Adobe celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day
Image source: Adobe Stock/SpicyTruffel.
Today, we celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) a day dedicated to recognizing accessibility efforts around the world, creating an inclusive way to get people thinking, learning, and talking more about digital accessibility and inclusion. Every year, we observe this day to recognize the more than one billion people worldwide with disabilities. We also want to acknowledge and highlight the significant strides the industry has made while looking ahead to what’s next in removing barriers and unlocking inclusive and accessible experiences for all.
This past year, accessibility has continued to advance to the top of many companies’ list of priorities — we’ve seen accessibility at the forefront of product releases and updates, paired with the increasing inclusive hybrid workplace efforts. The Department of Justice (DOJ), has also shown its support by releasing new web accessibility guidance to help educate companies on how to make websites more accessible, with an aim to align with the wide-spread adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. Although there's always more that can be done, providing more guidance for companies will lead to significant progress as it will help break down unnecessary barriers and increase equal access to information.
Celebrating GAAD at Adobe
We’ve continued to make strides in our accessibility and inclusion efforts at Adobe and within our products and services. For Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we wanted to share some exciting new updates and work we have been doing to continue raising awareness.
- This year, at the 2022 axe-con event, Adobe was awarded the Accessibility at Scale Award for our wide-reaching and mature accessibility efforts. The award recognizes Adobe’s accomplishments and efforts in accessibility, including setting up a detailed and consistent testing and documentation process for accessibility and a continued drive to improve accessibility in Adobe’s overall process, allowing us to scale our accessibility efforts.
- Additionally, Adobe formed The Readability Consortium with founding members University of Central Florida (UCF) and Readability Matters, and welcomed Google as its newest member. Our aim with The Readability Consortium is to make digital reading and reading comprehension more equitable for all people across the globe by investing in cognitive research, open-source tools, and user testing across a wide swath of age groups and abilities levels.
- We also continued to make progress in Adobe’s product portfolio, one of the latest updates comes to Adobe Fresco. After an accessibility audit revealed a challenging wayfinding structure and a need for a methodical approach to keyboard navigation order, experience designer Jinjin Sun, set out to make Fresco navigable by screen readers and keyboards so it would be useful and usable for as many people as possible. Read more about the team’s methodology and how they accomplished designing a more inclusive experience for Fresco in their latest blog.
At Adobe offices, we provide a space for our employees to share their stories and continue to raise awareness internally on disability inclusion and accessibility. This includes:
- The Access at Adobe India and Europe teams collaborated to host an “Inclusive Safari” digital event where participants performed usability checks on different mobile apps under specific scenarios. In each of their checks, participants set certain accessibility settings while performing the scenarios. This allowed participants to log their observations on what settings and scenarios can hinder people with disabilities when using different apps, allowing teams to gain insights on potential improvements when developing product updates.
- Two members of Access at Adobe hosted a panel discussion on embracing neurodiversity. They shared their lived experiences and were joined by Mishka Sibert who spoke about her journey and documentary series called “Road to Independence” funded by Adobe Creative Residency Community Fund and released in 2020. Read about Mishka’s amazing story.
A focus on accessibility in the workplace
In December, we released a study to better understand how work environments changed over the course of the pandemic and how accessibility and inclusivity evolved with these new ways of working.
The past two years completely reshaped how companies work, increasing their reliance on digital technology. The way workplaces think about accessible and inclusive design involves more companies looking to increase support for employees with disabilities.
Among the key findings:
- 74 percent of people with disabilities say that accessibility and inclusivity benefits are a key deciding factor in evaluating job opportunities.
- More than half of respondents, with and without disabilities, found mental health to be a significant concern, impacting 73 percent of those with disabilities, and 33 percent of those without disabilities.
- 77 percent of people surveyed are interested in learning more about supporting accessibility in the workplace, including topics about mental wellness and tips for working with different learning styles.
- Regardless of disability status, 84 percent of those surveyed feel coworkers would benefit from workplace accessibility improvements.
The survey results clearly showed us how accessibility and disability inclusion efforts are helping to level the playing field for employees. Companies are making concerted efforts to build more accessible tools and technologies that help address diverse needs and create an environment where everyone can be empowered to do their best work.
Illuminating accessibility and disability inclusion year-round
In addition to these events, we are working to continually enhance our employee experience by creating an inclusive workplace through community-building, training and internal awareness-building, family-friendly benefit policies, and parity commitments. A few ways we do this include:
- We host a global, mandatory Building Inclusion on Your Team learning series designed to guide managers and individual contributors on the actions they can take to strengthen empathy and inclusion. We continue to evolve our disability awareness training for employees and plan to launch new training content later this year.
- We support employee networks and interest groups to cultivate community and provide support. One of our employee networks, Access at Adobe, focuses on supporting, raising awareness, and advocating for Adobe employees and family members with disabilities.
- For example, we recently hosted an event with Deepa Purushothaman, who shared insights on how to gain a seat at the table, while challenging outdated models, building communities of change, and ensuring that your full voice is honored in the process.
- Through Adobe’s Equity and Advancement Initiative, we collaborate with the Disability Rights Fund (DRF). Our employees play a large role in this, providing pro bono support to DRF. Adobe consultants are supporting DRF as it builds a business case for its disability inclusion and accessibility learning cohort. Bringing this field-building service to market will help DRF continue to shift the philanthropic sector to be more educated and willing to act on the inclusion of persons with disabilities.
- Adobe is also part of a global movement to put disability on the business leadership agenda through our membership in The Valuable 500, and our participation in the Disability Equality Index.
Our goal is to continue to build a culture where every employee is encouraged to share their unique perspectives, to actively participate and engage, to feel included and valued, and where they can do their best work and achieve personal growth while contributing to the growth of the organization.
Spotlight: Hometown Heroes
In addition to Adobe’s efforts in this space, we want to share an inspirational story from Janie Desir. She created several Braille books that blind/visually impaired parents can read to their sighted children, creating an opportunity for the same story-time bond that sighted parents enjoy with their children. Janie lost most of her vision due to a rare congenital disease called keratoconus, and after having her son in 2020, she found that the mediums available for visually impaired parents did not offer the same hands-on quality experience as those available for sighted parents. Using the skills she gained through her education in graphic design, Janie connected with Jack Nicolai, senior product manager for accessibility at Adobe, to leverage Adobe’s products to create books in braille that would allow visually impaired/blind parents to read and teach their sighted children the alphabet, numbers, shapes, and colors.
You can read more about Janie’s story and donate if interested, to support her in reaching visually impaired parents who are looking to share bonding experiences with their child.
We’ve made progress when it comes to building accessibility and disability inclusion into our culture and programs, and we know that this work must continue year-round.