Episode 7 – Meet accessiBe Partner Success Manager, Rafi Glantz; a Visionary, an Internet Access Thought Leader and a Man on a Mission
Rafi Glantz is the Partner Success Manager for accessiBe. As Mike Hingson discusses near the beginning of this episode one of the advantages of being a podcast host while working for a company is that it is easy to find talent and interesting guests close at hand. Rafi is one of those gems listeners now get to meet. He was born in the United States, but moved to Israel when he was 18. Listen to his interesting story and learn how he became an Israeli Citizen, joined the military and then worked for companies in his newly adopted company. Rafi will take us on a journey of discovery including what brought him to accessiBe and all his adventures since joining the company.
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.
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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 01:21
Hi, and welcome back to another episode of Unstoppable Mindset, the podcast where inclusion, diversity and the unexpected meet. Unexpected. It’s always kind of fun. Today, I want to introduce you to Refael Glantz, we call him Rafi. We call him other things, but Rafi is what will you like that? We will call you Rafi today, and Rafi is the partner Success Manager at excessive B, you know, and he is the second person from accessibility that that we have talked with on this podcast. And why? Well, yes, it has some to do with accessibility. But even more important than that, what I find interesting is that when I have the opportunity to work for an with a company that has a lot of very talented people, it’s great to be able to interview everyone and talk about their talents, without having to go far afield to as a result be able to interview lots of people with lots of interesting stories. So we don’t have to go search for guests too far. Because we could just look inside in our case excessively. And it isn’t always about accessibility. But by the same token, sometimes it is and sometimes excessively comes up in the conversations as I’m sure it will today. But Rafi, welcome to unstoppable mindset.
Rafi Glantz 02:40
Thanks so much for having me. I’m glad to be here.
Michael Hingson 02:43
So Rafi, you I have to say that you don’t really sound like you were born in Israel.
Rafi Glantz 02:50
I was. No, I’m from Detroit originally.
Michael Hingson 02:54
Yeah, there you are see? So, um, so you are from Detroit? And when did you when did you move to Israel and what what brought you to Israel.
Rafi Glantz 03:05
That’s a kind of a funny story. So it’s funny, it’s good that you bring that up. When I was 18, or 17, really, I was finishing high school. And we’re living in Philly at the time with my family. I went to university up in Bel Air in California at American Jewish University, which no longer has undergrads, which might tell you a little bit about why I ended up dropping out. And when I turned 18, I realized, okay, I can join the military now, which is really what I wanted to do. And I ended up moving to Israel getting my citizenship here. And I did about almost three years in the military here. And then when I got out, I realized that it made more sense for me to find a job in the high tech world here, then go back to the states and pursue a degree that to be totally honest, I didn’t have too much interest in anymore. What kind of a degree did you want to get? Well, I went for pre med, and what they called bioethics. And I was actually a combat medic in the Army. And so I had some interaction with that stuff. But the interaction that I had, I guess helped me realize that that was not the path that was gonna, at least I thought at the time, make me really happy.
Michael Hingson 04:21
So you, you switched, how, how difficult was it to become a citizen in Israel? I asked that because, you know, there are lots of discussions about immigration and citizenship and so on here and it’d be interesting to hear a little bit about what it’s like when you when you did it over there.
Rafi Glantz 04:39
For sure. So luckily for me, it’s very easy for me to prove that I’m Jewish, because my dad is a cantor and now a rabbi. So he’s got a very strong body of proof to show that I am in fact Jewish and Israel has a law called the right of return. So if you are Jewish and can show it that You’re essentially guaranteed citizenship here. And they have a very much streamlined process. So I had my new identity documents and everything the same day I landed. Wow. Yes is much smoother than Much, much smoother than our southern border currently.
Michael Hingson 05:15
Yes. Makes it a real challenge. Well, so I’m real nosy. How old are you now?
Rafi Glantz 05:23
Oh, I’m actually just turned 28. About two weeks ago,
Michael Hingson 05:26
congrats. excited me as an interesting company. The founders were under 30, when they formed accessibly, they were part of the 30, under 30, for Forbes in 2019. And I learned that sure Heckerling, the founder, the CEO of excessive he will be turning, I think he said 32 in January. And it’s interesting, it’s lots of young people, which is great. And not too many of us who have been around the industry for a long period of time. But but there are advantages and disadvantages, I suppose as long as the tribal knowledge can be passed on from people who’ve been there, but it’s really cool to be with a company, where there’s a lot of vision, and a lot of enthusiasm for, for what we’re doing.
Rafi Glantz 06:16
Absolutely, it’s really exciting for me as well, because to come from, you know, a world where in the United States, especially where we’re really taught to defer to experience and age, and that, you know, somebody who is older and more experienced in an industry definitely knows better than you. And, you know, you shouldn’t necessarily go against that grain. That’s very much not the culture here. And so while of course, a lot of our startups don’t succeed and don’t achieve the level of success that we certainly have. It’s really, really inspiring to see guys who are not that much older than me. build such a behemoth, you know, and don’t you wish you’d had the idea first, oh, my God so much. But unfortunately, and I’ll tell you the truth, a lot of people in sales calls and stuff like that, they’ll say something like, wow, this is really impressive. How did you build it? And I said, Well, to be honest, I had absolutely nothing to do with it. But I will take all the credit you’re willing to give me sir, absolutely.
Michael Hingson 07:15
Makes makes perfect sense. You know, the, the issue is that it is still a team. And I think even in the US, though I’m not seeing as much as you might think of deferring to people with a lot of experience, we we tend to, I think as a as a country look down, especially the younger people look down at a lot of older people, there’s a lot of age discrimination that goes on here. And it gets pretty, pretty vigorous sometimes, which is unfortunate.
Rafi Glantz 07:48
I actually, I never want I haven’t lived in the States for about 10 years. So I’m a little out of date there. But I also grew up a lot of the time in a synagogue surrounded by I guess a little bit of a different approaches, right. And I went to a religious school for a lot of my early childhood. And so that was like really drilled into me that you don’t argue with the rabbi’s on certain things.
