Microsoft Leads Accessibility Going Into GAAD

Before we begin, I want to stress that accessibility is a topic that’s important to me and is my profession, so I believe that it should be handled with great care.

More care than I can give you, honest reader, in the short time I currently have to write this article.

What is GAAD

There’s some civic pride to GAAD for us accessibility consultants, advocates and developers here in Canada. And for myself and others with disabilities in the gaming community, this is our Christmas because it’s Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2022 (GAAD). GAAD began in May of 2012 as a co-op learning opportunity between Los Angeles-based web designer and a Toronto-raised digital accessibility consultant revolutionizing start-up culture accessibility in California. And while Los Angeles claims the title of birthplace of the event held each year on the third Thursday in May, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal helped grow the celebrations and achievements over the past decade with events and collaborations of their own.

The event’s purpose has always been to highlight the learning and development of accessible web and software design, which is a complex and ever-changing world. I confess knowing a passible amount regarding best practices and application of laws and lessons, but minimal about the development side of things. I’ve spent the past half-decade trying to pick up as much programming knowledge as I can.

This is kind of like our Met Gala, so you are likely beginning to notice your accessibility-focused friends and colleagues are coming out of hibernation and talking about accessible design and assistive technology. As such, be sure to give your favourite gamer with a disability or gaming company the red carpet treatment when it comes to celebrating accessibility today. Share in their success, but learn from them as well.

On the point of companies taking part in the day, it’s essential to see that support. You’re probably noticing more corporations, especially tech companies, championing their accessibility contributions. While you should always be skeptical of a company’s motivation for taking part in an event like GAAD. It’s important to remember that companies that don’t take accessibility seriously exclude entire groups of people from working with them or using their services and products. 

One of those companies that have promised to take accessibility is Microsoft.

Each year around this time, the Redmond, Washington-based tech empire hosts an Accessibility Summit for its staff and the general public. As I’ve said above, the developments that have come out of Microsoft’s work in the past and the spotlights of the Microsoft Ability Summit reach across the company’s range of products and departments. Here are just a few of them highlighted in some of the most-used offerings.

If you missed all of the accessibility announcements Microsoft made last week, I nearly died trying to keep up with them.

Minecraft: Education Edition launches a world focused on barriers to access.

Microsoft Store and Game Pass get new accessibility tags.

Microsoft unveils Adaptive Accessories