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    Local Columns
    Tuesday, June 18, 2024

    New tool makes The Day more accessible

    If you read The Day online, you may have noticed an icon of a person in a wheelchair holding a laptop.

    That’s our new accessibility tool from an Israel-based company known as accessiBe, that enables readers to customize their reading experienced based on their needs, including vision impairment, seizure disorders, motor skill needs and focus issues caused by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

    AccessiBe’s features bring us into compliance with the American with Disabilities Act, which indicates websites are considered places of public accommodation and must be accessible to all.

    Gil Magan, branding and marketing manager for accessiBe, said in a phone interview that the product is used by dozens of news publishers across the globe, in addition to many other companies, and is continually being refined with help from people with disabilities and artificial intelligence.

    “Sixteen percent of the global population is living with some kind of disability, and the number gets to 27 percent in the U.S.,” he said.

    Yet, Magan said, less than 3% of the internet is accessible to people with disabilities.

    AccessiBe’s story began on a soccer field in Ra’anana, a town outside of Tel Aviv, in the 1990s, Magan said.

    The company’s founders, Dekel Skoop, Gal Vizel, and Shir Ekerling, had grown up together. Skoop and Vizel were in the advertising business and Ekerling was a web developer.

    They had an initial conversation that eventually led to creation of the project and financing and a 2018 launch.

    “Web accessibility wasn’t exactly accessible,” Magan said. “If you wanted to make it accessible it required a specific kind of knowledge. There was a lot of research and it took a long time.”

    The most common web accessibility issue that people are aware of is blindness, he said.

    People who are blind use screen reading technology that reads content aloud, but if the website is not built properly, screen readers don’t work well.

    AccessiBe automatically scans the website for readability by screen readers and adds what is know as “alt text” to describe pictures if the web’s creators don’t include that information. The Day has started to add our own alt text to our photos, which we know best how to describe.

    The new program also enhances visibility for people who have degrading eye site, tunnel vision, cataracts, Glaucoma and other conditions.

    AccessiBe also enables people who are living with epilepsy and are photo sensitive by clearing or freezing flashing images and reducing colors.

    Magan explained the company enhances accessibility at the coding level and through AI.

    “If we find an accessibility problem on your website we will fix it automatically on all of our hundreds of thousands of websites,” he said.

    The Day is proud to offer a product that enables readers to customize their experience and makes our site more inclusive.

    Click that widget to give it a try and let us know what you think.

    Karen Florin is The Day’s managing editor. Reach her at k.florin@theday.com or (860) 701-4217.

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