Michael Hingson 08:11
So while you lived in Philadelphia, did you go look at the stairs and see if you saw rocky running up and down the stairs or hearing meal? Yo, Adrian Are any of those things?
Rafi Glantz 08:20
Just I will admit that I have yo yo words real way, many times inside the museum of art as well, which let me tell you the security guards are not fans. They’ve heard it before and they don’t want to hear it again.
Michael Hingson 08:33
Yeah, I can imagine. I can imagine they’ve heard it way too many times. And not too many people probably run up and down the stairs either.
Rafi Glantz 08:44
Not anymore. Maybe they used to but right now, not not too many. I’ve done it a couple of times. But there there are more stairs than you would think.
Michael Hingson 08:55
Yeah. Yeah. Well, and then there are those silly people who run up and down the stairs of the Empire State Building. I’m just as confused about those people as well. So it’s okay.
Rafi Glantz 09:10
Yeah, listen, I’m confused about people who run marathons. If somebody tells me they ran a marathon, I said, who chased you? Like yeah, exactly what I don’t understand what what was the reason? But, you know, teach there. If that’s what gets here, you know, gets you up in the morning then great.
Michael Hingson 09:26
Yeah. Well, it’s the same thing as football. You don’t want to play this game where everybody just beats up on you. That’s fine.
Rafi Glantz 09:33
Exactly. You know, there’s a great SNL sketch. I love the vintage SNL sketches. And yes, the more recent ones like they’re kind of hit or miss for me, but they had a very good one with Alex Rodriguez. And Charles Barkley and then they had Kenan Thompson playing a football player. And you know the baseball play rod and and Barkley are talking about wow, you know, I played for 10 years. I played for 20 and my knees or shot or this is hurting. And the football player says, I played for 10 games, and my brain doesn’t work. Which we don’t want to make light of CTE but it is a very serious issue that not enough people address. So I’m at least glad it’s being discussed now.
Michael Hingson 10:17
Yeah. Well, and and we do need to look at more of those things. But still people like to bang their heads together. So it’s, it’s okay. It’s a news event for me. And that’s okay.
Rafi Glantz 10:31
I think it’s better than rugby. At least they wear helmets. Yeah,
Michael Hingson 10:34
at least. I was in New Zealand in 2003. We were there for about two weeks. And it was during a lot of the rugby playoffs. There are two things that went on in in New Zealand at the time. One was rugby playoffs, and they certainly are very, very loud and opinionated about rugby in teams. But even more so New Zealand had just lost the America’s Cup. And they were yelling, why is it that the government doesn’t take over paying for our ship our yacht so that we can win? Because Oh, it was just vigorous and horrible.
Rafi Glantz 11:16
I’m glad they’ve got their priorities in order. Yeah, we
Michael Hingson 11:18
certainly do believe that sports are parameters and Okay, anyway. So, so tell me, you, you moved to Israel in 2018, and enjoyed the military and worked in as a medic. And so you must have lots of interesting stories. Did you ever get to see much in the way of combat? Or were you close to it or any kind of experiences around that that you want to tell?
Rafi Glantz 11:43
I saw enough. So I actually joined the military in 2011. Or actually, sorry, 2012, because it was November 18 was November 22, something like that. 2012. And then I was in there for almost three years. And for most of my service, it was honestly very boring. Most people who do military stuff will tell you it’s mostly hurry up and wait. Yeah, I have a lot of very funny stories that are not appropriate. But I can tell you that in 2014, we ended up having what some people call a war, some people call an operation in Gaza. And I had the misfortune to be involved in some capacity. And I learned that that is not a career path for me that I would much rather work in high tech. And I think one funny tidbit that I will share that I think will tell a lot of people listening just one thing about our culture is that Israel is a very, very small country. So we have what’s called staging areas for the military, basically, where, you know, you park all the vehicles and leave all the soldiers in a relatively protected area, so that they can be sent to a new area as needed. Now, the public knew aware a lot of these staging areas work because it’s not secret. And a lot of the soldiers you know, they’re 1819 20 they’re gonna call their parents and say like, Hey, here I am, everything’s okay. Don’t worry about me. I could not tell you how many random citizens of this country showed up to staging areas all over the place, with food, blankets, coffee cigarettes, for people who smoke everything you can imagine, over the course of a two week war, I gained about 10 pounds. I think this is maybe the only military operation in history, where the majority of the soldiers actually gained weight.
Michael Hingson 13:39
But it is nice to see that the military folks are are supported. And I understand that’s what’s going on. You mentioned it and I’m not sure that a lot of people really understand how large is Israel.
Rafi Glantz 13:51
It’s pretty small. It’s about the size of New Jersey a little bit smaller. And when you take into account the West Bank and and Gaza, it’s even smaller, you know, the distance between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem even though we see it on the news all the time we hear about it, the distance between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem is like 30 miles. It is not a big place. And it’s a little bit funny because you’ll have experienced this Mike living in California, driving 45 minutes is not a big deal, right? Driving an hour to Costco is relatively normal. Like I’d rather if there’s a Costco 40 minutes away, but I’ll go in Israel, if you’re driving more than 20 minutes, people will look at you like what, how can you do that in the same day? How can you come back? It’s so far, because it’s just a completely different standard.
Michael Hingson 14:41
It’s interesting, I have met people when I lived in New Jersey, we met some people who lived in Springfield, which is no more than 10 or 15 miles outside New York City. And yet, these people who were 40 and 50 years old, never had been to New York City. It really, it is amazing to see some people how confined they, they keep their world, they have never been to New York City, much less going to upstate New York or anything like that they have just been around Elizabeth and Springfield and so on, and had never been to to New York City. It’s amazing. If you know, for us, as you point out here in California, we don’t think anything about that, we oftentimes will drive three and 400 miles to go from one part of California to another and think, right, not too much of it. Karen and I do a little bit more thinking about it. Today, she’s got a little bit of rheumatoid arthritis, so she won’t drive as far at one time. But we have, and it’s normal to see that. But you know, at the same time, there’s a lot of value of being around home, but not going 10 or 15 miles to the to the largest city in the country. One of the one not the largest in the world, but one of the largest in the world. And seeing all that it has to offer is really a strange thought, a strange feeling.
