Accessibility: A Tech for Good Imperative

Dive into the transformative world of accessibility-driven tech! Discover how nonprofits and startups champion inclusivity, reshaping the digital landscape for a more inclusive tomorrow.

Welcome to the seventh part of our ‘Tech for Good’ series. In this post, we champion accessibility—a fundamental element in pursuing positive social impact. Moreover, we’ll explore how technology can bridge gaps, making your services, products, and information accessible to all.

Crystal ball: The future is accessible
GIF via All Better on GIPHY

Overall, accessibility isn’t just a legal requirement; it’s a moral imperative. It can also become an org-wide web strategy and change management initiative. The good news is that tech startups and nonprofits are increasingly committed to ensuring their digital products and services are inclusive to everyone. So, today, we’ll explore the National Federation of the Blind’s (NFB) mission and learn from UserWay’s advocacy for digital inclusivity.

A Quick Note

Digital Accessibility Matters - HeX Productions
GIF via HeX Productions on GIPHY

The below examples are separated into two perspectives: nonprofits and startups. Each view depicts how similar orgs could possibly harness different tools and technologies and intentionally use them for good. After that, I’ll list tools/tech that are readily available and broadly apply to each scenario. Please note that I have not contacted the companies to confirm they use these tools or, in context, otherwise. As a senior project manager specializing in citizen development, I’m an expert at planning and implementing solutions for startups and nonprofits. I’ve also been dabbling in program management (here’s the difference between project and program management.)

Nonprofit Perspective

Example 1: National Federation of the Blind (NFB)

The National Federation of the Blind is a nonprofit organization that uses technology to promote accessibility for the visually impaired. It actively advocates for and adopts assistive technologies such as screen readers and Braille displays. NFB plays a pivotal role in pushing for the implementation of inclusive design across digital platforms to ensure equal access for individuals with visual impairments.

Similar organizations advocating for accessibility may consider utilizing various technologies to ensure inclusivity. Also, many orgs begin by creating an Accessibility Statement for their website and build from there. For example, they may use screen readers and other tools offering screen reading capabilities to aid visually impaired users in accessing digital content. There are also Braille Displays and website tools that evaluate web accessibility. We’ll cover the actual tools in a bit.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you click through one and make a purchase. Affiliate links are denoted with an asterisk (*).

Startup Perspective

Example 2: *UserWay

UserWay is a startup dedicated to providing website accessibility solutions. In addition, their platform integrates AI-driven technology to enhance web accessibility, catering to disabled individuals. UserWay’s innovative approach focuses on making websites compliant with accessibility standards, facilitating a more inclusive online experience for users with diverse needs.

Also, here are links to their pricing and sign-up pages:

Other startups aiming to promote website accessibility might explore AI-driven accessibility solutions that employ artificial intelligence to automate and improve web accessibility. There are also widget-based accessibility tools or compliance monitoring software.

Readily Available Tools to Help with Web Accessibility

GIF via Into Act!on on GIPHY

As we embark on a tech-driven journey toward a more inclusive digital landscape, below are accessibility tools based on different scenarios. In general, these tech toolkits could serve as blueprints, illustrating how similar organizations, inspired by the National Federation of the Blind’s mission or UserWay’s advocacy, can leverage tech for good in the accessibility realm.

Overall, it’s about equipping changemakers, whether in a nonprofit, startup, or passionate endeavor, with the power to make digital spaces accessible, inviting, and inclusive for every user.

So, dive into these toolkits, chart your course, and reshape the digital landscape together, one accessible website at a time!

Potential Technologies in a NFB Scenario:

  1. Screen Readers: Utilize screen reading software for visually impaired users.
    • JAWS: A popular screen reading software.
    • NVDA: NonVisual Desktop Access is a free and open-source screen reader.
  2. Braille Displays: Implement Braille display devices for Braille-proficient individuals.
  3. Accessibility Testing Tools: Adopt evaluation tools to ensure compliance with accessibility standards like WCAG.
    • Axe: A tool for evaluating and enhancing website accessibility.
    • WAVE: Provides website accessibility evaluation services, ensuring compliance with standards like WCAG.

Potential Technology Usage in a UserWay Scenario:

AI-Driven Solutions

These AI-powered platforms are similar to *UserWay because they automate and improve web accessibility. Some of them also have widget-based solutions!

