Discussing Website Accessibility
We have a special guest interview with Rafael Glantz, Partnership Success Manager with accessiBe. Rafi will talk about why your website might be excluding up to 25% of your potential prospects and might even get you in legal trouble.
Without further ado. Let’s introduce Rafael Glantz of accessiBe. Welcome to the show. Rafael, or you go by Rafi. Yes?
Rafael Glantz: Yes, indeed. Thanks so much for having me, Mark.
Mark Ambrose: Oh, thanks for coming out. We appreciate it, Rafi. So Rafi, tell us who is accessiBe, and what do you do for them? Who’s your ideal customer, and how do you help them out?
Rafael Glantz: A great question. So accessiBe is web accessibility. That’s our tagline to make it real simple. Websites need to be accessible. Any website out there needs to be accessible to people with disabilities and, of course, everybody else.
Up until recently, basically, until our company, website accessibility meant hiring a developer and spending tens of thousands of dollars a year to make sure that everybody can shop at your store.
We realized that until web accessibility is automated, simple enough for the average business owner to install on their own and be affordable. It can’t possibly be widespread.
And so, we created an AI tool that achieves all of those things. Of course, I did not have anything to do with the actual development of the tool, but I’m happy to take any credit.
But our ideal customer is anybody who has a website. Everybody needs to be accessible legally, but it’s also a moral imperative.
People who have disabilities deserve equal access. And on top of that, it’s the right thing to do for your pocket.
According to the CDC, 26% of American adults live with a disability. And aside from the fact that that’s a population that deserves access. There a population with money in their pocket, their money still green.
Some studies show that the US population of people with disabilities has over $490 billion a year in disposable income. That’s not a small amount of money. And so it makes business sense to go after that population. It makes moral sense too.
Mark Ambrose: Yes, I was blown away. I saw those statistics, 61 million Americans classified with a disability, as you said, 26%. So one out of four people in the country.
And then I found CDC stats last night, which said 6% have great difficulty hearing or are deaf, almost 5% have great difficulty seeing or are blind, and then nearly 17% have some sort of mobility issues.
So how does your software make a website accessible to these people?
How does it become different for each of these needs?
Rafael Glantz: Awesome. So there’s a couple of different ways, but the bottom line is that we allow for customization based on user needs. So when you build a website in an accessible way from the get-go, you build it the same for everybody on the source code.
We have a tool that works only on the session. So when somebody comes into your website and needs an adjustment, let’s say for a screen reader.
So, somebody who’s blind or severely dyslexic cannot read or see what’s on your screen. And so they’ll use the technology, the screen reader that reads out the content to them that’s on the screen.
For our website to work with a screen reader properly, you need to make certain adjustments. The tab order, for instance, needs to be adjusted so that it makes sense for somebody who’s only hearing it and not seeing it.
Also, if you have any images on your website, you need to have alternative texts, just text that describes what the image is to somebody who can’t see it.
Most people, most websites, don’t do that. They don’t have that. And so accessiBe can inject that automatically on the session for whoever needs it. AccessiBe automatically detects.
Assistive technologies of all kinds active on people’s computers. And when you enter a website with accessiBe using assistive technology will automatically send you a notification if it’s with a screen reader will be a voice note.
If it’s a braille reader in braille texts and with other systems in other ways, “Hey, you’ve entered an accessible website. Please hit all one to turn on accessible mode or whatever the macros maybe“. I’ll also add that one of the pieces of feedback we got relatively early on in our journey was, “Hey, your macros are great, but there are already shortcuts that we use.”
Can you integrate with those shortcuts? And so we did, because if somebody who hasn’t ever used accessiBe before but does use a screen reader or other assisted technology comes into one of those websites. They’re usually going to try their shortcuts immediately because these people usually there’s no cognitive impairment.
These people are just as smart as you and I, maybe much smarter. Cause I’m not that. Not exactly up there with the Nobel prize.
Mark Ambrose: Me neither. I’m not claiming superiority to anyone or anything.
Rafael Glantz: Exactly. So they’re coming into a website. They want to make it accessible for themselves, and they’re going to try whatever they’re already familiar with.
So we made sure to work with all of those existing shortcuts so that whoever comes into a website with accessiBe will quickly implement whatever changes they need to, to make the website usable for them. I will also add that accessiBe, the adjustments we make are not just for people with disabilities.
