Perkins Access brings accessibility to digital world

New service ready to help companies, colleges and nonprofits comply with upcoming federal rules on digital accessibility

A woman looks at a large computer monitor. A smartphone is on the desk next to her, and several other computer monitors are behind her and to the side.

Perkins Access can help organizations ensure their digital properties, including websites, are accessible to people with disabilities. Upcoming federal guidelines will require higher standards of accessibility for millions of websites.

February 22, 2016

Perkins School for the Blind today announced the rollout of Perkins Access digital accessibility services.

The new service will help educational institutions, nonprofits, companies and other organizations ensure their digital properties, including websites, are accessible to people with disabilities.

“Whether your enterprise offers global e-commerce, breakthrough high-tech development or online education, it makes sense to maximize digital accessibility for all users,” said Vice-President of Perkins Solutions Bill Oates.

Without proper design, websites can be inaccessible to people with disabilities, who use technology like screen readers to use online resources.

Perkins Access’s team of technology experts is available to conduct personalized accessibility audits of websites, apps or other digital products to check whether people with disabilities can successfully navigate them and use key functions. The team offers feedback and remediation to help customers make digital properties fully accessible.

“By making websites accessible, we not only create a more accessible world for individuals with disabilities, we make organizations more attractive to a broader audience,” said Cris Broyles, Perkins Solutions’ director of digital accessibility.

There’s another reason to make websites accessible: it’s the law.

Mandates in the upcoming American with Disabilities Act (ADA) refresh and the soon-to-be-announced Website Content Accessibility Guidelines will require higher standards of accessibility for millions of websites.

The National Law Review has reported that numerous lawsuits resulting in settlement agreements have already been brought against organizations including H&R Block, Safeway, eBay and several colleges and universities because of a lack of web accessibility.

“Perkins Access is all about making digital and physical spaces more accessible so that all users can benefit,” said Broyles. “And it’s about bringing organizations into compliance and protecting them from potential lawsuits.”

The problem of inaccessible websites is widespread, and many organizations lack the in-house expertise to fully evaluate and remediate digital assets for accessibility.

Perkins Solutions recently visited the websites of 20 top colleges and universities ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Testers found that more than 90 percent failed to meet some or all of the guidelines that make websites accessible to users with disabilities.

Some universities, anticipating the new guidelines, and understanding the wider audience an accessible website brings, have already made changes. Harvard University and the University of Notre Dame each have engaged Perkins Solutions to improve the accessibility of their websites.

Perkins Access is part of Perkins Solutions, a division of Perkins School for the Blind. Through its suite of services, Perkins Solutions helps organizations ensure their digital and physical spaces are accessible to all.