The Easiest Way to Make Your Website Accessible to All with accessiBe

This week on Marketing Marvels, take a tour of accessiBe and see how the automated web accessibility solution makes website accessibility truly effortless.

In This Episode:

Full Episode Details

accessiBe technology tourThis week on Marketing Marvels, I’m delighted to introduce you to accessiBe, an incredible web accessibility solution that we use here at Convince & Convert.

What is accessiBe?

accessiBe is a fully automated web accessibility solution powered by AI. You can meet compliance with WCAG 2.1, ADA, Section 508, AODA, ACA and other legislation with accessiBe. Sound complicated? It’s not. accessiBe has made website accessibility truly effortless for our team, and it will for your team, too.

Here to walk us through how it all works is the awesome Rafi Glantz, Strategic Partnership Manager at accessiBe. I’ve sat through hundreds of martech demos and tours, and, no joke, this is the most fun one—ever. I’m a big fan of accessiBe and the brilliant team behind it, and I’m thrilled that Rafi is here to show it to you. Enjoy!

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Episode Transcript

  • Jay

    Hey everybody, it’s Jay, founder of Convince & Convert, and welcome back to Marketing Marvels, where I help you discover new technology to improve your marketing. Now each episode of the show includes an overview and then a quick demo of cutting edge marketing technology that I personally endorse and recommend. It’s all killer, no filler here on Marketing Marvels. We’ll have some questions and answers about how you could use this technology in your business. Today’s very special guest on Marketing Marvels, Rafi, who is the strategic partnerships manager at accessiBe. Rafi, welcome.

  • Rafi

    Thanks so much for having me.

  • Jay

    Hey you’ve got a bit of a empty background there. What’s going on?

  • Rafi

    I recently moved offices and so I had to find new places for all my personal effects. We’ve got quite a few here. I’ll go through the list at some point in the presentation.

  • Jay

    You’ve got all kinds of toys just off camera. I like that. That’s great.

  • Rafi

    I’ve got Star Wars stuff, I’ve got One Piece stuff. I’ve got a whole smorgasbord.

  • Jay

    Smorgasbord, the first time smorgasbord had been used on Marketing Marvels as a descriptor as well. I appreciate it very much. Let’s talk a little bit [inaudible 00:01:17] for Marketing Marvels viewers. I actually recently adopted accessiBe on our site, on convinceandconvert.com and myself and our entire team is blown away, thrilled with how easy it is and how amazing it is. I don’t like to use the word game changer because it gets thrown around all the time, like this napkin is a game changer. It’s like not really. But except it really is a game changer in terms of website accessibility. It makes the entire process from whatever you’re doing now, which is probably random and wrong to 100% compliance, automatic and immediate.

  • Jay

    It uses machine learning and computer vision technologies to auto optimize your site. It is extraordinary. Rafi, talk a little bit about accessibility and how important it is. Look, I’ve been in the web business since ’93, since pre-browser. Here we are in the 2020s and we’re still talking about this, right? It’s still an issue that we haven’t fully conquered. Maybe we can now with accessiBe. Talk about why it’s so important and why it’s been so hard historically to be compliant and make your site easy to use for everybody.

  • Rafi

    Absolutely.

    It’s a great question. Thank you. The first thing I would say is that we’ve been having people with disabilities as long as there’ve been people. So it’s important in the physical world to accommodate everybody and it’s important in the online world to accommodate everybody. The issue with manual accessibility, which is the only way to achieve accessibility before accessiBe really showed up, was that it’s very, very time consuming, and because it’s time consuming, it’s also very expensive. For most websites, they don’t really have any kind of feasible way to achieve it. For many years it pretty much fell by the wayside because the legislation in the United States was not particularly clear.

