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By Sophie Jones, Experience Center Customer Service Specialist
The ASU Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2020 (GAAD) digital conference gathered passionate individuals to raise awareness and understanding of technological accessibility, illustrating methods by which any webpage, assignment, video or document could be modified to reach a diverse audience. Accessibility is vital, and GAAD strove to demonstrate design considerations that should be implemented so that all viewers feel welcome. “It was an opportunity for people from across the university to gather in support of ASU’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and accessibility for everyone,” Kathy Marks, UTO’s IT Accessibility Coordinator, said.
In the classroom in particular, a proactive approach to developing accessible technological landscapes is vital. This preventative measure works against depriving students of independence and autonomy, while making higher education a welcoming and attainable pursuit. “Especially during times like these when we’ve been forced to move so many aspects of our lives online, ensuring that everyone can participate equally is vitally important,” Marks explained.
Special mentions included software like "Ally," a program which helps to determine the accessibility of files so that professors can maintain an awareness of who their assignments can reliably reach. GAAD’s ultimate goal of sharing best practices for tailoring courses and work to eliminate barriers to comprehension was felt by attendees, and the information disseminated at the digital conference will radiate out to ASU and beyond. “What I found most inspiring about the day was this awareness expressed by speakers and participants that making ASU’s online content accessible to everyone and including people of all abilities ultimately benefits every one of us,” Marks said.