Global Accessibility Awareness Day

The third Thursday of May is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). This day is all about getting everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion. Digital accessibility means that someone with a disability can use a web-based service as easily and successfully as those without disabilities. Big tech companies are honoring this day by releasing new features to make their products and services more accessible. Many of these updates are creating more accessibility for those who are hard of hearing.


Apple will be coming out with Live Captions for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch. This feature will be used for any audio content, such as audio-based text messages, FaceTime calls, streaming video, or in-person conversation. Transcriptions take place locally on the device, without transmitting information to iCloud or any other service, so conversation is private and secure. This feature will be rolled out later this year in software updates.

Last year, Apple launched SignTime on Global Accessibility Awareness Day. SignTime links customers with on-demand sign language interpreters directly from their web browsers. Customers can communicate with AppleCare and Retail Customer Care by using American Sign Language in the US, British Sign Language in the UK, or French Sign Language in France. This year for GAAD, SignTime is launching in Canada, with plans to expand to additional countries.

Apple is honoring GAAD all week. The Accessibility Assistant shortcut is coming to the Shortcuts app on Mac and Apple Watch later in the week to help recommend accessibility features based on user preferences. In addition, Apple Store locations around the world are offering live sessions to help customers discover accessibility features on iPhone, and Apple Support social channels are showcasing how-to content.

To learn more about additional features Apple is launching for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, click here.


Google has an app called Live Transcribe that provides real time captions for the Android operating system. The app takes speech and captions it live using just the phone microphone. It is available in over 80 languages and dialects. Recently, they’ve launched Offline Mode, meaning you can use the app to transcribe even if you’re not connected to the internet. This feature is available in English, Japanese, German, French, Italian, and Spanish.

To learn more about Live Transcribe, click here.

Google’s Sound Notifications feature notifies you when there are important sounds around you (e.g. a doorbell ringing, a baby crying, fire/smoke alarms, etc.) through haptics, flashing lights, and phone notifications. They’ve come out with an update that allows you to customize personal sounds in your house like the microwave beeping versus the dishwasher beeping.

For Global Accessibility Day in 2020, Google Maps came out with a feature called Accessible Places, designed to more prominently display accessibility information about a location or business. For individuals with hearing loss, they can easily see if a venue has a hearing loop installed. This can be the deciding factor in whether or not a person goes to a restaurant, movie theater, store, etc.

To learn more about this feature, click here.


One billion people worldwide have disabilities. Making your website and online resources easily accessible is so important and directly benefits you as well. It expands your potential audience exponentially since more users are able to use your site. It’s as simple as providing captions on videos, using organized headings, choosing colors mindfully, and overall, when creating content, always keeping accessibility in mind.

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