  • Rafi

    For instance, the ADA does not specifically refer to the WCAG as the guidelines needed for accessibility, and that ambiguity really allows a lot of people to sort of skate away with this until they get a letter from somebody with a disability or a demand from a law firm or something like that and then they scramble for a solution. We’ve actually seen multiple cases, we have a testimonial like this, where somebody spent let’s say $3,000 on their restaurant’s website, including everything, and then got hit with a web accessibility demand. Investigated how much it would be to realistically do that manually, and it was over $10,000, more than three times the cost of their whole website. What did they do? Until they found us, they actually shut down their website and operate it through only Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. We don’t want anybody to have to do that.

  • Jay

    What’s interesting about it is I’ve owned many, many sites and consulted on hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of website builds and projects and in my whole career, I’ve never really been in a meeting or anybody said, “No, we just don’t care. We don’t care about vision impaired, hearing impaired, any other sort of impairments, screw those guys.”

  • Rafi

    Right.

  • Jay

    Never heard that, everybody cares. It’s just it’s been such a tricky river to cross operationally. Now, it’s like click, click done, which you’re like, “Wow, where was this 10 years ago, 15 years ago?” Obviously the technology had to be developed by accessiBe in order to make it that easy. I don’t say this very often about anything, but accessiBe is one of those tools where the first time I saw it, I thought, well, why doesn’t 100% of all websites have this? What is your-

  • Rafi

    My thinking as well.

  • Jay

    What is your argument for not doing it, right?

  • Rafi

    Right.

  • Jay

    So inexpensive. Talk about that for a second, Rafi, before we look at a demo, just so people understand before they look at this. This is not an expensive proposition.

  • Rafi

    It’s certainly not an expensive proposition, neither in time nor money. More importantly, even if it was, according to the CDC, 26% of American adults are living with a disability of some kind.

  • Jay

    Wow.

  • Rafi

    If you have a store, right, let’s say you have a jewelry store and you see a guy outside in a wheelchair, what do you do? You lock the door and laugh at him? No, you run outside and you try to take his money. You make sure that he can get into your store, because everybody’s money is green and everybody deserves the same access. I think the biggest problem, just like you said, was not whether or not they wanted to do it. Nobody wants to be legally liable and certainly everybody wants to do business with everybody who’s got money in their pockets. It just wasn’t possible for them and they didn’t know it either.

  • Rafi

    I’ll tell you, in the last year, we’ve had more than 2,500 customers come to our virtual doors with a lawsuit in hand. It was the first time for most of them that they’ve ever even heard about web accessibility, that it needs to be there. They just don’t think about it, because it’s not an issue that’s given enough oxygen, I think, by the major companies in this industry. For instance, the major CMS’s.

  • Rafi

    I think part of that is because it’s been a little bit too much of a project for them to take on up until now, there wasn’t an option like ours before now.

  • Jay

    That’s such a great point, right? If you’re a business owner who doesn’t really do web stuff full time, the likely conclusion is probably, well, doesn’t my web host take care of this? Or doesn’t WordPress, whatever platform we run on, isn’t that kind of built in? Isn’t that why I’m paying those?

  • Rafi

    And the American attitude is that that should be their responsibility in a lot of cases, because we assume, “Oh, well, they must be liable for it.”

  • Jay

    Right. Right. Your pricing is based on the size of the site, is that correct?

  • Rafi

    (affirmative). Yeah, because we base it on basically how much work the AI has to do for you. So if you’re under a 1000 pages, it’s going to be $490 a year. If you are up to 10,000 pages, it’s going to be $1,490 a year. If you’re up to a 100,000, it’s going to be $1990 a year. If you’re over a 100,000 pages, you’re going to be at, I believe, $3,490 a year.

  • Jay

    and there’s not many folks with over a 100,000 pages. There’s certainly our [inaudible 00:07:34] site is a few 1000, so we’re in that second category. But if you are a small site, your restaurant example is a great one, restaurants might have say 10 pages, typically somewhere in that ballpark. But for $490 a year to make sure that your site is highly usable by every single person, to me, that is a very small price to pay. Not only does it make good business sense, it just makes good sense as a citizen of the world as well.

