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Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2024

Starting in 2013, institutions and technology companies worldwide began marking Global Accessibility Awareness Day on the third Thursday of May.

Introduction to Global Accessibility Awareness Day

The day began with a blog post from a web designer but has become a worldwide day to raise awareness about the need for technology, especially social media, to be equitably accessible for all. It is also a day to celebrate the unique contributions and the Disabled contributors who are at the outer edge of culture makers.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day celebrates the idea that diversity is the spice of life.

The image is a promotional graphic for "Global Accessibility Awareness" by Matthew CP Purinton, LCSW. The background features an image of Earth from space, giving it a global context. The text on the image includes "Increasing mental health care to the Disability community" and "Council for Relationships." The overall design has a teal border and bold, blue text.Navigating the Digital World: Challenges and Opportunities for Disabled Individuals

According to the CDC, Disabled people make up 27% of the adult population in the United States. The worldwide population of Disabled people is currently equal to over 1.3 billion people. Global Accessibility Awareness Day is about drawing attention to the need to make the Internet, social media, video, and audio content accessible to people with a diverse array of disabilities.

Disability does not discriminate, and so within every demographic group, there is a subpopulation of Disabled people. This subpopulation is invariably the most disenfranchised of that demographic group; they are the ones you have never heard from. The digital domain can not truly cultivate community and collaboration if the Disabled community is spoken for by others rather than accessible so that we can all express our own agency.

Disability is an intrinsic part of life, not a people to be avoided.

The Digital Footprint of the Disabled Community

Although many Disabled People rely on the internet, they remain excluded from a digital desert of services, content, and community. Because they have such a smaller digital footprint relative to the size of our population, there is a growing fear that an AI-dominated internet could turn out to be less accurate when applied or utilized by Disabled People, potentially implicitly ableist.

There are many definitions of ableism, but at its core, ableism is prejudice or bias towards Disabled People. It is the idea that some bodies are prized over others. Ableism is the biased idea that one body type represents the universal experience of humanity.

Celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2024

A reason to celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day is that our society’s ideas about what it means to be Disabled are undergoing dramatic change. We are moving out of the darkness of ideas in non-disabled society (such as the idea that the Disabled are better off dead) to an understanding that there are strengths and skill sets that exist only in the Disabled.

That the world is better with Disabled People in it.

That, on average, Disabled people are incredible problem solvers.

The Disabled invented interdependence and so much more!

Where would physics be without Newton, Einstein, Hawking, or Feynman? Where would psychology be without Freud, Mudd, Skinner, and Bronfrenbrener?

Humanity would not be humanity if disability did not exist. On average, the Disabled report an equal quality of life to nondisabled people (I intentionally use “non-disabled” rather than not “abled”; Disabled people are just as “abled.”)

The Deaf and Hard of Hearing, when living in a Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, report a higher quality of life than the non-disabled and Disabled people who hear. That surprises a lot of non-disabled people. The majority of Disabled people contend that the hardest thing in our lives to cope with is inaccessibility and ableism. Not our bodies.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is a day of celebration because it celebrates the unique contributions of Disabled people to our society, our communities, and the planet. It exists so that humanity never needs to contemplate what music would be like if Beethoven did not have access to a piano.

Stories of Impact: Disabled Contributors Changing the Digital Landscape

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is about making the digital domain inclusive for everyone. It is in everyone’s interest that musicians like Lachi can perform for everyone’s benefit.

Advancing Disability Justice: Key Programs and Achievements

There is a concept in accessibility called the “Curb Cut Effect.” Curb cuts are small ramps at the corners of city blocks.

Before curb cuts, the city blocks of Philadelphia were islands of cement surrounded by an ocean of asphalt. It was impossible for me to travel from one block to another. Traveling in Philadelphia was a matter of a game of chicken with my wheelchair and the motorists of the City of Brotherly Love.

Curb cuts not only made the city safer and easier to traverse for wheelchair users, Disabled people, and others with access and functional needs. Curb cuts also made it easier for non-disabled people, like parents with baby strollers and UPS deliverers.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day is about extending the “Curb Cut Effect” to the digital world, not just to make the digital social sphere accessible to the Disabled. It makes the virtual world better for us all.

I am not only proud to be Disabled and a part of the Disability community, but I am also excited to be Disabled. My culture and world remain largely an undiscovered country to the non-disabled. There are so many opportunities to build a more welcoming world for everyone! There are many questions that the non-disabled have been asking for eons, that the Disabled community has had the answer to all along.

When people work as one, when they see their weaknesses as natural connection points to the strengths of others, we can begin to understand that the parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of or do not like are actually part of our own unique special sauce. We are all square pegs in a social environment of round holes.

In 14 billion years, there has never been another you or another me. In 14 billion years, there will never be another you or me. No one has ever had the unique combination of pluses and minuses you and I have.

Our intrinsic value as human beings is assured by this fact: you are the rarest of the rare because you are you. I am fortunate to circle the stars on the same stone as you. This is what being Disabled and the Disability community has taught me.

Conclusion: A Call to Action for Digital Inclusivity

Follow, engage, and share Disabled content creators on the web and social media.

Creators such as Tee Franklin, a Black Queer Disabled Woman (Disability is intersectional), who is the creator of the animated series Harley Quinn and other recent comic books. Philadelphia’s own Imani Barbarin is an incredible writer who publishes content on the web under the name Crutches and Spice.

Learn about what a fully accessible website really means (hint: no overlays). The best way to find out is by checking out the content of Disabled creators who know about accessibility. The World Institute on Disability is my personal go-to for accessibility, whether in real life or virtual.

Take a journey of discovery.

The Disability community and our culture are amazing! Check out the Pan Disabled Orchestra and Infinite Flow. If you are feeling adventurous and in an NSFW environment, check out Sins Invalid and their incredible performance art and education sessions.

Portrait of CFR Staff Therapist and author of the blog "Global Accessibility Awareness Day" 2024, Matthew CP Purinton

CFR Staff Therapist Matthew CP Purinton, LCSW.

About Philadelphia-area Therapist Matthew CP Purinton, LCSW

Matthew CP Purinton, LCSW, is a Staff Therapist at the Council for Relationships. He identifies as a Disabled Person and uses identity-first language to signal his affinity with the Disability Justice Movement within the Disability Community. Contact him to book an individual, couples, or family therapy appointment.

Let CFR’s over 85 individual, couples, and family therapy experts help you build thriving relationships and flourishing communities. See our Therapist & Psychiatrist Directory for CFR therapists or psychiatrists near you.

If this is an emergency, please call 911 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988.

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CFR expert therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists offer much more to explore! Check out the CFR Expert Voices blog for great mental and emotional health advice and insight. To get first access to our Expert Voices blog, join our mailing list!

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