Episode 6 – Shaping the Future of Assistive Technology: An Interview with Gal Bareket
Meet Gal Bareket, Chief Solutions Officer of accessiBe. Gal, an Israeli-born technology leader tells his story of growing up in Israel including serving in the Israeli military. He talks about his experiences forming and growing his companies before joining accessiBe. Gal will discuss his views about internet access and his experiences helping to shape the vision and products of the assistive technology industry’s largest internet remediation company, accessiBe. His stories will fascinate and enthrall you and inspire you to do better in whatever task you undertake.
Some directories do not show full show notes. For the complete transcription please visit https://michaelhingson.com/podcast
About the Host:
Michael Hingson is a New York Times best-selling author, international lecturer, and Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe. Michael, blind since birth, survived the 9/11 attacks with the help of his guide dog Roselle. This story is the subject of his best-selling book, Thunder Dog.
Michael gives over 100 presentations around the world each year speaking to influential groups such as Exxon Mobile, AT&T, Federal Express, Scripps College, Rutgers University, Children’s Hospital, and the American Red Cross just to name a few. He is Ambassador for the National Braille Literacy Campaign for the National Federation of the Blind and also serves as Ambassador for the American Humane Association’s 2012 Hero Dog Awards. https://michaelhingson.com
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Michael Hingson 00:00
Access Cast and accessiBe Initiative presents Unstoppable Mindset. The podcast we’re inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Hi, I’m Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer for accessiBe and the author of the number one New York Times bestselling book, Thunder dog, the story of a blind man, his guide dog and the triumph of trust. Thanks for joining me on my podcast as we explore our own blinding fears of inclusion unacceptance and our resistance to change. We will discover the idea that no matter the situation, or the people we encounter, our own fears, and prejudices often are our strongest barriers to moving forward. The unstoppable mindset podcast is sponsored by accessiBe, that’s a c c e s s i capital B e. Visit www.accessibe.com to learn how you can make your website accessible for persons with disabilities. And to help make the internet fully inclusive by the year 2025. Glad you dropped by we’re happy to meet you and to have you here with us.
Michael Hingson 01:22
Hi, I’m Michael Hanson, and welcome to another edition of unstoppable mindset podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. And today unexpected in a lot of ways, partly because, up until about a week and a half ago, I didn’t expect that I would have our guest on today. But here he is. I would like you all to meet gala bracket gal is in Israel and gal works for accessibility. I’ve told you all a little bit about accessibility in the past, accessibility is a company that has created a variety of products and systems to make websites more usable, so that we can achieve our ultimate goal of making the internet fully accessible by 2025. And one of the people who’s going to help with that is gal who is our guest today. God Welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Gal Bareket 02:19
Hi Michael, thank you for having me. This is such a pleasure having the country having to have the continued conversations the ongoing conversation with you.
Michael Hingson 02:27
Well, and and we don’t get to talk nearly enough. So here’s a chance to do some of that. So you are in Israel. So right now it’s probably something like about 636 or 637 in the evening.
Gal Bareket 02:40
Also, daylight saving brought us one hour back. Right now we actually 5:30pm It’s great still have today. Yes. Yes.
Michael Hingson 02:48
So the daylight saving just in for you.
Gal Bareket 02:50
Just just editor just started with. We just added we are it’s getting dark earlier.
Michael Hingson 02:56
Yeah. And we do that next Sunday. So we’ll we’ll catch back up to you. I don’t know why we can’t have a standard in the world, but it’s the way it is. Well, so So tell me a little bit about you. So you’re from Israel.
Gal Bareket 03:15
So I’m from Israel, I had the privilege of joining system B in early May this year, mid May late this year. Previous to excessive A i A little bit perhaps about my background in the military, which provides a little bit of both spice and interest to the role. I served in the Israeli elite intelligence unit called at 200 were just a few great things that the military experience that is so far removed sometimes we have so far removed for someone who didn’t get to go through it but essentially through college however, you have the you are being put in stressful situations and I had the privilege in the age of 19 to already have 200 to 400 people under my supervision and in addition you get to work in the army on on trying to focus on on solution rather than the problem after and that’s something that helps to cultivate and help cultivate the myself throughout the years. Which then led is a little bit a little bit further about my personal background. I graduate from Tel Aviv University with a law major had had to work in a hand the work in Israeli parliament our sides Knesset MK MP MK members, parliament members in the Israeli Knesset and helping them legislate laws it’s so it’s something that in Israel also it’s important to share that from the edge D getting a degree standpoint. You know how in America you do we go to preschool at pre law and then a law school in Israel when you finish with the military service and you go to university You automatically immediately choose a profession, if you will. And hence the law major that did allowed me to immediately pursue the degree itself, and bend practice law. How ever prior prior to practicing law is that in my last year of school, I was working on two companies at the time. And one of those two of those companies actually launched but I had to make a decision because I couldn’t operate both at the same time, I chose the company that accessibly equity hired, it was a company in those fatality in the industry, we were working on trying to help bridge the communication gap, how funny between guests and hoteliers, or between guests and staff and between people, essentially to because communication is almost key to everything. And I’m sure we’re going to talk about it a little bit over over our chat and it but in addition, the bridging the communication gap during my time the Israeli parliament, you could see that if the minister doesn’t necessarily or the the Knesset member the necessarily came or a parliament member with a judicial background, the ability to legislate, the law becomes cumbersome, and hence you need a mediator to digest what you but what what the request was was was created and then able to push it forward. Now, this is a little bit so just to summarize a little bit about me some army time, great experience some to leave university, a growth towards working within touching the bills themselves understanding the cumbersome and hence why I get one of the many reasons why I’m attracted to accessibly because there’s so little tweaks that can be done in order to make so many people live so much better.