Rafi Glantz 16:09
I couldn’t agree more. And you know, what I we have a lot of what we call taboo to my life, which basically means Culture Day on Sunday. So when you’re in the army, they’ll take you for like a special trip on Sundays to see a historical site or to see the western wall or something like that. There’s a lot of kids who live in a country the size of New Jersey who’ve never seen the wall or the Dome of the Rock or all of those, you know, very holy sites that Jerusalem so famous for in prison.
Michael Hingson 16:38
Yeah. And go figure and and I think it’s a great loss not to visit, or at least learn about a lot of those places. I think that the people who don’t do that miss so much about the rich culture of wherever they live.
Rafi Glantz 16:54
Definitely. I, like looking back, I would have liked to spend more time, you know, investigating City Hall in Philadelphia, and not just for all the relatively corrupt things that happened. Just kidding. But that’d be fun. It would necessary certainly be nice.
Michael Hingson 17:13
Yeah, it’s an interesting and interesting place. And, you know, we got to deal with politics as we deal with it. So I’m still with Mark Twain. I wonder if God had been a man because he was disappointed in the monkeys. But you know, we got to do.
Rafi Glantz 17:31
That’s not the most unlikely theory, I’ve heard to say.
Michael Hingson 17:37
So you, you went to the military, and you came out and did school and so on? And what did you do before you joined accessibility?
Rafi Glantz 17:47
Well, before I joined accessiBe, I realized that in the Israeli tech scene, you know, a person who speaks English, like I do, and has a relatively acceptable phone manner, can find employment in the high tech space. So I started working in the financial technology industry, mostly just, you know, working in the crypto field, and I went in whatever I do, my philosophy is that, you know, you should dive into it as deep as you can, and learn everything that you can about it. Because you never know, like, what’s going to come in handy and how much information you’ll need. And particularly in the crypto world, it’s, it was such a new field at the time I’m talking, you know, 2016 2017, it was such a new field, that there really were no experts. So if you were willing to put in the time and Google things and study, you know, you were as much of an expert as anybody could find. And the problem of course, being that it’s expanded so much that nobody could possibly keep up to date on everything that’s going on. But that was that was sort of my first foray into the real high tech world.
Michael Hingson 18:57
So what did you do?
Rafi Glantz 18:59
Um, mostly I just did marketing and content. So I tried to connect with the communities that were behind these organizations. And I learned a little bit about how to manage marketing, but mostly it was managing people whether they were working with us on projects or whether they were doing marketing or influencer marketing or anything like that. I mostly learned how to keep my own stuff organized, and keep people on deadlines, which as you can, as you probably already know, is not the easiest thing. It’s like
Michael Hingson 19:32
herding cats. Absolutely. Yes.
Rafi Glantz 19:36
So we both have cats, so
Michael Hingson 19:40
I think they weren’t themselves out for the morning anyway, at least I hope so. Ours was yelling at us. Certainly Ervin has quite a down I refilled her food bowl so she’s a little happier.
Rafi Glantz 19:50
Not There you go. Although I see mine just loves human food every I’m a big I love cooking that’s like my Yeah, my stress relief or and every Every time I make anything with chicken, meat, fish, anything, the cat assumes it’s for him. He doesn’t understand that I’m not cooking for him and I’ve already given him. So it’s, it’s, it’s a problem. But I always find it adorable to feed a cat pieces of cow meat, because he would never be able to get that in the wild. I can give it to,
Michael Hingson 20:21
well, ours likes her food. Although she will eat chicken. We haven’t seen her eat a lot of fish. And we haven’t been able to convince her to do that. So that’s okay. But she she really likes her own food. But what she really loves is when she’s eating, she wants to be petted. So our food dish, her food dishes up on our sink, it’s a double sink with a long counter between the two sinks in the bathroom. We have to keep it up there because there are certain dogs who will probably invade the food bowl if we don’t. Because he believes everything is for him. It’s a laugh, he’s a Labrador, but we we put the food up on the counter. But she wants to be petted while she’s eating. In fact, she really likes to get rubbed all over and she’ll lay down and per while she’s eating, getting petted.
Rafi Glantz 21:19
That’s one way to do it.
Michael Hingson 21:21
And during the during the night, at least well, I’ll only let her do it one time. I told her when she started this, that she gets at one time a night. And that’s it. She’ll walk me until I get up in the middle of the night and feeder. So frustrating. Yeah. But, you know, animals are fun. And you know what you can’t argue with all that they bring us in that we get to bring them. The fact of the matter is that all animals have personalities. And I’m sure that there are people listening to this who say I never let my cat do that. Well, you know. On the other hand, our experience unless there’s some catastrophic illness is that our animals tend to live a long time. I had one guy, Doug Holland, who lived over 15 years, typically, guide dogs worked for me for 10 years or so. I’ve had two that didn’t, but both were illness relate well, one was illness related. And one was she just really got fearful of guiding actually was my sixth dog. Marilyn, she only worked about 18 months. And then just this afraid of guiding but there were other issues with her. But even Roselle worked from 2000, I’m sorry, from 1999 to 2007. And she had for the last three years, she guided a condition known as immune mediated thrombocytopenia, which is where the platelets in the blood will be attacked by your immune system. It’s something that humans get in dogs get and and eventually got to the point where she couldn’t work more, but she lived for four more years. And that was okay. But we love our animals. And when we should they add so much value to us, I wish more people would take the time to really develop relationships with animals.
