Global Accessibility Awareness Day

In celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) 16 May 2024, it is important to highlight the influence of design on society. It plays a pivotal role across all sectors of the economy and impacts on the way we live and the products and services we use to help aid our physical and mental wellbeing. In 2019 the design economy contributed £97.4 billion in Gross Value Added (G V A) to the U K economy, 4.9% of total U K G V A (i)3.

Nowhere is the impact of innovative design technology more deeply felt than in its contribution to the U K’s economic growth. In 2019 digital design contributed £53.9 billion in G V A, 2.7% of U K total G V A, increasing by 138% between 2010 and 2019, 3 times the rate of the U K’s digital sector (ii). This surge in digital design brings with it pioneering and highly advanced skills, which are being used to develop innovative ideas to assist the progress of inclusive design.

It was against this technological revolution and allied to his own sight loss that Julian Jackson decided to launch *VisionBridge (, an independent social enterprise designed to advocate for eye research, promote eye health and champion assistive technology (AT) innovation.

Julian’s mission has been to widen access to appropriate assistive technologies (AT) for visually impaired communities worldwide whilst promoting emerging technologies that are simpler to use, economically viable and make life easier for those aspiring to use technology across a variety of formats and platforms.

He doesn’t see A T as a panacea for sight loss but feels strongly that it should be considered as a useful friend especially in areas such as digital wayfinding technology (check out, which he believes is well on the way to revolutionising the degree of accessibility and inclusivity in built environments for visually impaired users as well as eventually for those with other physical and mental disabilities such as dementia, learning disabilities and neurodiversity and for those with none of these challenges.

He commented “I want to remain as mobile, independent, safe and informed as possible as I move around.” He strongly believes that “there is a need for regulators, designers, developers, venue owners and operators to be sensitive to the additional needs of their visitors, customers, employees and others and embrace the emerging potential of digital wayfinding applications such as Waymap to fully maximise accessibility and inclusivity for those that require additional help in moving around the built environment.”


Looking over the AT horizon, there is no doubt that progress will continue to be made in areas such as, vision enhancement, reading support, obstacle avoidance, scene description and object recognition. However it is in the world of navigation and orientation technology (see, where the most fundamental step-change in the quality of life for various communities will occur.

Julian is grateful to the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) for their ongoing support in promoting the worldwide expansion of British Registered digital wayfinding technologies. 

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