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U.S. Access Board Celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day

May 20, 2024
Source: U.S. Access Board

Today, May 16, 2024, the U.S. Access Board celebrates the 13th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), a day dedicated to conversations and learning about digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities. Sachin Pavithran, Executive Director of the Board, joined fellow disability and government leaders at the White House today to celebrate GAAD and urged attendees to focus on the attitudinal changes needed to have accessibility fully realized across the globe every day.

In today’s technology driven world, accessibility is a vital component to ensure that the more than one billion people worldwide with disabilities can independently navigate digital applications and content.

[Photo Caption:] Access Board staff celebrate GAAD with leaders in accessibility, including former U.S. Representative Tony Coelho, Bernice Martin Lee, and Howard Rosenblum.

“We can put laws and regulations in place here in Washington, but full inclusion in society for people with disabilities is going to come from an attitudinal shift,” remarked Access Board Executive Director Sachin Pavithran. “People don’t connect with laws and policies–they connect with other people. That is why coming together is so critical, especially on Global Accessibility Awareness Day.”

The Access Board is an independent federal agency dedicated to accessible design for persons with disabilities and is a leading source of information on accessible design, including access to information and communication technology (ICT) under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act and Section 255 of the Communications Act. Throughout the year, Board staff routinely work to advance global accessibility of ICT.

Board staff contribute weekly to the activities of the Accessibility Guidelines Working Groups (AGWG) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the main international standards organization for the Internet. In addition, Board staff continue their long-standing ex parte participation with European Standards groups in revising EN 301 549, a harmonized standard that supports the European Web Accessibility Directive 2016/2102 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies. Those groups include the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), European Committee for Standardization (CEN), and European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELAC).

In addition to these international partnerships, the Board has turned its attention to a rapidly expanding field with global impact for individuals with disabilities: Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI can increase accessibility, but it can also create barriers for people with disabilities. Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence tasks the Access Board to lead efforts to ensure the disability community and accessibility is considered around AI.

To launch those efforts, on May 15, 2024, the Access Board proudly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) to ensure that the disability community is engaged and supported through education and resources related to AI. Check out the recent news article on this partnership to learn more.

The Board regularly provides both virtual and in-person training on accessibility guidelines and standards to many organizations, groups, and government agencies across the country and internationally. For further information or to request training, contact Josh Schorr, the Board’s Training Coordinator, at training@access-board.gov. Additionally, the Board conducts free monthly webinars through its partnership with the ADA National Network. Webinars cover accessible ICT as well as accessibility in the built environment. Upcoming webinars are posted on the Board’s Webinars & Training webpage.

The next webinar in the Board’s Section 508 Best Practices series will take place on Tuesday, May 28th at 1:00 p.m. (ET); the session will address best practices for building and sustaining an accessible federal technology environment. Access Board Accessibility Specialists are available to assist with questions on the Board’s Section 508 Standards via email at 508@access-board.gov.

The Board also operates a technical assistance hotline to help professionals and other members of the public implement accessibility guidelines and standards in the built environment. Individuals may contact the Board’s Accessibility Specialists at 1-202-272-0080, extension 3 from 10:00 am to 5:00 p.m. (ET) weekdays or send an email to ta@access-board.gov.

The next meeting of the U.S. Access Board will take place from July 22 to July 24, 2024, in Washington, DC. Visit the Access Board’s website or sign up for the free subscription to get notified of upcoming Board meetings, webinars, trainings, and other events.

News source: access-board.gov/news/2024/05/16/u-s-access-board-celebrates-global-accessibility-awareness-day

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