Episodes

Global Accessibility Action Every Day

13 Letters
May 21, 2020

Accessibility is for everyone – not just people with disabilities. That’s why Jennison Asuncion and Joe Devon put their heads together almost ten years ago to conceive of an accessibility awareness day that has quickly turned into a global phenomenon. Cordelia and Will sat down with the co-founders of #GAAD this week, on the occasion of the 9th annual day, to talk about how the event got started, their proudest moments as co-founders, what they love (and what they don't love) about #GAAD, and so much more.

For full coverage of Be My Eyes’ GAAD 2020 initiatives, visit this link.

Show notes:

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Episode Transcript

Will Butler:

Cordelia.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Will.

Will Butler:

Did you realize that today is not only Global Accessibility Awareness Day, the biggest day in our world, I mean, of anything we do?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

It's true.

Will Butler:

Bigger than our own birthdays. It's also the 13th episode of 13 Letters.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

What? No, I didn't realize that.

Will Butler:

And it falls on a Thursday, which is the day we usually release 13 letters anyway.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Oh my gosh. It's a fate, kismet, serendipity.

Will Butler:

Is anyone going to believe us if we say we didn't plan that?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I mean, no.

Will Butler:

Is anyone but us going to care?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I think the letterheads will care. Hey, letterheads.

Will Butler:

Hey, letterheads.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Thank you for caring about this really cool 13 milestone.

Will Butler:

Yeah. I mean, I will say looking back on the last 13 episodes at this little milestone that we've hit, we have gotten some really nice feedback from listeners that I just want to thank everyone for. We read every single email and it really makes a big difference.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

It's really, really cool. I didn't really know where this project would go when we started. I was like, "Yeah, I'll do a podcast." And it's so cool to hear from all the... First, to hear from all of our guests, but then to get these awesome messages from the letterhead great. You all are awesome.

Will Butler:

Cordelia, what are you doing for Global Accessibility Awareness Day? Do you know yet or are you just going to surf the web and bash bugs like the accessibility buccaneer that you are?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Accessibility buccaneer. Yeah, I think I'm going to... I have a few different things in mind. A lot of retweeting. I'm going to be trying to use my computer in grayscale mode all day and see how that works out. I think that's a really good way to see if there are like color contrast issues going on, so I'm going to do that. I've been working on this accessibility or an accessible bingo app so I might make some improvements to that and put out a updated bingo board for people to play on GAAD.

Will Butler:

Awesome.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah. What about you, Will?

Will Butler:

We're pretty busy att Be My Eyes. We got a whole bunch of different campaigns and stuff going on. We put out this big outreach to everyone in our little extended network asking them to release a video saying, "Fill in the blank... Accessibility is..." And then they do a video like, "Accessibility is joy and happiness and puppies," and then they post the video on their Instagrams or their Facebooks or their whatever's... Twitter.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I like that.

Will Butler:

Yeah, it's #GAAD and #accessibilityis.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Awesome.

Will Butler:

And the other thing that we're doing is we're teaming up with a little company called Accessibility Shield that does accessibility, testing and compliance and all that work. And we're doing this thing called Test My Site, and we're actually allowing anybody to order a brief like to the point test. Accessibility real user tests from a real user of their site. So anybody can-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

How are you getting these users?

Will Butler:

They're part of an On-The-Job training program, so these are real users with disabilities who are getting paid real money and getting work opportunities with training and apprenticeship to test everyone's sites. So we'll be spreading the word about that too. That'll probably be like a #testmysite. So we're really going to encourage everyone to go out and get their site tested on GAAD.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

That's awesome. Yeah, my company, we're doing a bunch of internal talks to spread the good accessibility word. And I think what's interesting about Global Accessibility Awareness Day is it's a day about awareness, but what it really is about is global accessibility action every day. Today to get people to pay attention to accessibility, but it doesn't just like end there. You know? So I think all of this stuff that we're doing for GAAD is not just like one day and then everyone forgets about it, but something that will lead to sustainable change, or at least that's the hope.

Will Butler:

Did you just invent Global Accessibility Action Day?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Global accessibility action every day.

Will Butler:

Whoa.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

It's not like we've added an extra letter to the acronym.

Will Butler:

Just swap out the awareness for action. It still works.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah. Global Accessibility Action, but it's got to be every day because it's not just one day. It's every day. So it's G-A-A-E.

Will Butler:

GAAED.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

GAAD.

Will Butler:

Yeah, it doesn't have the same-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah, I need to figure that out.

Will Butler:

It's a work in progress.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Global... Yeah. We'll workshop that.

Will Butler:

How exciting that today on the 13th episode of the 13th day of the 13th month of the 13th year, we have the co-founders themselves of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, our friends, Jennison Asuncion and Joe Devon. Cordelia, to use your favorite word, are you excited?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I'm so excited. I know that I say it on pretty much every episode I'm like, "I'm so excited to talk with so and so," but I'm so excited about Global Accessibility Awareness Day. This is a huge day for our community and it's so exciting that we get to talk with the founders of this.

Will Butler:

What is that song?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I'm so excited, I just can't hide it. I'm about to learn about Global Accessibility Awareness Day, and I like it. You can include that if you want.

Will Butler:

We are not going to torture you any longer, ladies and gentlemen-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

With my beautiful singing.

Will Butler:

... Joe Devon and Jennison Asuncion, the co-founders of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, coming to you on the 13th episode of 13 Letters. Thank you guys so much, Jennison and Joe Devon, for joining us on 13 Letters. We're thrilled to have you guys on the show.

Joe Devon:

Thanks for the invitation.

Jennison Asuncion:

Thanks. Can I tell you, you sound like Gavin Newsom.

Will Butler:

What did you say?

Jennison Asuncion:

You sound like our governor, California's governor Gavin Newsom with that gravelly voice. And I only say that because I've listened to his... He has a thing at noon every day, he has this update on things and he has that gravel that you have, Will.

Will Butler:

Wow.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Quick, we'll declare Global Accessibility Awareness Day a California state holiday.

Will Butler:

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm really pleased [crosstalk 00:08:14]-

Jennison Asuncion:

No, if you talk normally. If you talk normally it comes out.

Will Butler:

I think he's got more gravel. Right?

Jennison Asuncion:

I don't know. I just, when I heard the gravel, I was like, "Gavin?"

Joe Devon:

By the way, speaking of that, Jennison, didn't some government entity in California recognized Global Accessibility Awareness Day or something like that?

Jennison Asuncion:

Last year. Yeah, it was last year. We had the state, California, the actual state, so I guess the people who own the state websites in Sacramento, they passed a bill. You can use your favorite search engine to find it. But yeah, that was exciting last year. That was the first state that ever did it. And I think that what they did, they wanted that to set as a deadline, I guess, every year for their websites to be that much more accessible. I don't remember all the details, but yeah, California did do that last year.

