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Accessibility in the 21st Century: Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Person using a desktop computer and braille display.

What do voice recognition, speech-to-text, text-to-speech, and audiobooks have in common? Each of these applications was created to overcome a barrier to communication. Accessible technology ensures that content and information are available to everyone.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) encourages the development of accessible technology (i.e., technology that removes physical or cognitive barriers). GAAD is observed annually on the third Thursday of May. This year, May 18, 2023, marks the 12th anniversary of the world’s commitment to placing accessibility first in the development of technology. The number of people who use accessible technology shows that accessibility issues could impact you or someone you know.

An estimated 1.3 billion people, approximately 16% of the world’s population, have an impairment or a medical limitation, or both. The most common limitations include hearing, vision, cognition, and mobility. The most common accessibility issues include:

  1. Inappropriate navigation links
  2. Data tables not adequately marked for screen readers
  3. Insufficient color contrast
  4. Inaccuracy or absence of text alternatives for images
  5. Illogical sequence of interactive elements
  6. Missing Web Accessibility Initiative- Accessible Rich Internet Application (WAI- ARIA).
  7. Lack of keyboard accessibility for screen readers
  8. Missing or vague link text
  9. Forms that do not comply with web content accessibility guidelines

Failure to make technology accessible directly impacts the National Institute of Health’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. To join the world on GAAD, please visit the GAAD Foundation’s webpage at Sign up for one or more of its 19 events to discover how we all benefit from accessible technology.

To learn more about the regulations governing the accessibility of federal electronic information products, visit: If you use special adaptive equipment to access the Internet and encounter problems when using our site, please email the office at: and we will provide the information to you in an alternate format. Lastly, check EDI’s upcoming training page for available courses on Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act.

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