The Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) celebration and education continue.

Diamond CEO and Co-founder Joe Devon had a conversation with Kelly and Co. about GAAD. You can listen to the podcast or read the podcast transcript.

Tomorrow, May 19, 2022, is the official day of the 11th Annual GAAD. Diamond is celebrating by holding an exclusive fireside chat at 10 AM PT with Microsoft’s Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie and Tony Coelho, the primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Register for Diamond's fireside chat

How will you celebrate GAAD? Let us know on Twitter @DWSLA and use #GAAD.

What will you do in the next year to make progress in digital accessibility? Share your answers with us on Twitter.

11th Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day Podcast (Kelly & Co.)

 

11th Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day Podcast Transcript (Kelly & Co.)

Kelly McDonald
I'm Kelly MacDonald.

Ramya Amuthan
I'm Ramya Amuthan. And this is Kelly and Company.

Kelly McDonald
Wherever you're listening in to Kelly and Company around the world, thanks for being with us. You might be using the Radio Player Canada app, tune in radio, or just listening off of a website. Hey, that's a great place too, ami.ca. Always love having you with us no matter where you are listening from; your smart device, maybe the television. Thanks a lot, guys. Appreciate it. Ramya Amuthan, Kelly McDonald. We are the hosts of Kelly and Company. Today's one of those really informative days; a lot of really interesting conversation from lots of topics to kind of dwelve into, but a lot of for me, as I look at things coming up. Markers of where we are today versus conversations on a show like this five years ago when it comes to awareness.

Ramya Amuthan
Yes, absolutely. I think that there's so much to the kinds of things that we're learning, talking about more out loud you know what I mean? There's just a ton more out there for us to be discussing because it's becoming more normalcy.

Kelly McDonald
It really is pretty, pretty incredible and a lot of humbling because we know there's still plenty of work to do and lots of great people out there doing that and pushing things forward. Thursday, May 19th marks the 11th Global Accessibility Awareness Day. We welcome in to chat about this special day and what it entails friend of Kelly & Company, Joe Devon. Joe, thanks a lot for being with us.

Joe Devon
Thank you so much for the invite.

Kelly McDonald
Now, as Co-founder of Diamond and Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we feel obviously very wonderful to look back. We've had great conversations with you as to some of the things when anything kind of changes out there. But I really want to know with this being the 11th Annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day, what has it been like for you watching this grow over the years as we were just mentioning at the top?

Joe Devon
Gosh, it's just been completely surreal. I mean, it all just came from a blog post. And out of nowhere, it went viral, a little bit viral the first year, and then every year it just grows and grows and grows. And then companies release products -- they do Superbowl commercials about it -- and the whole industry kind of get comes to this day and you know that this goes well in advance. You know something's gonna go viral one day of the year and you can never really prepare for it or get used to it. It just... it's just surreal when that day happens, and at the end of the day, you're like, oh my gosh, I could have done so much more. I always feel like like, yes, like I could have done more just because it's so much attention on it, you know?

Ramya Amuthan
And we talk a lot about accessible technology. Just here on the show, you know, a quarter of our content is always comes back to technology and that kind of thing. But with Global Accessibility Awareness Day, is it really based around the adaptive tech, accessible, mainstream tech becoming more accessible? Is it wider than that? Do you find the conversations go beyond technology?

Joe Devon
Sometimes they do, but you know we have people approaching us all the time on us to change what we're doing to make it about their pet project. But we stay pretty focused on digital accessibility and making digital technology accessible. We're focused on our mission. And we try to keep it to that because it's, I don't know that's just what we pick. You know.

Kelly McDonald
It's fascinating when you look at the big players that have come on board in the sense of recognizing in some way, even if they're holding a launch event. When we look at the state of digital accessibility at this point -- and I know we asked you this when you were with us a couple of months ago -- where we at? It seems to change in that upward motion that more knowledge, that more "we'd like to jump on board," or even those subtle things that Apple or Google or whomever is just doing it, we stop and say, "Wow, somebody's thinking of us."

Joe Devon
Yes, I'd say on the -- we've done some analysis of this and found that the very top tech companies have put in the money and put in the effort to make a difference. And I'd say even a few months ago I would have said that we're not really seeing it in the Fortune 500. But I've actually felt the shift. This year has been different. As we've come closer to GAAD, we've had lots and lots of companies approach me and ask me to speak to their teams and things like that. And whereas in the past, they would say it was only the accessibility teams that would ask for that and push for awareness and the companies are starting to see this happen from the top down from the CEOs. And I'm actually really hopeful that this is a sign that in about five years, we're gonna see a massive change up and down the chain at least on enterprise companies and above which is what has to happen before it gets wider than that.

