Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5
Subscribe

How One Company is Working to Solve Web Accessibility

The co-founder and CEO of accessiBe is working to make the Internet ADA-compliant and shares what businesses can do to be more inclusive.

By
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Shir Ekerling is on a mission to make every website digitally accessible for people with disabilities. His company accessiBe recently raised $12 million in hopes to solve this issue by 2025.

"People aren't aware that people with disabilities are even able to use websites," Ekerling says. "When I started everything back in 2016, I was shocked that blind people can use the Internet. How can they use the Internet? They don't see the screen. How is it even possible? Or people that cannot use their hands, how can they operate a mouse or a keyboard? How is it even possible? The more I got into it, I was shocked that they can. We want to show as many businesses as possible that people with disabilities can do everything that non-disabled clients do."

Ekerling says accessiBe uses an AI-powered solution to help companies be more inclusive and ensure they are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). He talked with Jessica Abo about his company's growth and what other businesses can do to be more inclusive.

Can you tell us a little bit about accessiBe and why you started this company?

Shir Ekerling: In 2016, Israel was one of the first countries in the world to start talking openly about a law regarding Web accessibility, specifically. Back then, I had a software agency, my two co-founders were with me in that, and our enterprise clients were the ones to drive us to explore solutions for that upcoming regulation, so we were able to solve accessibility for them, for their own applications that we created for them. We figured that this is going to be a big problem, not just for enterprises, but especially for small businesses.

Twenty percent of the population is considered to have a disability that hinders their effectiveness of using websites. And the problem is even bigger when we think about what society is missing. Not even just for equality. When twenty percent — 1.5 billion people — are excluded or lack the resources that we have, because— Specifically, if I can talk about myself, I learned everything online. I am an engineer, front plus back, and do API architecture. Everything that I've learned, I've learned online. If they don't have access to that, they're not able to advance society as the rest of us.

Related: How to Find Your "Yes" During Life's Challenging Moments

I'm working with a blind, young programmer, and he uses a screen reader, which is a software that is installed on the operating system of a blind use. It reads out or outputs by Braille what you've just typed. He writes entire programs like that. And the screen reader reads out the content that he types at 300 percent speed while listening to music. And you have so many people like this, so driven, so smart, but they lack the opportunity.

Can you describe to us the process that accessiBe goes through to make a website accessible?

Ekerling: What we have designed is something that you install with a single line of code. You take a single line of Javascript code from our website, in your profile on our site, and then install it in your template. Once you've done that, then accessiBe scans your website and understands your user behavior, how your website looks for people without visual impairments, for people who are not blind. accessiBe runs on a site to understand the functionality and the elements that comprise it.

It also understands user behavior. After that process, accessiBe will use the WCAG, a 1000-page huge guidebook that explains what accessible websites look and operate like, and how to make inaccessible websites accessible. accessiBe uses techniques from the WCAG to remediate a website into compliance.

What are some of the benefits of having an accessible website?

Ekerling: First of all, there's regulation. Specifically, in the United States, the ADA mandates accessible websites since the end of 2018. The Department of Justice affirmed that websites are considered places of public accommodations. They need to comply with the ADA.

Reason number two, opening your site to additional revenue streams. People with disabilities comprise twenty percent of the population. That's a huge buying force. Essentially you are able to sell more if you can cater to a bigger audience. So that's reason number two.

Reason number three, corporate responsibility. Be on the good side, that's reputation. And there are a lot of other reasons. For SEO, for example, for ranking higher in Google, for example.

I know that you're trying to service people with different abilities all around the world, but what does that cost a company? What are the monthly fees?

Ekerling: accessiBe's cost is less than $500 a year. It's something that every business can afford, for the first time, actually, ever.

Is there one piece of advice that you have that CEOs can be taking to heart starting today?

Ekerling: People need to educate themselves on how important it is to include twenty percent of the population in the modern era that is now excluded. That education and awareness is the number one thing that businesses should strive for. And what I also strive for, for my business and for raising awareness in general.

Related: How to Engage Time-Crunched Audiences

Latest

Will a Professional Mermaid's Business Idea Sink or Swim?

See if our investors think there's something fishy about her concept on the new episode of 'Elevator Pitch.'

How Do You Acquire Clients in Any Situation? You Need to Ask These Questions.

The founder and CEO of Sparkling Results shares her advice for anyone looking to have meaningful money-making conversations.

Hospitality Leadership Coach Matt Rolfe on Being Vulnerable and Sharing Your Truth

Interview with Hospitality Leadership Coach Matt Rolfe about setting boundaries in life and work, creating positive leverage, and being honest with your team.

5-Minute Mentor: How Do I Generate Leads Without Annoying People?

Here's how to test your idea and bring it to market in an impactful way.

The Top 5 All-Time Best Productivity Hacks You've Never Heard Of

Want to combat chronic procrastination? Use these top five productivity hacks to put an end to this debilitating nuisance.

How to Identify Your X Factor So You Can Monetize Your Gifts

The founder and CEO of Rock Your Gift shares what to ask yourself to find your X factor, and explains how he's helping coaches and speakers define their unique message to grow their platform and visibility to attract consistent clients.

Here's How Investors Can Tell If You Are as Passionate as You Say You Are

On this bank-breaking episode of 'Elevator Pitch,' see who gets funding and who gets called out.

This Woman Launched a Multi-Million Dollar Company Out of Her Dorm Room in College. Now She's Helping Kids Launch Big Ideas of Their Own.

Founder of Headbands of Hope and Mic Drop Workshop, Jess Ekstrom, talks about her new interactive book Create Your Bright Ideas.

Bam! Emeril Lagasse on Kicking Your Business Up A Notch

Interview with celebrity chef and restaurateur Emeril Lagasse about his new Roku TV series, putting relationships first, and creating media with a purpose.

5-Minute Mentor: Is My Idea Ready to Be a Business?

Here's how to test your idea and bring it to market in an impactful way.

Do You Have Toxic Office PTSD?

A dark cloud of doom seems to have followed you all the way from that cruddy job to your new desk.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf CEO Sanjiv Razdan on Mentoring New Business Leaders

Interview with Sanjiv Razdan about making the most of nontraditional opportunities, brewing customer curiosity, capitalizing on user-generated content, and inspiring industry leaders with the nonprofit GLEAM Network.

Is Staying Remote the Best Thing for Your Business?

Here's how to unlock the unbeatable benefits of a remote setup.

3 New Ways to Develop Laser-Like Focus

To boost focus in the face of distractions, you need a new approach to success.

Discover Entrepreneur Series

Whether you need advice on how to get your business off the ground or you’re just looking for inspiration, our video series have something for everyone. Browse our library below to find a series that speaks to you and your interests.