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In 2019, 98% of U.S.-based web pages failed to meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Roughly one of every four U.S. adults has a disability, and the disability community accounts for more than $500 billion in disposable income.2 Companies with incompatible websites risk alienating a large number of potential consumers.
"There are a lot of us out there who would like to use your product," says Geovanni Bahena, an analyst with The Chicago Lighthouse's Digital Accessibility Experience consultants and who is blind. "There are a lot of things we have to overcome compared with people who can take their sight for granted."
The Chicago Lighthouse's Digital Accessible Experience Consultants are making digital properties more intuitive.
The Chicago Lighthouse's DAX team is composed of I.T. professionals who are certified in digital accessibility and who are also blind or visually impaired. Through automated and manual testing, DAX consultants help companies and other organizations optimize the digital experience for people with vision impairments, who may use a variety of adaptive devices. By applying their first-hand experiences as digital users, DAX consultants offer solutions to accessibility issues before they become a business liability.
"The number of daily activities taking place online expands every day. Companies cannot afford to relegate people with disabilities to an afterthought," says Dr. Janet Szlyk, President and CEO of The Chicago Lighthouse. "The companies that make digital usability a priority will have a huge advantage in accessing a loyal customer base."
Recently, UI Health, the University of Illinois Chicago's health system began using Epic, the most widely-used and comprehensive health records software. As a longtime client of The Chicago Lighthouse's Call Center social enterprise businesses, UI Health enlisted DAX to ensure Lighthouse employees who are blind or visually impaired could seamlessly use the new system. Over the course of several months, DAX analysts worked side-by-side with UI Health and Epic staff to optimize the software's use for people with visual impairments.
"Working with The Chicago Lighthouse was great," says Will Ringland, accessibility lead at Epic. "They helped us improve the workflow experience and ensure that all visually impaired employees will be able do their work more independently."
Thursday, May 20, is the Global Accessibility Awareness Day. To promote digital access and inclusion, The Chicago Lighthouse is hosting several events highlighting importance of accessibility (including webinars with DAX consultants and a conversation with GAAD Founder Joe Devon) and why businesses and other organizations can make their digital properties more accessible. More information is available at www.chicagolighthouse.org/gaad.
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