Kelly McDonald
So I gotta ask because as a sports fan, you know we always say I wonder what so and so big leaguer is doing outside of the sport because they make so much money. They have so much persona. What else are they doing? And I sometimes feel now when there's an update for something and you hear "oh, they've added this or there's support, or oh my goodness, this app is accessible," but there's so much being done quietly to where you think, "oh my goodness, it's beyond now us having to "by the way, it would be nice... a lot of blind people would like to use this app." It's now -- there's a lot of time I'm not quite sure -- that it seems to me that that's happening and that itself is a silent victory.

Joe Devon
Oh absolutely. Absolutely. I'm seeing that a lot. And what's funny is, you can even see in commercials -- this just shows you what company is focused on and I remember the first year, Apple did a primetime TV ad about accessibility. And then Microsoft followed along and then we started to see, I think there was yeah, there was Amazon and Google and now you're starting to see other companies outside. I'm just shocked when I see it. And I love it. And you know that this has got to be because there's an awful lot of conversation internally. Obviously, you know, PR is a piece of this. We want to see it more in the actual technology than just the PR but they can't keep doing PR without backing that up and doing more on the actual product.

Ramya Amuthan
Can we talk about some of the -- I want to call them excuses, but maybe they are really challenges -- and just the scope being so different from person to person, like the awareness of accessibility or just the resources being on different levels for different companies. When we're talking top tech, they come with the money, they come with the resources to support. It really just is the action piece: what are they doing and what are promising and following through? And then when you're talking smaller companies, there is sometimes more resistance because of x, y, and Zed, and I'm wondering what that is. Do you find that you're able to tap into and narrow down on what it is that still needs to be improved?

Joe Devon
Yeah, absolutely. The thing that I think is stopping most of these companies from investing is that they look at disability in one particular way, which is that they think of disability as being a major impairment, and they don't see that disability actually covers probably the majority of the population. And it's really how we've been defining it or selling it to these companies. Because if you are above 50 -- which over a third of the population is above 50 -- you're definitely notseeing or hearing the same way you were when you were 20s. And I can say that very confidently as being in that age range. So the market is enormous, and they need to understand -- the businesses need to understand -- that the market is a business reason to do this. So that's one aspect of it. And the other aspect of it is that a lot of the people that are building the products, they're beginning to get some awareness, but a lot of them don't really have the know-how yet. And we need to improve that side of the coin in order for the wider ecosystem to pick it up. May I plug something in that vein?

Ramya Amuthan
Mhmm, absolutely.

Joe Devon
Yeah, so with the GAAD Foundation, we've been doing something called the GAAD pledge which Meta -- at the time was Facebook -- Meta took the first GAAD Pledge to make the React Native open source project accessible. And then AmberJS followed, and we're going to announce the third open source project that is taking the pledge on GAAD itself. So I'd like everybody to watch out for that because it's the open source frameworks -- those are like frameworks of code that hundreds of thousands of developers use and it affects millions of users, maybe billions of users downstream. So if we can get the open source projects to pay attention to accessibility, then we're going to see that the entire culture of people who build digital technology are going to improve the situation for all.

Kelly McDonald
That's what we want. We just want so many people doing -- pitching in and whatever creativity is always brought to the table is good and moves everything forward. But as for Global Accessibility Awareness Day itself, do you have anything on top of that? A special plan that you want to bring to our attention, or that you do yourself now that we're in 11 years, that you make your annual ritual?

Joe Devon
Yeah, I'm speaking at about seven events that day, at least so far. And yeah, that's a lighter year than last year.

Kelly McDonald
Wow. How early do they start, the talks? With the different timezones?

Joe Devon
My talks -- the earliest one this year, I think, is 7 AM Pacific -- but GAAD really begins to get going from midnight in the first timezone until midnight is over, the end of the day -- midnight -- of the last timezone. So it's, it's more than 24 hours. Yeah, definitely. And in terms of -- for me, the biggest one for my company Diamond -- I'm going to moderate some fireside chats with Jenny Lay-Flurrie, who is the Chief Accessibility Officer of Microsoft, and Tony Coelho, who is the former congressman who was the architect and lead sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And he's going to give us an update on the recent Department of Justice guidance on accessibility, and perhaps what's coming down the pike. Really excited for that one.

Kelly McDonald
Ah, so you'll sleep on Friday.

Joe Devon
Cool. And we're gonna have to let you go, but Joe Devon, where can we find you, find information on GAAD? So accessibility.day is the official website. We've also got the foundation that runs the day, basically, and that's at the gaad.foundation. And follow the #GAAD hashtag on Twitter for up to the minute announcements from around the globe. And lastly, my nick all over social media is @joedevon.

Kelly McDonald
Congratulations. Good luck to everyone. It's so wonderful. That was Joe Devon, Co-Founder of Diamond and Co-Founder of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, talking to us about the 11th annual event taking place this Thursday. Jump in there and enjoy. Coming up next we're going to discuss Real Abilities Film Festival Toronto because folks, it's back!