How accessFind Could Make the Web More Accessible

It starts with more accessible websites

Key Takeaways

  • accessFind is the first accessible search engine that only shows results of sites that are accessible. 
  • An accessible website has various factors, but includes operable navigation, understandable information, and information that all abilities can perceive. 
  • The future of the internet needs to focus on becoming more accessible to more people.
A person with disabilities working on a laptop computer in a home office.

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A new search engine will help people with disabilities find accessible search results more easily than Google. 

Created by accessiBe, the automated web accessibility solution, called accessFind, will only show search results of websites that are certified as accessible for people with disabilities. Those with disabilities say this search engine will take the guesswork out of trying to find a website that’s accessible, therefore providing them more time to actually utilize the internet. 

"accessFind is going to take the struggle out of being able to access the world, and it's going to be a game-changer," Josh Basile, the community relations manager at accessiBe and a C4-5 quadriplegic who's active in the disability community, told Lifewire in a phone interview. 

"There’s going to be so much less guessing."

How accessFind Brings Accessibility 

Shir Ekerling, co-founder and CEO of accessiBe, said that there are over 350 million websites, but only 2% of them truly meet accessibility standards. 

Accessibility standards are laid out in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) by the World Wide Web Consortium, and include three levels: A, AA, and AAA.

It needs to be 1,000 times more if we want to get close to really closing the accessibility gap.

A website is deemed accessible based on various factors. Users must be able to perceive the information being presented, user interface components and navigation must be operable, and information and the operation of the user interface must be understandable.

Ekerling said the problem with everyday search engines, such as Google, and their accessibility isn’t the search engine itself, but rather the results. 

"In the results of a regular search engine, maybe only one out of the eight results you get per page is accessible, and that’s the problem," Ekerling told Lifewire over the phone. 

Enter accessFind, which goes live this July and will show results only from accessible websites. The search engine will include over 120,000 accessible sites at launch and welcomes any accessible websites to join. 

From the start, accessFind is partnering with organizations like the United Spinal Association, Columbia Lighthouse For The Blind (CLB), The Viscardi Center, The IMAGE Center, Determined2Heal, Senspoint, and others, giving the disability community a seat at the table. 

A person with vision challenges using a smartphone.

agrobacter / Getty Images

"We are inviting disability organizations to the table to say, 'how can this best be made to make sure that your disability population is served and can use it to the best of their abilities?'" Basile said. 

"I think that it’s a beautiful thing that [accessFind] is not just for persons with paralysis or low vision or blind or cognitive disabilities—it’s for all abilities within the disability community."

A More Accessible Internet 

Basile said that it's unacceptable that, in 2021, more than 15% of the global population (or over 1 billion people with disabilities) can’t access a search engine or many of the websites out there. He said the solution to the internet's accessibility problem is education. 

"We have to educate not only the disability community but also persons without disabilities, that this exists and that this is the problem," he said. 

"The disability gap in my eyes is something that is getting worse and worse every single day because more websites are being launched every day that are inaccessible, rather than accessible." 

In the results of a regular search engine, maybe only one out of the eight results you get per page is accessible, and that’s the problem.

According to the most recent WebAIM Million report, which looks at the top one million websites, 97% of those webpages had failures of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines, with an average of 51.4 errors per page. 

There’s still a long way to go in making the internet accessible for all, but the conversation has been taking placed more and more of late. Online platforms and companies are adding more accessibility features, such as Instagram automatically adding closed captions in Stories, Xbox adding speech-to-text and text-to-speech abilities to the Xbox Party Chat, and Apple introducing ground-breaking accessibility features across its devices.

However, Ekerling said that while the attention to accessibility is excellent, it needs to be front and center for real change to happen.

"Things are starting to move in the right direction, but we need more than that," he said. 

"It needs to be 1,000 times more if we want to get close to really closing the accessibility gap."

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