Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)
On Thursday May 19 2022, we are celebrating the 11th Global Accessibility Awareness
Day. It aims to stimulate debate about digital access and inclusion for the more than
one billion people worldwide with disabilities or impairments.
Of these, 11 million people in the UK are deaf or hard-of-hearing. They often face
accessibility issues when using technology and digital products. The GAAD Foundation,
launched in 2021 to celebrate the organisation’s tenth anniversary, sheds light on this
group’s difficulties and addresses the technology inequalities.
The challenges of the Deaf community
GAAD supports a commitment to inclusion as part of people’s civil rights – web content
and digital services should be accessible to all. The needs of the Deaf community
include captions for video presentations and visual indicators in place of audio cues.
Over 70 percent of Deaf people are unemployed or underpaid, and Deaf and hard-ofhearing
people are more prone to mental-health problems than the rest of the
population. This lack of inclusion can lead to distress and isolation.
With Zoom and Teams meetings becoming popular in the pandemic, Deaf people face
another communication barrier. For those who rely on lip reading, a video conference
call can be challenging, with buffering, un-synced sound and background noise being
picked up on a microphone.
Breaking down the hindrances mentioned above might include installing amplification
systems that are compatible with hearing aids and cochlear implants, providing realtime
captioning for all lectures and meetings by default, and providing interpreting and
transliteration services (such as sign language).
Inclusion in educational settings
Deaf students too have a right to inclusion. The Equality Act 2010 stipulates that
education must be accessible to all, and ‘reasonable adjustments’ should be made to
enable students to participate fully. Inclusion good practice means adapting the physical
and visual learning environment to be Deaf-friendly. This may include in-person and
online interpreters for video platforms.
Incorporating Deaf awareness into day-to-day communication can reduce barriers to
education and employment and improve people’s quality of life.
Ultimately inclusion needs to be embedded from the start. Businesses need to ensure
Deaf awareness training for all employees, not just those from the Deaf community. By
fostering a positive attitude to Deaf issues, workplaces and education facilities can work
together to support Deaf people effectively and help them succeed and achieve their