Inclusion and equity have been in the news for all the right reasons in the last few years. Today, more than ever before, global players and world leaders understand the need for inclusion and accessibility. Thursday, May 16, 2024, is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD 2024) that aims to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion, especially for PwDs.

However, what is the need for one day dedicated to accessibility awareness? And what are global businesses doing to further this cause? We delve into these questions and much more in this interaction with Samir Mansour, Innovation Consultant and co-chair of Eviden’s disability inclusion community, AdaptAbility.


Hi Samir, thank you for taking the time out to help us learn more about Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD).  So, what is GAAD and what does this inclusion initiative focus on?

Thank you for having me! GAAD is an incredibly important day of disability and accessibility awareness. With more than 1 billion people across the world being people with disabilities (PwDs), initiatives like GAAD are pushing for simple yet consistent tweaks such as an inclusive design and technology development to make a positive and inclusive impact within organizations and society, at large.

There should be a key focus placed on elements such as text within articles, alternative text on images, and ease of application access. It is also important to focus on physical elements of accessibility, for individuals who may need adaptive hardware, as well as use of plain language and clear navigation for people with cognitive disabilities.


Why is it important to have a day dedicated to accessibility awareness and digital inclusion? Shouldn’t this be a constant focus point for everyone?

Absolutely! Accessibility should be a part of our daily endeavors to ensure we are creating the most inclusive environment possible, making all people within an organization and within society feel the sense of belonging. Accessibility awareness and digital inclusion should be baked into all activities we carry out, especially in the workplace where inclusion can motivate, as well as drive performance.

However, we can’t undertake digital inclusion if we aren’t aware of the challenges people face, or the ways in which we can adapt our working practices to support them. This is why we celebrate GAAD as a specific day; to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about accessibility. This helps to provide a platform for learning, sharing experiences and broadening the scope of our accessibility support through events, blogs, podcasts and panel discussions.


Can you share any personal experience around accessibility and digital inclusion, and how it has shaped your perspective and your personal interest in this area?

My experiences and passion around accessibility largely stem from my dad. He is a paraplegic T-12, which means he is paralyzed from the waist down due to an injury he sustained when he was only 16 years old. Growing up, I didn’t see him as disabled. To me he was capable of achieving anything, and he did that by setting up his own business and supporting people through rehabilitation for injuries similar to the one he sustained.

However, growing up I realized how many challenges he faced, including discrimination, as well as physical accessibility issues. For me, our workplaces and our society have a duty to be inclusive of all people, including those with physical disabilities such as the one my dad has. Additionally, we need to be cognizant of unseen and cognitive disabilities.

Yes, we are progressing as a society, but we need to do better.


From your perspective, is accessibility and digital inclusion as difficult as it is made out to be?

No, it is not. I understand the constraints and challenges we face when we aim to enhance accessibility and digital inclusion, including financial, time and resource constraints. However, accessibility and digital inclusion don’t always rely on this.

Some accessibility courses take 30 minutes to complete, which doesn’t necessarily impact someone’s entire week in terms of productivity. Knowledge sharing events can be planned internally without the need for funding, and many organizations have teams that focus on accessibility and digital inclusion, outside of their day jobs.

To make accessibility and digital inclusion easier to enhance, there needs to be visible support from senior and executive leadership. Without this, inclusion may only be seen as a nice-to-have, not a mandatory focus point.

Experience sharing from people who have challenges with accessibility is also crucial; this is how people are educated on the challenges faced by some individuals, and the ways in which they need support.


Closer to home, how is a digital transformation leader like Eviden driving accessibility awareness?

Eviden constantly strives to enhance inclusion and belonging through accessibility and digital inclusion. We have our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Strategy in place. Developed at a global level, this sets out a vision of how we support people in the accessibility space. We deliver internally on this vision through our employee communities, such as our AdaptAbility Community who focuses on supporting people within Eviden on topics such as physical disability, long-term illness, neurodiversity and mental health. They plan panel discussions for knowledge-sharing, develop best practices including how best to run accessible meetings, and impact policy by undertaking think tank studies, and working with HR to implement change.

Externally, Eviden collaborates with organizations such as Purple Space to understand wider best practices, and deliver accessibility requirements, specifically in the public sector where social value forms part of a contractual commitment.


Digital product users and web visitors include persons with disabilities (PwDs). What are we doing to be digitally inclusive for these individuals?

At Eviden, we are taking a human-centric perspective, focusing evermore on a life-centered design. This can help us to better identify the challenges we face internally by including people facing these challenges at the heart of the solution. We have set up internal task forces to identify innovation in accessibility, which ensures this doesn’t stay in the design phase. We also collaborate with inclusive recruiters to ensure our recruitment processes are as inclusive and accessible as possible. As a leader in digital transformation, we strive to keep accessibility at the heart of our technology and utilize our technology to better craft accessibility solutions.


According to WebAIM’s 2024 analysis, there has been a “notable increase in the number of detected accessibility errors.” On the upside, there have been several positive trends too. In your opinion, what can IT giants do to ensure more accessibility? What is Eviden doing towards the same?

The more that the digital world advances, the more likelihood there is for accessibility errors. However, this also means there is more opportunity now to empower accessibility and digital inclusion than ever before. According to analysis, low contrast text and missing alternative text are causes of most accessibility failures on home pages.

Large tech firms don’t need to invest significantly to tackle these issues, and organizations can look to quick wins in the space of text contrast and alternative text to make significant progress at speed. This does not mean, however, that IT giants should only focus on simple fixes. Investment should be prioritized for accessibility, as without prioritizing inclusion, people will feel unsupported.

Eviden invests in accessibility training for people within the organization. Here, we also prioritize it as a key initiative within the DEI strategy. Eviden constantly aims to address accessibility challenges through education- and community-organized events.


Innovation is no longer a differentiator in businesses. It is a must-have. What are some of the simplest steps to implement mainstream technology in innovative ways?

It is essential for organizations to drive innovation as part of the wider business strategy. It should not be focused on technology, but rather on business problems, with technology as an enabler. As innovation is now a must-have, it is essential that all organizations drive some form of sustainable, internal innovation, as many already have innovation functions and established processes.

In the accessibility space, innovation should be made accessible to everyone in the organization to ensure technology can be implemented in innovative ways. This can be achieved through collaboration tools, accessible meeting rooms, inclusive design processes and the celebration of failure.

Another factor to consider when implementing technology in innovative ways is to truly understand the challenge, especially around accessibility, and design based on the experience of the individual and how this can drive solutions towards the larger business challenge. Consistency is key, and effort should be put into ensuring mainstream technologies are implemented and used in a consistent way.