Michael Hingson 06:54
I’m curious, you, you raise something that just sort of prompts a question. serving in the military, that’s something that everyone in Israel does. Right? When they’re right, when they’re growing up. What that is something that is really foreign to us over here in the United States, and that not everyone is required to do that. What do you think the real value of serving three years in the military gave you? Or why do you what do you think about having had to do that?
Gal Bareket 07:26
I think that when a when a teen a get to the age of 1817 and starts a process, a process in which there is an entity called the army that started working on, on identifying various aspects about your personality, IQ and capabilities, is when it’s today thinking about in hindsight, it’s crazy. Back then, it seemed, it seemed it seemed normal, it seems like I’m being categorized in order to go to a place and trying to optimize me as resources or try to optimize the skill set that I bring to the table and see how it can help the the entire entity to grow and within those 17 between 17 to 18 as you go through the process, getting getting into the military getting into the military service, which is you know, like applying to college like sending out those envelopes. When you get there is but it but in an opposite direction you are being then targeted by the army in various units you can serve in whether it’s combat or non combat alike, within the Army, then you get you have you get to have a when in contradictory to college, there is much more discipline, much more discipline in terms not necessarily the discipline that you would feel or think about when I say the word discipline but more order. organization skills you have for Israel is a country that knowns for it’s a formality, the Army is a place where formalities finally being get structured. There is different entities that are in charge of different things in the army and then you get to understand how to when you get out of the army how to better succeed within the commercial world because you already understand some of the help within the intelligence unit in particular how to communicate when you are being trained how to how to be in charge of large portion of people at the same time and mitigate and mitigate and mitigate issues you are you’re becoming a mini CEO of me as small medium enterprise company. It when you’re between the ages of 18 to 22. And when you get released are like whoa, but what just happened? Did I just do that I learned all those things, and I can’t share it with anyone in the world.
Michael Hingson 10:05
But But you learned a lot of responsibility. You learned how to do those, which I’m assuming that you feel were very much a life building experience for you and one that you value 100% There’s something you wouldn’t change for the world.
Gal Bareket 10:24
That is true. That is true. I can’t it’s like, it’s like, you know, they say, I don’t I don’t regret things I did. I regret things I didn’t do. Things that I did. This was part of the many actions that were supposed to bring me to the person that I am today. So I try to not regret my or my actions that I already took.
Michael Hingson 10:46
What do you regret that you didn’t do?
Gal Bareket 10:49
Oh, i very i bet i I just dug myself my own hole.
Michael Hingson 10:57
Just just popped out. It was it’s a it’s a great line. And I think you’re absolutely right, we, you know, I once went to a meeting. And the people, the it was actually a church. And the pastor said, you know, the problem with how we view mistakes is that when you make a mistake, if you legitimately make a mistake, you’ve made the mistake. Now the question is, what are you going to learn from it, but you can’t argue or spend your whole life worrying about the mistake you made? It’s how you progress from it. And it’s the same sort of thing. We learn, we make choices, and we do things. And once we’ve done them, they are they’re part of us. But the real question is, what do we what do we learn? Or issue think back? After doing something? What is it that I didn’t do that I could have done? And that’s something that we’re going to talk about? In the book, I mentioned that we’re beginning to write a new book. And that’s one of the issues that we’re going to talk about is that, that the reality is it’s it’s not the choices so much we make, it’s what do we learn from them, so that we can make better choices?
Gal Bareket 12:08
Right, right. Look at the intersection of in hindsight and evaluate whether what how we how we actually impracticality took the whatever action that we were supposed to take and understand whether it was right or wrong, or how could we have got become became better every intersection probably yield an opportunity to self observation.
Michael Hingson 12:32
It should. And one of the things that I experienced is a lot of people don’t take that time later, to analyze what they do and what they did. And as I put it, I’m my own worst critic. I like to record speeches that I give, and I am these podcasts I listened to because I learned from them. And I recognize that I am, and should be harder on myself than anyone else could possibly be. If I learned to do self analysis, and I think that’s an important part of life that all of us can, can learn to develop. Because when we analyze ourselves, if we look each day back at what we did, and what we didn’t do, that we could have done or should have done, that, is what helps us move forward and enhances or can we help us move forward and enhance our lives?
Gal Bareket 13:27
Right when we’re we were consciously making decisions when we were unconscious of the decisions that were taking place, and we just let ourselves be part of I agree mycologists My only advice to you is just be constructive is yourself. If you’re your worst critic, give yourself just make sure that you are not taking yourself to too much down before so you’ll be able to actually get up.