It’s also for people who may be aging into a disability and doesn’t consider themselves to have one, or for people who speak English as a second language or a third language, their money’s green too. Like we have an online dictionary, somebody from Finland is in California, and you’re having a black Friday sale.
They probably never heard of Black Friday, so they can put that in the search bar and understand why there’s a sale. And then they’ll succeed.
My grandmother, for instance, loved online shopping before she passed away. And I can tell you that if she’d had, she didn’t have the best eyesight. If she’d had accessiBe on the websites, she was shopping on. I would have had even less of an inheritance.
Mark Ambrose: So there you go. That’s awesome. And it is a little, so I have it on our website obviously, and we’re talking to our clients about it because it is also the law, correct? That the American disabilities act and there is another one out there. WCAG, can you talk about that?
Rafael Glantz: So I don’t want to dive too deep into it because of many stuff’s kinds of boring.
Mark Ambrose: But it is required. So if I own a brick-and-mortar store which is open to the public in the USA, I am subject to the laws of the American Disabilities Act (ADA). So off the top of my head, the door probably needs to be wide enough for a wheelchair, maybe a hands-free door. The bathroom has to have wheelchair accessibility and stuff like that.
And so if my building needs to, then it makes sense that my website would need to also.
Rafael Glantz: Exactly. And so to touch on the laws real quick, without getting too boring about it. First, you have the ADA, which is the Americans with Disabilities Act, as you said. Then you have Section 508, an earlier law that refers to accessibility but applies to organizations that get government funding.
Now, one thing that I’ll point out is many companies get government funding now through PPP. So if you got the PPP, you need to comply.
One of the problems with that is the ADA does not specify a standard for compliance with the law. The standard in the ADA is a “reasonable effort.” And between you and me, it’s very hard to prove a reasonable effort.
Luckily though, the WCG is the web content accessibility guidelines. They’re the only internationally recognized set of guidelines for web accessibility.
In every single ruling that’s come out of a US court that said, “Hey, you need to get accessible.” The judge has said, “You need to be accessible according to the WCA, G 2.1 AA”.
And that’s the kind of compliance that accessiBe provides.
Mark Ambrose: I see. And that’s your tool making all the accessible options, maybe contrast to the words versus the background, the size of the text, the colors, like you’re saying alt-texts. So that was interesting; as an SEO guy, you want to read the image’s file name and insert an ALT text.
Rafael Glantz: We’ll automatically put in ALT text if you don’t have any in there already. We did a research paper a while back, and we scan more than 10 million web pages and we found that about 52%, if I’m not mistaken, of images online have ALT text. And we believe that’s not really for accessibility; it’s really for SEO because most of those all texts are just a bunch of keywords, real ALT texts for accessibility need to describe the image.
They don’t need to be super long because, again, remember that somebody using a screen reader is usually well aware that they’re searching for what they’re searching for.
Let’s say it’s a clothing website, right? And your ALT text is a woman wearing blue denim jeans or something. The person who’s looking at that, not looking at that image, but hearing that image with their screen reader, they already know that they’re shopping for clothes.
They know that the title is jeans already, and they see the price, and they know everything else. And so you don’t need to give them two paragraphs about what kind of rivet the gene has, but you just need to let them know what’s in the picture so that they can move on.
And I’ll add one last thing about screen readers. I speak relatively quickly. A screen reader generally speaks at about three times my average speaking speed.
We were lucky enough to have one of the guys who help developed accessiBe. He’s a gentleman who has been blind since birth. He’s a brilliant developer, and he is unbelievable, man.
His screen reader speed is absurdly fast. He listens to it and understands it. No problem. And this man can listen to music while he codes while it’s being read back to him at the same time. I don’t know how he does it.
Mark Ambrose: Wow. I would like a part of his brain.
Rafael Glantz: A lot of them use speeds like that. Because they want to get, stuff done. They don’t have time. I’m busy, folks.
Mark Ambrose: That’s amazing. So they listen at three times our speed.
Rafael Glantz: Yeah
Mark Ambrose: I guess so. We all turn YouTube at one and a half or two times speed or whatever, I get it. That’s interesting. So that’s an internationally recognized guideline to make your site accessible.