Joe Devon:

That's so cool. Thank you, Governor Will Butler.

Will Butler:

I'm pleased. I'm pleased to make it all happen. Well, but we need to get the origin story because I'm sure, as is always the case, rumors swirl. And now that we have the legends here sitting with us, how did Global Accessibility Awareness Day get started? Jennison, I want to hear your version first.

Jennison Asuncion:

My version first, okay. I was back in Toronto, or Toronto as Americans say, and I was at home on a Saturday night and I... I just didn't know. I was home on a Saturday night and I was just on Twitter, looking around, seeing what was going on, and I saw a tweet that said something like... Joe Devon had just posted a blog post. I think I may have been using the a11y hashtag because Joe and I didn't know each other then so I wouldn't have been following him, which is what makes this whole story cool. So, yeah, I was on Twitter on the Saturday night and I just came upon a tweet that said... Joe Devon, who I had no idea who he was at the time, just published a blog post that said, "Accessibility needs to go mainstream now."

Jennison Asuncion:

And what you need to know is that that was something that I was really passionate about myself. By that point, this is in 2011, November of 2011, I had been introduced to the concept of accessibility camps and I had been very involved in finding ways to make accessibility a topic that developers and designers would find interesting and not be scared of. So I had helped start an accessibility conference in Boston and we had already run an accessibility camp at Toronto, all that kind of stuff. So this was all on my brain. And so I read Joe's blog post, and I'll let Joe talk about what was in the blog in more and more detail, but essentially it said, "We need a day where we could dedicate to just thinking about and talking about accessibility." And I was like, "I can't believe this."

Jennison Asuncion:

And so I responded immediately to Joe's blog post. I forget what exactly I said, but I said like, "I'm interested, if you want to something, let's get on the phone and do it." And then I think the funny thing is Joe and I are busier than most and probably too busy for our own goods. And so it was just a matter of getting the actual time on the calendars for all of us to speak. Joe was in Los Angeles, and still is now, and I was in Toronto so the time zones, three hours behind, so there was that. And we were just really busy, but we finally got on the phone, first thing we did is we discovered we're both originally from Montreal. So this is a Canadian original, this whole GAAD business.

Jennison Asuncion:

But anyway, we just got on the phone, we started talking and it was just something we both said like, "Should we do this? Do we want to do this?" And we said, "Yeah, let's give it a try. The worst thing that could happen is this will flop and we'll just go back to our busy lives and leave things as they are." But from that point, we chose a date and then Joe on his end, and me on mine, we just basically started making phone calls and sending emails and just asking people whether they would support us. And we were just blown away that people just said, "Yeah, sure. We'll do this."

Jennison Asuncion:

And we'll get more into this after, about the date, how it was originally on May 9th. But, Joe, from your perspective, how did this start? Because this is really your idea that you wrote down.

Joe Devon:

Yeah. Well, before even mentioning that, I want to say that we got on the phone, I think it was Skype or something like that. And soon after you said, "Hey, there's this CSUN Conference," I think it was San Diego at the time, "And why don't you come on over if you have time?" So I drove over and then when I arrived there, I'm waiting in line in Starbucks and you give me a call, or I called you, and I say, "Hey, Jennison." And then the people in line all turned around to look at me, and mind you, this is before the first GAAD day. And they're like, "Oh my God, you know Jennison?" And I'm like, "Yeah." And it was like I was talking to a rock star, and that was before this whole thing took off.

Jennison Asuncion:

Those were all collections agents.

Joe Devon:

But it really speaks to what you'd already achieved before GAAD even got started. And essentially, my end of the story was that in 2011, I was a web developer. I was working on americanidol.com as a developer. And a few years earlier, 2007, I had seen Victor [Terran 00:14:33, who's now a programmer at Google, but at the time he was working for Yahoo.

Jennison Asuncion:

A TPM at Google.

Joe Devon:

TPM, yeah. And he was-

Jennison Asuncion:

Much love.

Joe Devon:

Pardon?

Jennison Asuncion:

I said much love, Victor.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah, we just had him on the podcast recently.

Jennison Asuncion:

I know. I just heard it.

Joe Devon:

Yeah, I saw. So he basically was demoing a screen reader on the Yahoo homepage. And I had never heard of a screen reader, let alone see it. And just as a developer, it was so cool to see this assistive technology because it's like you never thought about this as you're developing webpages. If you can't see the page, how are you able to navigate the web? And any technologists loves to take a problem and solve it, and so seeing how the screen reader worked was incredible. So that was the first thought, was like, "Oh cool." And then the second thought was, "Oh my God, if I never heard of this, I'm sure most of the other developers haven't heard of it," because I would always read the latest and greatest of everything related to development. And then I realized, "Oh my God, what if we're building things incorrectly so that screen readers don't work?"

Joe Devon:

So that stuck in my mind for a few years, and then in 2011, my dad, who spoke 10 languages, was just an incredible person, just a genius, and he also is a Holocaust survivor, and watching him get old was very difficult, watching him lose his vision and his hearing was so hard to see him suffer these indignities. And he had gotten fished soon before this happened, and just to get to the bank was extremely difficult. He had to use Access paratransit, which is a service that will shuttle folks in need from place to place, but it takes a full day to prepare for it. He would get stuck without any bathroom and in the heat somewhere waiting for them to show up. It was very difficult.

Joe Devon:

And he couldn't call the bank to make a transaction, so what happened was that the web should have really solved this because he gets an email from the bank saying that he needs to log in to read a message. And he learned after getting fished not to click the link, so he goes on the website and it's impossible for him to read the message because the bank was inaccessible. And just now I talk about this in talks, but it's about civil rights and you just innately feel that, that you cannot be independent if you cannot have access to your money. So accessibility with banks is extremely important. And it was inaccessible so I got upset and I wrote a blog post on a very, very popular blog called MySQLTalk.com, which had a grand total of maybe 10 users. And I proposed creating Global Accessibility Awareness Day.

Joe Devon:

And I wasn't even smart enough to tweet it out. Right? And so, as I'm writing it, I'm getting all excited because I always have these visions and these ideas and I'm like, "Oh my God, if..." And at the time there wasn't Jennison there. So I'm like, "If I work really, really, really, really hard, it can kind of be a success." And then you hit enter and you're like, "I'm just dreaming. There's no way anything will come of this." And so I didn't even do any social on it, but WordPress auto tweeted it and that's what Jennison saw on his side and then magic happened. And it's really the community picking it up. Jennison and I just seeded it, but if the community had not picked it up, this would have never happened. So it's really thanks to everyone.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

That's awesome that it started with this blog post and it's now truly is a global event. Right? Joe, could you tell us a little bit about how global it is? Do you have stats on how many countries or places are running events?

Joe Devon:

I don't have stats on this year because we're getting lots and lots of events. I guess last Thursday or Friday... Can you guys hear the leaf blower on cue?

