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I had the pleasure of attending the very first Gaadys Awards in San Francisco on the 8th November 2023.

Two firsts for me; a trip to San Francisco and accepting a global award on behalf of the Studio 24 team.

The Gaadys recognise and celebrate contributions from individuals and groups that advance the GAAD (Global Accessibility Awareness Day) Foundation’s vision: accessibility is built into the product development lifecycle for technology and digital products.

They are organised by the GAAD Foundation, a nonprofit organisation whose mission is to disrupt the culture of technology and digital product development to include accessibility as a core requirement.

I had the pleasure of meeting both Joe Devon and Jennison Asuncion, who both co-founded Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Joe currently serves as the Chair of the GAAD Foundation, and Jennison is LinkedIn’s Head of Accessibility Engineering Evangelism. He also sits on the Boards of Directors for the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired San Francisco, Knowbility, and Accessible Media Inc.

Jennsion and Joe stand at a lectern which has the Lighthouse branding on it. Joe is speaking into a microphone and Jennison is smiling. The screen behind them reads Gaadys: honouring advances in digital accessibility.
L-R Jennison Asuncion and Joe Devon

The evening started with drinks and networking at the LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in San Francisco, a fantastic venue. There was such a friendly and celebratory vibe and I got to meet some amazing people, all passionate about accessibility.

After lots of interesting conversations, it was time for the awards. The three winners announced on the evening were:

The W3C website is a valuable resource for web developers and designers, and the new redesign makes it even more accessible to everyone. Studio 24’s work on this project is a shining example of how accessibility can be achieved without sacrificing design or usability.

GAAD Foundation

First up was Amber Hinds, CEO of Equalize Digital who talked about their automated accessibility scanning plugin to help WordPress websites become and stay accessible.

She was followed by Caspar Thykier, Co-Founder and CEO of Zappar, who worked with Unilever and RNIB to develop Accessible QR codes (AQR) to enable a more inclusive shopping experience.

And then it was time for us to talk through the highlights of the W3C redesign project and collect our award.

Emma stands at a lectern, holding a microphone. The screen behind her says Accessibility and the W3C website redesign.

I covered a few key project areas in my speech and focussed on:

I felt truly humbled and so proud to accept this award on behalf of our team at Studio 24, and for W3C; all of whom worked so hard on this project. The award is a testament to their determination, dedication and passion.

I appreciate the expertise of the agency and their willingness to find creative solutions. I love the way Studio 24 work, their professionalism, dedication, expertise. I feel we have the best partners for our project.

A comforting and continual sense of trust and respect quickly emerged from the solid and perfectly professional foundations upon which our collaboration was being built. Simon leads a very thorough, friendly and dedicated team and I would highly recommend working with him and his team.

Coralie Mercier, W3C
Emma receives the Gaady Award from Mindy. They are standing next to a GAAD Foundation banner that reads Mission: to disrupt the culture of technology and digital product development to include accessibility as a core requirement.
The Gaady Award is made of wood and have the inscription: in recognition of elevating accessibility to a first-class citizen.

I must say a special thanks to Mindy Morgan, Senior Coordinator at the GAAD Foundation, who not only organised the awards but made the beautiful trophies!

And that was it, the first Gaadys Awards over. Congratulations again to all of the other amazing winners and to the GAAD Foundation for organising such a fabulous event.

I ended the night celebrating with a delicious Italian meal and then got to spend the next 3 days exploring the wonderful city of San Francisco; and of course, yes I did go to Alcatraz!