Global Accessibility Awareness Day event

by Charlotte Weston

Here at Catalyst we take digital accessibility seriously, embedding it into our development projects from the beginning.

Web accessibility helps people with disabilities to perceive, understand, navigate, interact with, and contribute to the web. It is also a characteristic of a good website and is easy to implement with the proper knowledge and tools. Catalyst is the first supplier in New Zealand to be approved by the Department of Internal Affairs on the New Zealand Marketplace for Web Accessibility.

This Thursday the 20th of May is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). The purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion for the more than one billion people with disabilities/impairments.

Catalyst’s Accessibility Team is organising an event on Global Accessibility Awareness Day for staff at Catalyst to raise awareness of and empathy for different types of disabilities. The drop-in activities will include navigating a screen reader while blindfolded, folding origami with an arm in a sling, and filling in a transcript for a video on low volume/mute. While it's not possible to fully simulate the struggles of those belonging to the disabled and chronically ill communities, the interactive games will attempt to show how frustrating it can be to access regular daily activities when you are impaired in some way.

Here are some tips for a disability-friendly workplace:

  • Push your chairs in to the tables in kitchens, meeting rooms and at your desks. These are a hazard for everyone, but in particular those who have low vision or are visually impaired.
  • Be mindful when walking in and out of doors and lifts; walking towards people can be intimidating as some people are unable to get out of your way.
  • Try not to rely on visual cues when communicating with others.
  • Likewise, don’t rely solely on spoken cues.
  • Speak as clearly as possible.
  • Accessibility is a process, not a project. Embed accessibility practices at the beginning of your projects to be the most resource and cost effective
  • Above all, be kind and considerate. Many people have hidden disabilities and/or chronic illnesses.