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yes, we can.

Will Butler:

That's all right [crosstalk 00:18:51]. That's the point in podcast so-

Jennison Asuncion:

You'll have to cut a bloopers' [crosstalk 00:18:54].

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

The leaf blower is just really excited to celebrate GAAD.

Jennison Asuncion:

Yes.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Do we pronounce it GAAD? Is that how you say it?

Joe Devon:

That's how I say it.

Jennison Asuncion:

Yes. Joe still calls is GAAD, so I always called it GAAD, but I've been reeducated, and it is GAAD.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Has anyone created a hashtag of like OhmyGAAD?

Jennison Asuncion:

No. I think-

Joe Devon:

Yes. There's an event.

Jennison Asuncion:

Oh, there was an event.

Joe Devon:

There's an event this year, [Oh My GAAD 00:19:27].

Jennison Asuncion:

Yes, there is an event, Oh My GAAD.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Amazing.

Jennison Asuncion:

GAAD, GAAD, this is like ALLY versus A11Y. Don't even get me started on that.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

And I got in trouble when I called A11Y Camp Toronto, I called it A11YTO.

Jennison Asuncion:

Yes, T-O.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

A11Y T-O. Anyway, so-

Jennison Asuncion:

[Crosstalk 00:19:52] word up to Toronto.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

So back to my question here of, so how global is Global Accessibility Awareness Day?

Joe Devon:

I'll let Jennison add to this, but I'll start with-

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:20:04]

Speaker 4:

The awareness day.

Joe:

I'll let Jennison add to this, but I'll start with the stuff I remember. I remember the first year we had 16 cities, and with those 16 cities, I don't remember how many countries they were, but I was shocked because my hometown paper in Montreal picked it up. I think it was the Montreal Gazette, they picked up the story, and just the Canadian wire service, I guess, picked up the story. And I don't think they even knew that Jennison and I were from Montreal, but somehow they picked it up. I know that India, there was a semi-governmental event-

Jennison:

Shopi, Shopi Kapoor.

Joe:

Yep.

Jennison:

Hello Shopi.

Joe:

So that was the first year. I think by year five, Apple started to do events all week long in every one of their stores, globally. So it's hard to gather stats on what that means, but that, by itself, means that it's global. And then I know, as of last year, we're definitely on every continent.

Jennison:

Yeah, that was the exciting thing for last year. And we learned-

Joe:

Australia was on it from year one, and this year, last week we had, I think Thursday or Friday, we had 30 events listed. As of this morning, there were 60, but there's at least 10 in the queue, so every day it keeps getting added. So I don't know yet.

Jennison:

I'll just add a little bit too to what Joe just said. Of course, this year being the way it is, and I will not use the word that begins with unprecident... I just said it, unprecedented. I will say in this historic time, everything's gone virtual. So what's kind of cool about that is people can actually join events that they might not have been able to, because we had over a hundred in person events last year. And so, remember what Joe said, we started with 16, nine years ago, and last year we were up to at least a hundred that we knew of. There was always stuff that is going on that we would only find out after the fact, because, shockingly, not everyone is on Twitter apparently. But events happened and it was just amazing.

Jennison:

And we just found out recently that there was an event happening in China, that has been going on for a number of years. The neat thing about GAAD in the last number of years is we've seen it actually go global in all capital letters, in terms of it's not just in English, it's happening in other languages, which is what we want. Accessibility is a universal issue, and so having events in Mandarin, Chinese, and Spanish, and all these different languages is particularly exciting to me because we're actually, we're going beyond the English speaking audience, and hitting and hopefully positively impacting people with disabilities, really, around the globe.

Joe:

Yeah, and you made me remember a couple of things. So we have Makoto, a shout out to Makoto because he is a leader of accessibility in Japan, and what's really cool... I visited Japan, I think it was a year, year and a half ago, and there was a whole accessibility community that all did these GAAD events. Did a fireside chat over there, and there's a massive community and that was amazing to see. And basically now, anytime I go on vacation somewhere, I find out who, in the accessibility community, is over there and connect up with them, because invariably, there is someone. Like in Spain, I hadn't heard much about what was going on there, but I think they had an event, an EU related event, where they were talking about accessibility in front of government officials, so I met a few people there. It's really all over the place now, this year we're doing an event in Kenya, in Nigeria, I believe, so it's really all over the place.

Speaker 5:

I know Japan often is, with their technology and culture, is very isolated in many respects. How do you guys interact with Makoto? Is he a Twitter user? What the [inaudible 00:04:39].

Jennison:

Oh, Makoto is a huge networker, I think he's the bridge that connects Japan with, from an accessibility perspective, with the rest of the industry outside of there. He's been to a11yTO and he's been to CSUN, certainly, the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference. So he's just fairly connected, and when he learned about GAAD, he was all in. And I believe he was in from almost the very beginning, if not, the first year.

Joe:

Yeah. He's doing GAAD. Yeah, absolutely, he's doing big stuff with GAAD Japan, currently, and he's the best host, ever, by the way. He was incredible in Japan, really, was so helpful.

Jennison:

But at this point, the way I describe it, Joe and I have created this platform that we call GAAD, and people are just running with it. We just stand to the side, and just as so long as it's related to digital access and inclusion. We don't have a theme every year, people often ask, "What's your theme?" It's always digital access and inclusion for the over one billion people with different disabilities and impairments.

Speaker 5:

You alluded to this a little bit, but GAAD is often an opportunity for big gatherings to happen in all these cities around the world. It's a very physical event, where people get to meet each other and get excited, and rah, rah, rah. Now everyone's at home, and everyone's meeting digitally. How has all of this affected GAAD this year? Knowing that GAAD isn't still quite over yet, but from what you're observing early on.

Jennison:

There's still the same level of excitement, it's just gone virtual, like everything else in our lives these days. It's a different feeling, in terms of... Like I said, we used to populate our website full of all these in-person events, but it's all virtual now and it is what it is. And it's not only the virtual events, people are doing other things too. They're writing blog posts, they're captioning videos, they're doing hacks. There's a whole bunch of other things that are happening outside the virtual sessions that are going on for GAAD. And some people are holding it the day of GAAD, some people are holding it a couple of days before, a couple of days after, just depending on logistics. Which would have been the same for physical events, in-person events. We've had situations where people just couldn't get space in a building on the day of GAAD, so they did it a different day. But we're in different times, and like everything else, we've been impacted. Joe, what's your take? What's your feel?

Joe:

I think in a weird way, it's a positive development, in the sense that... Obviously, the deaths are not good and there's the obvious negative side, but on the positive side, it brings an awareness of how important digital accessibility is. One example I like to state is the schools, education system, has dealt with students that have disabilities for years, where there were so many lawsuits, so many issues, so much effort has been spent to say, "Hey, you need to provide services to make things accessible in the physical world." But now, every student is digital. If we fix the digital products once and for all, for everybody, it's going to fix so much and solve so many problems, and it's vital to be done. So I think that this really highlights that, in a way that could never be done in person. At least, that's my take.

