Making the Internet Accessible to Everyone by 2025

Most of the internet is unavailable to around 1 billion people in the world. These people have an internet connection but most of the websites are not built for them to use.

accessiBe is a new startup that uses AI and machine learning to convert websites at scale so that people with epilepsy, the blind, severe vision impaired and others with disabilities can access the internet. This helps people with disabilities to connect with the world and its services. It helps the businesses and websites to reach a substantial market and to comply with new regulations.

What Does It Take to Make a Site Accessible?

Blind people use screen readers to read webpages and braille keypads to navigate and interact with sites. A screen reader is a software program that enables a blind or visually impaired user to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer or braille display. NVAccess, JAWS are popular screen readers. They provide speech and braille output.

However, every button and link on a site has to be tagged so that accessibility technology can properly read the site for the disabled person. Almost all websites are not written with the tagging needed to by screen readers. Converting a site is a huge task and a job that needs constant maintenance as new articles and pages are added or changed and as updates are made. Standards are also constantly evolving so the requirements are also changing over time.

accessiBe has already converted over 60,000 websites within a few months of making their highly automated system available.

After subscribing to accessiBe, only one line of javascript code is all that is needed. The site is then scanned and pages are converted within one or two days from the accessiBe servers. Rescanning is done daily.

Compliance Regulation and Requirements

Web Accessibility lawsuits have been increasing exponentially. The lawsuits tripled in 2018 to 120,000.

Companies are required to comply with growing regulations and increasing enforcement.

Our Dependence on the Internet and Digital Services is Growing
COVID is accelerating our dependence on the digital world. Daily activities like shopping and food deliveries are rapidly shifting to web providers. Blind and deaf people, people with motor and cognitive disabilities, and a rapidly aging population with muscle weakness, memory loss are massively challenged already. Converting sites will make it easier for them to get the digital services that they need to minimize dependence.

It is not only the right thing to do, they are a huge market.

1 billion people with severe vision impairment or blindness, 65 million people with epilepsy and many others with different conditions.

Capable and Productive People

I spoke with accessiBe CEO and founder, Shir Ekerling, who described how he has met and worked with a blind computer programmer. This person is able to use the braille interface to rapidly write programs. This is just one example of how opening up the web to everyone will unlock productivity and contributions from challenged but highly capable people.

The vision of accessiBe is to make the entire internet accessible by 2025. They have scanned over 10 million sites and making automated and easy processes will help make this a reality.

21 thoughts on “Making the Internet Accessible to Everyone by 2025”

  1. Libertarians would simply organize prizes for such activities, then those interested could use the tax CREDITs allowed for supporting such things at their choice, getting a result long before the majority will is expressed thru political force. Na, nobody interested in non violent stuff.

  2. "An idea is the most addictive thing of all" sez Janov. Our brains evolved over 7 million years to "jam" Pain signals resulting from our System of ritual child and baby abuse, which leads to rampant repression, which, if successful, is neurosis in Primal Science terms. An idea or "groupthink" set of beliefs is addictive because it helps with the repression, forming a "litany" of thoughts that are re-thought instead of feeling the Pain. Many ideas also help us do things, they are not inherently bad or good. Addiction to them usu is bad, for the neurotic at least as an individual. We know these things by observing what happens when the Pain is resolved into normal memory, in Primal Therapy. This knowledge is 50 years old. Hint.

  3. Funny how the number of federal lawsuits filed over ADA Title III regulation violations were fairly small during 8 years of the Obama Administration. And then significantly increased after Trump took office, even though the ADA Title III regulations had not changed during that time.

    And why didn't President Obama fix the problem when he had the authority to do so?

  4. I haven't thought of this angle. But it's true: mandating by law the content of private websites or apps, would open huge opportunities for litigation abuse.

    Usually coercion is the worst of all possible solutions.

  5. The Eternal September of the Spotless Mind…

    Early USENET was tranquil in comparison to today… even in Sept. of 93.

  6. I've been retired from that job for several years, so not up to date, but was writing the output that they would read. All sorts of strange things.

  7. Apple and the iPhone seems to do a lot of work in this area. They may not be the best, but it seems to be the most integrated/consistent?

  8. The recent AT&T announcement of giving up on DSL when fiber still isn't nationally deployed, in contravention of the money they got in the 90's as part of the rural broadband push which they falsely repurposed to build early 2G/3G wireless networks, is really galling.

  9. Strangely enough a lot of RSS work for websites helped move UX/accessibility forward, allowing for machine discoverability for handicap accessibility and screen readers, but RSS is gradually being pared back in real world deployments now. Honestly, you can blame Google, via them killing off Google Reader (the best RSS feed reader ever), as the proximate cause of that.

  10. The road to litigation hell is paved with good intentions.
    The theory of "they are a huge market" never pans out, usage usually never justifies the added costs.

  11. bubbles of groupthink have always been the rule. Since forever.
    The difference now is

    1/ Said groupthink culture is not being controlled by anyone. In the old days (about 1 million B.C. through to say 1990 A.D.) the local government structure had a huge say in what information was disseminated to the local peasantry. This gave huge amounts of power to said government, which was often abused terribly, but did often mean that the info-sphere was under control of someone vaguely competent. Or at least someone who was slavishly copying the base culture that was originally developed by competent people learning by trial and error. Now we can get completely random, insane, groupthink cultures being developed and spreading quite widely in the decade or two it takes them to collapse from their internal contradictions.

    2/ We didn't get completely different groupthink cultures living next door to eachother, or even in the same family. In 1950, or 1250, you were getting the same groupthink indoctrination as just about everyone you ever met. And anyone who was different was clearly some sort of communist heretic who needed to be burnt at the stake.

  12. There is a point in arguing the over-abundance of information and in particular cultural artifacts (e.g. news/beliefs/opinions/worldviews) is a problem.

    Biologically, we may not be made to absorb that much information that isn't strictly necessary for survival.

    And as a result, we all are alienated and unable to form a coherent view of the world, because we distrust everything and hence filter everything by what we want to hear, dismissing the rest as fabrications or manipulation.

    Also, the Internet made it easier to form bubbles of groupthink, where people sharing a view can find similar opinions and reinforce them.

    We have so far survived this ordeal, but in the long term this clearly goes against making a functional society, where all the parts uphold some social contract, by merely agreeing in what's objectively true of false.

    And a lot of this comes from purposeful pollution of information channels with lies and fabrications due to foreign political interest. In the future, I think many countries could tend to go towards restricting what's stated domestically as fact in the news and media, and to restricting access from other countries to the local infosphere. That approach is currently championed by China.

  13. There is no reason why both can't be pursued at the same time.

    Industry standards for making information sources usable by anyone are long overdue. We have timid proposals but none have strong backing from international regulatory bodies and governments.

    Things like interfaces for exposing the text content on media rich sites and programmatic hooks for AI interpreters of images and videos.

    Before someone says this is bleeding hearted tripe, let's recall access to information is no longer a luxury nowadays, but a basic necessity. One that can and should be enshrined into law.

  14. Before accessibility for disabled citizens can be discussed, let's first make sure everyone has access to cheap and reliable internet. I say this as (once again), ATT took government money to wire up poor and rural neighborhoods and did exactly nothing with it except pocketing it. Such an effective FCC and general government we've got currently going, distributing corporate welfare with no accounting.

  15. I worked at a school for the blind, and this is sorely needed. We could not do it well, and we had great incentive. The usu site creators have no way, really.

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