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Posted by Shir, Gal & Dekel accessiBe Founders

Our vision is to make the entire internet fully accessible to people with disabilities by 2025.

Let us spoil the ending: It's not a dream, it's a vision. By 2025, all websites around the world are going to be fully accessible. That’s our goal with accessiBe.

Today’s world is online 

The digital world has become the real world. Think about your daily activities: shopping, chatting with friends, ordering food, reading the news, watching movies. Where do you do that? Online!

Consider this though: People with disabilities are rarely able to enjoy the same experiences. That includes blind and deaf people, people with motor and cognitive disabilities, and a rapidly aging population encountering muscle weakness, memory loss and all the other consequences of senescence. Just imagine life today without a smartphone, a laptop or tablet, or the everyday apps that make life manageable. It's downright scary. But that’s just Tuesday (and every other day of the week) for people with disabilities.

Tech produces solutions, but not fast enough

Luckily, developing technology is producing a range of solutions for internet users with physical or visual disabilities. For example, screen readers enable blind users to navigate the internet, and keyboard-navigable sites support users with Parkinson’s who can only press one key. 

But technology wasn’t moving fast enough. Only a small fraction of websites are accessible for users with disabilities; most are still littered with obstacles. 

The only way to make a site fully accessible was to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to companies that provide manual accessibility services, and then keep on paying a monthly fee to maintain accessibility whenever you make small changes to your site. 

The alternative, which some businesses tried, was to use cheap plugins and extensions. These options are low cost, but they are not nearly effective enough. They usually only address between 5% and 15% of accessibility legislation requirements, so they aren’t practical and don’t meet the legal need for compliance. 

So a solution existed in theory, but it was out of reach for most businesses in practice. Only a tiny percentage of companies could afford to spend thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands to ensure their sites are accessible. In the end, the people who suffered were users with disabilities, who can browse a meager percentage of sites, at best. 

This was the bleak situation before accessiBe, and there was no solution on the horizon. Our breakthrough idea was to create the first-ever solution that automatically works to support screen readers, make websites keyboard-navigable, stop flashing animations that can trigger seizures and more, all for an affordable price and in record time. And we succeeded. accessiBe’s solution uses 2 artificial intelligence technologies to smoothly and rapidly make any website fully accessible for any business, no matter how small or large, for as little as 10% of the cost of a traditional manual web accessibility project.

Did we mention it's a revolution?

How it all began

In 2015, we owned a marketing, design, and web development agency when we heard that a law was about to be issued requiring websites to be accessible to people with disabilities. Thanks to our history of innovative technological ventures, we knew how much time and money it took to make websites properly accessible, so the new law made us a bit angry and scared if you want the truth! 

We were afraid that web developers like us would end up being the ones to absorb the costs of accessibility, or that our clients wouldn't agree to pay another 50% (at best) of the project's value, “only” to become accessible. We were angry that this law seemed poised to lose us our projects and our income. Plus, we were scared that a client might receive a lawsuit against their website which would eventually roll over to us, as the web designers and developers. So that’s where it began: anger and fear. 

A momentous decision

Time went on, and we began to delve into the regulations and the requirements. We also started to offer manual services for making websites accessible and realized the extent to which disabled people are excluded from the digital world. We found ourselves feeling enormous sympathy for people with disabilities, but also great anger towards the new accessibility law because it stuck businesses and web developers like us between a rock and a hard place.

Think about it: The law is supposed to create equal access for people with disabilities, but in the process, it harms small and medium-sized businesses, who can’t afford a lawsuit but also can’t afford to make their site accessible. So what are we to do? Pick sides? Are we siding with people with disabilities or against them? Are we siding with small business owners or against them?

And then the decision was made: we will fight for all sides. We'll find the cure for the disease, the solution to the problem. We are tech people, so there's no one better than us to take on this responsibility and make a positive impact moving forward.

Developing accessiBe

We immediately started by visiting assisted living homes to find people with different disabilities who would be willing to help us. We began working together, shoulder to shoulder, day after day, for more than 18 months. We also consulted lawyers and web accessibility experts to make sure that our product:

  1. Provides a real and effective solution for people with disabilities
  2. Meets international legislation and standards, like WCAG 2.1 and ADA
  3. Is fully automated, without requiring any manual programming
  4. Is stable enough to work on any website and any platform

It took 18 months of intensive work to produce the first version that met these 4 criteria.

In March 2018, we released the first version and quietly kept improving it until full fruition back in February 2019.  Thanks to cooperation and feedback from thousands of people who use our system on a daily basis, accessiBe has become the only automated solution in the world that can make all websites fully accessible. It doesn’t just meet compliance standards —  it goes beyond them, solving pressing issues raised by users with disabilities. 

It took us a little over a year (March 2020) to cross the 20,000 websites mark, and are now growing exponentially towards the end-goal.

It’s not a dream, it’s a practical vision

Like we said, our vision is to transform the entire internet into an accessible place for all by 2025. There's no end to the technological improvements that we can and do implement in our system every day, and our challenge of placing our system on every website in the world has only just begun.

If we succeed, the whole world will benefit. Good luck to us all!
Shir, Gal, and Dekel, founders of accessiBe.