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.
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.
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.