Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ask the Consumer

Is our business's website accessible to customers with disabilities?

A company called "Loop11" ( has partnered with a nonprofit called Knowbility ( to directly involve people with disabilities, including those using assistive technologies, to provide companies with a well-designed, data-rich testing system.

This system allows companies (and nonprofits, governmental organizations, etc.) to not only determine if their websites are "in compliance" (which can be done using several automated tools) but MORE IMPORTANTLY, to assess if they are actually USABLE to customers with disabilities.

We all know what it feels like to want to buy something from a company online- or even just to check out their goods and services via their website- and to discover that we can't because (take your pick!):
>> they use Flash and didn't turn on the accessibility features
>> they have photos, but no text descriptors visibly by our screen reading programs,
>> they use an illogically designed, or unexpected layout, change screen layout on every page, or place their links and email addresses only in graphic images,
>> they offer an excellent overview of their product using an embedded video, but it's not captioned, so those who can't hear it can't learn about it either.
[yeah, the list goes on, but you get my drift]

One of the aspects of this system that excited me is that the nonprofit, Knowability, hosts a data base of "testers" who are folks with disabilities who are paid (yes, paid!) to test the websites of the companies who are working with Loop11 to assess their usability/accessibility.

What better a way to find out if customers can use your website than to actually ASK THEM?

And, with this system, you get the feedback of trained testers who are experts with their own assistive technology and personal abilities to provide specific, functional information directly to you, the company who wants to tap into the tillion dollar per year customer base (US) of folks with disabilities.

Here are the links for more info:

Loop11 is at    Contact them at support@loop11
Toby Biddle is the CEO (and was one of the webinar presenters).

Knowbility is at www.
General info at:
Jason and Sharon were in the webinar: - he's the guy with the specifics - she's the CEO

Sharon Rush said they are recruiting for testers. So, if you have a disability that impacts your ability to use websites, and especially if you use assistive technology to use websites, why not contact her and find out if this is a job for which you'd be a good fit?

**** Just an additional note for those readers who have followed my blogging about my various interactions trying to get equal access to webinars.... let me tell you about this one.

I found out about this webinar through someone I know from Virtual Ability, Inc. (, an organization for which I volunteer. I went to the webinar registration website and registered.

There was no information on the registration regarding ADA access at all. There wasn't even a contact email. (And I thought, oh, geez, here we go AGAIN!)

I received an email from confirming my registration, so I emailed him back and asked for an ADA accommodation (captioning) to be provided.

Initially, he said "No, it won't be...." (And I thought, Lordy, Lordy, is this my new calling in life? To spend months and months working with webinar hosts to convince them to do what the ADA requires??)

Then, when I responded to his "nope" email and pointed out the apparent irony (a webinar on accessibility being non-accessible), he said he'd check it out.

A man of his word, he made it happen. He communicated with me in a timely manner, and confirmed the availability of captioning several days before the event was scheduled. Yay, Toby!

They used AdobeConnect as their webinar platform (it has built in captioning ability; the sponsor hires the captioning company and the captions are fed into AdobeConnect.)

As life goes, of course, on the day of the webinar, the AdobeConnect Live Caption feature didn't work!! AUGH!

But, Toby/ Loop11/ Knowbility staff for the webinar had a back up plan in place, and via the AdobeConnect Chat Stream, pushed out the alternative STREAMTEXT.COM url so that users of captioning could go there.


*** And, you know what was the BEST THING?

At least EIGHT PEOPLE signed into the captioning!! One person even noted in the AdobeConnect open chat dialogue that her office speakers weren't working... so the captioning allowed her to participate FULLY in the webinar anyway.


And, finally.... Loop11 will be posting both the powerpoint and the transcript (a by product of the captioning that happens automatically) on their site so folks who could not be at the webinar can still benefit and share on this critical topic.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there!
    Toby from Loop11 here! Thanks for your blog post and comments on our webinar. I'm pleased we managed to get the captioning working. As it happens, the captioning was always planned I just wasn't aware and it took me a little while to find that out.
    Anyway...I wanted to provide you with a direct link here to the AccessWorks database where anyone with disabilities and/or using assistive technologies for web browsing can sign up. So here's the link:
    Many thanks!