IBM Celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day – May 16

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On Thursday, May 16, IBM site locations and iX Design Studios across the U.S. will celebrate the eighth annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) –  a worldwide observation to raise awareness of digital access and inclusion issues for people with disabilities. As an IBMer with a disability, and a founding member of IBM’s Team Able, I am proud of our company’s legacy of including and supporting employees from all backgrounds and experiences. 

Erich Manser and Bhumika Patel crossing Boston Marathon finish line.

Author Erich Manser finishing the 2019 Boston Marathon with fellow IBMer Bhumika Patel, who traveled from Bangalore to run as Erich’s sighted guide.

Issues of disability are essential to discussions about diversity and inclusion in business. In the longer term, disability is the only diversity metric that will affect each of us to some degree at some point in our lifetimes. But in the immediate term, the disability metric (what one might term “usability” when viewed from this perspective) has direct implications for whether customers can – or cannot – use IBM’s products and services.

Inclusive Culture at IBM

IBM’s Team Able has been instrumental in driving accessibility awareness across our company. Team Able is a community of IBMers with disabilities and “accessibility allies” and product teams.  Our goal, by engaging in direct and honest communication about the advances and challenges to accessibility, is to mainstream the perspectives of users who often experience barriers. Team members from across the ability spectrum report heightened awareness of disability issues in product and service design, and an enhanced capacity for developing solutions that work for all.

Designing for All Customers

To reach all of our customers, we must design for everyone. Inclusive design practices are only effective if they originate from authentic partnerships in which all viewpoints are recognized and understood. The benefits of incorporating diverse perspectives in design are measurable business results.

IBM #GAAD2019 Events

At IBM, we don’t have to look far to find true inclusion. The IBM locations below will be participating in Global Accessibility Awareness Day activities, which will include simulated experiences of disability, demonstrations of assistive technologies, sign language instruction, and the chance to earn your Accessibility Advocate badge: 
· Armonk CIO Design, Armonk, NY
Atlanta iX Studio, Atlanta, GA
Austin Design Studio, Austin, TX
Cambridge iX Studio, Cambridge, MA
Columbus iX Studio, Columbus, OH
San Francisco iX Studio, San Francisco, CA

Here’s to continued IBM leadership in innovation and inclusion!

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