  • Rafi

    100%. If I can add on top of that really quickly, it’s not just for people with disabilities. As an example, my grandmother, before she passed away, very much loved online shopping. Didn’t have the best eyesight. Certainly wouldn’t have considered herself impaired or disabled, but if you can make it easier for people to buy stuff from you, just change the fonts, change the contrast, make things more comfortable, that’s amazing. That’s a fantastic sales tool.

  • Jay

    My wife is one of those people who doesn’t believe that her eyes have any sort of vision issues, but is constantly putting on, taking off the readers, right? I’m like, “Just lean into the skid,” right? So accessiBe on the couch, it’d be great in my household because I’m always like, “Just keep them on,” right? I’ve had glasses [inaudible 00:00:08:53]. For me it’s like, whatever, but it’s a good use case for sure. Do you want to show folks some of the highlights of accessiBe while we have them here?

  • Rafi

    Let me share my screen and let me know when you can see new summer collection, please.

  • Jay

    I see new summer collection, yes.

  • Rafi

    Victory is mine. First things first, I want to point out in the lower left-hand corner, there’s a little check mark on the icon. The check mark is there because I’ve visited this website before and one of the nice things about accessiBe’s tool is that we use local storage, not cookies to save your settings. Now, this means we’re compliant with GDPR. We don’t save any data or anything like that, but if you have a disability and you’ve made adjustments, we’ll remember those little adjustments when you come back to this website. So if you open up the interface, you’ll notice that the first few things are profiles. These profiles make it super easy for both people with disabilities and anybody who might be wondering how accessible you are to see exactly what we do cater to.

  • Rafi

    If you take a look at the seizure safe, this is probably the most important one. It stops any animations immediately, makes the page a little bit less colorful. I consider this the most important one because a seizure safe profile is the one thing that can actually potentially kill someone. Somebody could be seriously harmed by the animations on your website and so it’s very important that you be able to immediately turn those off. Another thing is that you have a visually impaired profile that’s sort of the opposite, it makes everything bigger and brighter. Cognitive disability profile helps with your reading and focusing. The ADHD friendly makes a nice mask that I like.

  • Jay

    Nice.

  • Rafi

    It’s very convenient for someone like me. You can tell I’m a little high energy. Then we have the blind user’s screen readers and keyboard navigation, and those toggle at the same time, because of course, if you are using a screen reader, you must navigate with the keyboard, because of course you can’t see where the mouse is.

  • Rafi

    I’ll show you a little bit more about that in a second. But the first thing I want to point out is that this website has no alt text at all. If you look right here… Oh, turn this off, reset the settings. We don’t have any alt texts already in here. The reason for that is we want to show you how accessiBe works, because accessiBe won’t override any existing accessibility work that you’ve done. We assume that you’ve done the right thing, but if you’re missing something, we’ll add it in. So now if we inspect this image, like we said, we have no alt, but if I’m going to hit alt-one on my keyboard, which is the toggle for somebody who’s actually not able to see, if we detect a screen reader on somebody’s computer active, we’ll send them a voice note saying, “Hi, you’ve entered an accessible website. Please hit alt-one to turn on accessible mode.”

  • Rafi

    Once accessible mode is on, as you can see, the alt text pop-up. In this image, it’s extra 30% off shop now, woman in long sleeve shirt folding clothes. If you go over to this one, for instance, you’re going to get woman in black tank top with arm tattoos. We walk a fine line between how extensive you want these descriptions to be. Most people don’t think of it because we don’t interact with screen readers frequently. But if you put a too much of a descriptive explanation of what’s going on in the image, it takes up too much time and it is actually less accessible for somebody who has to listen to it. Finally, one of the things I want to point out here is the tab function. We actually did a research paper where we evaluated more than 10 million web pages and identified the elements that are most and least likely to be accessible.

