Today is marking the 8th Global Accessibility Awareness Day! The world we live in, is catered to the needs of the majority. Envision’s co-founder Karthik Kannan, had raised this issue during his TedX talk. Living in a world that is not accessible by everyone, is unequal by itself. Access to information signifies freedom but what happens when information is not accessible by all? The services that Envision offers were inspired by the realization of this specific issue. Converting visual cues into accessible information for the visually impaired, which is what Envision’s software does, is offering a temporary solution to the issue of accessibility for the blind and low vision. Though, this is a solution to just a fragment of the problem. The real solution lays within a world that is fully aware of the importance of accessibility. Hence, the Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) aims to do just that. Inspired by the initiative of GAAD, we wish to encourage everyone to participate in experiencing accessibility, by sharing what Envision does to contribute to the cause.
Change starts with the small things. Working on a service that is addressed to the visually impaired, the entire Envision team strives to better understand the community. Daily, each team member navigates through their phone using TalkBack or VoiceOver, which are screen-reading technologies for smartphones. Moreover, we are constantly updated about the ways we can make everything related with Envision, accessible; our communication efforts, our services, our events.
Envision is a small, yet powerful team. Without Jesse Wienholts, our Alpha Tester and Community Manager, our team would be incomplete. Having a visually impaired friend and team-member helps us become even more aware of the importance of accessibility. Hanging out with Jesse does not only encourage us to actively make daily interactions accessible but it offers us the opportunity to learn hands-on about the topic, asking him every little question about things we might be completely unaware of. Thank you Jesse!
Finally, Envision has been working together with the municipality of The Hague in The Netherlands in an effort to battle unemployment rates among the blind and low vision individuals. Specifically, the project revolves around making employment search more accessible for the visually impaired. This project aims to raise awareness about the necessity of more accessible job opportunities, alongside with assisting the visually impaired to achieve their goals in the professional sphere.
Accessibility Awareness starts on a personal level. If you don’t know where to start from, check what others do. The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) launched the “Who put that there! A-boards” campaign, in its effort to raise awareness about the dangers of A-boards used for advertising or promotions. These boards are a danger for the blind and low vision individuals, contributing to the inaccessibility of the world. The GAAD has an entire page filled with ideas one could utilize to experience accessibility. A fun article addressed to people in companies (and not only) about accessibility, its importance and small steps to come closer to it, is this one.
The bottom line is that change comes, first, from ourselves. Accessibility is essential to live within societies that are equal and inclusive. By ignoring its importance and not taking action, we contribute to the marginalization of individuals that have different physical characteristics from others, when our capacity as humans is beyond the physical. Hopefully, this day will have successfully managed to plant the seed of awareness in some people’s hearts. We can only hope for this to spread.
Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day!