Rafi Glantz 23:15
Yeah, I think they, like you say they add a lot to your life. And you know, you can get your emotional validation from all kinds of different places. But in my mind, like there’s nothing better than a dog because no matter what, as long as you’re not abusive, and a lot of times even then that dog is going to love you and support you and be there for you until the day it dies. Yeah,
Michael Hingson 23:37
they may not trust you as well. And that’s something that I talk a lot about when I when I travel and speak and talk about what guide dogs do and even the experiences of the World Trade Center. I tell people that dogs do love unconditionally, but they don’t trust unconditionally. The difference. However, between dogs and humans, his dogs will generally be open to trust. I had I saw one that wasn’t because she had been abused. And it took us months before we got her to trust us. But then when she did, she opened up and became a great friend for us for three years. It was in the latter part of her life. And she still lived to be 15.
Rafi Glantz 24:17
Wow. So my family has had poodles for the longest like full standard poodles and little purse dog. Yeah. And I, you know, on average, I think they’re living with nine years, maybe 10. Not not quite that long. So you must you must really take care of these guys.
Michael Hingson 24:35
Yeah, every dog is a little different. We haven’t had poodles, but we’ve had cats that lived a long time and stitch our current cat is now 12. So she’ll, she’ll be around quite a while yet, especially if we keep making her jump up to get her food. She’s got to get around her size. We’re not going to lift her up. She’s tried to start to pull that one on us few times. We don’t do it.
Rafi Glantz 24:59
Well, right because those cats, they’ll take advantage of you. They’re clever.
Michael Hingson 25:03
Rafi Glantz 25:04
I met mine, he has this thing he loves knocking over glass items, doesn’t care what it is if it’s full of water, if it’s full of juice, whatever, he will knock it right over. And the worst part is, you’ll see him doing it. And I’ll, I’ll go, you know, I’ll yell at him. However you yell at him to try and get him to stop doing something. And he will look over at me and knock it over. As he looks at me. Yeah, with no shame. No. No shame at all. Just as though it’s like, oh, this is what I’m doing. This is mine. As if I as if he paid for it from IKEA. Right. You know, he doesn’t understand now there’s glass on the floors. He doesn’t understand why I’m picking him up and trying to put him in another room. Yeah, cut his paws open.
Michael Hingson 25:53
Yeah. We haven’t gotten to the point of stuffing him in a box and saying you’re going to stay here for a couple of weeks, you’re grounded. Work. Well, how did you come to accessiBe? How did you discover this company?
Rafi Glantz 26:09
It’s actually a very funny story. So I started working at a company called Celsius network, which is in the crypto space. And people that are great, like I don’t, I don’t have anything negative to say about them, it just didn’t really work out. And I was looking for a new role. I had some friends who worked in marketing, and they had a great marketing company called market across an inbound junction. So I spoke to them had an interview, they turned out not to be interested. And a week later, I haven’t interviewed accessiBe, and I ended up getting hired. And I thought, you know, these are two totally unrelated things. Turns out market across was an early investor in excessively. So it’s sort of close the loop there. And it’s, I’ve been here for almost two and a half years now. And it has been a very, very crazy ride. You know, when I when I joined excessively, I think we had a little bit under 4000 Total customers period. And we were we just started selling in the US a few months before. And we were working out of this small office, north of Tel Aviv, it took me like an hour on a bus to get there every day there and back. And two and a half years later, we have grown just an unbelievable amount. And it’s sometimes really quite surreal to see it.
Michael Hingson 27:33
It’s it’s an amazing company. I just learned about it literally about 12 and a half months ago, and have gotten very much involved in it and find the same sort of thing. It’s an interesting ride. It’s a great ride. It’s it’s a great company, and there are a lot of things that it’s doing. So So what exactly did you start doing? And are you still doing the same thing you did? And what do you do now? Exactly?
Rafi Glantz 28:02
Ah, that’s a good question. So I started out doing just regular sales, I had access to be I was one of our I guess you’d call it an account executive. And within a couple of months, it became clear that we needed somebody in the company to handle enterprise accounts. And despite not really having any specific experience doing that. The powers that be which are shared deck, LM gal pulled me into an office and said, Hey, do strategic partnerships. And I said, What’s that, and they said, we’ll figure it out. So there was a little bit more planning than that. But they kind of threw me into the deep end there. We built a lot of really cool partnerships with organizations like Synchro and real page and other groups whose names I won’t get into right now. And from there, we realize that now we really need you know, as we grow, we need somebody who really has experience and processes and is more professional to handle that. So we brought in Darryl, who now does that and I moved over to the partner success team, which I did part time a little bit in the partner success in strategic but now I really work with our agency partners because excessively has partnerships with almost 5000 agencies in the United States and Canada. And I work with those partners to help them with essentially whatever they need accessibility wise, you know, some of them, they have a lot of technical questions that need addressing, they might not be sure how to go about making a website accessible really, and with others, there are more questions relating to how do I get my clients to want to spend money on accessibility? Because unfortunately, there are most business owners out there today. If you tell them, hey, you can make your website accessible for this and this and this, their immediate answer is, well, what happens if I don’t, because I don’t want to spend that money. And I don’t really agree with that approach. But that is, unfortunately, their approach. So a big part of my job is arming these agency partners with the right tools and the right talk tracks and points to make and statistics that will help them explain to these business owners why accessibility makes sense, not just for their business, but also morally and legally.
Michael Hingson 30:34
So, for fun, what what’s good is, what do you say? What do you say to someone? Or what would you say to someone who says, I just don’t want to spend the money to make my website accessible? And I asked that, and I’ll tell you why. Ask it, I’d love your thoughts on this as well, is you were well aware that over the past several months, there have been some people, and it’s a relatively small number, comparatively speaking, but still, they’re very vocal, who say none of this stuff works. It’s not good. The companies just plain don’t have good practices and so on. And the only way to do web access is to do it right from the outset, or to do it with manual coding. And I’m sure there are all sorts of other arguments that you hear, but what do you say to the person who says don’t want to spend the money?
