MINNEAPOLIS - Aaron Cannon, co-founder of Accessible 360, was born blind and understands the struggle that those with disabilities have when it comes to surfing the internet or online shopping.
He uses a screen reader software to help him navigate, but not all websites are accessible for him or those with other disabilities.
The goal of Accessible 360, his newly created Minneapolis-based company, is to make these public spaces in the virtual world as accessible as they typically are in the real world.
“I think the big problem is that a lot of developers simply don’t know how to do it, and I think that’s where we come in," says Cannon. "We don’t do any programming ourselves for websites, but we help developers learn how to do that stuff.”
Cannon says after he and his team audit websites, PDFs and mobile applications, they tell companies about any issues and solutions.
The things they look for include making sure a website can be navigated with just a keyboard, making sure it is set up so a screen reader can detect every word on the site, and making sure the contrast is set high enough for those with impaired vision to read the words.
“You don’t want to limit who can come into your building," said Kelly Heikkila, Chief Technology Officer for Accessible 360. "You don’t want to limit that to a particular set of the population in the same way with websites, apps and things like that."
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, all public spaces must be accessible to those with disabilities, from building ramps to braille on signs.
Cannon says the internet should be treated the same, so everyone, disabled or not, has the opportunity to use it.