Episode 105: The AccessiBe controversy. Can AI make the web fully accessible in a few short years, or might it make matters worse?

Through a combination of awareness-raising and legal action, many people like to think that the web has become a more inclusive place. But there is much left to do. Entrepreneurs have seen an opportunity, and several companies have created technology they believe can make accessibility easier to implement for businesses, making the web a much more accessible place for us all. Some say this technology is revolutionary and in a relatively short time could make inaccessible websites a thing of the past, something that they say the current traditional approach will never do. Others say we are seeing a looming accessibility disaster as businesses purchase what is nothing but high-tech snake oil, thinking they have solved a problem and inoculated themselves against lawsuits when in fact they may have made matters worse.
The most talked about company in this space is AccessiBe. It would appear to be the most deployed accessibility overlay, it is very well-funded, and they have recently appointed a high-profile name in our community as their Chief Vision Officer.
Tensions and passions are high on social media and in the accessibility community about accessibility overlays in general and AccessiBe in particular. That’s not surprising because given what’s at steak, it’s one of the most important issues we face as a blind community. This week, it’s my goal to give you a range of perspectives and to question those who have strong views on either side, so you can make up your own mind.

The podcast is segmented by chapter for those using podcast apps that support this feature. But here’s what you can hear and when.


Accessibility professional Sam Evans,5:54

Listener comment from Stephen Clower,22:37. He mentions his [AccessiBe Gone website(https://sclower.github.io/accessibegone/), with instructions on how to block the service should you wish to.

Chancey Fleet, accessibility advocate, tech expert, vocal opponent of AccessiBe’s approach,36:38

Michael Hingson, Chief Vision Officer at AccessiBe,1:08:05

Curtis Chong, technology expert and advocate,2:24:06

Listener feedback,2:50:55

Closing and contact info,2:57:56