Rafi Glantz 31:24
Well, yeah, let’s let’s take that into points. Because I think the the don’t want to spend the money is one point, and then the detractors are another, I’ll address both. But let’s tell because I want to spend the money. Right, so don’t want to spend the money. I usually say one of two things. One is the really positive side, which is hey, 26% of American adults, according to the CDC, live with a disability, even if I cut that down to 5%, who really have trouble using websites, I know very few business owners, that wouldn’t invest $50 a month to increase their market share by 5%. And to be perfectly blunt with you, sir, if you can’t afford $50, for 5% more customers, your business is a bigger problem than accessibility. And I know that that sounds a little bit aggressive, but it is the case. And then I’ll also mention something that you’d actually brought up in a previous, previous webinar that we did. The Nielsen data that shows that people with disabilities are the most brand loyal community, and particularly online, most businesses now are doing their best to build a supportive and positive community of customers and of users. So this is a great way to do that. And I’ll also try to humanize it a little bit and say, hey, put yourself in somebody’s shoes for a second, who needs to use a screen reader or Braille reader or click stick? And let’s say you’re looking for new shoes, right? If you go on Google, you’re gonna go through 1215 websites before you even find one you can use, then by the time you do if you need shoes again, do you really think you’re gonna go searching for a shoe store? No, you’re gonna go back to the one that was accessible. But more than that, you’re going to share it with your community. Because there are so few business owners in whatever your space is, that cater to people with disabilities, people will flock to you. And I think that that’s just a general advantage of capitalism, that if you choose to stand out by being accessible, and being one of the first movers in this space, which I know, it seems like there’s already a lot of activity and accessibility, but less than 2% of websites are accessible. So if you make yourself accessible, even next week, you’re still one of the first movers, it sets you apart, it puts you in a new class. And it’s also a great, it’s a great piece of PR to put out both internally for your company culture, and externally for the world to see that you are a brand that cares about all people and takes all their money.
Michael Hingson 33:51
There you are. Well, how does how does access to be fit into that? What is it that accessibly? Does that company should take that kind of an interest in?
Rafi Glantz 34:03
Michael Hingson 36:53
one of the important things to make sure people understand is that if you use something like excessive BS, overlay technology, it’s it’s AI Artificial Intelligence powered overlay, you’re not suddenly saying My website is perfectly and totally accessible. But it makes a significant difference. And because of things like what you said, access flow, without going into a lot of detail about it, it will give you tools to help you determine what else needs to be done to make the website accessible in a more complete way. And that’s extremely important to be able to do. You know, you have talked about I think that the right thing the the moral and ethical reasons for making your website accessible, and it’s something that we should do, we don’t tend to think in an inclusive way, whether it’s here in the US, or in most places, although in Israel, the laws are now pretty stringent about website access, but they’re not really stringent throughout the world, in that they don’t absolutely mandate and require totally, that websites, for example, and apps and other things need to be accessible. And people do find ways or try to find ways to get around it in various places. Now, I don’t know much about the history in Israel and what people do today. But I know we’re here, even though a number of courts have said that the Americans with Disabilities Act does apply to the internet, because the ADEA does not specify brick and mortar facilities as the only places that businesses have to provide inclusion to address. But some people say well, but the ADEA was invented before the internet. And so it doesn’t apply. And a couple of courts have gone along with that. So Congress needs to address it. The president needs to address it, and they haven’t done that yet.
Rafi Glantz 38:58
Michael Hingson 39:49
Well, I think that’s true. And if you look at things like excessive BS ace audit tool, or you can go to the World Wide Web Consortium website, and Find their audit tool. There are places where you can go to say to a website, here is my website address. Tell me how accessible My website is. I think people would be really surprised. For the most part, if they found out just how inaccessible and how unintrusive most websites really are. Yeah, you know, most people
Rafi Glantz 40:23
don’t think I talked to business owners and agency owners like, probably 910 12 times a day at this point. And most of them, very few of them have any hate in their heart towards people with disabilities, the real issue is that they just don’t think about it. Because number one, they’re busy running their business, they’re, you know, chicken with their head cut off on most days anyways. But unless you have somebody in your family who has disabilities or in your community that you’re close to that you work with on a regular basis or something, for most people, it’s just not top of the mind. Now, not saying that should be the case by any stretch. But it’s, it’s a challenge for us that we need to make this more visible, for lack of a better word.
Michael Hingson 41:05
Absolutely. And, you know, the reality is that there are some who say, I’m just not going to spend any money, I can’t afford to do it. But again, it’s a mindset shift, if they looked at it, as you said, that is, think of all the business that you can get by making your website accessible. I think anyone who has any insight into the business concepts of the world would agree that it makes perfect sense to make your website accessible. And then when you bring things into it, like access fine, and maybe you want to explain a little bit about what that is, but access fine, also, can help make a difference for people.
Rafi Glantz 41:45
Yeah, access fine, is I talk about it on my calls a lot, because it’s a huge opportunity for a business owner. So access find is the world’s first search engine that is only going to display accessible results. So only accessible websites, and everybody who uses accessibility is pretty much going to be on there. So what I like to say is that if you’re everybody does SEO now, right? Everybody wants to optimize their search results and get found on the internet. Well, if you’re doing SEO on Google, you’re competing with every other shoe store, every other hockey rink, whatever it is in the world, and certainly everyone in your area, if you’re on access, find you’re competing with like five other people, because nobody’s accessible yet. So as frustrating as that is, it’s a huge opportunity for the early movers to establish themselves.
