Inclusion and Accessibility For All
Ever since the advent of the Americans With Disabilities Act, all persons with disabilities have been striving to help society understand the need for inclusion and accessibility. You will note here that I do not mention “diversity”. This is because I believe that diversity as a concept has been so narrowly focused that anyone with a disability has been left out of the “diversity discussion”. How many times, for example, did anyone mention persons with disabilities during last year’s political campaigns? How many times did Hollywood over the past several years as it discussed the Need To movement, Times Up and its other “diversity conversations” ever mention disabilities? The answer is, of course, very few times.
The Internet is no different. The Americans with Disabilities Act mandated that society needed to create and provide reasonable accommodations so that persons with disabilities would be able to truly participate in all aspects of society. While some progress has been made especially in making physical locations more accessible to persons in wheelchairs, not nearly so much progress has been made in improving accessibility for all with the Internet. In fact, some companies, while being sued because they would not make their Internet sites accessible, even went so far as to say that the ADA only applied to physical locations and not the Internet because the Internet came into being after the ADA was signed into law. The courts mostly have disagreed with this assertion. Even so, overall, very few Internet sites have become truly accessible. Some attempts at accessibility have occurred. Mostly, however, real inclusion and accessibility regarding the Internet has not taken place. Schools do not usually teach accessibility concepts and their computer science and Internet coding courses. Software that helps web designers create Internet pages may have some features that allow designers to include accessibility, but there is nothing that forces designers to make sure that their sites are accessible.
In 2018, the U. S. Department Of Justice determined that the Internet is in fact a place of accommodation which means that all Internet sites must become accessible and inclusive. This is a great step forward, but it is a difficult one to achieve. Web designers and coders mostly don’t know the first thing about screenreader access, much less access for hearing impaired, mobility impaired, and other kinds of accessibility needs. Some companies do specialize in making websites accessible. However, the price for making websites accessible, especially fairly large ones, can run into the $10,000-$40,000 price range. Even small websites will cost thousands of dollars to include accessibility, especially if a designer has to take the time to learn what it means to make a website accessible before they begin the work.
When I began working with a website developer to update my site, I started running into problems because he knew nothing about what to do to make a website accessible. This wasn’t his fault as he is really a victim of the same problem that most all website designers have which is nobody has taught them anything about web access.
Around the same time that my website updates began, I began hearing on a few websites a message at the top of my screen that said, “press alt +1 to enable screen reader access”. When I followed this command my access to the sites became much greater. This was intriguing. After a bit of research, I learned that the company that had made accessibility for these websites was called accessiBe. You can check it out here.
AccessiBe was founded in 2018. Over the past 3 years it has made over 130,000 websites around the world accessible for persons with disabilities. How? Instead of rewriting the code on each website, accessiBe only requires that a few lines of code or a simple plugin be inserted into a website to make that website accessible. Then, using artificial intelligence and the cloud, accessiBe creates what some call and “overlay” that is invoked whenever someone visits that site. The overlay is invoked on the user’s browser when they visit and accessiBe modified site. If you visit the link above, you can conduct your own website audit that will show you how accessible your website actually is for persons with disabilities using a website audit tool called ACE.
Of course, the question you’re going to be asking is “how much does this cost?”. For a website with up to a thousand pages the cost is $49 a month. Why is it a monthly charge? The answer is because accessiBe will continuously monitor your site and make any changes in the accessiBe information available to users that will keep your website accessible no matter what you do to it. Assuming a web developer would only charge you $5,000 to make your website “accessible”, if instead you used accessiBe, it would take you 120 months, or 10 years to incur the same cost with accessiBe. The other aspect of this is that once a developer makes your website accessible, either you’re going to have to incur an ongoing maintenance charge to keep it accessible, or, from time to time, you are going to have to pay additional costs for someone to come in and update the accessibility elements on your site. AccessiBe is a great way to go.
I would be happy to talk with you about what happened when I made my website accessible. If you would like to chat, let’s arrange a Zoom call and I will show you my website before accessiBe and after accessiBe. This is the easiest way for me to demonstrate the kind of incredibly improved access my website now exhibits.
Make no mistake, accessibility is here in so far as the Internet is concerned. By you fully updating your website or websites and making them inclusive for all you are doing the right thing. You are making sure that everyone can get the information you want to put out to the world. Making the Internet accessible has now become a legal issue, but rather than talking about litigation and what someone can do to you if you don’t make your website accessible, I would rather you look at it as something appropriate, especially since the cost to make it accessible using accessiBe is so inexpensive. Please reach out and let me help you make it happen for you and your websites. By the way, if you want to learn more about some of the reasons a business chose to make their website accessible, register for our upcoming webinar about Bridging the Accessibility Gap to be held this Monday at 12 Noon Pacific time. You can register here, https://accessibe.zoom.us/webinar/register/8016223805612/WN_mvSfDMpGQUq8BYD1GMG5Xw.