Michael Hingson 13:49
Yeah, I think that’s the that’s the point is that when you’re your own worst critic, it’s the point that you will see things maybe sooner than other people will or they don’t want to tell you, but if you see it, the question is how you then deal with it. And you’re absolutely right. This being your own worst critic isn’t to tear yourself down, but it’s to give you the opportunity to say how do I handle that different next time? Right. Thanks. And then remember next time, that’s the other part of the of the challenge and the problem. It sounds like with with your experiences and so on having been in the military and gone through that life experience for several years. You’ve been put in a situation where you get to analyze a lot
Gal Bareket 14:40
that’s true. I almost everywhere every place I go every every interaction that I that I encounter I make sure to I need to make sure to be alert and keen and understanding for the for the for for something bad to happen. Proactive listening is is something that that the army is also not that the army was promoting initially when I was there but leaving the Army in being in keep endorsing proactive listening. And that’s I think, where the most progress that can be done on an individual basis because then when actual conversations and and decision making are actually being taken under as conscious as they shouldn’t, then you can actually move forward, learn processes, and look at things from a retrospective standpoint, create proper hindsight, and progress.
Michael Hingson 15:37
And that’s all we can ask ourselves to do. That’s true, that makes perfect sense. Were you ever in combat in the military? Or were you removed from that somewhat.
Gal Bareket 15:50
So thankfully, in the elite Intelligence Unit, what I did, I was I needed to facilitate the teams that went, I was an officer of operations. And part of my role was to make sure that the people that are going to various locations that don’t necessarily as places that they want to be in or places that the entity the people that are there wants them to be there. I needed to create to make sure that everyone will literally to make sure that there will be safety for everyone. And constant communication, the hospitality and housing would work great. And never people would come we will come back, come back come back safely on both ends. Yeah, that’s that’s that’s mainly was my own version of his offer, operational person I didn’t I wasn’t the first to come. But was that but I needed to be in charge of those who went there?
Michael Hingson 16:46
Yeah. Well, that’s a pretty awesome responsibility and an interesting skill to learn, which I’m assuming was very helpful you to you, once you got out of the military, because you learn how to deal with people and you learn to understand what people think and how they think someone.
Gal Bareket 17:05
However, in the in their in life after the army, things are a little bit more relaxed. Yes. The quick decisions are important, but they are not necessarily some of them are life changing, or some of them are. But they are they can be taking, they can be taken with some thought behind them. And it’s, it’s not necessary. Yeah.
Michael Hingson 17:35
I hear what you’re saying. It’s, it’s different. Do you think a lot of people forget a lot of the lessons that they learn in the military? Given the way you describe it? Yeah.
Gal Bareket 17:45
I think that I think that’s life is is dissected into chapters, and each chapter that you go through for, you know, youth, growing up youth, then in Israel, it’s the military time that is in the background, but you yourself are growing from 82 to 2223, depends how many years you decided to participate in the army. And there’s all those intersection are those the parts are, are our parts where you grow from, grow, have evaluate whether this is the person, you know, am I and I don’t like to speak about myself in the third day, but I’m his girl from the military is the same guy that is the same person that he is today? Or is there just a bunch of skill set and learnings and morals that I can take with me as as part of who I am, and then learn how to utilize them with with the person who grew immensely since that time? In the past. So yeah, this life life, life is interesting. This way, it throws you into chapters that you don’t necessarily know when it starts when it’s when it starts when it ends, because sometimes inertia just comes in. And so being conscious is continuing our previous anecdotes is really important. I know
Michael Hingson 19:17
for me, having gone through the university and gotten a master’s degree in physics, one of the things that I tell people is I don’t use the physics directly today. But the disciplines the mindset, the thought process that I learned being very heavily involved in science and in the philosophy of science and having had the opportunity to study how people in science think and someone has helped immensely. So physics is something that I think was extremely valuable to me, although I don’t use it because my life took some other turns. The skills and the disciplines I learned from it, are extremely valuable, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
Gal Bareket 20:01
Would you have? If you could have gone back? Would you have taken the route of pursuing physics? Or are you like, just the more on the morals from it?
Michael Hingson 20:11
No, I would still, I would still have pursued physics, I learned a lot that I don’t think I could have learned without being involved with it. And, again, when I was taking physics, I didn’t know that my life would change in some of the ways that it did. Excuse me, but, but it did change. And so it’s, it’s all about growth. And it’s all about learning how to accept that growth, and accept the choices that you make, I believe that I can trace a lot of my life back to choices that I made and how one choice led to another choice. And I think that’s important for us to be able to do. And I don’t say that in a negative way. But rather, the one choice led to another choice that led to another choice. And along the way, I learned from each one, which also caused me to help make the choices that I made.
Gal Bareket 21:11
I understand and agree in 1,000%.
Michael Hingson 21:15
So you, you went through the military, and then you came out. And I’m fascinated by the fact that then when you went through University and graduated with a law degree, and then started working in the legislature, I came at the legislature from a different standpoint, in that although I was in the sciences and someone, I also joined the National Federation of the Blind, a consumer organization, the largest civil rights organization for blind people. And we’re very much about dealing with getting appropriate legislation to deal with the civil rights of blind people. And so I was very heavily involved for many years, in various ways, working with Congress and state legislatures. And so to understand the the law process, and some of the political negotiations, it’s a fascinating world, unfortunately, I think that it’s changed a lot, at least in this country in the last 40 years or so it’s become much more divisive and much more political than it really should be. And you almost get to the point where you wonder if people are really looking out for the country anymore.
