2019 Review: AccessiBe Automatic Website Solution Accessibility Using AI

I found AccessiBe.com when looking for AudioEye competitors and I was extremely skeptical upon first glance for multiple reasons:

  1. They make they bold claim that they are the “only 100% automatic web accessibility solution”
  2. They cost $289 annually (vs. 5-figure starting range for most websites with AudioEye)
  3. Their promo videos are flaky, with obvious green screens (see YouTube example below)
  4. Of the clients I clicked on from their homepage, I didn’t see any of the accessibility policy pages mention AccessiBe
  5. Google tries to autocorrect their name into “accessible” and show you results for accessible

Nevertheless, I scheduled a demo to see what they were all about.  Below is my review.

Overall, I’m impressed with AccessiBe.  Sure, there’s significant work to be done but they have all of the right elements in place to be successful in this space.  I talked to their Chief Technology Officer or CTO, Shir Ekerling and he came across as authentic, knowledgeable, and competent.

I asked Shir who he thought their competitors are and he mentioned Level Access, UseableNet, and AudioEye with AudioEye being the only automated solution.  We both agreed that AudioEye was like a hybrid as they are part automation, part manual remediation.

Let’s dive right in with information styled in Q&A format:

What are some of the differences between AccessiBe and AudioEye?

Price is a big one.  AudioEye is probably going to start at or near 5-figures annually for most companies.  AccessiBe.com states their cost is $289/year.

Another huge one is AudioEye provides live accessible support on client websites – like as in actual chat and phone support.  Accessibe does not.  Legally, this is noteworthy because live support helps prevent demand letters/lawsuits and may end up working out favorably in a court of law.

An additional key difference is AccessiBe really does rely upon artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to make websites more accessible.  To my knowledge, AudioEye isn’t here yet.

AccessiBe has not yet applied itself to native apps because they are coded using HTML 5.

How good is the AI?

Shir told me it takes care of 96% of accessibility issues.  However, this is for webite issues, not multi-media problems.  One service AccessiBe offers separately is creating transcripts and closed captioning for audio and video.  If you have significant audio and video, this will halt your path to accessibility as text transcripts and closed captioning is a large obstacle to becoming accessible.  Oh, and PDFS require a separate package too.

What is their approach?

Like AudioEye, Accessibe premises their product on WCAG 2.0.  Solid.

They then take care of the easy fixes, what Shir referred to as 30% of accessibility such as color contrast, font size, font families, and animations.  This all comes from their interface which is available for website users if you click on an icon (customizable on the client’s end).  Just like with AudioEye, users can customize how they want to experience the website.

Next, they run AI to fix the rest of the non-accessible elements on the website.

How long does it take to finish?

I believe Shir said 2-3 days.  It may have been 4.  Whatever it was, it was only a few days.  This marks another difference, because AudioEye is less automated, many of their remediation efforts take around 3-4 months; their website says usually less than 100 days.

Keep in mind that there is going to be a more hands-on approach from AudioEye during this period.

What about WCAG 2.1?

It sounds like this is in the works.

What’s something that impressed you?

AccessiBe’s image recognition ability is incredible.  They can scan images and automatically assign alt text to them.  The alt text is by no means perfect but it’s scary good.  The image recognition even extracts images of text and conveys that in the alt text – that’s huge, especially for companies that have hundreds, thousands, even millions of images.

I also liked they have worked with one of the JAWS (most popular screen reader) developers.

What is my impression?

Very good start.  What you have to remember about automated accessibility providers is they are going to continue to get better as they move along.  Right now, there are some things AccessiBe needs to work on which I will detail as I gather more info.

Update: I just took them up on a free trial and uploaded their javascript to my site. It did not all of a sudden become accessible. Part of the problem is likely my WordPress theme conflicting with their code’s ability to do its work but I want readers of this post to know this is not as simple as uploading the code.

Good start but there is significant work to be done.

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