How DGI was born
Gisele Mesnage founded the Digital Gap Initiative (DGI) on a stormy Sunday in Sydney on 7 December 2014.
“At the time I was in the midst of a legal action pursuant to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) against supermarket giant Coles, over the accessibility of their website. It was at least the 12th DDA complaint I had lodged over web accessibility issues since 2001. My experience in conciliating these cases led me to believe that a more systemic approach – including legislative reforms – was needed to tackle digital accessibility issues in our digital age. So on Sunday 7 December 2014 I was bouncing ideas on this question over the phone with a friend, Leah Grolman. We were both drinking Rooibos tea and chatting between breaks in the wild thunderclaps that raged over Sydney. By the end of the storm, the Digital Gap Initiative had been born and named.”
Gisele then connected with people who shared the vision for the goals of DGI. On 15 April 2015 an inaugural meeting of an informal DGI management committee was held over Skype. It was decided that DGI would operate as a network.
Launch events in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra
Melbourne – Global Accessibility Awareness Day
On 13 May 2015 the company AccessHQ hosted an event at its Melbourne offices to launch DGI. Ted McCoskey, who had taken on the role of President of DGI, and Gisele Mesnage, founder of DGI, both spoke at this gathering.
Sydney – Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD)
This was followed by a bigger launch event at the Sydney Hilton on 21 May 2015, Global Accessibility Awareness Day. The event was again sponsored by AccessHQ and attended by over 50 government and business representatives. Ted and Gisele again addressed this gathering. One of the guests at the event was Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, who invited DGI to hold a launch event at Australian Parliament House in Canberra.
Parliament House, Canberra – World Usability Day (WUD)
The Canberra launch took place at Australian Parliament House on 12 November 2015 on World Usability Day (WUD).
The event was co-hosted by Senators Rachel Siewert and Lee Rhiannon (the Greens) and Senator Jo Lindgren (Liberal Party) and Senator Carol Brown (ALP).
The launch event, opened by DGI Founder, Gisele Mesnage (download Opening Speech document here) was attended by 60 people, including parliamentarians and other government representatives, as well as business and community leaders.
The highpoint of the event was Gisele’s opening speech (below), and a panel discussion hosted by Ted McCoskey. Panellists included Greg Barnett (AccessHQ), Roger Sniezek (Coles), Andrew Arch (Digital Transformation Office), Christos Petrou (IBM), Alex Varley (Media Access Australia), Johmar Gazo (NAB), Sarah Pulis (PWC) and James Newton (DGI). The animated discussion explored the theme of inclusion and innovation. The event received a special video message from Lainey Feingold of the Lainey Feingold Legal Office in the US.
We extend warm thanks to all those who donated to our chuffed.org appeal and made it possible for three DGI members to travel to Canberra to participate in the event. We also wish to extend special thanks to Coles for paying for the catering at the event, to NAB for a $1,000 donation, and to all panellists and other supporters who assisted us with practical tasks.
Other 2015 Highlights
- In July 2015 DGI was invited to speak at the A11y Camp in Sydney. The Camp was fabulous and provided a great opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and groups.
- In September 2015 DGI took up the issue of the CBA’s new EFTPOS touch screen payment device, Albert. DGI posted two researched articles on its website Councils set to leave a bad Taste in the mouth of disabled event-goers across Australia by James Newton and Commbank’s new EFTPOS “Albert”: Accessibility Short-changed by Gisele Mesnage and Ted McCoskey. DGI also met with CBA bank officials. This campaign is ongoing.
- On 3 December 2015 DGI President Ted McCoskey and founder Gisele Mesnage were invited to present at an International Day of People with Disability event held at NAB in Melbourne. Ted and Gisele were impressed by NAB’s efforts to promote accessibility in the company, and all spheres of their activities.
Our Focus for 2016
- Accessible online shopping such as Coles
- Continued campaigning on Touch Screen POS devices such as the “Albert”
- Advocating for designated accreditation codes to be applied to ICT, web and other digital accessibility skills training under the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA)
- Accessibility and ICT public procurement
- Advocating against PDF as a sole format for online downloadable documents
- Opening up discussion on compliance-based standard on digital accessibility