Speaker 4:

Oh, absolutely. Like Jennison was saying, in this historic time, this is when digital accessibility is the most important it's ever been, so GAAD is awesome in that regard. I had a question, because Jennison mentioned that a few organizations and groups are doing their sessions, their GAAD celebrations, not on the actual GAAD day. And I'm curious, how did you all arrive at... I think it's always the third Thursday in May. How did you arrive at that? Was it random, is there meaning behind it?

Jennison:

Yeah. Well like everything else that has happened with GAAD, it's just evolved that way. We started on May 9th, I think for the first two years, Joe, was it? And then we got word that it was a public holiday in Europe, and so we said, "Let's move it to the 12th."

Joe:

I think May 9th was a Thursday the first year, and then we kind of wanted to do Thursday because nobody wants to do anything on Friday night. The weekend would be hard too, and Thursday just seems like the best day. And then I think the second year, we swapped it to hit a Thursday, if I remember correctly. And then we were like, "We should do something that's evergreen so that maybe the one day there will be a Wikipedia page, and then we could just say, "Hey, it's the X Thursday of the month." And then, when ordered not to conflict, we picked the third Thursday. Of course, it conflicted anyway, with all kinds of things, but what are you going to do?

Jennison:

But, at least, now that we're in our ninth year, just like with the rest of GAAD, it's become kind of institutionalized, and people know that it is the third Thursday of May. But there was no... We didn't sit down and really think this out, we just came upon this discovery and said, "Let's just do it on this... We're not going to pick an actual date, but we'll say, and we'll always be this third Thursday." So if anyone else is thinking of doing something like this, don't fix on a date, just fix on a day, whatever it is, first Wednesday of June, or third Monday of September, and it will work. It'll stick.

Speaker 5:

Well, I Googled GAAD before our interview now, and the first result was the Wikipedia page, so congratulations, guys. I'm wondering if, Joe, could you tell us a bit about the new GAAD pledge? I know this is sort of a new development this year, and want to help spread the word to all the folks at different companies who are listening.

Joe:

Sure. So the way this kind of came about was that every year on GAAD, people, would say to me... I'm sure Jennison gets this all the time, "Thank you so much for creating this day." And hearing this, and being a developer by nature... I don't even call by it trade, it's just in the blood. I look at this and I'm like, it's embarrassing when people say it. But more importantly, one year, I think it was 2015, there was a tweet from the Blind Onion, which is a satire, kind of based off of The Onion. And they said, toward the end of GAAD that year, that now that Global Accessibility Awareness Day is over, the world eagerly awaits 364 days of global accessibility oblivion.

Speaker 4:

Wow.

Joe:

Yeah. It upset me at the time, and then Jennison, I remember, saying, "Don't worry about it, it's been such a success and all that." But it always stuck with me because I didn't view it in a negative way, I viewed it more that this was coming from pain, because clearly we're not solving the problem. And so if we're all sitting around celebrating a day, but we didn't fix the problem, then we're just not there. And I really wasn't sure what the scale of the problem was. You can get a general sense, but I wanted to know.

Joe:

And so I came up with this idea of doing a State of Accessibility Report, which my friend, Krista Thomas, who's a marketer, right away said, "Oh, SOAR, State of Accessibility Report." And I'm like, "Oh, that's brilliant." So we created the SOAR report, and we're like, "Okay, let's figure out how to do an analysis of a whole bunch of webpages for accessibility. We'll try and automate this." So we're sitting there working hard on it, and then all of a sudden, Jared Smith and WebAIM come out with a WebAIM Million, which is exactly what we're trying to do.

Jennison:

We love Jared.

Joe:

Yeah, he's awesome. So at the beginning it was like, "Oh my God", here was this whole big effort we were going to do, and somebody kind of beat us to the punch right beforehand, but in the good open source spirit, I went to hear him speak at CSUN, and then invited him to dinner. And I said, "How about if we collaborate, and we're going to do the SOAR report, regardless, maybe you could give us an update on your report with respect to the development community, in particular." And he was totally down for that, so this is a yearly thing now.

Joe:

And in his report, he talks about the top technologies that are correlated with inaccessible webpages. And in there, there are a bunch of open source projects, so what we've come up with is this concept of a GAAD pledge, where different organizations... And I'd say a lot of the focus is on open source projects, but different organizations can take the GAAD pledge to make their project accessible. And so the idea is that it's a commitment to accessibility, it includes things like agreeing to conform to a WCAG level that that has to be decided on. And the reason that's important is because when there are what's called PR, which is a Pull Request, which means that a developer has created a fix for something, that bug reports and fixes on accessibility matters that map to that WCAG level. And I assume the audience knows what WCAG is, but I'll just say it out, in case, Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, that they will prioritize those bug reports, and it'll make a stronger case to the core developers.

Joe:

And then, we'll probably also do some bug hunts with the community, so that we can try and find out those stress cases where it might not be caught, if you aren't bringing it out to a wider audience. And so the idea is to kind of go after lots of different open source projects and try and improve that, because the second report is showing, at least on the Million, the numbers got a little bit worse, and that just breaks my heart. My whole point with this was get a baseline and then make sure that next year is better, so we missed that on the first year.

Joe:

Although we also did, from Diamond, my company, we also did a manual test of the registration login and logout of the top hundred websites. And there, it has improved a fair bit. It needs to improve a lot more, but that's a different metric, because when you think about it, most people interact with the top 20, you know the 20/80 rule, the top 20% of sites. So hitting the top hundred websites is certainly an important metric, and there, we've seen an improvement. So what that says to me is that the biggest companies are seeing the importance and are slowly improving. But the goal with the open source projects is that... I would bet that over 99% of all websites, mobile apps, digital products, are sitting on top of an open source project. So if you get those to be more accessible, and you get those to have better documentation, and specifically the documentation calls out accessibility, and provides tips for how to use their project accessibly. Because often the project might be accessible, but it's implemented poorly underneath there, so you need that documentation there.

Joe:

So I feel like if we get those first, it'll start to seep into the community. And, to me... I'll take an analogy, maybe this is a bad one, a horrible one, but people are talking about herd immunity. I feel like developers, we need to get over 50% of developers to say that it's important to make their code accessible, because until you have that majority... And maybe it's more like 80%, but let's start with 51%. It's kind of like security, there's a lot of insecure websites being coded up to this day, a lot of SQL injection to this day, but I would say almost everybody knows that they should be doing better. And that's where we need to get with accessibility, because it's not in the culture enough yet. And I think that starting with the open source projects is really important.

Joe:

I've been talking a lot, but I have one more thing that I'd like to-

Speaker 5:

Please.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, go for it.

