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Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Detroit

Back for the third year, Global Accessibility Awareness Day Detroit is a day for web professionals to gather together to learn about accessibility and how to make the web more accessible and usable by everyone. Events will be held around the world to raise awareness about web accessibility.

This year's event is jointly hosted by Refresh Detroit and Metro Detroit WordPress


If you're working on the web, creating, developing, or designing websites or content for others to use, this event is for you! Or if you want to learn how we can work together to make the web accessible to everyone, we'd love for you to attend.


You work hard on your web content, the goal being for that content to reach as wide an audience as possible. To that end, you study all the accessibility-related guidelines and do your best to apply them to your work.

But what does it all really mean? How does someone who uses a screen reader experience your site? How will the next change you're planning to make impact that experience?

In this hands-on session with Al Puzzuoli, you will learn to use a screen reader as a tool to answer the questions above. 

• First, you'll learn the basics of controlling your computer and navigating the web, using only a screen reader and your keyboard.

• Next, you will see examples of accessible sites that play nice with screen readers, and other inaccessible ones, which decidedly do not.

• Finally, the fun begins, as it will be time to play! You will have the opportunity to go the the website of your choice, and use your newly honed skills to do some basic accessibility testing

Note for all attendees: If you have a Windows or Mac laptop, we encourage you to bring it so you can get hands-on with a screen reader. We'll be working in small groups.

Windows users are recommended to download and install the free NVDA screen reader on the laptop before the event. Our speaker will be using the NVDA screen reader during his presentation.

Mac users will be using VoiceOver, which is built into the Mac.

Cheatsheets for NVDA and OSX VO can be found here at Deque University.

Mac OSX VoiceOver Cheatsheet
NVDA Cheatsheet


As the resident Information Technologist at Michigan State University’s Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, Al Puzzuoli spends his time doing network and server administration, troubleshooting computer concerns, and working with staff and students to test the accessibility of various information systems across campus.   

When he is not working (or playing with computers), Al enjoys swimming, playing the trumpet, bowling, and spectator sports.


6:30pm to 7:00pm: Welcome, refreshments, and networking 
7:00pm to 7:10pm: Introductions 
7:10pm to 8:20pm: Presentation and interactive workshop  
8:20pm to 8:30pm: Announcements 
8:30pm: Time to leave

We value you, your safety, and your participation ; we expect all Refresh Detroit members to follow our Code of Conduct.


TechSmith Corporation provides practical business and academic software products that can dramatically change how people communicate and collaborate. 

TechSmith enables users to work more effectively wherever they may be, and ensures that the process of creating, sharing and collaborating around content is simple and intuitive so that others can learn from their knowledge.

Founded in 1999, Deque Systems has paved the way for digital equality both from the user and technology perspectives. Deque has developed a uniquely robust suite of software tools that includes WorldSpace, FireEyes, and Amaze. 

A thought leader in digital accessibility software and services, Deque was awarded the Computerworld 21st Century Achievement Award for Innovation for the Amaze technology, and the company has been recognized in the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest Growing Companies for four years running.

Rightpoint is a technology and design services company serving Fortune 1,000 companies. The company makes experiences that amplify brands and business through creative and technology services including web, mobile, social, IoT, eCommerce and cloud. 

With a client base of more than 250 companies, Rightpoint was named to Forbes’ 2014 list of America's Most Promising Companies and Crain’s 50 Fastest Growing Companies in Chicago in 2015. For more information, visit our site and follow @Rightpoint.


Tech Toledo connects the IT, design and entrepreneur communities in the Toledo region by guiding grass root efforts, organizing events for networking and education, and providing strategic roadmaps for collaboration.


Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Detroit wouldn't be possible without our sponsors and partners!

By sponsoring our event, you’ll have access to an audience of web and business professionals throughout Michigan (we're the only GAAD event in Michigan!) and northwest Ohio. 

To thank you for your sponsorship, we offer a number of benefits, including:

• List your company on our printed event material

• Include your company logo and short company description on the GAAD, Detroit event web page

• Thank your company during the introduction of the event

• Provide your company with table space at the event to disseminate things like promotional materials, business cards, job listings

• Thank your company for sponsorship via Twitter before, during, and after the event

• Thank your company in mailing list message sent all attendees after the event

Email Deborah at deborah at lireo dot com for more information. 