And I saw that on my site, we installed it, and it’s just a little icon down there, lower left, or you could place it, I guess, wherever you want. And they click on it, and it gives them all the options, or their screen reader is identifying that it’s there. Is that correct? They don’t need to click on the button. Right? Because maybe they can’t see if it’s a visually impaired person. They can’t see it. So their screen readers are picking up your interface. Correct?
Rafael Glantz: Exactly. So whenever somebody who’s using an assistive technology comes in. We’ll send them a relevant notification so screen reader, it’s a voice note. “Hey, you’ve entered an accessible website. Here’s how to turn on accessibility mode”.
There are also many people out there who might just have a small visual impairment or something. And when they go into websites, now they just look for that little icon, and then they’ll go into the icon and turn on the adjustments they need.
Mark Ambrose: That’s awesome. I find it very handy. I was in there messing around, so it’s pretty cool.
Rafael Glantz: It’s super convenient.
Mark Ambrose: It is. And I feel really good that I’m serving that community. So we can take those numbers. Let me grab those again. So we got 26 percent, one out of four Americans have some sort of disability, 10% are hearing or seeing impaired.
So as a business owner, if I’m not serving these people, I’ve automatically eliminated 10% or more, maybe 20% of my prospects, from communicating with my website and my business, which is absurd, right?
We’re out there advertising, marketing, we’re doing all this stuff to attract prospects, and we unknowingly, unwittingly, are shutting out a considerable percentage of people with a huge, as you’ve already noted, disposable income.
Rafael Glantz: Yes, but I think what you just said unknowingly is a super important point that it’s not through malice. I’ve never spoken to a business owner who is like, “You know what? I hate people who are, have disabilities. I don’t want to work with them.” And that’s never come up.
We’ve had more than 4,000 business owners come to us with lawsuits in hand that their process is, Hey, I’ve never heard that my website needs to be accessible before until I got this lawsuit, we searched online for what to do.
We found your service. What do we do? Is this the law? Are they trying to just get money out of us? What’s the story?
And it’s, again, it’s never from a malicious place, never from a place that we don’t care about people with disabilities. It’s always just, we’ve never heard of this before, and it’s entirely legitimate, unless you’re in the hotels or restaurant industry or somewhere where you’d had to deal with physical ADA regulations in the past.
It’s not something most people consider. So luckily, we’ve been able to.
Mark Ambrose: Everybody I’ve talked to in the last couple of weeks is like, “Oh wow, I’ve never considered my website having to do that.” It’s not being seen by everybody that there are different classifications of people who cannot access their website.
So you’re right. It’s never out of malice. It’s 100% out of just not being aware. Heck, I wasn’t aware until a few months ago. And I’m in the business, not in the accessibility business, but I’m in the website and SEO marketing business. I should have known that already.
Rafael Glantz: Maybe, but then you start looking into your actual options to become accessible. And like I said, at the very beginning, until accessiBe came around, there was no option for a small business to become accessible that wouldn’t put them out of business.
Mark Ambrose: Right.
Rafael Glantz: Frank’s pizza on the corner or Frank’s pizza can not afford $10,000 for their website. One of our founders, close friends, owned a restaurant in Israel, got sued for web accessibility, and was told that the cost to make his website accessible would be, I think it was almost $10,000.
He shut down the restaurant’s website and operated from Instagram because they couldn’t afford it. It would have put them out of his.
Mark Ambrose: Oh, that’s terrible. So that’s not good either. So thankfully, you and your team created a solution to it. And you are the leader in the industry, right?
As far as I could tell through my research, I did see a few competitors, but I could just tell by their sites alone that they didn’t measure up.
Rafael Glantz: I don’t disparage competitors. I’d make that a policy, but I will say that I’m very proud to have continued to work here and seeing the incredible growth. I was lucky enough to be employee number eight, and we are almost at a hundred employees.
When I joined almost two years ago, now we had, I believe it was 3000 websites using accessibility in the United States. And now we are almost at 150,000, I think. So it’s an unbelievable growth, and it’s also just a privilege to help people, both the business owners and the people with disabilities, because I’ll tell you a brief story just to touch on what these lawsuits and look like.
Mark Ambrose: That was my next question.
