accessiBe

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accessiBe
TypePrivate
IndustryWeb accessibility
FounderDekel Skoop, Gal Vizel, Shir Ekerling
Headquarters
Tel Aviv
,
Israel
ProductsWeb accessibility softwares
Websiteaccessibe.com

accessiBe is an Israeli technology company, working to solve the problem of web accessibility through AI.[1][2][3] The company has raised $28 million in two rounds of funding.[4][5][6][7]

History[edit]

accessiBe was founded in 2018 by Dekel Skoop, Gal Vizel and Shir Ekerling.[8][9] The founders worked on developing proprietary software in order to make websites accessible for people with disabilities.[10][11][12] The founders of the company came to know the issues concerning web accessibility while running a software house and digital marketing agency in Israel. While working on implementing tailor made solutions for each site, they thought that a technical solution to the problem could be made using AI.

accessiBe launched its software product as a tool that scans and attempts to remediate websites’ in real-time, attempting to achieve ADA compliance through implementing WCAG 2.1 guidelines.[13][14] The product claims to make website publishers ADA compliant within hours of deploying accessiBe's code, so that people with disabilities can easily access and interact with these websites.[15][16][17][18][19]

Fundraising[edit]

accessiBe first raised $500,000 from private investors including Nadav Dakner, Elad Mor, Itai Elizur, Oron Yaffe, and others.[20] In May 2020, the company raised $12 million in Series A funding from K1 Investment Management.[21][22][23][24] In February 2021, closed its series A funding with $28 million from K1 Investment Management, a Los Angeles-based private equity firm investing primarily in software and technology private companies across North America, took a minority stake in accessiBe Systems Ltd. with intentions to help accessiBe to expand in North America. [25][26][27][28]

By February 2021, accessiBe’s annual recurring revenue has shown a growth of more than 3.5x in 12 months, which led to additional funding from K1, totaling $28 million.[29] Company leaders have announced that they are planning to use the funds to significantly expand its US presence, grow its R&D department and continue educating the market on the importance of web accessibility.[30][31]

Controversy[edit]

Many web accessibility experts disagree that this software improves websites.

  • Adrian Roselli, a web accessibility consultant[32] believes that running accessiBe can be grounds for a lawsuit and accessiBe itself is not accessible .[33]
  • Eric Eggert, a web accessibility consultant,[34] says that accessibility scripts make false claims.[35]
  • Karl Groves, founder of Tenon.io, says that “Custom” overlays are problematic and compared tools like AccessiBe to "penis enlargement pills".[36][37]
  • Lainey Feingold, a disability rights author and lawyer focusing on technology and information access for blind people[38] does not believe that automated accessibility solutions include disabled people in the digital world.[39]
  • Sheri Byrne-Haber, accessibility architect at VMware,[40] says accessibility plugins do not solve the problems they claim to.[41][42]
  • Steve Faulkner, member of the W3C Web Platforms Working Group [43]) says accessibility plugins can't fix fundamental issues or replicate existing browser functionality.[44]
  • Timothy Springer, CEO of Level Access, says a website with an accessibility overlay is worse than a website without one.[45][46][47][48][49]
  • Haben Girma, disability rights lawyer, author, and speaker, urges companies to stay away from accessiBe and other companies in the same space.[50]

Many industry professionals have criticized the entire product category.[51][52][53][54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61] And over 400 have signed onto the Overlay Fact Sheet which decries the practice of using these tools.[62]

Lawsuits[edit]

There have been around 1000 lawsuits against companies after they invested in a widget-based solution,[63]most prominently ADP,[64] and two have named accessiBe specifically: Thomas Klaus and Robert Jahoda v Upright Technologies,[65] and Kolesar v. Bylt, LLC.[66]

AudioEye, a competitor, filed a lawsuit against accessiBe for patent infringement.[67]

How accessiBe works[edit]

Using AI to increase accessibility at work is one of the Gartner Top 10 strategic predictions for 2020 and beyond,[68] and accessiBe has been using the technology to make websites accessible since 2018. [69] accessiBe’s AI is responsible for making complex adjustments to websites with the goal of improving support for screen-readers and keyboard navigation. accessiBe’s hopes to make the entire internet accessible to people with disabilities by 2025 by reducing the work required to make an accessible website by using automation and AI.[70] accessiBe’s founders see automation and AI as the only way to practically make the Internet accessible and usable.

Contextual Understanding[edit]

accessiBe's AI analyzes sites by visually matching elements and behaviors to millions of past encounters, to learn the purpose of each element from context, and implement the necessary code adjustments using element-detection and image-recognition to reflect the elements of each screen for people using screen-readers.

accessiBe scans all images on the site for missing alternative text, in order to extract the embedded text using OCR and learn the objects that comprise the image using IRIS. Then, accessiBe automatically inserts that text for all images. When a blind user enters a site, their screen reader will rely on these descriptions to communicate what is on the page. [71]

Image Recognition and OCR[edit]

accessiBe’s technological tools are used to scan all images on the site, extracting the embedded text using OCR and learn the objects that comprise the image using IRIS wherever it detects missing alternative text. Then, accessiBe automatically inserts that text for all images. When a user enters a site, their screen reader relies on these descriptions to communicate what is on the page. [72]

Re-scanning[edit]

The company utilizes AI technology not only to detect accessibility flaws, but also to re-scan every page of every site at least once a day, ensuring new updates are being remediated. [73]

Partnerships and notable hires[edit]

On December 2020 accessiBe announced the official launch of its strategic partner program, inviting other companies to leverage their AI-powered accessibility solution. Among the major companies that joined alliances with accessiBe: Sincro, DealerOn, RealPage, Digital Ocean, Volusion, Celerant Technology and Dentons.[74]

Michael Hingson, CVO[edit]

In January 2021, accessiBe recruited Michael Hingson, who is blind since birth, as its Chief Vision Officer.[75] Hingson’s position is aimed at voicing the urgent need for an inclusive web, and the approach of using the robust, scalable web accessibility solution to solve the challenge of the web accessibility gap. Michael also leads the community relations with nonprofits and leading disability focused organizations.[76]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Reporter, IBTimes Staff (20 April 2020). "accessiBe Looks to Advance digital Inclusion through AI-Powered Web Accessibility". International Business Times. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  3. ^ Spencer, Jennifer (27 November 2019). "Yes, AI Can Make Company Websites Accessible to All". Entrepreneur. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
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  70. ^ "Millions of Users Count On Us to Make the Internet Accessible to Them By 2025". accessibe. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  71. ^ "AI-Powered Screen-Reader and Keyboard Navigation Accessibility Adjustments". accessibe. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
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  76. ^ "Michael Hingson: Why I joined the mission of making the entire Internet accessible". accessibe. 31 January 2021. Retrieved 12 May 2021.