2023 Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

Office of the Texas Governor, Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities

Accessibility of Documents and Websites Is Critical in Reaching Your Entire Audience

On May 18th, the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities joins Governor Abbott in celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Read on to learn how you can raise your digital accessibility skills and communicate like a pro.

Most of us are familiar with common examples of accessibility in the built environment, such as curb ramps and accessible parking spaces. However, we are less likely to understand how digital accessibility benefits individuals with disabilities and what we can each do to support it.

What is Digital Accessibility?

Digital accessibility refers to the practice of removing barriers that prevent interaction with, or access to, websites, digital tools, and technologies.  Accessibility is critical to ensure Texas agencies and businesses provide good customer service and is also required by state and federal law. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is considered accessible when people with disabilities can:

  • access the same information,
  • receive the same services,
  • operate the same functionality, and
  • achieve the same goals.

Some common ICT accessibility barriers include images on webpages that lack a text description for blind users (known as alt text in HTML), video or multimedia content without synchronized text captions for users who are deaf or hard of hearing, or web content with poor color contrast for individuals with low vision.

Legal Requirements

Accessibility is not only critical to ensure good customer service, but also required by state and federal law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities and requires that covered Title II entities (state and local governments) and Title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public) communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities. The goal is to ensure that communication with people with disabilities is equally effective as communication with people without disabilities. Past ADA guidance has extended to accessibility of websites and other digital communications and applies the federal standards under another law known commonly as “Section 508.” The updated federal accessibility requirements found in Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 USC § 794d) requires that when U.S. federal government agencies develop, procure, or maintain information and communication technology (ICT), that it is accessible to persons with disabilities. In 2006, these accessibility standards were adopted by the 79th Texas Legislature and enacted in Texas Government Code 2054 Subchapter M. This law applies to both state agencies and state colleges and universities. Today, each of these entities has an electronic and information resources accessibility coordinator that helps their agency implement policies to ensure agency employees have the required training to successfully implement digital accessibility throughout their organization.

Who Else Benefits from Accessibility?

Texas businesses find themselves more competitive when ensuring their websites and digital technology is accessible for all their customers. One business case for fully implementing web accessibility standards is better Search Engine Optimization (SEO). According to WebAIM, “Web accessibility and search engine optimization (SEO) are both about getting relevant content to users. Accessible content and search engine optimized content are both machine readable. Search engines and assistive technologies (such as screen readers used by people who are blind) are quite similar. In many ways, search engines are deaf, blind, use only a keyboard, and have limited technical abilities. Both rely on content structure, semantics, and functionality to either present content to users or determine the relevance of content.” Accessibility experts also find that web applications designed for accessibility work better across different browsers and platforms over a longer period. Finally, when you create documents and reports to accessibility standards, these documents are easier to update, maintain, and convert to other formats.

If you are new to accessibility, how can you get started?

Take an accessibility coffee break – GCPD is proud to host a series of short accessibility videos we informally call “Accessibility Coffee Breaks” on making Microsoft Office 2016 documents accessible to people with disabilities. These short videos were developed by a partnership of fourteen state agencies and were recognized by the Federal Communications Commission with their Innovation Award. Browse the Accessible Documents Tutorials. Examples of some of the short video topics include:

  • Using the Microsoft Office Accessibility Checker
  • Requirements to Make a Document Accessible
  • How to Make Accessible Tables
  • MS Word Forms
  • Converting your document to an accessible PDF

Celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

Today, Governor Abbott notes that Global Accessibility Awareness Day serves as a reminder — for all of us — about the importance of accommodating the needs of everyone in our community because, by doing so, we can ensure that our great state will continue to be the best place to live, work, and raise a family.

Using the following link, read the full Governor's Proclamation of May 18, 2023, as Global Accessibility Awareness Day!

2023 Global Accessibility Awareness Day Proclamation