Rafael Glantz: The last time I left my zip code with this Corona virus stuff, I was in Vegas. Last February, I talked about accessibility at, of all things, a carpet convention; I did not know there are 30,000 rug merchants in the US, but apparently, there are. So I was interrupted in the middle of my presentation, Kanye West style.
This guy gets up and goes, “Hey, I don’t mean to interrupt and keeps talking.” And so he goes, “Yeah, I own 60 locations of a payday loan company”. So clearly, a very empathetic dude, and don’t even get me started on those. But, so they got a demand letter for one location saying yet your website’s not accessible.
They asked for $10,000 as a settlement, and they also asked for remediation, “Hey, make the website accessible, pay this money, and we’ll go away.” The man contacted his lawyer, the lawyer said, “Look, it’s a strict liability law, meaning that if you’re not in compliance, you’ve lost the case already.” So pay them the money and get accessible yesterday.
The guy wrote a check and tried to look into how to become accessible. As he’s telling this story, the day the check cleared, they got 59 more letters, and they had to settle for $600,000. And as frustrated as I was about the interruption, now everybody’s taking pictures of my presentation with their cell phones.
So, it was not all bad, but that’s a very extreme example of what can happen here. And I will not disparage whoever is putting out these suits because it is legitimate. A lot of the time, it is coming from a place of people seeking settlements. And that is the case. And we’re fortunate in a lot of ways that we’re able to prove WCG compliance beyond the doubt.
And therefore, when we send that proof over when somebody receives a complaint. Generally, we don’t even receive a response to our response because they’ve just moved on to the next victim already. But these claims are legitimate people with disabilities that deserve to use your website, and the law is extremely clear.
Mark Ambrose: Absolutely. It’s like suing somebody whose store is not accessible for wheelchair access. Well, you should have done that, and now you need to, and again, you’re excluding a particular segment of the population from doing business with you, which is crazy. So that was interesting.
I didn’t get the exact term you used there, was it “liability-based?”
Rafael Glantz: Strict liability.
Mark Ambrose: Thank you. Which mean you’re just out of compliance. You’re guilty. And so, your choices are to fight a losing battle in court or to settle right away.
Rafael Glantz: Right. And like, as you probably know, just getting to court in America, you’re already going to spend like 75 grand on lawyer fees on the low end.
Nobody litigates this; a lot of people will just pay the settlements. And this is an enormous source of funds for a lot of lawyers. So they’re doing very well for this.
Mark Ambrose: I was just going to say, I could see if I was a lawyer, and they’re probably motivated some, well, some of them motivated by money. But some of them are inspired by doing the right thing.
Rafael Glantz: Absolutely.
Mark Ambrose: Helping the disadvantaged population, getting their voice heard, and getting businesses to comply, to do business with them; plain and simple.
Rafael Glantz: I might not love some of their tactics, but as you say, this is what needs to happen at the end of the day. People need to be accessible. And if it takes a lawsuit, sometimes that’s what it takes.
Domino’s pizza was sued by a gentleman named Guillermo Robles. To my understanding, he’s also the lead plaintiff on some 250 other cases, but that doesn’t make his claim any less legitimate. He has just as much right to order a pizza as anyone else.
Mark Ambrose: Yes, he does. Indeed. That’s what brought my attention to this whole subject matter. A few months ago I had read an article. It was a lawyer in Florida on behalf of a couple of disabled people suing mid-sized companies because their websites were not compliant.
And when I read that article I was like, “oh my God, how did I not see that before?” So by the end of the day I started digging in and I went on a search to learn, how do I do it?
Bottom line is if you’re not accessible, then you’re excluding 10% or more of the population from becoming your customer, and they have money. They have lots of money, what was that figure again?
Rafael Glantz: $490 billion a year in disposable income.
Mark Ambrose: Holy moly. Is that US or worldwide?
Rafael Glantz: That’s US
Mark Ambrose: Oh my.
Rafael Glantz: Worldwide it’s way more.
Mark Ambrose: Yeah, that’s unbelievable.
Rafael Glantz: That’s half the market cap of Bitcoin.
Mark Ambrose: Half the market cap of Bitcoin?
Rafael Glantz: That’s a crazy thing to say.
Mark Ambrose: There’s a lesson in there. So how easy, if I’m a business owner, maybe I don’t have a web developer, how easy is it for me or somebody in my team to get your system running on my website?
