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Creating Awareness for Digital Accessibility

Geographic Solutions as a company is focused on bringing ease-of-use in their products to people with disabilities. In the United States alone, over half of working-age people have a disability or impairment, making it imperative to consider accessibility from the initial stages of software development. Geographic Solutions is committed to making our software as accessible as possible, and we are proud to observe Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD).

Each year, GAAD is observed on the third Thursday of May, as a means to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access for individuals with disabilities. GAAD was first celebrated in 2012 to help highlight the need for increased accessibility for over one billion people with disabilities and/or impairments.

"GAAD creates awareness. The more people who begin to know and understand what digital accessibility is -- everyone will benefit in way they may not know," said Geographic Solutions' Accessibility Services Programmer, John Contarino.

Ensuring Inclusiveness For All Users

To offer a truly inclusive experience, individuals with disabilities must be able to experience web-based services, content, and other digital products with the same successful outcome as those without disabilities. Accessibility guidelines enhance the product experience for those with disabilities as well as for all users. These guidelines became part of an industry-wide movement with revised regulations from the Department of Justice in 2010.

As a company, we are committed to ensuring our software is universally accessible. As a testament to this commitment, our Accessibility Services Team periodically creates awareness labs. These workshops not only show how imperative inclusive design is to our user base, they also demonstrate to our employees--how advantageous accessible design can be.

While no days are typical in an agile-driven software development company, this team spends any given week analyzing websites, documents, and other materials for compliance with the latest accessibility guidelines.

"We continually research, train, and ask questions to better understand the barriers that persons with disabilities encounter," said Accessibility Services Team Lead, Patti Arouni.

Looking Toward the Future

The benefits far outweigh the challenges, and our accessibility services group agrees that the most rewarding part is helping level the playing field for all individuals, regardless of impairment.

"We recommend visiting the GAAD website, globalaccessibilityawarenessday.org, to take part in the event," said Contarino.



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