Gal Bareket 22:30
Yeah, I think it’s a sickness of every country. I think it’s, it’s, it’s a sickness of, of either the parliamentarian system, or the presidential system, the ones that you that America has the presidential system with the two houses, and which automatically creates a lot of stagnation. The fact that there are two entities is that are part of the process of making a decision in Israel, the situation is the same in a parliamentarian system, but different because there are many parties that are supposed to form a coalition. And it happens to be that the minority then controls there has an ad portion and proportional power over the coalition and and then not the Your vote is not necessarily provide us the request of what it is that you are voting for.
Michael Hingson 23:27
It’s it’s interesting, I think you raise a good point. But it also goes back to mindset, if everyone is really looking at it from a mindset of, yeah, we have different beliefs, we have different points of view about what needs to be done. But we want to do what is right for the benefit of our country. That’s a lot different than I want to do what’s right as far as I’m concerned, so I can win and gain more power. And that’s where I think we’ve all diverged and deviated that there’s too much I’ve got to be the winner. I’ve got to be the one to get the power. And the other side shouldn’t have any power because they’re just totally wrong. As opposed to recognizing that there’s value on both sides.
Gal Bareket 24:19
Yeah, yeah. That the political sphere is a sphere that provides a lot of desperation and inconvenience and others and things are so simple to just make them as you are saying they should be but you know, life flips. I find myself and I think I shared with you in our previous conversations, focusing on the things that I can change focus things on the thing, whether it within myself or within my nearby surroundings. I found myself getting as being less involved in an In politics with time speaking of the different entity and or even removing myself from almost complete completely, in order to focus on my, like my current life and accessibly, the the efforts that I’m doing to help the company is doing and letting me be part of it of making the this cliche as it sounds, making the world a better place focusing on those, yeah, focusing, which is, you know, the stuff that are in front of me, or even a year ahead or two years ahead, are within my capacity and bandwidth to influence.
Michael Hingson 25:42
Yeah, you can worry all day about everything that goes on in the world. Or you can, excuse me, or you can learn to focus on the things that you have control over and not worry about the rest. And all too often, we focus on way too much stuff. And we have no effect or control over any of it. If we would learn more to focus we would drive ourselves less crazy. That’s so you So you went but you you came out of college and you said you use had been involved in starting two companies, what were the two companies
Gal Bareket 26:21
so one company was in the fashion industry. And what we were doing we used Ay ay ay an image, or AI image recognition and machine learning. We used we were helping it was several years ago now it’s now it’s a little bit more trending all over. But people that got into fashion blog websites, were looking at different items and not necessarily knew where to shop them or even look at their friends on social media and or various pictures and couldn’t know what items are they’re wearing the like to see where it was purchased from what we build an engine that is able to determine through image recognition, where is the picture is taken from or where is that what is what item is being is the person wearing, and where and the list of potential stores that is able to then facilitate that it was heavy tech. And that went on that that’s that’s here.
Michael Hingson 27:26
Now did you didn’t write code No,
Gal Bareket 27:30
I you know, I was helping. So, it was the beginning of the road I was up to form formed a team creating terrible infrastructure and processes and then I learned that it would be less it was less prominent in Israel to start with. So, we we were we applied to an acceleration program in Boston, whoever the same time we in May in in the different company and they ended up pursuing for the next five and a half years until excessively in the in that company, that the time that I had to make a decision with this company was was moving to Boston the other company got accepted to an accelerator program in Berlin. So both received a global recognition and now it was a time to choose the the one have had a very tough choice great team on both ends, it’s just that fashion is never was my expertise. So hence it was in a very easy check move towards hospitality service industry, AI bridging the communication gap things that are a little bit more in my day felt more in my day to day and hence I invested the my commercial life to a degree into that.
Michael Hingson 28:55
So what was the hospitality company about
Gal Bareket 29:00
so when West one guest comes to hotel today, they would they go to their rooms and ever you know be let’s say before COVID Before digitalization went on a rapid scale up probably before COVID When the hotels when guests were finished their booking there was no way for the hotelier to properly start the communication with the guests and allowing the guests to get a seamless experience as the book get they can request the stuff they want pre arrival. They can continue the converse they have they noted in when they get to their room, they don’t necessarily choose the landline they can use their own mobile device through their own medium of choice whether it be WhatsApp WeChat, line Facebook, etc. And then as they leave the the the hotel they can decide whether they want or not to continue or not continue the conversation. So we used we replaced the old landlines. During the room to the convenience of not without the need to download any app on your mobile device, you are able to then communicate with the front desk and request whatever it is that you need or maintenance or housekeeping and everything from the palm of your hands without the need to download anything.
Michael Hingson 30:20
So you did that for a period of time? Is that company still working today? Is it still doing the things and setting up the procedures that you you started
Gal Bareket 30:34
and know the company, the company had a great time and, and was working in various places globally until COVID hit when COVID COVID created the big impact for the hospitality industry. And however we were able to find our way through it and we’re able to find the right integrator the concrete the right go to market strategies and create the right partnerships. One of these partnerships and ongoing conversations led to the conversations with the with decades share and gal that though that conversations then emerged into into into more than just the conversation in which the guys told us why wouldn’t you guys want joining us, help us help us utilize AI bridging that we also need to bridge the communication gap to different degree. And we need we need a team that that scaled in the past in various aspects and is and is able to help us scale further from the from what the team was in amazingly able to accomplish with accessibility.