Rafael Glantz: So we believe in a KISS. Keep it simple stupid. I learned that from my shop teacher in seventh grade; he only had seven fingers. So I took him real seriously when he said that. That’s a true story.
Mark Ambrose: I don’t love that.
Rafael Glantz: I’m sure it was a mistake that he’d made, and in any case, installing our software should take no more than two minutes.
Like I can do it, even if you’re installing it on a custom website, we’ve made it simple. And we have plugins for every major CMS out there. So most people are on WordPress or Wix or something like that. And you can generally just search for our plugin in their app store and install it in two clicks.
Mark Ambrose: That’s amazing. Yeah, it is very easy. For us, it took 10 minutes, and it was a plugin and a piece of code I think, right?
Let’s touch on the lawsuits a little bit more. So there is no way to fight these lawsuits?
If you’re not compliant, I guess we don’t need to rehash what we already did. You just need to get compliant. You’re not going to be able to fight this. You will have to settle out of court, and then you become a target for others if you get into a crosshairs of the wrong attorney.
He could represent several individuals against one company.
Rafael Glantz: That’s the thing. Unfortunately, that happens somewhat frequently, where let’s say they target a business and sue for web accessibility. And then they paid a $10,000 settlement. Then they get sue again representing other individuals. Until the business hires a developer to fix the problems.
Suppose you do a manual accessibility fixing that can take months to fix the whole thing. And in that time, who’s to say that the lawyer who got $10,000 out of you already hasn’t called one of his friends to hit you up again. Because they absolutely can. That’s why part of why accessiBe to me is such a great option.
I think, of course, I work here so of course I say that, but that’s why I think it’s so helpful for business owners and small business owners in particular for three reasons. So one with accessiBe you’re accessible in 48 hours or less, you’re going to get a statement of accessibility, all the compliance that you need, you can prove it.
The other thing is we are. I believe that this is a serious differentiator in the marketplace for us, that we don’t just tell you you’re compliant. We stand behind it. So included in the cost of every license we sell is what we call the litigation support package.
And if anybody sends you, if you have accessiBe already, if anybody sends you a demand letter lawsuit, because that can happen in America, anybody can sue for anything even if they know they’re going to lose.
So it’s a great system we have. It makes so much sense.
Mark Ambrose: those with deep pockets win, right?
Rafael Glantz: That’s what it is. So we will provide your number one with a manual audit. So when they make a complaint about your website, they can’t just say, “Yo, your website’s not good.”
They have to say something specific about the website that you’re alt texts are not acceptable. Your navigation is not accessible, whatever it may be. They make a specific claim. We’ll investigate that claim and show them it’s not valid. It is accessible. We’ll send them a compliance overview, which explains every aspect of how our system works. We’ll send them your statement of accessibility. We’ll send you a form letter to send back, which we’ve had very, very good success. It’s a mean letter.
We’ve also got a failure’s request master so that if they come back, because again, 99% of the time, they’re not going to respond to our form letter, but in the very small number of cases that they do respond to our form letter with additional complaints. Great. If you found a legitimate problem, we want to investigate that problem and resolve that problem immediately.
So we take this very seriously. As I said, it’s at no additional cost. There are no hidden fees for it. And we’ve helped more than 4,500 of our clients make these kinds of issues go away. The last thing I’ll say is if you get a demand letter, even if you don’t have access to it yet. In almost every state, they have to give you at least two weeks to remediate the problems before they can ask for money.
So, because accessiBe makes your website accessible in 48 hours or less. If you come to us within 10 days of getting that letter, a lot of times, we can help you ensure that you’re not going to have a financial settlement from it.
And that you’re going to be able just to prove compliance and say, “Hey, thank you for bringing this to our attention. We’ve resolved the issue. Does it work for you now? Are you able to access our website?”
Because again, at the end of the day, nobody wants to turn away a customer. I’ve never heard of somebody owning a physical store and seeing a guy in a wheelchair outside who couldn’t get in and just like locking the door.
That doesn’t make sense, that’s crazy. You run outside; you sell them something.
Mark Ambrose: It is crazy. In fact if these business owners knew that they were excluding 10% or more of the population simply by not having an accessible website, it’d blow their minds.
When I talked to the businesses that we work with, it has blown their minds. They’re like, “what, what are you talking about?”