  1. AccessiBe: It uses AI to automate and ensure compliance with accessibility standards. It offers various features, such as screen reader adjustments, keyboard navigation enhancements, and more.
  2. AudioEye: Employing AI and machine learning, AudioEye focuses on website accessibility by providing tools and services to enhance digital content accessibility.
  3. Aira: Although it’s a different kind of accessibility tool, Aira employs AI and augmented reality to assist visually impaired users through trained agents who offer real-time visual descriptions, enhancing accessibility in various scenarios.
  4. EqualWeb: Similar to UserWay, EqualWeb is an AI-driven platform that aims to make websites ADA and WCAG-compliant by offering automated accessibility solutions for digital content.

Compliance Monitoring Software

These tools help ensure adherence to accessibility standards and continuous improvements for user inclusivity.

  • Monsido: Monsido, a web governance tool, conducts scans to identify accessibility issues, aiding WCAG compliance and ongoing website improvements.
  • Siteimprove: Siteimprove offers continuous website monitoring, ensuring adherence to accessibility standards and facilitating ongoing improvements for user inclusivity.

Widget-based Tools

Like UserWay’s offerings, these widget-based solutions easily incorporate customizable website accessibility features.

  • accessiBe: While primarily AI-driven, accessiBe also offers widget-based solutions for website accessibility. Its widgets allow for easy integration of accessibility features like font adjustments, color contrasts, and more.
  • Max Access by OnlineADA: This widget-based tool enables easy implementation of various website accessibility adjustments, such as text enlargement, color adjustments, and keyboard navigation enhancements.
  • EqualWeb: Besides its AI-driven features, EqualWeb provides widget-based accessibility tools for websites. These tools allow users to customize accessibility features like text resizing, color contrast adjustments, and more.
  • AudioEye: Besides its AI-based functionalities, AudioEye offers a widget-based solution for website accessibility. The widget allows users to adjust website elements like text size, colors, and more for improved accessibility.

Online Accessibility is Crucial

GIF via Invest In Access on GIPHY

As we navigate the digital realm, ensuring accessibility becomes more than just compliance—it’s an ethos that paves the way for a universally inclusive online experience. Whether inspired by the National Federation of the Blind’s tireless pursuit or UserWay’s innovative approach, the journey toward digital inclusivity starts with envisioning a world where no one is left behind. Embrace the responsibility to cultivate a digital environment where products, services, and content echo inclusivity. Reflect on how your organization’s digital assets foster web accessibility and seek ways to amplify equitable access. Overall, we can transform the digital space into an inviting, inclusive, and barrier-free ecosystem with every keystroke, design choice, and technological enhancement.

Join us on the journey to digital inclusivity. Now, envision a digital world that’s truly accessible to everyone. How can you ensure that your products and/or services leave no one behind, opening the doors to a broader, more inclusive community? Also, reflect on how your website, company training materials, tools, and other digital assets foster web accessibility within your org. How can you further implement equitable accessibility and spread the word?

Still unsure? Click each link below to see how both companies have changed lives through accessibility.

The Takeaway: Web Accessibility is Empowering

In exploring accessibility-driven technology, we’ve unearthed potent tools and technologies wielded by organizations like the National Federation of the Blind and UserWay. Furthermore, these insights unveil the transformative power of technology harnessed for good—an essential cornerstone in cultivating an inclusive digital environment. By leveraging readily available accessibility solutions, changemakers, regardless of their organizational niche, possess the tools to champion inclusivity. Embrace these learnings to recalibrate digital experiences, making the online sphere a haven for everyone. In other words, chart a course toward accessibility, fortify your digital presence, and embrace the journey of empowering a more inclusive tomorrow—one website, one innovation at a time.

Next Up: Part 8 – Upskilling and Reskilling: Empowering Communities for Change

Future posts in this series will be published on Wednesdays at 8:30 A.M. EST. Also, I’ll link them below as they go live (including the one above).

Please note: this series doesn’t need to be followed in any specific order. So, for those who don’t want to miss out, below are the previous posts:

Some reports on this site were excerpted from publicly available information (research firms, third parties, public health organizations, etc.). This website and blog are for informational purposes only. Reports, reviews, and experiences on this website are opinions expressed by the author and do not purport the opinions or views of others. Any tools or technology mentioned are provided for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement or affiliation. Please use your discretion and consider factors like compatibility, security, and functionality before adopting any tool or technology. Lastly, this post/page does not establish a Jarred Andrews-client relationship. For additional info, please refer to my disclaimer. Please review the copyright, privacy policy, and terms pages for information on how to properly download, share, or copy content from my site. If you cannot find what you need, please reach out.

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