Michael Hingson 31:49
So though dealing with Internet access is a lot different than dealing with the hospitality industry. What what piqued your interest about what Sher gal and deco were doing with accessibility.
Gal Bareket 32:05
So many things, I’ll start with the fact that the vision draws your attention, because it’s almost possible to do and when something is impossible to do, it’s worthwhile to, to get the hang of it and to try to try and do it by ourselves. The meeting with the with both with the sheer girl and vism the motivation and inspiration that came out of the meeting was a new that this is a company we would like to be part of and then perhaps Lastly, but most importantly, my wife’s a mother was a social worker in New York City in which she works directly one on one with people with disabilities. She during you know we had throughout our time together we there were endless Commodore, there were ongoing conversations and the great I got to hear secondhand not firsthand challenges, barriers of people and to have the opportunity to have the opportunity back event to have a conversation about how to have the humble part in entering an entity that is working to do good was a no brainer. It that we are providing our ability to provide service, of course, but being but but moving away from one industry to the web accessibility industry, allowing us to also see how hotels are not Mrs. are not necessarily within compliance are Elia allowing us to see the web accessibility is the is a bigger picture, as the word focusing on digitizing itself. And as accessibility is taking a big stage within the big role on the stage of trying to have working on remediate on making the web accessible on the web. The World Wide Web is such a big word. We’re making the world wide web accessible. So yeah, so you ask what what brings you to the company being part of an organism that that’s what organism organization that’s what it strive for, to take this www are making it accessible, and learning that as I get to accessibly how big the problem is, and that’s something that I wasn’t aware of. I was aware that it’s there. I was aware that some people are facing it. I wasn’t aware that it’s growing. And I wasn’t aware that it’s it’s how much it affects the day to day life. And as I started to training at accessibly and I was giving the opportunity of speaking with a people with a visually impaired all those technicalities of Have bed bow challenges that people are facing? I knew that this is its this is where I am supposed to be, this is what I need to serve. And this is this is how this is a company, I want to utilize my skill set, you know, to help grow?
Michael Hingson 35:18
Well, and the fact is that, as you stated, what we call the accessibility gap is growing, because of the number of websites that are being created every minute, every day, and how small the number of those websites actually intentionally do what’s necessary to bring access in. And I think one of the important concepts to remember about accessibility is you can have all the standards in the world, you can have all of the the requirements that define what access means. But access ultimately is about how usable is the website, right? And that’s where it really comes. It’s all about, can people use the website? And do the standards make the website as usable as it should be? Or is there more to it, and there is more to it. The standards are a great guideline, which is why we have today what we call the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. But the fact is that it’s all about usability. And I think that’s been a very strong growth area for accessibility, because access to be when I joined in January was very much involved in talking about access from the standpoint of adhering to the guidelines, I think that there was an intent to want to make website usable, but focus more on the guidelines and the World Wide Web Consortium standards and so on. And is moved to understand that there’s a lot more to it than that to make the website world very usable.
Gal Bareket 37:12
I think accessibly is because it was always providing services, they just understood it. Now it’s the time to provide the services from scale, at scale. And also, from an educational standpoint, access to be understood, as people were looking out for looking at, at it as a company as a thought leader in the industry as a company who were able to work on and assist many websites. As as we all know, it also received a bunch of heat from either the community or for members or whether whether it’s legit or not legit, everything is legitimate desire legitimatize in my book, so it’s all fine. The accessible understood that it needs to take needs to do several things it needs to provide a provide education or what we call free education or learning. And you mentioned the word access one of the tools that is coming out as part of the company’s culture called Access campus, which its goal is to route and incept within the beginning of developers and marketeers mindset how the digital assets of a website should be accessible. There are there is a there you mentioned usability before Miko usability testing is a term that is taken from the user experience world from the tech industry from the development sphere. We now are trying to claim an access to B and the claim to fame that usability as part of the user experience of checking a website needs to kind of the QA of your website needs to be be done with people with what product or service we like to call user testing. People with disabilities that are using system as you mentioned in the beginning of the call like Jaws, or that are allowing them to view website and actually see if though if the digital assets are actually working or actually providing them with access successively decided that it’s that it’s more it’s going to work in a more holistic fashion is going to work on an educational spectrum. And that’s part of the founders vision to make to help people learn more about the field. Well, people understand not just from a compliance standpoint, but how to create products and tools and services that are from the get go are accessible. In addition for everyone who needs to get up to par access will be provided for access to be now so the professional solutions department The Department where which I am part of the goal is to allow remediation of the rest of the digital assets that are part of your website and or part of your organization. If you are an enterprise who is who has files that are problematic for the for your workers that are supposed to read a remediated file, an accessible file, then perhaps you need that service. And I would ask you, Michael, when, when you tackle a PDF, when you tackle a file, what are due? Are there any challenges that are in front of you check in immediate file for having having you having a person unstoppable challenge, taking a child taking, taking on a file?