Rafael Glantz: If you told somebody, I mean, as somebody who deals with internet marketing and all this stuff, if you told somebody, “Hey, I can increase your potential market. Your potential customer base by 10% or more for 50 bucks a month?”. I don’t think anybody would be like, “Nah, thanks. Yeah. Nah, I doubt that.”
Mark Ambrose: 50 bucks to increase your prospect potential by a minimum of 10%. I agree and I’m glad you mentioned the price too. I was going to ask you in a little bit without asking for the number. Cause they might hear this in five years or something, and the price has changed a little bit. But the real number shows just how inexpensive it is to make your site accessible.
And the fact that it’s a 10-minute job to get your website up and running helps. So there’s no excuse not to go down that path.
Rafael Glantz: Exactly.
Mark Ambrose: Rafi. I kind of remember now when I first went on my journey down this. Correct me if I’m wrong; I might be wrong. I think I went to your website and plugged in my URL because you offered a free accessibility report to see how well my website without your system on it was compliant. And it was horrifying.
Rafael Glantz: No comment on that side of it, but yes, we offer a free accessibility report at ace.accessiBe.com.
I’ll share with you that this was released a year ago, and we had an internal company discussion, asking what are we going to call this thing?
I went with ACE. Because it’s one of my favorite characters from Anime, and it’s also was originally meant to stand for automated compliance expert, but now it is just ACE. It provides you a full scan of your website. It gives you a 10-page downloadable report on how accessible that website is.
And you can do it as many times as you want. It’s free on as many websites as you want. And it’s a helpful tool for a lot of people. Generally, it’ll scan just the page you’re putting in there, but to put that in perspective, even if you have most websites, mainly for contractors and things like that, they’re relatively small.
You’re not going to have more than a hundred pages generally, and even if it takes you 20 minutes to scan all those pages an hour, as frustrating as that might seem. If you wanted a manual accessibility audit, the average price in the marketplace is a hundred dollars a page. One of our competitors who I won’t name, cause it’s just not relevant, charges $200 a page.
And I know that many people have paid for it. So if you have a hundred-page website, you’re paying them 20 grand to tell you what the problems are and not fix them.
Mark Ambrose: Crazy. That’s insane. I do remember. So thank you. So it’s ace.accessiBe.com. Exactly. And get your free report and sit down when you read it because it was rather shocking and embarrassing for me in the marketing field. But it was en eye-opener and super informative.
It’s not at the top 10 things anyone in our audience or anybody on the planet wants to listen to or talk about daily, but it’s extremely important.
And again, if you’re spending money and you’re looking for clients, you’re probably excluding 10% or more of the population unknowingly.
So you can correct that problem for $50 a month and feel good about presenting to everybody in the country, in the world for that matter, everybody’s accessing your website.
Rafi, is there anything I didn’t ask that I should have?
Rafael Glantz: I don’t think so. I think we covered all the really important points. I believe that there are many questions that people will end up having, and of course, I’m very happy to field any of those.
We have an email address, success@accessiBe.com, if anybody wants some questions there. We also have a great live chat on our website. So if you’re going to talk to any of the faces in the little bubble, you can do that, and they’re all very friendly.
Web accessibility is accessiBe.com
Rafael Glantz: We also offer free trials. So, if you want it, there’s no obligation. There’s no credit card; no credit card required or anything.
So if you’re going to come to our website, test it out on your website for seven days, completely free of charge. You enjoy, and if you find any kind of errors, you have a question. We’re always here to answer and field questions and help you.
Mark Ambrose: Excellent. Well, your team reached out and helped me get it all up and running. So I appreciate that. And I got nothing but good things to say about the company, which is why I brought you on. And they’re very important subject matter for everybody out there. So even though you have, I think you said, 150,000 businesses in the US, I don’t know how many there are.
So there’s a few million that are probably lagging a little bit here, I would say.
Rafael Glantz: There’s something called the accessibility gap that we’re talking more about now because it’s, I love the idea of NLP. I come from a sales background, so this neuro-linguistic programming, how people think. I work a lot with reframing.
So just trying to, in a positive way, frame things differently for people so that they can see it from the right perspective. And there’s a well-intentioned debate going on right now in the web accessibility world, between the people who believe, like us, that automation and customization is the best way to make sure that the widest range of people can access websites.