Grand Circus is located in the Broderick Tower, and you enter from the Woodward-facing doors. 

Once inside, go to the end of the hall; the elevator will be on the right side near the end of the hall. Take the elevator to the fourth floor, turn left and go through the door to our meeting space.  

Parking is available at the Detroit Opera House parking garage, located on Broadway. Parking is $10 (unless there's a special event). There's also limited paid street parking on the streets (~$1.20/hour). 

The Detroit Opera House parking garage is a short walk up Broadway and around the corner from the Grand Circus space. Here's parking information from the Broderick Tower website (PDF)

Note: with the M-1 rail construction downtown, it will be challenging to maneuver downtown streets and find street parking. Stay current on the construction by visiting the M-1 construction page

Join or login to comment.

  • Deborah E.

    Our follow-up message was sent out this morning. Check your inbox for slides, info on resources mentioned during presentation, discount for books from Rosenfeld Media, free 30-day trial for Deque University, and more!

    May 26

  • Deborah E.

    Thanks for your patience. We're waiting on info to add to our follow up message, with links to resources, slideshow, etc. It will be sent soon! Stay tuned.

    May 23

  • Chris D.

    Can't wait til next year!

    1 · May 20

    • Deborah E.

      Me, too! Fun time last night. Did you see they announced the date for next year? May 18, 2017.

      May 20

  • Maria G.

    Great event, valuable topic.

    1 · May 20

    • Deborah E.

      Great to see you last night, Maria! Glad you enjoyed it. Was there any one thing that surprised you about using a screen reader?

      May 20

  • Deborah E.

    Wonderful to see so many new faces tonight! Thanks to our sponsors Rightpoint, Deque, and TechSmith. And shoutout to Tech Toledo for partnering with us.

    2 · May 19

  • Lauren H.

    Excellent presenter.

    3 · May 19

    • Deborah E.

      Thanks for coming out tonight, Lauren.

      May 19

  • Annie

    Great session. Completely relevant.

    2 · May 19

    • Deborah E.

      Glad you enjoyed it, Annie! Thanks for coming out tonight.

      May 19

  • Eric I.

    I see that "Windows users are recommended to download and install the free NVDA screen reader on the laptop before the event." What about Mac users?

    May 19

    • Chris D.

      VO is already built in to the Mac Eric

      2 · May 19

    • Deborah E.

      Good catch, Eric. My mistake for not including it, earlier. Updated the event details with info about the Mac and VoiceOver.

      1 · May 19

  • Peter

    I am doing presentation "Accessibility, A Beginning" A t michigan dev days Sat
    I have added a slide with the info you emailed to me and, We will be promoting it to the attendees
    Looks a great chance to learn how to use screen reader from someone who has experience using them

    2 · April 29

    • Peter

      Hello Deb

      May 5

    • Peter

      the dev fest was great presentation went well, sadly I will be out of town when the GAAD is happing or I would be there

      May 5

  • Chris D.

    I am so stoked that we have 26 people so far. Two more weeks left, getting excited!

    3 · May 4

  • Matt I.

    Very excited to attend. Let me know if I can help.

    1 · April 26

    • Deborah E.

      Hey, Matt! Glad you're attending. I'll be sending out a message to our attendees before GAAD to review your video for downloading NVDA to their computers. Also, I think Chris DeMars might be getting in touch with you.

      April 26

  • Katherine

    I am so excited about this!

    1 · April 15

    • Katherine

      Yes! This topic in particular is very much needed. I write online courses for a very large corporation and making those courses accessible to everyone is very important.

      1 · April 16

    • Deborah E.

      Katherine, good to hear you're interested in accessibility. We currently host two major accessibility events each year, Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Detroit in May and Accessibility Summit in September, in partnership with the University of Michigan, now in its seventh year. To make these events happen, we are dependent on sponsors to cover costs for speakers, venues, and food. If you'd like to join the planning team, or know of organizations that could sponsor the events, let me know.

      1 · April 16

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