  • Rafi

    Drop-downs and popups are some of the least accessible. I believe it’s 98% of pop-ups that we scan were not accessible. Drop-downs must automatically open so that you can tab through them and then pop-ups… Whoops. Let’s go back to that pop-up for a second, I tabbed past it. When you open a pop-up, it absolutely has to have a second little box open here and read out to screen readers that, “Hey, we’ve opened a pop-up.”

  • Rafi

    Now you know you’re in the pop-up, exactly. Press escape to close navigate with tab. If you don’t have that, then somebody might not be able to identify that they’re in a pop-up and might have to restart their computer to get off your website, which is a very, very bad user experience to say the least. Finally, I want to show you the statement of accessibility that we have here. The statement of accessibility is in everybody’s interface, it goes into detail about what’s been done to make your website accessible, and it gives everybody a place to go to ask questions or report any issues. On top of that, we have 14 different languages that you can choose from, and a few other minor adjustments that you can make in the readable font. It’s intuitive, so we go to the default font and the person’s computer, because we assume that that is readable for them.

  • Rafi

    One other thing I want to point out that is sort of the difference between customization and making accessibility manually, when you do accessibility manually, you’re changing the source code permanently so that it will appear a certain way for everybody. Because of the nature of visual impairments, everybody who’s colorblind is not color blind in the same way, by any means. That being the case, you cannot pick a color scheme that’s accessible for everybody, because somebody going to have a problem with it. So what we do is we allow everybody to customize the colors to what they need. Maybe you can only see red, maybe you can only see purple, maybe you can’t see purple. Whatever it might be, you can select the colors that you need in the elements that you needed to see. That is pretty much it. Do you have any questions? Anything that I didn’t cover fully enough?

  • Jay

    The little bug in the corner that you initially as a user interact with to set your preferences, that’s on all pages of each site?

  • Rafi

    It will appear on any page of the site.

  • Jay

    The actual accessiBe tool and it’s use of machine learning and AI to make these adjustments on the fly is applicable in just about every site, right? Because it’s not a big tech install. I know some of our listeners and viewers are thinking, “Well, man, this seems amazing. Why wouldn’t we do this?” But, “Oh man, now I got to go talk to IT and they’re going to freak out.” But the reality is, this is amazingly simple to install.

  • Rafi

    It’s one line of JavaScript code and we actually have a way that you can customize pretty much everything about it. So this is just one of our icons. I believe we have 12 different icons available right now. You can select any color you want using hexadecimal or any other input, RGB. You can select where the icon goes, whether it’s a circle or a square or a rounded square. You can choose the specific offset or just do left, right, top, bottom, middle. You can change it also on mobile. So all of this stuff is customizable.

  • Jay

    The other thing that I was really interested in, and I talked to our own [dev 00:15:50] team about this before we installed accessiBe, is it really has negligible impact on page speed. Speed and responsiveness is so important for SEO and a number of other things. Even though it’s calling some scripting there, it is super quick. It’s not going to slow your site down. It’s not going to be a problem.

  • Rafi

    Right. It’s asynchronous, so it should have pretty much zero impact on load speed and anything like that.

  • Jay

    As I said earlier, and I don’t know if I’ve ever said this in all the episodes of Marketing Marvels we’ve done over the years, I cannot see the scenario by which you wouldn’t use this. It’s $490 a year and maybe a little more if you have a bigger site to completely solve the entirety of your accessibility issues for all people of the world and not for nothing, prevents you from being sued for not having a compliant website, which to me that is very inexpensive insurance.

  • Rafi

    I think you could definitely characterize it that way. I will say that it’s America, so anybody can sue anybody for anything, whether they’re justified or not. But like I mentioned before, we had 2,500 people come to our digital doors with these lawsuits. We made pretty much every single one of them go away with absolutely no trouble at all. We have a litigation support package that we provide free of charge in the event that anybody gets a demand letter and we go through the whole process.