Joe:

The coding boot camps, those are really key because I believe that they are, to this day, most of them are teaching HTML that's not semantic, and this is causing lots of inaccessibility. And we really need to engage with the coding boot camps in order to offer up to teach over there, to speak to the teachers and try and get them to pay attention to accessibility. Maybe we can do a big, fun, virtual happy hour, and do breakout sessions where we expose them to a more diverse audience so that they can understand why this is important. And again, I'm not focused on that right now because I'm going to spend the next year focused on these open source projects, but all of GAAD, the whole point is to have to put ideas out to the community, so maybe this is something that others can go and run with.

Jennison:

Maybe we can make that as a challenge to the listeners who have these coding boot camps. Next year is our 10th anniversary, so maybe folks can try and start building relationships with these coding boot camps now, because these things take time. But plan something to do with a local coding boot camp on the day of GAAD next year, to help us celebrate our 10th anniversary.

Speaker 5:

These companies who are committing to accessibility and open source, where can people find out whose taken the pledge, and where can people who are interested in taking the pledge-

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:40:04]

Will Butler:

Where can people who are interested in taking the pledge, get involved? Joe,

Joe Devon:

That's something that my company, Diamond, has been working on. And so you can go to Diamond.la/GAADpledge. So G-A-A-D P-L-E-D-G-E.

Will Butler:

Perfect. Awesome.

Joe Devon:

And you're all welcome to take the GAAD pledge.

Will Butler:

I'm taking it right now.

Joe Devon:

Awesome.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I thought you we're recording a podcast, Will?

Will Butler:

No, I don't want to minimize it.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Multitask.

Will Butler:

Is it a big lift for these companies to take the pledge, Joe?

Joe Devon:

A big lift in what way? I'm not sure about the question.

Will Butler:

Is it a commitment of a lot of development resources? Are people doing it different, approaching it differently?

Joe Devon:

It kind of depends. In a lot of cases, I would say it is a big commitment, but it's a necessity. It's something that has to happen, but when you're talking about an open source project, it's a little bit different in the sense that everybody's a volunteer. So you can't go to an open source project and say, "You will be accessible." It doesn't go over so well, but if you go in and you say, "I am willing to work with you, and I'm willing to volunteer, helping make the open source project more accessible", that goes over really well, but every case is different. There's lots of history behind every open source project. There's often for profit companies that are tied to it. And so each situation is different. And so I don't try to prescribe, what's it called? One size fits all solution?

Will Butler:

Yeah.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah. I'll just do a quick plug. If there are any developers listening to this podcast, one of the greatest ways that you can actually ... if you're looking to get more involved in accessibility and looking to get more involved in open source is just looking through open source projects, like open get hub issues, looking for those accessibility bugs and just fixing small bugs. It makes a huge difference, because it impacts thousands of projects. Okay that really quite-

Joe Devon:

A hundred percent, and I'll also add that if you're affected by a bug, add it to the comments and explain how that affects you, because if people under ... it's all about understanding that there's a human on the other end and that this accessibility bug impacts the human on the other end. And if you don't say it, then people don't know.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

This pledge is awesome. Thanks for sharing all of that. I wanted to ask that maybe Jennison, maybe you can share. So you've been at this for nine years. What do you think are some of GAAD's biggest wins so far?

Jennison Asuncion:

I think one of our biggest wins is kind of helping mobilize the gaming community. Oftentimes when people think of accessibility, to Joe's original point, when he was talking about his journey, it's so important to have access to your money, and to banking, and to school and all that stuff, but people with disabilities also want to be social. They want to have fun and recreate. And online gaming is one way to allow that to happen. And particularly for people with certain disabilities and impairments, that might be their only way to interact, because they might not be able to leave home. So we've seen, I think over the last, at least three, four, five years ... and again, we're name dropping a lot of here, but Ian Hamilton out in the UK was one of the first people who approached us around gaming. There's a lot more who've come since, able gamers and things like that.

Jennison Asuncion:

But the point being, gaming has been ... I think we've really hopefully supported, and through the day of GAD, made that a springboard for a lot of goodness around gaming accessibility. So that's one that I always point to as a huge win for us. The other big one is around education. There's a lot of events that are focused on making different E-learning and online learning and all those kinds of things accessible. So again, those two stand up in my mind as areas, and all the other ones are just givens, right? All the other types of accessibility. But those two in particular, I think have been big. And I think just in general, I would like to think, because what we do is we get Twitter reports every year that show how many people are talking about accessibility or tweeting about it on the day of GAAD. And Joe, you always keep quoting a figure that always blows my mind. What was it last year? Do you remember?

Joe Devon:

Wait, sorry. I didn't quite get it.

Jennison Asuncion:

The amount of tweets, per [crosstalk 00:45:11].

Joe Devon:

Oh no. What it is, is the Twitter reach last year was 195 million unique Twitter users that saw the GAAD hashtag.

Jennison Asuncion:

So to me, that again ... because all of us here in this podcast, and probably a lot of the people who are going to listen to it, we're already sold on this, right. We get it, but in that 195 million, was it? Tweets, there are people that we have been able to reach. Not us, but through GAAD, that probably didn't know anything about accessibility at all. And that's what originally ... I mean, when people ask me what it's about, for me part of it is about raising the conversation on digital accessibility, and inclusion to people who just don't think about it, or have never thought about it, or have never been exposed to the concepts of it. And so anyway that, to me, that's my long way around to answer your question, but those are the big things to me that I know that we're having an impact.

Joe Devon:

Can I add a few there?

Jennison Asuncion:

Sure.

Will Butler:

Absolutely.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah.

Joe Devon:

So one story I always tell is, as I mentioned at the beginning, there was a particular bank who has always remained nameless and shall always remain nameless, that inspired this. By the third year, they sent us an email saying that they are aware that their accessibility is not good, and they are doing an internal event for the day in order to improve their accessibility. And I'd say that a lot of banks have taken on GAAD.

Joe Devon:

Some of them not publicly and some of them publicly, but banking is definitely one that really hits this. You said education, museums are another that we've seen a lot of engagement, and I think that's growing and growing. I've got a lot of people asking about accessibility in museums, VR. VR, AR, mixed reality, all the different R's. That is the first time I think that a new technology is going to be accessible from the get go, or I shouldn't go that far, but at least I know that a lot of people in that space are paying attention to it. So maybe not everything will be fully accessible, but they're certainly putting a lot of focus in it.

Joe Devon:

Did I say government? Definitely a lot of government engagement, right from the get go, and then travel is another one. And then finally, maybe not mentioning names, but I would say all of the top tech companies are doing something, and often in a really big way. So that, I think, helped move the needle as well. And, one more thing. Well, this is not really about GAAD, but just to shout out, because I think this is something important. If you work for a large organization and you go to procurement and you say that a vendor cannot provide services to us, if they don't make their products accessible, that is another massive way to grow accessibility. So a shout out to everybody doing that. And I know from the vendors-

Jennison Asuncion:

I think there's a webinar. Yeah, I think there's going to be a webinar about procurement and accessibility on GAAD.

