a necessity. In these cases, partaking in digital accessibility audits to address all digital properties is a significant first step in transforming awareness into action.
However, the forward-facing aspects of digital interaction are only one side of the proverbial coin. Addressing inadequacies in websites is one thing, but what about the hundreds of thousands of documents residing within digital properties? For every website, intranet and portal, there are PDFs with information, forms, account data, etc.
Therefore, addressing the entirety of the digital world is where additional advancements in technology shine through. The introduction of Artificial Intelligence is becoming a game-changer for organizations to scan and fix documents at any scale—again, the action that we all wish to see. Because, in the end, it’s about representing the human element, making tangible action a rewarding outcome for all.
Lastly, as we continue to inch past the global health crisis, I look forward to seeing everyone and returning to in-person international GAAD events and more.
There is a bright and exciting future on the horizon—let’s all work together to share that future with everyone.