Michael Hingson 42:33
And I want to make it clear as that access find is not just accessibly. That is it is the intent is for it to be website remediation process agnostic, as long as you are working to make your website accessible, it doesn’t matter what tool you use, so long as you do it. Because the reality is, when it comes down to it, there are two things that go into making a website accessible. One is the code that somehow gets inserted somewhere that does things like label images, or label buttons and define links and so on, tells you that you have a shopping cart. And so that’s that’s one. But the other is specifically looking at what you do to make that website usable. And a lot of it has to do with labeling. But it also has to do sometimes with layout and other things like that. And so the issue is it doesn’t matter what tool you use. But however you do it, the fact is that the evidence of you doing it is visible to audit tools that look for it. And it’s visible to people who who know how to look for it. And that’s what you really want to get to.
Rafi Glantz 43:56
Yeah, I mean, I, we don’t care how you become accessible. If people can use your website. That’s awesome. And we want to put that on access fine. And like access find is not solely an accessible thing. It’s a nonprofit. And we’re in partnership with the Christopher Reeve Foundation and with the Viscardi Center, and a whole bunch of other really awesome organizations that believe in the same goal that we do that whether you choose to work with us or anybody else. The goal here is accessibility. And that’s actually, you know, we did this ad that I got a lot of Facebook messages from my mom’s friends about this ad that we ran a national ad campaign in the US which you know all about Mike the Unstopables. And the reason the the purpose of this was not so much to sell excessively, but to sell the idea of accessibility, because like Like we said before, so few people are really aware of this at all. And of those people very, very few have it at the top of their mind.
Michael Hingson 44:55
Diversity is a term has really gone away from dealing with disabilities and I will make that argument all day. We talk about diversity when we’re dealing with sexual orientation, race, and gender and so on. But disabilities don’t get included in that, which is why I prefer to use the term inclusive, because either you are or you aren’t. And if you’re leaving anyone out, then you’re not inclusive. And it’s as simple as that. The fact is, as you pointed out, 20 to 26% of all people in this country and mostly throughout the world, have some sort of disability, how often were we discussed or talked about, or issues that we face brought up during last year’s presidential campaign in this country? And how often are those kinds of things considered today, and it’s just reality is not much.
Rafi Glantz 45:47
Yeah, and it’s a real shame, because there’s a massive missed opportunity, I think, you’ll probably know the number better than me. But there’s close to $500 billion a year in disposable income in the community. And most people are just choosing not to tap into it for some reason. It, it doesn’t make sense, particularly now, in a time when we have inflation, we have supply chain problems, we have all of this stuff, and people are scrambling to find customers, you would think that they would want to access the market that’s right in front of them.
Michael Hingson 46:18
One of the things that it isn’t directly related to web access, but one of the issues that we face as blind people is that the cost for assistive technology, the technology that at least hopefully and does somewhat level, the playing field for us, is expensive screen readers, the software that makes computers talk and describe or verbalize what comes across the screen tools to produce Braille and so on cost money. The National Federation of the Blind has worked with Congress to get introduced into Congress the accessibility assistive technology affordability Act, which calls for a tax credit for people who purchase assistive technology to help us offset some of those costs, yet, and it was actually put into the buyback better program of Congress and Joe Biden. But it’s now been dropped as they’ve been weeding out some of the the programs that people are debating over whether they want to include or not, that is extremely unfortunate that they would that that would even happen, because it’s pretty universal thing that for us to be able to do the same things that you do, there are going to be some costs, because we have made our universe some site oriented, that we leave people out. And we’ve we’ve done that in various other ways. But even I think I could make a strong case, to a degree more with blindness than than anything else. We think that eyesight is the only game in town. And we don’t tend to think about the fact that some of this technology costs, we’re not saying pay for it, but give us some tax credits to help us offset some of the costs. And so there’s a push right now to get that put back into the bill. But you know, we don’t tend to think about people with disabilities in general. One of my favorite examples, is we watch the view everyday, Karen watches it. Now, last month was national employment, or National Disability Employment Awareness Month. I didn’t hear actually, except for one time, any disability mentioned on the view in the whole month of October, and that time wasn’t even relating to employment or disability awareness, other than saying how inspirational it was that a couple of people with Down syndrome were doing something. It’s not inspiration, we need its recognition and understanding and a raising of expectations about society. Absolutely.
Rafi Glantz 48:54
And there’s just not enough representation. For all the reasons that you point out there just isn’t. I think, what was Senator Tammy Duckworth? I think she’s one of the first if not the first woman with disabilities in the Senate. And I mean, she, I could not think of a more heroic story. I mean, she was a combat helicopter pilot, if I’m if I’m remembering this correctly, who was wounded in combat, and ended up becoming a United States Senator. I mean, I could not think of something that would be more appropriate to teach kids, but you rarely hear about that today. The news stories that we hear about are so much, so much less interesting and so much more depressing.
Michael Hingson 49:37
What’s interesting is that she isn’t the first to have a disability and be in the Senate or the House, and specifically one of our previous podcast guests, a lady named Peggy Chung, who is also known as the blind history lady, talked about the fact that before 1940, there had been three blind people in the house and to whom served in the Senate. But since then, not one single blind person has been in either house, which is kind of interesting. But really, we’ve gone backwards, we have gone backwards. And she makes that point during the podcast. So if people haven’t heard that it’s a fascinating one to go listen to. She’s got some great stories. She even talks about the fact that the typewriter was originally invented for a blind person. It’s a great story, you should go find it. It’s, it’s, it’s in, in the the podcast, and
Rafi Glantz 50:29
I heard that clip on your LinkedIn, you saw that? Yeah.
Michael Hingson 50:33
Good for you. I appreciate you looking. But it’s a fascinating story. And the reality is that so many people could make contributions to society, but we tend not to recognize or lose out on getting what they can offer, because we operate in the assumption that there’s only one way to do things.
