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GAAD Foundation Launches to Make Digital Accessibility a First Class Citizen in Tech

May 20, 2021

Global Accessibility Awareness Day (“GAAD”) Marks its 10th Anniversary with the Launch of the GAAD Foundation

The GAAD Foundation extends digital accessibility from awareness to tech industry action

LAS VEGAS, NV: Today, to mark the 10th Global Accessibility Awareness Day (“GAAD”), Co-Founders Jennison Asuncion and Joe Devon announce the expansion of their commitment to raising awareness about digital access and inclusion with the launch of the GAAD Foundation. The GAAD Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to disrupt the culture of technology and digital product development to include accessibility as a core requirement. The Foundation’s Board is composed of technology heavyweights, including Christopher Patnoe, Head of Accessibility Programs and Disability Inclusion at Google, and Nadya Ichinomiya, Founder of the Agile Center of Excellence at Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Serial entrepreneur, Joe Devon, and digital accessibility leader, Jennison Asuncion, co-founded Global Accessibility Awareness Day in 2012 to get people talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion, and the more than one billion people who self-identify having disabilities/impairments, in addition to people who experience temporary or situational disabilities, and those who simply acquire these at some point over their lifetime. “Having worked in technology development for decades, I’ve seen just how rarely accessibility is part of the initial requirements and just an afterthought. Our objective in launching the GAAD Foundation is to make accessibility as much a part of the culture of product design and development as is the agile methodology,” said Devon, Chairman of the GAAD Foundation.

“Our vision is for accessibility to be built into the product development lifecycle for technology and digital products. This starts with commitments and actions from the C-suite and venture capitalists from major technology companies and fledgling tech start-ups respectively,” said Asuncion, Vice Chairman of the Foundation. “This starts with leadership setting the tone at the top, and is only realized when every product manager, product marketer, project manager, designer, UX pro, engineer, and tester, intentionally and publicly makes accessibility a first-class citizen alongside security and privacy, and are held to account,” Asuncion explained.

The #GAADPledge, which invites those ready to take public, tangible actions to make accessibility a core value of their frameworks and digital products, is the Foundation’s signature program, with Facebook’s React Native having been the first to take the pledge in 2020. The GAAD Speakers Fund will encourage and fund digital accessibility professionals and end-users with disabilities and impairments to take part in mainstream tech events. The GAAD Exchange will directly connect product managers, engineers, designers, and user researchers with people with disabilities/impairments to share real-life perspectives, something that has often been cited as the missing link to gaining better understanding and building empathy. Additionally, the GAAD Foundation will host accessibility hackathons, fund tech initiatives that contribute to the Foundation’s mission, and support legislation that results in digital accessibility becoming a core requirement, worldwide. Finally, the “GAADYs”, the Foundation’s annual accessibility awards gala, will recognize individuals and organizations within the mainstream tech community demonstratively living the mission and vision of the Foundation.

About the GAAD Foundation: the GAAD Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has filed for incorporation in Nevada. Its vision is for accessibility to be built into the product development lifecycle for technology and digital products. Joe Devon serves as Chairman of the GAAD Foundation, with Jennison Asuncion as its Vice Chairman. Completing the Executive Committee are Mindy Morgan as Secretary, and Chris Gaulin as Treasurer.

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