Global Accessibility Awareness Day logo

Global Accessibility Awareness Day was Thursday 20 May 2021.

RNIB celebrated the 10th Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) with social media shares and some top tips to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion.

What is digital accessibility?

Every user deserves a first-rate digital experience on the web. Someone with a disability must be able to experience web-based services, content and other digital products with the same successful outcome as those without disabilities. This awareness and commitment to inclusion is the goal of GAAD; a global event that shines a light on digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities.

Most smartphones and tablets now come with built-in accessibility features like screen readers and magnification, and a range of technology solutions are available to help people with sight loss in day-to-day life, but there is still room for improvement.

We put together some tips on simple ways you can make your communications more accessible: 

What technology is accessible?

Lots of high-street products, popular devices and essential apps have accessibility features that you might not know are built-in. There are also many exciting specialist technologies designed to ensure blind and partially sighted people can access work, entertainment and many everyday digital interactions. Learn more about what's available and how it works by reading some of the introductory guides on our Technology for Life resource hub.

Try it for yourself

If you know how to switch on the accessibility features on your own smartphone you'll be able to demonstrate them to someone else who would benefit, and you'll have a better understanding of how they work and why they are important. RNIB took to Twitter to explain how to make your iPhone more accessible. Check out our simple instructions.

What can I do differently?

Most of us aren't designing products or building apps, but there are lots of things that we can do differently to make our regular communications more accessible.

  • Add alt text on your social media images: adding alt text ensures that screen reader users know what's in your pictures. Be descriptive, but keep it brief. Most screen readers cut off alt text at around 125 characters so stick to that limit. Microsoft have written a helpful guide called Everything you need to know to write effective alt text.

  • Use CamelCase in your hashtags: that's when you capitalise the first letter of every word so a screen reader can identify the individual words and repeat them in a clear way to avoid misunderstandings.

  • Make videos accessible: if you add videos to YouTube think about adding subtitles, a transcript or audio description to make the films accessible. There is some new audio description software that might make that easier. YouTube Help has great info about how to create transcripts, subtitles and closed captions.

  • Finally, be careful with all those emojis! Text-to-speech software reads out a description for every single emoji which is used. Watch our short film to really understand how that sounds:

Download a transcript of the emoji film

Further information

We've prepared a whole page of tips about making your social media accessible so you can become an inclusive social media influencer straight away! We'd love to see your accessible posts, so don't forget to connect with RNIB on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.