The internet is an amazing place. It has opened up the world to everyone who can get online. But for the differently-abled, it can still be a challenge. One company is looking to change that.
“accessiBe was envisioned as a solution to bridge the gap between people with disabilities and the information superhighway by making it accessible for them,” says Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer.
What started as a research project has since evolved into a full-fledged startup. AccessiBe is an innovative mobile software application that uses proprietary algorithms to allow its users to interact with the web in a whole new way. The application combines text-to-speech, touch screen, audio navigation, and geotagging into one easy-to-use product that was built with the end-user in mind.
“Before trying accessiBe, I thought it would be much harder to use the internet, but I was wrong,” says LaToya Watkins.
accessiBe works by reading website content to its user, making it easier for people with conditions like blindness or dyslexia to access online information. Users can also touch anywhere on their phone’s screen and hear where they are on a site via audio navigation, making it easier to get around. Another feature that makes accessiBe stand out is its geotagging capabilities. The application allows for the identification of points of interest such as banks, movie theaters, and restaurants by just holding your phone up to the location and giving you turn-by-turn directions.
“We’re constantly working on ways to make technology more inclusive for everyone. accessiBe has the potential to transform the way people with disabilities navigate and interact on websites, making significant social and economic impacts,” says Jonathan Lazar, Principal Investigator at Maryland Information and Network Exchange (MIND).
And that is precisely what they are doing. The team at accessiBe recently partnered up with Chesapeake Bay Philharmonic Orchestra to provide their now patented software to those who use wheelchairs. The orchestra’s subscription list skyrocketed due to the innovation, and now they are constantly booking more performances across the country.
“accessiBe has created an innovative way to help people with disabilities by transforming web content into speech and providing them with accessible maps to guide them. We are proud to help the team push their mission even further,” says Dave Slutzkin, Executive Director of MIND.
Hingson stated, “We have been fortunate to partner with some fantastic individuals and organizations who all share a similar mission, vision, and values. From the Chesapeake Bay Philharmonic Orchestra to our partners at MIND, we continue to see tremendous benefit from pushing the envelope of accessibility using today’s technology.”
“One thing we’re always trying to do here at NCTE is to get the word out about innovative technologies that benefit people with disabilities. In addition, we are always looking for ways to make daily tasks easier and more accessible. accessiBe is one of the few companies in our community taking a no-excuses approach to digital independence,” said Mark Atherton, Director of Access Technology at National Center for the Blind (NCB).
As far as future plans go, Hingson says accessiBe is always looking for new partnerships to help make their product better. They are also working on building different ways to apply their software to other industries such as universities and museums.