There are approximately 1 billion people in the world with some form of disability. That’s 15% of the global population. But how many of us know what it really means to be disabled?

On May 21 2015, the world celebrated the 4th annual Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). It was 24 hours of events and activities designed to increase knowledge and awareness around all aspects of accessibility. The product teams here at Blackboard celebrated by abandoning our mice and testing our newest product experiences with only the keyboard. Team members spent between one and three hours without their treasured mouse. While the products themselves held up very well, the experience of the team attempting to use them efficiently was anything but easy.

“That was one of the most frustrating hours I have ever experienced. I have great respect now for those that cannot use the tools I take for granted.” – Blackboard Support Engineer

“I did not swear as much as I thought I would… I did cry a bit though when I kept pressing ESCAPE and it kept doing things I didn’t want it to.” – Blackboard Software Architect

“It’s like a whole new interface when you are only tabbing and can’t just scroll” – Quality Assurance Architect

A recent article in the Huffington Post reflected on the importance of digital accessibility, especially in education. I couldn’t agree more. Those of us building digital technology or focused on providing technology-based education are in the vanguard in this push towards inclusive education. But it takes a village to sustain the focus on successful integration and it begins with awareness.

As partners in this effort, I challenge all of you to do what we did. Abandon your mouse for at least one hour. Do all the things you would normally do in your workday for that hour. Share your stories and reflections with us. Post comments here or tag us on twitter with the hashtag #bbaxchallenge.

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