Rafi Glantz 50:55
Yeah. I mean, one of the things that you said initially, is something that I quote you on, I do attribute it, don’t worry. But in my in my call, because I’ll bring up you know, Michael Hanson, and everything. And I’ll say, well, now he’s our chief vision officer. But as he says, You don’t need sight to be a visionary. And you know, it gets a chuckle. But it’s also true, you really don’t. And one of the very few experiences that I’ve had, that sort of, certainly not put me in your shoes, but let me feel a little bit of what it might be like, was, there’s this restaurant in Tel Aviv and Jaffa, and I forget what it’s called, but they put everything in complete darkness. So for about two and a half hours, you’re eating, drinking being served everything, mostly by people who have disabilities, both deafness and blindness, as if you’re part of that community. And initially, it was very disconcerting. And I did make sure not to wear a white shirt, of course. But it was, for lack of a better word, very eye opening.
Michael Hingson 52:00
The only problem with that, and a lot of us express this concern is if you go away from that having had challenges and you think that’s how it is for for people who are blind, you’re missing the point. Because the fact is just like for people who can see you learn techniques to do the things that you learn, the fact is that I’d be glad to go to that same restaurant with you and laugh at you while you’re having a problem. Because I don’t have that problem. Because I’ve learned techniques. And so there was an organization several years ago that created a website, and was called how I see it, or that’s how eye see it the is Eye. And they asked their members to put up on the website, videos of themselves being blindfolded, trying to accomplish tasks. And the whole intent of it was to say see how difficult it is to do this if you’re blind. And the reality is, they were so wrong by doing that. And what actually occurred was that blind people discovered it and started putting up our own videos on the same website, saying See how easy it is if you learn and actually overwhelmed the site, and eventually was taken down. And eventually there were some discussions. But it was an organization that has to do with eyesight, and blindness and so on. And they missed the whole point. The reality is that, that it’s not the blindness or the eyesight. It’s how you learn to deal with it. Most sighted people don’t learn to be very observant, by comparison to say, a Navy Seal or someone in the military or people who learn to use their eyes or their ears extremely well. And people who truly learn to understand their senses recognize that, that in fact, there’s more than one way to do things. And it isn’t always about one particular sense. Absolutely.
Rafi Glantz 53:56
I think a great example of that is actually one of the guys who helped create accessories, initial solution a dt. So he’s a friend of sheers. I’m imagining you might have even had the chance to meet him.
Michael Hingson 54:08
I haven’t met I know about it, but I haven’t met him yet.
Rafi Glantz 54:11
Okay, so get excited. But he is a really nice guy. He came in and showed us a presentation. But what really impressed me was that this guy, not only does this screen reader talk about two and a half times my normal speaking speed, and my speed is not slow. He’s also listening to music and also coding while he’s having everything read to him and everything. That is very impressive, regardless of any kind of ability or disability. Like I don’t think that I would be able to do that. Without like you say without a lot of practice. And there are absolutely strategies and stuff that you would learn to to help you do it. But for someone like me, it’s still impressive.
Michael Hingson 54:54
So I have a couple of other things. One is I want to get back To the whole issue of access, and so on, we talked all about the moral aspect of it. But the reality is there is a legal aspect of it, and what do you what do you say to people? Or let me let me combine both of them together, there have been criticisms that that people say is bad marketing to say that you shouldn’t make your website accessible just because somebody might sue you. And creating that level of fear. When in reality, it does happen, and it can happen. But what do you say to people about that? And how do you deal with the people who plain say, that’s wrong to even say?
Rafi Glantz 55:38
So it’s an important point to bring up? And I think that number one, it’s in arguable that this is a real problem. Now, could you argue it in court? Sure, you can argue whatever you want in court. But as you know, the American legal system is not 100% perfect all the time for everyone to say the least. So there is a lot of case law to show that you do need to be accessible. The real problem that we face today is the demand letter problem. And it’s a lot more of a murky issue than the full on lawsuits. Because the people who send lawsuits, in my experience, much of the time, these are actually well intentioned people who actually have tested this site, they want to use the website and they can’t. The demand letters, on the other hand, are coming from a relatively small number of law firms that have identified this as a great way for them to make money making settlements. And unfortunately, in our, in my opinion, particular, that tends to paint the community of people with disabilities in a very negative light. Because in my experience that I believe also in yours, your first instinct when something is not perfect, or as expected is not to sue the pants off of somebody, you’re going to engage in a dialogue with them and try to get them to understand why this is something important. So when people tell me, Hey, I don’t really believe I’m going to get sued. Sometimes I’ll be a little bit rude and just say, Okay, wait. But what I usually will respond with is a story that actually happened to me. So about two years ago, I was in Las Vegas, right before Corona started speaking about web accessibility, and somebody interrupted me about halfway through the presentation, right when I was talking about the legalities, and he claims to own 60 locations of a payday loan company. Now, I won’t defend payday loan companies, I don’t understand how 3,000% interest is legal in the United States of America, that’s a different conversation. But he claims to own 60 locations, and he got a demand letter from some attorney asking for $10,000 Because his website wasn’t accessible. Now, this guy’s never heard of accessibility before, which is puts him in the same boat as the vast majority of business owners in the United States. So he calls us lawyer and asked the Hey, what’s up with what’s going on? And the lawyer explains, well, listen, it’s you, we shouldn’t really fight this. Because if I take this to court and fight it for you, you’re going to pay me $100,000. In legal fees, it’s going to take like a year and a half. And we’ll probably still lose, because you’re not accessible. Like you haven’t done any work to your website, you don’t have any grounds. So he said, Okay, he wrote a check. And he started looking into how to make the rest of his websites accessible. The problem is, and this speaks a lot to the nature of many of these complaints. The day his check cleared, he got 59 more letters and had to settle for $600,000. And as much as I disagree with the business that he’s in, I appreciate him having the courage to come forward and speak about it. Because this happens a lot more frequently than we realize, because most business owners who have something like this happen to them, they’re not going to speak up about it, they’re going to be as quiet as possible, because they don’t want to get sued again, and they don’t want to cast their business and themselves in a negative light.
