BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (KMSP) - While most businesses understand the importance of having brick and mortar locations accessible, the same can’t be said for their websites. As a result, some websites are putting up barriers to information for the nearly 60 million Americans who live with a disability.
Siteimprove, a company with its U.S. headquarters in Bloomington hopes to open the eyes of coders and website designers of the future.
Keith Bundy was born blind, and now works with Siteimprove as a digital accessibility consult and trainer. He has used a screen reader to browse the web for the past 30 years. Bundy highlights the challenges when surfing the web on a daily basis.
Too often, sites have heading structures that prevent him from easily scanning the page. Many sites don’t have alternative text describing pictures. There are often vague titles to links and forms that aren’t compatible with screen reader.
For Global Accessibility Awareness Day Bundy is teaching students at Groves Academy in St. Louis Park a lesson he hopes they will never forget.
“It can be very frustrating,” Bundy said. “You want to do something and for example my bank the other day did an update on their mobile app, so I got ready to use it and it wants me to click ‘I agree to terms of service’ but the button is not useable with a screen reader. So I can’t click on the phone.”
Corbb O’Connor also started with Siteimprove a month ago, but has been working with the National Federation of the Blind for years. Making websites more accessible is one of the federation’s top priorities despite the legal landscape on the web being somewhat murky.
“There are international standards when it comes to accessibility, but when it comes to legally enforcing those it’s a fight every time,” O’Connor said. “Accessibility doesn’t have to be a fight. It can be part of the DNA of what we do every day.”
Bundy is able to enjoy the latest technology with the help of glasses that allow a remote agent to be his eyes for him. He can also text using apps for texting brail. But accessible improvements to websites can help everyone—from those with impaired vision or hearing, to someone with ADHD who needs filtering from distractions.
“Most people that don’t make accessible websites—it’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that they don’t know,” Bundy said.
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