The below post explains the reasoning and ideas behind the projects listed on the roadmap and should be read before reading the roadmap itself.
Everyone, whether it's a business owner, a large organization, a small company, an internal development team, a web designer, a solo developer, a webmaster working with a CMS with code access or without, and even those who don't know what code is, has different needs, abilities, and resources when it comes to applying accessibility practices into projects.
We believe that in order to help make the web accessible, which is our ultimate goal, there must be developments in many different aspects simultaneously. These include awareness, education, automation, technology, and training. But most importantly, we must enable everyone, regardless of their budget, knowledge, and skills, to participate in the global inclusion efforts by providing them with the right tools tailored to their specific business reality.
To achieve that, accessiBe is evolving into a full web accessibility solution-suite.
We believe that accessibility should be incorporated into the very core of business fundamentals. When building your online store, you need to think about accessibility from the design stage. When thinking about how it's best to build your service website and allow people to hire you through it, think about how blind users or people with motor impairments would interact with that website and its contents. This is plain and simple, the right and fair thing to do. This is what we like to call Native Accessibility.
Native accessibility, while being the right, fair, and most inclusion-promoting approach, is also the most difficult one to achieve because most businesses do not even have to go through a design stage. Instead, they use already built templates, plugins, and modules, alongside already built systems like Shopify or WiX. Of course, if those systems were to provide full web accessibility by default, that'd have been great, but it is technically not possible.
For those reasons, our approach to web accessibility is separated into two major technical approaches and a third approach that is more dedicated to awareness and education.
Native Accessibility (NativeAccess)
The first approach, as mentioned above, we call Native Accessibility. This approach, which ensures that every web project's infrastructure is accessible right from the beginning, is very suitable and should be adopted by larger businesses, engineers, engineering teams, web designers, and other professionals in the web ecosystem.
The second approach, we call Integrated Accessibility. This approach is suitable for small businesses that already have an existing website (and there are already over 350 million active websites in the US alone) or are building a new one but are using an already built template or a web platform that they don't have source code access to (like Shopify or WiX). It is also a good approach for website owners building their own websites that don't have engineers and web development experts on staff (or staff at all). Due to limited resources and budgets, small businesses cannot incorporate Native Accessibility into their projects.
The Integrated Accessibility approach aims to fix barriers that exist on a web project that was not designed with web accessibility practices incorporated from the beginning due to the reasons explained above. The goal of this approach is to eliminate as many barriers as possible and to make the experience as close to Native Accessibility as possible without forcing businesses into processes they can't go through or investing in projects they don't have the budgets for, like rebuilding all their projects and websites from scratch.
What does all of that mean in practice?
To put all those explanations into practice, we are building four different products. Two products for incorporating Native Accessibility into any web project, another for achieving Integrated Accessibility in existing or small businesses' websites, and two projects (one is an activity channel and the other is a product) for massively raising awareness and for education.
- The products and services for achieving and maintaining Native Accessibility are accessBoard and accessFlow. A full explanation regarding those products can be found on the roadmap.
- The product for achieving and maintaining Integrated Accessibility is accessNow, an evolution of the accessiBe product that exists today. More information is coming soon.
- The projects and products for raising awareness and educating businesses, designers, and developers regarding web accessibility and inclusion practices are accessHub and accessCampus. Both are explained in depth in the roadmap itself.
With those products and projects, we firmly believe that any business, regardless of its size, resources, budgets, and staff, can achieve and maintain the best possible accessibility practices for their business reality and therefore participate in the global efforts to promote inclusion and to make the web an accessible place for everybody, regardless of abilities.