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New Tool Roots Out Accessibility Issues in Web Pages

The product launch from the firm comes as local and state governments focus more on accessibility and compliance issues. People with disabilities face significant challenges online, where many services have moved.

Closeup of a black keyboard with one red key that says "Accessibility" and has an icon of a person in a wheelchair.
As digital citizen engagement becomes more important for local and state governments, public agencies have to pay more attention to accessibility and compliance issues.

The newest product launch from Equally AI could help meet some of those demands, according to the company.

The Israel-based firm has launched Flowy, a ChatGPT-powered platform designed to help developers “ensure the accessibility of their web products,” according to a statement from the company.

While not built specifically for the government market, the tool could help public officials not only make digital content easier to use for more people but conform to ADA and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), Equally AI co-founder and CEO Ran Ronen told Government Technology via email.

“One of the key ways that government agencies and departments can use Flowy is to ensure that their websites and web-based systems are fully accessible to all users,” he said. “Flowy can help agencies and departments identify and fix accessibility issues in their code, providing suggested fixes and a step-by-step guide on how to resolve issues based on the website's framework. This can help agencies and departments meet compliance requirements and ensure that their websites are usable by everyone.”

The new tool includes a recommendation engine for those suggested fixes, the ability to prioritize accessibility issues and access to regular monitoring and compliance reporting.

Among the company’s sale pitch for Flowy is a recent study from nonprofit web accessibility group WebAIM that analyzed 1 million home pages. Among those, more than 50.8 million “distinct accessibility errors” were detected, problems that could lead to violations of WCAG standards.

The report also found that users with disabilities “would expect to encounter errors on 1 in every 19 home page elements with which they engage.” That is especially concerning because, as the report noted, home pages continue to become more complex.

While the “2022 analysis saw small decreases in the number of detected accessibility errors and WCAG conformance failures, significant work remains to be done to make the web accessible to everyone,” the report concluded.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 percent of people in the U.S. have a disability.
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.