WeCo: Help Create Jobs and Improve Web Access for People With Disabilities

WeCo: Help Create Jobs and Improve Web Access for People With Disabilities


I’m Lynn Wehrman, president of a new start-up company called WeCo, and we have a problem: people are being left out of
getting information, finding jobs, using services– even talking with their family and
friends, and this needs to be fixed. To help you get the picture, we’d like to
tell you about Bill and Nina. Bill has hand mobility issues, but he
can get online with a special keyboard that helps him select one key at
a time. Nina is blind, so she can’t see the web pages she’s trying to access, but she can hear them read to her with the help of special software called a screen reader.
[sound of screen reader reading in background] The problem is, is that most websites
aren’t designed to work with the tools that help Bill and Nina use the Internet.
So when Bill fills out a job application or a bank form, it times out before he can finish it; and he has to start all over again. And if he’s trying to hit a very small
link on a web page, it can be hard to steady hand enough to select it. This
can happen a lot, and sometimes Bill gets so exhausted he just gives up. Nina has to listen to an entire page to
find on one thing she needs located
[sound of screen reader reading in background] at the bottom of the page, and she may
not hear it at all if there’s music or
[background noise] sound on the page. That makes her frustrated. We realized there were lots of people
out there who were frustrated by difficult Internet experiences. Then we had a revelation: the simple solutions we were using for one
website could be used to help all websites. So we pulled together a team of people
who live with disabilities, like Bill and Nina, and trained them to be user
experience testers. Organizations partner with user
experience testers to fix their websites. The testers analyze the sites, and
identify the problem areas that make them hard to use. Then, they fix the websites
by applying design techniques that make them user-friendly for everybody,
including people with disabilities. This now makes it possible for organizations
to make contact with the people they need to reach. The frustrated people trying to get
access to their websites aren’t frustrated anymore, and the people
testing the websites have jobs. This is really exciting when he realized that
most people living with disabilities have huge employment issues. Our concept of employing people
with disabilities to make websites accessible is working so well, we think
you should hear about it from the testers themselves. KEN: As a blind individual, I rely on my computer for accessing information.
NICKY: Some of the sites don’t have labeled links or labeled headings.
TONI: The more that is on it, the harder that it is for me to navigate.
KEN: I can’t tell if it’s an image, if it’s a picture, if it’s a broken link. TONI: It wears out my hand. KEN: It’s essential that these things work
for me. TONI: When I can’t find what I want, I’ll just go to another website. NICKY: I’ve been working for WeCo for
about a year. I make it easier for other people to use
the websites by testing those links and headings to see if they are properly labeled. KEN: It’s really important to me that alternative tags are properly used.
TONI: Good site for me is a shopping site, for example, where you can put into the search box what it is that you’re
looking for, and the results come up and you can choose from those results.
KEN: WeCo works with the company to ensure that the company understands what
doesn’t work on their website to make sure that it does get fixed and properly tagged. The concept of using people living with
disabilities to fix websites is so novel that we need help to gather the
start-up funds to get WeCo going–until our product catches fire in the IT industry. Any amount you donate will be
appreciated; and it will cover office necessities, such as phone and
computer expenses. It will help us keep our testers in the
latest up-to-date equipment, and help us pay a staff that has been
working for last eighteen months for free. Your contribution will help
organizations connect with people like Bill and Nina and provide jobs for people
who really need them. If you’re able to make a contribution, you’ll be rewarded with one of the
perks on the left side of the page. Whether you can contribute or not, pass on our Indiegogo link to every person on your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
accounts, and help us make the web something everyone can access. Thank you.

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