Many technological advances are making life easier for people with disabilities. For instance, a VR headset helps visually-impaired people see better and robot waiters are helping those suffering from paralysis have jobs.
A Canadian startup called eSSENTIAL Accessibility offers clients in many different industries a comprehensive digital accessibility platform.
In an internet-driven world, eSSENTIAL Accessibility helps businesses “eliminate barriers and project a disability-friendly image.”
The award-winning company also helps brands “create inclusive web, mobile, and product experiences through digital accessibility testing, evaluation, and remediation.”
CEO Simon Dermer co-founded eSSENTIAL Accessibility with COO Spiro Papathanasakis and founding board member-turned president Mark Steele in 2014.
The passionate leadership team collectively leverages extensive experience in the healthcare, financial, and global technology sectors to drive the company’s mission and goals.
“Digital accessibility is a growth industry,” said Dermer in a statement. “We help companies comply with accessibility regulations and standards while projecting an inclusive and disability-friendly digital presence.”
Based in Toronto, Ontario, eSSENTIAL Accessibility has offices in the U.S. (New York) and Brazil (Sao Paulo).
To further its ongoing commitment to promote digital inclusivity, the company teams with multiple leading disability advocacy groups. Partners include March of Dimes Canada, United Cerebral Palsy, Autism Speaks Canada, American Red Cross, and more.
Eliminating Digital Barriers and Following WCAG
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data, over 61 million adults in the United States are living with a disability. This translates to about 26 percent (or one in four) of adults in the nation having a disability.
Many companies make accommodations to physical spaces to comply with Americans with Disabilities Acts (ADA) guidelines. Some structural ADA modifications might include widening doorways, installing ramps, or featuring wheelchair accessible restroom stalls and sinks.
Unfortunately, companies also frequently violate ADA guidelines.
Common non-compliance examples include making aisles too narrow for wheelchair access or placing obstacles in the path of blind customers. Costly mistakes like these deter disabled customers from visiting businesses.
Similarly, many companies don’t consider the importance of eliminating digital barriers to provide a welcoming web environment for customers and employees.
For example, photos and other images should have alternative text so visually-impaired people using screen readers can hear the images described. Videos should also be properly captioned, so that deaf people can understand what’s being said.
According to a UK survey, 71 percent of customers with disabilities will leave a website if it’s hard to use – and these potential customers represent about 10 percent of total online spending.
Furthermore, some companies don’t realize Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) exist.
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the first set of WCAG standards in 1999 after an international group of digital accessibility experts identified multiple online accessibility issues. WCAG 2.0 was published in 2008 and version 2.1 was published last year.
Fortunately, eSSENTIAL Accessibility can help clients understand and follow both sets of criteria.
Digital Accessibility Solutions
To be “digitally accessible,” a business needs to make sure its website, mobile apps, electronic statements, PDF documents, invoices, and forms don’t contain barriers which prevent people with hearing, mobility, vision, and other disabilities from using these online tools.
Fortunately, eSSENTIAL Accessibility offers multiple solutions to help organizations provide barrier-free digital properties.
First, the company conducts extensive accessibility testing to make sure digital platforms meet WCAG 2.0 Level A and AA success criteria. Plus, they provide ongoing monitoring of digital properties to track compliance progress and resolve accessibility issues. They even offer a WCAG compliance checklist.
Next, PDF remediation services integrate assistive technology (AT) to improve PDF file accessibility via screen readers, alternative input devices, text-to-speech software, and more. Captions, transcripts, and audio descriptions enhance multimedia accessibility.
Furthermore, eSSENTIAL Accessibility offers a downloadable Assistive Technology Browser, which features several platform-enhancing solutions like a screen reader, a virtual keyboard, voice command, a radar mouse, hands-free mode, and more. Similar AT functions are available via an Android app.
These tools empower people with physical disabilities who struggle in online environments due to disorders like Parkinson’s Disease, Dyslexia, Cerebral Palsy, paralysis, stroke, age-related factors, and more.
Establishing a Brand Disability Channel
Finally, eSSENTIAL Accessibility helps clients establish a brand disability channel. Within it, companies can interact with and engage more customers in the disability community while displaying their commitment to accessibility.
eSSENTIAL Accessibility will be a featured startup at Collision 2019 in Toronto on May 20-23. Visit the eSSENTIAL Accessibility display to learn more about their services.