Will Butler:

Oh, that's so important.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Oh yeah. Yeah. And it's really interesting what you were saying about museums, because I feel like, especially now with everything moving online, more and more museums are trying to figure out, "How do we digitize our collections? How do we create these virtual experiences?" So it's cool that more and more museums are thinking about how to make those accessible. And I know there are a few different museums who have these really great online volunteer projects where people can volunteer and spend time describing the art in their collections, which is awesome.

Joe Devon:

Yeah. I did a GAAD event once, and a friend was in the audience who didn't even know that I had anything to do with accessibility. And he was preparing an exhibition for King Tut. And then as soon as he left, he said ... He didn't tell me this till later, but he said, "I will never do a VR project without making sure that it's accessible." And he added a budget in to make that King Tut exhibit much more accessible. So it's one little thing and it can have a ripple effect.

Will Butler:

I want to ask you guys about the people who are very new to this. The people who don't know anything about disability and or accessibility, through the lens of simulations and demos, disability, simulations, and disability demonstrations. For the people who are listening, companies hear about accessibility. They get excited. They want to do something for GAAD, and the first thing they go to is, well, let's simulate disability for our non-disabled employees, or let's demonstrate disability. Let's get a real disabled person in here and show them how it works. Now, these things are double-edged sorts, and I wonder if you guys could talk about that and help guide people a little bit, if they're considering putting together one of these events for their company. Jennison?

Jennison Asuncion:

It's all about product. Part of what accessibility and getting new folks involved, and interested, and kind of engaged, is it's all about building empathy, because ultimately, as we talked about earlier in the podcast, there's impact on humans. This is what we're trying to do is improve the situation, right? So when it comes to simulation, there's always that danger, like you said, the double edged sword, because some people will leave the room going, "Ah, I get it, I get this. I know exactly what someone who has cataracts is going to experience." Or "I held a switch device. I now know what it's like to have a motor impairment or a physical disability. I get it just after the one thing." I think the best you can do is make sure to message to people that this is not ... and this is what I've done. You're not going to leave the room having totally understood what it's like to have a disability or impairment. That's just impossible.

Jennison Asuncion:

And it's insulting to think that, that's going to be the case after a 10 minute experience or an hour long experience. As a person with a disability, I would find that insulting, if someone would say, "I now know what it's like to be blind after trying to screen reader." So the best we can do is just remind people that the point here is that you understand that there are people with different disabilities and impairments who might be using different assistive technologies or who may be experiencing or interacting with your experience, whether it's a game, whether it's an online library, whatever it is, in a different way. They might not be using a mouse. They might not be able to see the screen. They might be using a totally different way of interacting with what you have, but here are some of the assistive technologies they would use.

Jennison Asuncion:

So I'm more about showing people different assistive technologies that way, as opposed to saying, "Yeah, let's throw on some glasses. Let's put tape over your ears and watch a video." Things like that, because that stuffs sends the wrong rent message. Now, Will you brought up the point about, let's bring up a person with a disability or impairment in, and let's have them show engineers, or designers, or product folks, or CTOs, or everyone in the house, what it's like to use your product. I think that there's definitely value there, because you are having an actual person who is an end user, who is living, or who has the lived experience of having a disability or impairment. They're using the technology or the keyboard or whatnot, and then trying to interact.

Jennison Asuncion:

And that, to me, there's definitely power and value. I often say that, that's where a lot of engineers and designers have their lights on moment when they actually see someone with a disability or an impairment interacting with their stuff. And they're seeing that someone might be having all kinds of problems, because the average person ... let's face it. The average person who doesn't have a disability or impairment, I guess average would not necessarily be interacting with people with disabilities. So this is, I think, that kind of an activity of bringing people in. And not just people who are, who are blind or low vision. We need to get beyond the fact that accessibility is just about screen readers, because it's not. Cognitive disabilities is the largest group, and that's an invisible group of people with disabilities. People have to self declare that they have that disability or impairment.

Jennison Asuncion:

But there's much to be gained by watching someone who may not use assistive technology, but who has a disability or impairment that is stymied by poor design or by over complicated language, or a lot of cluttered screen. So I think there is definitely well worth it to have people with different disabilities and impairments come in to stress tests, especially if you want to convince your executives about how important it is, because the impact is readily apparent right there.

Will Butler:

Joe, talk about the value from a developer's perspective of seeing someone navigate your website, either successfully or unsuccessfully.

Joe Devon:

That's priceless. It's funny, the contrast for me, where it really taught me. And it's funny Jennison's story about having the executive there. I once gave a lunch and learn to a room of developers, and they were at a big company that served millions of users. And I was just talking about GAAD and how important accessibility is. And everybody's just kind of eating their lunch, looking at their phones. They were completely disinterested. And it got me mad to be honest with you, because I'm like, you guys just have no clue. And at a certain point, and this has never happened to me in a talk before, I just raised my voice. And I was like, you know, the point of GAAD is not for these big companies to go in and pat themselves on the back, this is important, and please don't do that just to have like a good press mention.

Joe Devon:

You've got to actually mean it, this matters. And it kind of shocked a few of the people in the audience, but what was super interesting is that what I didn't realize is that in there in the audience was the president of the company, and he was the only person there that was completely engaged the entire time. And then at the end of it, he introduced himself publicly in front of everybody, said that he was the president and that he wanted to make sure that his organization did care. And that speaks volumes, because when you get that from the top, it's really important. But the bigger lesson to me was that another time I was sitting next to Jennison at a travel company, and Jennison is a world traveler.

Joe Devon:

And he gave a talk just describing what it was like for him to travel. And in that talk he was their core user. And then he would talk about accessibility and GAAD, but most of that talk was just about what his regular routine is. And if you know Jennison at all, you don't know what country he's going to be in next week. One of the first times I met Jennison, he's like, "Oh, you know what, I'm going to be in Vegas tonight." So he did a red eye, arrives at 11 o'clock. He gets a hotel room so he can change, and then left 11 that night. So we went from Canada to Vegas, back to Canada or some other city again. So two red eyes in a row, slept on the plane two nights in a row and then did sleep over the next night, but then went to another city the following day.

Will Butler:

He was moving slow that week.

Joe Devon:

So when he speaks, the perspective is incredible. And I saw it in the eyes of the audience in a way that there's nothing I could have done to give a talk that would have the kind of impact that that did. And it's because of that perspective and realizing, "Oh my God, this is my user, and I've not been paying attention to him."

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

What have been some of the unexpected results of GAAD so far? What's surprised you most about it?

Jennison Asuncion:

Joe?