Michael Hingson 40:50
Well, sure, which is, of course, the whole point of now what we’re talking about with access flow. But But yes, clearly, it depends on the PDF is like with everything, there’s always the answer, it depends. There are many PDF documents that are not readable by a blind person with a screen reader. There’s more to it than what Adobe does with its own internal optical character recognition to recognize the the information in the file. And sometimes that can be made to talk and give me the information that I want. And sometimes it can’t. Likewise, with any website, sometimes, it verbalizes well, and many times, it doesn’t verbalize extremely well, which means that I might be able to use the website, but it will take a lot of work to be able to use the website, or the website was constructed in a way that really makes it very usable for me without a lot of effort. Someone put it very well, when they once said that what blind people learn how to do is to muddle through and, and break their way through all of the barriers that exist on websites. So we can we can make them work. But a lot of times, it’s very difficult to make them work or we have to spend so much time doing it that you wonder after a while if it’s worth it. And that’s of course, what excessive B is, is all about an excessive B, I think, excuse me excessively as someone recently said in a meeting I attended that excessive be in other companies like it, but I’m specifically focused on excessive be excessively has to customers. And it’s something that excessively I think has learned over the past many months, that there are the customers who actually buy the service, that is the website owners and the website. Developers. And so it’s the business community. But the other customer that accessibe B has, which is just as much and probably even more important for the company to consider is the end user. Because the end user is the the person or people who actually have to use the product that excessive B provides or products that excessive B provides. Right in excessively has has grown a great deal. And recognized that that second customer is extremely important in a way it does pay the bills, because the customers who use that site that uses accessibility and find it helpful are going to talk about it. And the community is pretty close knit. So the reality is it’s important to to really focus on the the end user world as well and accessible has really started to do that which I think is incredibly good.
Gal Bareket 44:14
Oh, I agree. I agree help during bridging the gap with your end users, which they are the actual service recipient of the work that you’re trying to accomplish. And getting their feedback is priceless, is priceless. And can can be a great tool for for progress for change. And you can see I think you can see it with the growth of this solution with the current growth with the with the current organic growth. And my emphasis on organic on this dissolution department because you get to understand why people come to accessory. I’ll give you an example. There’s a there is a product that is VPAT is about Voluntary Product Accessibility Template, that template is something that companies are now understand that they need to obtain in order because the companies that are exploring whether they would like to do business with them wants to know if they are on they are taking steps to become accessible. So, that the market which is it is fascinating because the market is doing the right formations to allow a to allow having the discourse of accessibility all around. And the service when when it when people come for excessively, right now, with an organic growth growth, to get the VPAT service, it allows us to understand that they that organizations right now are are taking an active role in trying to make sure that they are fixing and adapting and removing and removing all of the barriers for people with disabilities. So, they were allowed to enjoy surfing the web properly and kindly and comfortably, which is most important. So some so I repaired manual audit, media or mediation, follow mediation, these are these are these are names of just aspects of the worldwide web or the digital assets that exist to be understood that it that it would do whatever it takes a 360 effort to make sure that its community will have a way not just not just to get into the website, but also use it conveniently and being able to actually you know, scroll between everything read the materials and have have have an equilibrium or have Bring, bring everyone to the same level. So we can all enjoy similar content.
Michael Hingson 47:01
What is your role at accessibility? What is your job?
Gal Bareket 47:05
So my role as chief solutions officer, I run the Department of taking chief solutions officer and we have solutions and services under our umbrella. Some of the reason why we added this solution into the component is because accessories working on providing every service to their businesses in a seamless, seamless and convenient fashion. Like it did with the AI overlay interface. The the convenience allows businesses to first to rapidly adapt technology and and being willing to make a change for the better good. So one of the one of the elements of those solution in the solution part is where we automate getting a person from a website directly to our dashboard, allowing to facilitate the entire work and offload in a seamless and automated way backed by accessories AI power engine and provide a service back to the client now the service aspect comes into play where with our accessibility experts is this team is a team of trained individuals developers that are doing the manual labor and have in touch and making sure to go to dot the tee to cross the t’s and dot the eye around every single part of the website that nothing will get the NO FLOW will remain untouched. So in comparison perhaps to previously where our emphasis was on the on the AI engine itself and on the on the widget while getting slowly requests for the other remediation services. Now we are continuing putting our effort the company continue putting its effort as you know, Miko on on the AI interface but simultaneously, it opened a full bridge to allow every service every accessibility service that is related to the World Wide Web to arrive in our into our door in our footsteps and allowing us to be able to remediate and fix and resolve the issue whether it’s just to bring up to compliance but in most part in my department, it’s to make sure that the user will get a friendly experience when they get into the website.
Michael Hingson 49:43
And so I get the impression from what you’re saying that could involve the AI powered overlay. But it also could, could come about from other services that excessive B is or will be providing
Gal Bareket 49:58
100% and person that it should go over it. Now when I say person, there’s two people that are that we offer as a company, we offer our own, actually the expert team that we trained in house Cree with our own syllabus and our and our own materials, and made them and brought them up to par with looking at isup and other organization to bring them perhaps even further down their proficiency route. So there’s that sweet expert who goes through the work themselves that in our part, and are integral part of the service. In addition, there is an addition there’s also the technological effort that is being happening around this scene, continuing making a robust system, that its AI capabilities will be able to do the majority of the job in order to flag the difficulties to the person A, that is testing it. Now, that is the first person the second thing that the second option of people that can test your website is a product or a service that we called user testing. User testing is essentially bringing in people with disabilities with their assistive technology devices, which Michael perhaps you want to share what is what is even assistive technology for some because I am saying the word because I love the words, because I learned it, you are living it firsthand?