  • Rafi

    I’ll tell you that our main approach to this is look, we will prove that this website is accessible. We will show you exactly how, and we’re not going to just shut up and pay a settlement, because in many cases, that is what they want. You have two sources for these lawsuits. You have either a person who genuinely has a disability and really wants your website to be accessible so they can use it or you have somebody who’s seeking a settlement. In either case, the best solution is to become accessible immediately and then prove it when you’re questioned, and that’s what we do.

  • Jay

    And you could do it immediately. From the time we first started talking to Rafi and the team to the time we had it installed on Convince & Convert, and again, our site is thousands of pages, was under a week, end to end. It is that fast and that easy. So I mentioned how inexpensive it is, but I’ve got great news for you all. The team at accessiBe has made a special offer just for Marketing Marvels and our audience. Thank you very much. That’s very, very kind of you.

  • Rafi

    Of course.

  • Jay

    Go to bit.ly/webaccess2020, that’s B-I-T dot L-Y slash web access, all lower case, two, zero, two, zero, you will receive a 20% discount on your purchase of accessiBe, which is unbelievable. Thank you so much for doing that Rafi and team. It’s awesome.

  • Rafi

    Thanks for having us.

  • Jay

    I got a couple of questions for you before we jump off. One, tell me about your history. You’re a smart guy, why are you at accessiBe? How did you get to the company? Tell me a little bit about that story.

  • Rafi

    It’s an interesting story. I was working in the blockchain world before, which I was in sort of the Bitcoin industry since 2015. I decided I wanted to sort of get into the real world of grown-up startups. I had an interview, thought this place seemed really good and within a month it was already, you’re a 100% in, and this place has grown so much. I joined the company, we had six employees, we’re now well over 60 and actively recruiting constantly. I’m sharing things on LinkedIn all the time about recruitment. So it’s certainly been a very crazy ride. I have every confidence that we’ll continue that trajectory, because the great thing about this product is it is infinitely scalable, and everybody does need it.

  • Jay

    There’s a lot of sites out there for you to potentially power, no question.

  • Rafi

    That’s what I say to people because we have a great partnership program, which may or may not be relevant to any listeners. Definitely feel free to reach out and let’s talk. We right now, power almost 70,000 websites in the US. It makes us by far, I believe, the leading provider of full web accessibility services on earth. That being said, there’s 90 million websites in the US, so there’s plenty of runway left.

  • Jay

    Last question for me, Rafi, what is a Marketing Marvel to you? If you could recommend some other kind of software package? Probably not in the accessibility field, but something else. You’re like, “You know what? People who are in marketing or in customer experience, this would be something that you’d like.” What’s your recommendation? What’s a Marketing Marvel for Rafi?

  • Rafi

    I actually would say that the Facebook targeting is an incredible thing for me, because I had been sort of on the fringes of marketing before, and now being able to use it is a terrifying and a humbling power. You can literally target exactly who you want to find. It’s an unbelievable gift and so many people use it for spam. I think the tools are right in front of us and we can utilize them a lot better than they are right now.

  • Jay

    I love that. I would say that terrifying and humbling are two adjectives that are very appropriate for Facebook in general. I think [inaudible 00:21:13]. Yeah.

  • Rafi

    That’s for sure.

  • Jay

    As we wrap do you have another office toy that you’d like to demonstrate before we go?

  • Rafi

    I do. This one is actually pandemic related, because we are mandated to wear masks, but they don’t specify what kind. So this is the one that I generally go with.

  • Jay

    It’s safe, effective, sends a message. I love it.

  • Rafi

    It sends a great message. Stay six feet away.

  • Jay

    Don’t forget, go to bit.ly/webaccess2020. That’s all lowercase, B-I-T dot L-Y slash web access two, zero, two, zero, to get your 20% off on accessiBe for your site. Please do it, it’s the right thing to do.

  • Jay

    I’m Jay Baer. This has been Marketing Marvels, where we demonstrate technology that you should put into practice in your business production of our team here at Convince & Convert. You can watch all the episodes on YouTube if you just go to bit.ly/marketingmarvels, you can find them all, bit.ly/marketingmarvels. Until next time, see you later. Thanks.

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