Joe Devon:

Oh, you're going to give me this one, huh?

Jennison Asuncion:

I'll go after you, I'll go after you.

Joe Devon:

I've been talking too much. Oh my God. There's so much. Every year something new happens. There's so much press that we get, which is pretty wild. We had Microsoft release an adaptive controller on the day, and then they turned that into a Superbowl commercial. So that was pretty crazy.

Will Butler:

Wow.

Joe Devon:

We found out, at least I found out, that Amazon has been doing global accessibility awareness month riffing off of GAAD for years. And we kicked it off this year, but I had no idea that it existed before. So that was pretty cool. Let me think. I don't know. There's just so many. I'll pass it to Jennison.

Will Butler:

I'll hop on with one. In 2017, I was invited to keynote an internal GAAD event. So a lot of companies do actually hold internal GAAD events, again that we sometimes hear about, and sometimes we don't. Or at least until after they've happened, but a major accessibility firm held an event in Copenhagen-

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:00:04]

Jennison Asuncion:

... accessibility firm held an event in Copenhagen, and they also happened to invite Tim Berners-Lee. So to have an opportunity to meet Sir Tim Berners-Lee, to have lunch with him, and he gave an address, and I gave an address, and he was in the audience when I was giving mine, I was all nervous. But to me, that was one of the big ones. But it's also some of the other things, we got an email last year from a nonprofit, it was the Thai Association for the Blind, and they said that they were marking GAAD for the first time. To me, part of it is me being a bit of a geography nerd, I just love hearing... This year we just heard from Azerbaijan, they're doing something this year for the first time. So to me, those are the big ones that pop out at me, are these types of ones where it's the first time that GAAD is participating from a certain country. Do you have any other ones, Joe?

Joe Devon:

Yeah, so the Tim Berners-Lee, I mean, that's made a lot of my presentations because as somebody whose entire career is thanks to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, that one definitely blew me away, that he even heard of GAAD. Well, it's kind of funny when I'm speaking at Toastmasters, sometimes an engineer, and it's in like Beverly Hills 90210, so that's literally the name of the Toastmasters, you get a lot of people speaking that are super polished and good-looking actor types, and then you have an engineer come up and talk about stuff and it doesn't always resonate that well. But then sometimes you'll give a talk about GAAD and then somebody in the audience will come up to you in tears afterward, which has happened several times, and that's when you know that you've done something that hits somebody, that it mattered. So I'd say that, for me, even though it's nameless, it's probably the one that's most impactful and keeps me going more than anything else.

Jennison Asuncion:

Sorry, are you saying you made someone cry because of GAAD?

Joe Devon:

Yes.

Jennison Asuncion:

Is that what you're saying, Joe Devon?

Joe Devon:

Yes.

Will Butler:

Okay, so the journalist in me has to ask, what do you dislike about GAAD? Jennison, let's start this one with you.

Jennison Asuncion:

Lack of sleep.

Joe Devon:

Oh my God, you took mine.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

What is sleep anyway?

Will Butler:

That's something you guys dislike about your own discipline. What do you dislike about-

Jennison Asuncion:

No, honestly, as exciting as it is, I am exhausted after. It's not that I it's something I dislike it per se, but it is taxing just around those days.

Will Butler:

So why is it taxing? Does that mean it should be spread out more so that it doesn't have to all happen at once?

Jennison Asuncion:

No, no. It will always be a day because we need to focus, people are welcome to do weeks or months if they want, that's great, it's GAAD. But what do I dislike? What do I dislike? Right now I dislike the fact that we aren't having more events in... see my dream is to have events happening, at a minimum, all of the official languages that are spoken at the UN, and so I dislike the fact that we aren't there yet. If you're pressing me, Mr. Journalist, Mr. Cronkite, I dislike the fact that we have not yet made enough impact that we are having these conversations in all of the official languages of the UN, at least that we know of that are-

Joe Devon:

That is on the list. That is on the list, and I think by the 10th anniversary we'll... I like the way you put that, all the UN languages, let's have that by next year.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I'm curious to know too, like how many different sign languages events.

Jennison Asuncion:

Oh, I know, right? Yeah. I know at least British sign language and ASL, but certainly yeah, other sign languages. Joe, there, what do you dislike?

Joe Devon:

So it's funny, I've given so many talks and keynotes and get interviewed all the time, and you'd think that you get used to it, but as an engineer, it's not something that's natural to you so there's definitely anxiety around these. And it's always fine after two seconds when you get started, but the lead up to it, there's always some anxiety there. And it's something that I don't especially like to admit, but I'm purposely admitting it because I want to tell everybody that it's okay, you can be a speaker, and I know lots of world class speakers who get the nerves ahead of time, and I want everybody to know it's okay and don't let that stop you.

Joe Devon:

And go to Toastmasters if you have that issue as I do, because they are very, very helpful. They get you used to being on. And I guess that's the toughest part, is being on all the time, obviously the lack of sleep, and then the amount of guilt I feel after GAAD is over, because I always feel like I could have done one more thing or 10 more things, and yeah, I just feel bad about it.

Will Butler:

Well, so that's the personal part of it, but Joe, when you survey the sea of tweets every morning, in the GAAD hashtag, is there anything that you got a bee in your bonnet about?

Jennison Asuncion:

You're really looking for us to [crosstalk 01:05:59].

Joe Devon:

I'll give you one. I totally get you. I love that, because as a journalist that's what you're trying to do.

Will Butler:

We're trying to steer people toward why this event happens, right, and we're trying to provide guidance for people.

Joe Devon:

Yeah. I'll give you one that I would say bugs me a little bit, because I totally understand why people do this, but I think that they don't realize the harm it causes. So this is something Jennison taught me early on, and Jennison has been a mentor to me in this world, it would have been incredibly difficult not having him explain to me the culture. Jennison always said that you've got to be positive in your outreach and don't do things like shaming folks. And in the beginning I didn't understand why, but now I do. And what happens is if you are a developer and people jump in to shame you, what happens is you're scared to get involved in accessibility, because you're putting your code out there and you're terrified that you're going to do something that's going to make it inaccessible, so instead of joining the community you just go into your own shell.