Michael Hingson 51:33
Well, I think it’s exactly what what it implies it’s technologies that assist in making it possible for us to accomplish tasks. So in the case of the web, for blind people, it could be a screen reader or it could be access to a Braille display. But it is it is technology that allows us to interact with a computer to get the information that others obtain by looking at a screen. So the assistive technology. So the assistive technology is my, my lovely. Alexa decides to talk to me. So the assistive technology assists in helping to accomplish and perform tasks that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to perform, because they’re visual. And that is like reading a monitor. So even the Amazon Alexa can in some ways be assistive technology. But the the whole idea is that the technology helps us interact with our environment to accomplish the same tasks that you perform.
Gal Bareket 52:52
So that’s exactly it. So our end users, that’s exactly what they’re doing, they’re using their tools, where we’d very to be a screen reader, whether it will be just scrolling through the keyboard by itself and see that the website is navigable and allowing the company at the end to see whether the website is actually user friendly, where it’s where with all this is a technology to leads you to share with the world not just from the compliance standpoint, not just from a legal standpoint peep I am opening my store for people with disabilities and everybody are willing and we are inclusive and you know, we’re stopping no one in the door and everybody are welcome to enter.
Michael Hingson 53:36
So from a business standpoint, who and what companies are really the best opportunities for accessibility to help make the website more the website world more accessible.
Gal Bareket 53:51
So here we are talking about all types of companies, from small to big, from small medium mom and pop store, to a big giants such as even Adobe or or enterprises, whether public or private companies, governmental organizations, educational organizations can also be benefit tremendously from working with us the excessively what it did with those manual services, automated solution AI backed components and having additional offerings to bring to the industry. It able to open up a full array of opportunities that are that can come from various angles, and they’re coming today we’re seeing we’re seeing group from groups of hotels that are reaching out to us and then a public company in In public company in the US, to a flood of public companies in Israel, we seeing various entities that are interested in understanding how can they now be better, and provide better service, whether it’s on the worldwide web or even internal, within their own organizations to to, to, to get better in their hiring processes, to perform better in their internal training for employee adaptation, as many aspects as you will, as you will aware, to those services, and think that these are all being taken in under my department within that umbrella.
Michael Hingson 55:45
So there are companies that specialize in making websites more usable, accessible, or whatever, they have manual programmers that, that do that. And they bet a lot of expertise in it. Why accessibility over those or other companies like it
Gal Bareket 56:05
says A B is a company that is ready for scale. And is and that’s something that is most important, how many website Michael, are currently on? resolved?
Michael Hingson 56:22
Well, I think the statistics that I think that we have found is over 98%.
Gal Bareket 56:28
So even more and say, 90%, of how many 100,000 100 million?
Michael Hingson 56:36
I would say we’re talking in the billions at this point.
Gal Bareket 56:41
So it’s very simple. How many?
Michael Hingson 56:47
A? Well, since we know since we know, for example, from our own studies that there are over 380 websites created every minute in the United States. And out of those, we’re saying that roughly 2% are accessible. That’s basically eight websites out of 390 every minute,
Gal Bareket 57:09
right? So I’m looking at the numbers, as I’m talking with you right now, I do want to make a mistake in the US does 103 33 million websites are in the millions, right. And there is other countries with other numbers. But the fact that we are, we are not even meeting the surface, it’s it’s where we need to aim next. And there’s so much work to be done. So accessible, his ability to scale is not just a word for itself, it allows it it allows the company to serve many entities at the same time. Scaling, it’s not this is not just tech scaling is operation, it means that if we need tomorrow to hire X amount of people, we have the processes in place, the infrastructure in place and the capacity to do so it means that the company as a whole is working, to grow and having a with the bandwidth to gain all everything in it. In addition, and it’s something that our visionary CEO, and is able to create, he constantly create ways to simplify from a technological standpoint, the entire process of have of fixing a website or building a website. And that allows us as a company to have, whether it’s internal proprietary tools to provide the job quicker. So I turn around or turnovers are much quicker than other than other companies. Because we are we are building internal tools to help us get to where we want to be. And, and you know what, this is a problem, a big problem, the more companies that are entering the domain, that are trying to make the world a better place, we all win. So instead of comparing between the companies, we are in a joint effort to make sure that the more and more companies would enroll together, that this 100 and that the 2% would be 98%. And then we can fight over the 2% together.
Michael Hingson 59:29
Yes, and and the reality is that none of the companies that are involved in this whole process of making websites usable are or should be the enemy of consumers. And I know you mentioned before, there’s been a fair amount of heat that has been brought to bear on excessive B to I think, a greater degree than maybe some of the other companies but the heat It has been there. And there’s probably been some justification. But there’s also been a lot of misunderstanding. And I think that, and I’ve said it a couple of times, I think that what’s most important is that we, as a community of persons with disabilities acknowledge the transformations that are taking place, excessively is not the company, both in messaging and an action that it was 10 months ago, it is different today. It is doing a lot more just doing different things. And I think that’s extremely important for, for people to recognize the very fact that people like you are here, you mentioned, by the way that we are as a company, and I say we because I am the chief vision officer for accessibility. As listeners know, you mentioned that we look for people who can help with usability testing, and helping us to make the website more accessible. How can people explore doing that? Where would they go? Who would they contact? Or what would that process be? Do you know?