Michael Hingson 58:49
The other part about that, though, is that his lawyer wasn’t up on it enough to understand that maybe there are ways to address the issue either. Very true. I know, excessively, has interacted with a number of companies, I’m sure you’ve got stories about this companies that say, Hey, I’m being threatened with a lawsuit. Can you help us and that what accessiblity has done as helped in two ways. One, it’s offered its its products, and when that’s put on the site, that greatly mitigates a lot of the accessibility issues by just using the overlay not totally, but that it helps. And the other thing that excessive B will do is then show with its its own documentation that it creates case by case. Exactly how the, the website has become accessible. And that in fact, the the lawsuit is not justifiable. Yeah,
Rafi Glantz 59:50
I mean, I don’t know the exact number anymore, but I don’t even close to it. But it’s it’s literally in the 1000s of people who have come to us with papers already served and all Almost all those cases, we’ve managed to make the whole thing go away. We’ve never had a client successfully sued due to using our tool. And I will also say that having access to be on your website has despite what whatever detractors might want to say, which, you know, they’re welcome to say whatever they want. But having accessiBe on your website has become a lot like having the ADT flag on your lawn. You know, people see that flag and realize you have a good security system. And they’re a lot more likely to move on to the next victim than test it out. And we’ve seen that play out quite a bit in recent months.
Michael Hingson 1:00:34
What do you say to the people in there have been consumers who say that we’re just not doing things the right way?
Rafi Glantz 1:00:42
I say what I said before, which is it’s a journey, it’s not a destination, you know, there is no one stop perfect, immediate solution for accessibility? Because it really depends on the website, it depends on how often you’re updating it. What industry are you in, you know, medical, and housing have different requirements in many cases than other e commerce stores. But a real the best approach to accessibility, I think, is a comprehensive one that comes at it from multiple angles. So yeah, you want to have best practices. When you’re building a website, you want to have all of the alt text and Aria labels and features on there. You also want to have an overlay widget because as you know, Mike, not everybody who’s colorblind is colorblind the same way, right. So if you pick like a couple of colors to use on your website, no matter what colors you choose, they’re not accessible to everybody. So I think that there’s a layered approach to accessibility that can include both best practices, manual remediation after the fact and automated remediation as well, to give you the most complete picture.
Michael Hingson 1:01:48
And that’s really as good as it gets that it is a journey, you know, always will be a journey. There are people who rightly say the only true real way to create an inclusive or accessible website or anything accessible is to do it right from the outset. And that’s, that’s, that’s absolutely valid. But that means that WordPress has to build such stringent tools into its system, that any website that’s created or any, any system that’s created through WordPress has to be accessible before it could be released. Microsoft has to fully include accessibility in everything that it does, right from the outset, not making it an afterthought. Apple needs to do the same thing. But Apple also needs to because it has all these apps that come out of the App Store, Apple needs to mandate a basic level of accessibility that apps beat. And I have not seen that Apple requires that today. So you can create and people create all the time apps that aren’t accessible. Nice, I put it that way. Because Apple, in fact, has built a level of accessibility into its products. It’s it is made screen readers. And in Apple’s case, it’s called VoiceOver, it has made a screen reader, a part of the technology that it produces on all Macs is on on iPhones, it’s on iPads. They’ve made their websites pretty usable. But they don’t mandate the same thing about the people who come to the App Store and require that abs that websites are excuse me, apps are fully accessible, or at least accessible to the point where they can be and I understand that there are times that websites or apps are going to display videos, or let’s not use videos, but images or maps that we don’t know how to verbalize yet automatically, but people do need to address those issues. And we’re not doing that yet.
Rafi Glantz 1:03:59
Right. And I think there’s a really important point that you brought up there that there is some responsibility that lies with these big giant tech companies like WordPress, like Wix, you know, whatever name name a giant company, because, well, it’s all well and good to talk about America and say, hey, you know, we need to build accessible websites. But in the developing world around the world, there are there’s even less attention being paid to accessibility a lot of the time and even less budget. And that being the case, the only realistic way that many of these websites can be accessible is by these giant providers mandating and providing tools for that to be possible. Because again, I mentioned that, you know, most companies in the United States pay less than $1,000 a year for their whole website. Worldwide. That number is divided significantly. You know, there’s a lot of people who pay even less and we’re very proud to be able to offer our automated solution which is an important component like we said Have a layered approach to accessibility at less than 500 bucks a year. But I think you’ll agree it’s hard to convince someone to spend 500 on accessibility if they spent 200. On the website, you know?
Michael Hingson 1:05:11
Sure. Well, and but the reality is, again, the issue isn’t mandated that somebody do it. The role modeling really has to be done by those who develop the basic technology. And so those who create WordPress design tools, WordPress that creates its design tools, or Microsoft should have the absolute best screen reader built into its technology right from the outset, and it and it doesn’t. Google is the same way any of them, it isn’t mandating that somebody else do it. It really needs to start with them. They really need to build in absolute accessibility requirements or absolute accessibility processes right from the outset. So nothing can be released until it’s accessible. They gotta lead the way. They’ve got to lead the way. And they don’t, which is unfortunate.
Rafi Glantz 1:06:09
Well, hopefully, we can take them by the hand and get them in
Michael Hingson 1:06:12
there. Right? Well, I am going to tell you, thank you for for being here. I’d love to do some more of this. If you’d like to chat again in the future.
Rafi Glantz 1:06:22
I was happy to talk to you, Mike.
Michael Hingson 1:06:23
What a guy. But I really want. But I do want to thank you for being on unstoppable mindset. It has been very fascinating. Lots of good stories. And I think we really hit on some high points. I hope people will go visit us on our website, Michaelhingson.com/podcast. And we’d love your comments, you can email me through the the website page, which is accessible, using accessiBe. My email address is Mike@Michaelhingson.com And we’d love to hear from you. I hope that you’ll listen to some of the other podcasts. And of course, once you listen to this, please give us a five star review and whatever podcast system that you use, we would love that and appreciate that as well. But Rafi again, thank you for being here. And I want to thank you all for listening.
Michael Hingson 1:07:21
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.