Joe Devon:

And in a lot of these talks, I'll mention that to me it's an anti-pattern to shame folks because having seen the reaction, and I, myself am terrified of saying something stupid, and I'm sure I've said plenty of stupid things about accessibility over the years. But at the end of the day, it's better to do something and try and get better than to not get started because you're ashamed of it. So when I see people shaming others, because they're not accessible enough, they're not good enough, that's something I don't really enjoy. And I'd employ folks to approach it in a positive way and say it's okay to have a disagreement with, well, what is the best way to implement something, but to go in and say you're implementing it wrong or to shame someone, that I just think is a mistake.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Yeah, I love that point. I went to grad school for comics, and I think one of the greatest things that I learned in art school was how to critique in a way that's not tearing someone else down, but really like providing constructive feedback of how can we collectively make this better. And I think that's the mindset that we need to all approach accessibility from, is like, we're all here to make the web a better place, what can we do about it rather than shame each other? So I definitely understand that point.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

And I wanted to also like go back to something earlier you said about anxiety, Global Accessibility Awareness Day also kind of falls right in the middle of Mental Health Awareness Month. And I think a lot of people, myself included, are kind of struggling this Mental Health Month in particular because we're all kind of stuck at home, a lot of people are doing multiple jobs of working their full time jobs, also being caretakers for their families and doing homeschooling, all this stuff, and I think people are feeling really overwhelmed.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

And honestly, some folks might not be like as equipped this year to participate in these really large events. So if you could share what is... For people who want to get involved in Global Accessibility Awareness Day, but are kind of feeling disempowered or overwhelmed in these historic times, what's one thing that someone could do today on GAAD that's maybe low effort but high impact?

Jennison Asuncion:

I would say my suggestion would be go to your favorite website, whatever it might be, and try and operate it using the keyboard alone. For all the accessibility people out there, you're all probably going, "Yeah, that's a no brainer." But other people who this might be their first time getting involved in accessibility, I would suggest you do that. Go to your favorite website, try using the keyboard alone, your tab key, your arrow keys, all that kind of stuff. See if you can do a complete interaction flow, if you can, that's great, if you can't, mark down some notes and just a note and just say, "Hey, today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I thought you should know I've done that, or I've used a screen reader, whatever it is, and I found some issues, here they are."

Jennison Asuncion:

So that's one idea somebody can do. We have a full set of ideas, if you go to globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org, to your point around not everyone is up to being social and that, we have a whole list of activities that people can do on their own. Because it is, absolutely, people on their own that might want to do something that has an equal amount of impact. I don't know, Joe, if you have any other examples of things people could do?

Joe Devon:

Well, I mean, first of all, I would just say take care of yourself, number one, and don't put pressure on yourself. But it's not hard to get involved because you can do something as simple as a blog post, and if that's too much, as simple as tweeting out about it. Follow the GAAD hashtag on the day, it's super fun, super easy, and engage with the people who are sharing their content or doing a webinar. It's easy to join a Zoom, it's easy to tweet something out, to retweet. Even a retweet is part of this, right? This is one of the great things with social media, is that you get the word out on an important topic very easily. And the more people involved, you're moving the needle and you don't have to put that much pressure.

Jennison Asuncion:

I know we've been talking a lot about Twitter, but we also have a Facebook presence, facebook.com/globalaccessibilityawarenessday, also on LinkedIn, people are using the hashtag. Oh, here's something I dislike, Mr. Journalist, when people don't use the official hashtag for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, which is GAAD, not GAAD2020 or anything else. And I say that a little bit in jest, but by everyone coalescing under one hashtag, it just makes it easier for everyone to be involved. Because then I end up spending time finding tweets that have GAAD2020, or GAAD20, and then I have to retweet them and remark them with GAAD. There's something I dislike.

Will Butler:

I liked that, that's-

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Would you recommend that people do it in all caps as well?

Jennison Asuncion:

I recommend that they do it, yes, because I putting things... Well, so here's the thing about putting things in all caps, like I know that that is very useful for people with certain disabilities, but for example, some screen reader users might have cap indication set to say the word cap before each letter, some might make it have the pitch change or the volume change. So it might be a little disconcerting for some people if everything's all in caps for that, but I am all for everyone doing it which way makes the most sense for them.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I'm going to try and get GAAD trending on Instagram this year.

Jennison Asuncion:

Well, do we have an Instagram account? Joe, did we get one this year?

Joe Devon:

Yes, we did. We've got several different versions, and we're trying to kind of unify it all under one, so things might change next year, but yeah we do.

Jennison Asuncion:

But yes, use the GAAD hashtag on Instagram and Pinterest.

Joe Devon:

Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest is also done a lot. LinkedIn is getting much better on the hashtags, and I follow the GAAD hashtag and accessibility, and so that stuff pops up all the time now.

Jennison Asuncion:

But whatever you're using [crosstalk 01:14:21]. Yes, go ahead.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Salesforce, on Chatter, you can use the hashtag GAAD as well.

Joe Devon:

There you go.

Jennison Asuncion:

Use the GAAD hashtag everywhere, seriously. We don't even know all, WeChat, right, [inaudible 00:14:36], whatever social media you have or whatever tools you're using. Internally on your own Slack channels today, on the day of GAAD, you should just use that hashtag.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

I'm going to pepper it into my video calls with my mom, just say #GAAD while chatting with her.

Joe Devon:

On YouTube too.

Will Butler:

Last year at Be My Eyes, we told our users to call volunteers and tell them about GAAD.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Oh, that's cool.

Jennison Asuncion:

Oh, if I could, so here's one other quick suggestion or an idea that people can do, if you have a favorite tech journalist or tech blogger, let them know that May 21st is GAAD. And even if you get to them after the event or they're late to the party, but maybe they'll think about it next year.

Joe Devon:

Absolutely. I meant to ask this at the beginning, but can you, in the editing, remove every stupid thing that I said? Fix it in post.

Will Butler:

For a price.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

So you want us to remove everything? Just kidding.

Joe Devon:

Yes. I love roasts, that was great. I watched roasts all the time on YouTube, so I appreciate that. I'm offended.

Will Butler:

At 13 Letters, the letter [crosstalk 01:15:59].

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

We can't remove anything that you said, it's all good.

Will Butler:

Yeah. Well, hey guys, I want to respect your time here and everything, but we'll have each of you back, Joe, to hear about what's going on at Diamond, and Jennison, to hear about what's going on... I'm sorry, in Vegas?

Jennison Asuncion:

You mean going on in my life.

Will Butler:

In Vegas? Oh yeah. Okay, right, right. But just more than anything, thank you guys so much for taking the time, I know it's a busy week, so we really, really appreciate it.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Absolutely. Yeah, and thank you for starting this whole thing to begin with, and yeah, I really appreciate.

Jennison Asuncion:

Happy GAAD.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

Happy GAAD.

Joe Devon:

Happy GAAD.

Cordelia McGee-Tubb:

#GAAD.

Will Butler:

Thanks everyone for listening to 13 Letters, not just today, but every day. Check out some of the things we were talking about today at bemyeyes.com/gaad, that's G-A-A-D. Thanks, as always, to my wonderful cohost, Cordelia McGee-Tubb, and thanks to the team at Be My Eyes who does their part to put these episodes, social media assets together and get them out into the world every week, we appreciate you. This episode was so much fun to record, even though we were so far apart from one another, I'm going to try to sound a little less like Gavin Newsom next time, and please send us your feedback as always, 13 Letters bemyeyes.com.

PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [01:17:30]