Gal Bareket 1:01:17
So again, parts of our CEOs vision is to and and our, and our, and our CEO, our chief marketing officer and our CRO is to be able to support the community. And the way that we currently understand the community gets supported is through the various umbrella organizations such as the NFB that you mentioned before and allowing and then working in collaboration with these organizations that are not necessarily in it because they did not I didn’t see that they were providing it but organization that provide the tools that facilitate the onboarding and recruitment of these type of individuals that some have said that they disobey some of the individuals we are bringing into we are opening roles within the the US market within a the new the New York office for people for people with disabilities over a two we’ll be able to have to work with it to work with people disabilities closely to allows us to have not just Sing Sing Sing saying the word inclusion, but also living living it firsthand. So what they can do is they can go to our website, and enter and reach out through various ways through our through our emails to the to the solution department. And we would love to have a conversation with with them with each with each individual, either direct them to the right local organization in their place, we can work with the umbrella organization or works directly with with them.
Michael Hingson 1:03:04
And I think that’s important to to note that that there are ways that people can reach out so people can go to www dot accessibile. Calm, excessive B is spelled ACC e ss i b e.com. And as listeners of this podcast, no they can also reach out to me if they would like Michael M i ch AE L H AI at accessible calm. And I’m glad to help steer people to the right place or answer any other questions that that people have on the podcast. I think we’re getting close to our time but is there any last thing that you would like to say or any point you’d like to make?
Gal Bareket 1:03:48
I enjoyed this conversation with you Michael immensely. I think that I would have are totally finished with accessibly is growing and changing as a company just maybe echoing the last thing you mentioned. In you know, in ways that I haven’t seen any other company grow and I sit on I sit on various flow advisory roles or board roles in different companies. There is there is a sense of fulfillment waking up in the morning and coming to the company there is ongoing communication that is day by day becoming better and better with between the various departments are working as a right organism to provide service for the industry. There is an immense care for the community. It’s what people are waking up for in the morning and are trying to see whether the community was happy today was dissatisfied too then how could the community feel better and feel? And there are main efforts that are being done to take care of that on day two? The basis, the company is also taking into consideration the business aspect and then working on providing additional services, additional solutions, providing additional automation enhancing and improving all the processes or older processes that can now become better and are now better. And we are open to whoever wishes to come in receives type of each one of those services to come to us to see how seamless how short it is than the regular and what there are expected to, and how we are keep evolving and growing as a company, for ever for for for both our end users and our customers, which is wonderful to see is wonderful to see. And be part of
Michael Hingson 1:05:52
the way I would also say that if any of our listeners, if you are a person with a website, and you want to see how accessible your website is, go to www dot accessable COMM And there you will see a link to something called ACE AC e which is the accessibility audit tool that you can run, plug in the name of your website. And you can get an audit that will show you how accessible your website is today, based on the guidelines and standards that exist in the world. And it will show you the things that you need to improve upon. So we’ll give you a good idea. It’s totally free. And if you want to work with accessibility, then the contact information is there to do that. To explore working with accessibility and letting accessibility help you make your website more usable. And for consumers. You can go and check any website as well with ace so we do invite you to do that as well. Well, Gal I really appreciate you being here. And we didn’t talk about the fact that golf stands for wave like the wave in the ocean. You you said that? Typically Israeli names have have meanings other than to being just names or
Gal Bareket 1:07:16
Abraham Hebrew names Hebrew days, right. Right.
Michael Hingson 1:07:20
Now if I talk to enough people, I’ll learn some Hebrew that way I guess.
Gal Bareket 1:07:25
Michael Hingson 1:07:27
Well, I want to thank you again for being here with us. Go vericut. And definitely we will have to chat some more and, and compare some more stories. But thank you for being here on the unstoppable mindset. And I hope everyone will tune in next week. And of course, if you liked the show, please give us a five star review with your podcast host of choice or wherever you listen to podcasts. So thank you all for listening, and we’ll see you next time
Michael Hingson 1:08:02
You have been listening to the Unstoppable Mindset podcast. Thanks for dropping by. I hope that you’ll join us again next week, and in future weeks for upcoming episodes. To subscribe to our podcast and to learn about upcoming episodes, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com slash podcast. Michael Hingson is spelled m i c h a e l h i n g s o n. While you’re on the site., please use the form there to recommend people who we ought to interview in upcoming editions of the show. And also, we ask you and urge you to invite your friends to join us in the future. If you know of any one or any organization needing a speaker for an event, please email me at speaker at Michael hingson.com. I appreciate it very much. To learn more about the concept of blinded by fear, please visit www dot Michael hingson.com forward slash blinded by fear and while you’re there, feel free to pick up a copy of my free eBook entitled blinded by fear. The unstoppable mindset podcast is provided by access cast an initiative of accessiBe and is sponsored by accessiBe. Please visit www.accessibe.com. accessiBe is spelled a c c e s s i b e. There you can learn all about how you can make your website inclusive for all persons with disabilities and how you can help make the internet fully inclusive by 2025. Thanks again for listening. Please come back and visit us again next week.