- Health and Wellness
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
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Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), held on the third Thursday of each May, is an opportunity for the world to talk and think broadly about accessibility.
The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that one in four adults in America has a disability, which could include low vision, mobility difficulties, cognitive or age-related issues and hearing loss, among many others.
But accessibility isn’t just for addressing disabilities: Features such as curb cuts in sidewalks help people pushing strollers or carts, and alt-text (see tip 10) can help anyone understand an image if it isn’t displaying properly.
To mark GAAD, Pitt’s Angie Bedford-Jack, digital accessibility coordinator; Casey Buchanan-Smith, a graphic designer for the IDEA Lab at the Institute for Clinical Research Education; and Chloe Shearer, a statistician with the Human Engineering Research Laboratories shared tips for making Pitt and the world more accessible—an effort that anyone can and should take part in.
1. “Nerd out” on accessibility terms. Be conversant with common accessibility terms from Accessibility360.
2. Make your next virtual event accessible.
3. Know the accessibility tools of Microsoft 365: Live captioning/transcription in Microsoft Teams, setting a delay for emails, a built-in accessibility checker and other tools can help.
4. Listen to a podcast: Judith Heumann, the self-described “bad-ass disability activist” converses with other groundbreakers and allies in The Heumann Perspective podcast. The A11y Rules Podcast also features accessibility experts and perspectives from people talking about the barriers they encounter on the web.
5. Follow some of the accessibility rock stars and join the conversation with #A11y, the hashtag and numeronym for accessibility used on social media. Some accounts Pitt’s accessibility experts suggested to follow:
- Human rights lawyer Haben Girma and first deaf-blind person to graduate from Harvard.
- Lainey Feingold, disability rights lawyer who negotiated first web accessibility agreement.
- Deque System’s disability web guru Denis Boudreau.
- Accessibility engineer Léonie Watson.
- Accessibility pioneer Mike Paciello.
6. Schedule a one-on-one consultation with accessibility staff at the Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion by emailing accessibility [at] pitt.edu (subject: Accessibility%20consultation) .
7. Make one accessibility improvement with Siteimprove to your personal or unit’s website.
8. Participate in a virtual GAAD Event.
9. Join the Pitt Disability Community by contacting Chloe Shearer at css81 [at] pitt.edu (subject: Joining%20the%20Pitt%20Disability%20Community) .
10. Make an alt-text poem. Alternative or alt-text refers to descriptions of images or non-text elements on a web page. These descriptions are read by screen readers or appear when images cannot be read.
Pitt resources to know
The University is committed to providing equal access to its employees with disabilities. Faculty and staff in need of assistance or accommodations can complete a Workplace Accommodation Request Form or contact the Office of Disability Resources and Services at 412-648-7890.
Employees can also join the Pitt Disability Community, a new resource group for those with disabilities and their allies.
Students can explore resources and accommodations online or call 412-648-7890.
Finally, the University Center for Teaching and Learning has a library of resources to help to help instructors create more inclusive and accessible course materials.
This story has been updated.