And the people who believe that manual work is the best way to go. And I will not disparage people who do manual work because they work hard for a good cause. But, as we said before, 26% of Americans have disabilities. 20% of people worldwide have a disability, less than 2% of all the websites are accessible.
There are 350 million websites right now in the US, and almost all of them are not accessible to people with disabilities.
On top of that, almost all of them and a growing number, a growing percentage are being built on CMS with no code. CMS like WordPress or Wix, where you’re just dragging and dropping stuff. And so, even if you wanted to go in and do manual accessibility work and work on the source code, you can’t.
So people with disabilities need access to websites today, not tomorrow, not six months from now. And even if you were to hire 10,000 web accessibility developers to start working on these 350 million websites, a hundred thousand, even by the time they’ve made those accessible.
There’ll be another 350 million that isn’t accessible, and even worse, websites update. So every time you update the website, you’ve got to call that developer again and bring them back to work or get her back to work.
So for all those reasons, we believe that the best way to achieve web accessibility for the widest range of people and make the internet accessible by 2025, our goal as a company is in an automated fashion, and we’re doing everything we can to get there.
We’re actually on our roadmap, and we’re launching a project called access find very soon. And we’re, we also just joined the W3C so that those are the people who create the WCA, the rules for web accessibility. So we’re joining that organization so that we can have an impact.
And one of the major problems with the web today is that Google has a massive monopoly, which is a problem for the US government to deal with hopefully.
One of the issues with Google is that when you run a search, you’re going to get all kinds of results, not just accessible results. So we’re launching access find, which will be a service where people with disabilities can search for anything under the sun and will only be shown accessible results. Then that way they can be sure that they’ll be able to use whatever they find.
Mark Ambrose: Wow. So a search engine that will only bring up accessible websites. That is brilliant.
Rafael Glantz: Thank you. As I said, I didn’t come up with the idea, but I’ll take all the credit.
Mark Ambrose: That’s brilliant. So that came out of the W3C organization, that feedback.
Rafael Glantz: That’s something that we’re doing as a nonprofit arm of our company.
Mark Ambrose: Oh, wow. That’s awesome. So your team is developing this search engine?
Rafael Glantz: Yes, indeed.
Mark Ambrose: Man. Hats off. I would take my head off, but I’m bald as hell. So I don’t want to flash the world.
Rafael Glantz: But you can send me a hat after the show.
Mark Ambrose: There you go. Yeah. A Battleplan Marketing hat. You got it. That is commendable right there. Rafi, hats off to you and “the powers that be” at accessiBe, that’s fantastic.
I think you might become a dominant search engine in the world, certainly a dominant player in the accessibility world.
But you’re also saying the way to make this happen on a large scale is for the Google’s of the world to get involved and say, this is now a part of our quality guidelines for websites.
Just like you need to have SSL, or it needs to be mobile-ready, hopefully. So somebody from your team, hopefully working people from Google and bang and try to make that push cause is an inexpensive way.
Your solution is affordable way. And I agree, you know, you’re not going to get 350 million websites hardcoded.
So automation is the only answer; maybe a large corporation wants to hire developers and Hanco. That’s a possibility, but for the rest of us in the real world, automation is how we’re going to get there. It has to be simple. So the friction to getting there needs to be the least amount possible.
And you guys have done that. The cost is very minimal, and the time to install it is also. So, you’ve achieved that. So yeah, I would like to see Google get behind this also now.
Rafael Glantz: So would we! I think that there’s going to be, like you say, it will be like SSL, that if your website is not accessible in the future, you’ll probably not rank.
Mark Ambrose:: Right. That’s all that’s required, and that’ll get everybody doing making their sites accessible. That’ll get all their developers, SEO guys, and gals out there pushing it. Because right now, it sounds like being a lawyer in this field is a gold mine.
Rafael Glantz: No comment.
Mark Ambrose: Hopefully, there are no lawyers watching, and we didn’t give any great ideas.
Rafi, you’ve been awesome. The information that I think is extremely valuable for our audience. So thank you for your time and your expertise and your personality and sharing with our audience. Thank you, Rafi.
Rafael Glantz: Thanks for having me. It was nice to be here.
Mark Ambrose: Yeah same here. And thanks to our listeners for sharing your time with us.
Good luck out there, and create a great day.