Leading blindness organizations join forces to help businesses enhance user experiences for people with disabilities.

WASHINGTON, D.C., and CHICAGO (July 21, 2020)—The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the vital role digital access plays in modern daily life. As “stay at home” orders were enacted around the country, many activities, such as social interactions, work, and shopping for necessities, moved online. For people who are blind or visually impaired, too many of these services are difficult to navigate or completely inaccessible.

To help create a more inclusive internet, The Chicago Lighthouse’s Digital Accessible Experience (DAX) social enterprise and AFB Consulting, the consulting arm of the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), have come together to help businesses and other organizations improve digital accessibility and user experience for people who rely on assistive technology to access the internet.

The partnership brings together AFB Consulting’s more than 15 years of experience in the usability and accessibility space, with DAX’s expertise in evaluating and improving accessibility for apps and websites. In addition to helping organizations comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and industry best practices, AFB and DAX will work to optimize the user experience across a wide range of access technologies, such as screen readers, magnification, and other assistive tools.

“Ensuring people with disabilities can actually use your digital asset as intended is priority number one for businesses with an intelligent digital inclusion strategy,” said Tanner Gers, Business Development Lead for AFB Consulting. "AFB’s partnership with The Chicago Lighthouse will significantly improve digital inclusion for the people and organizations we serve.”

The partnership also strengthens both nonprofits’ goals of creating more knowledge-based employment opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired. Both organizations’ teams are led by expert usability testers who are blind or have low vision, and bring firsthand experience of the accessibility and usability issues people with disabilities often encounter when using inaccessible digital products. As the two organizations’ social enterprises grow, the organizations will be able to train and employ more people with disabilities to provide expert accessibility consulting.

“Thanks to this partnership with AFB we can now grow this social enterprise and build our team,” said Phil Yatvin, Director of Chicago Lighthouse Industries, a not-for-profit affiliated with The Chicago Lighthouse. “As we have seen during this pandemic, digital platforms are essential to remaining socially connected and productive. It is critical everyone, including people who are blind or visually impaired, have equal access to these resources.”

To learn more about AFB Consulting, visit: afb.org/consulting

To learn more about Chicago Lighthouse DAX, visit: chicagolighthouse.org/dax

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About the American Foundation for the Blind
Founded in 1921, the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that creates a world of no limits for people who are blind or visually impaired. AFB mobilizes leaders, advances understanding, and champions impactful policies and practices using research and data. AFB is proud to steward the Helen Keller Archive, maintain and expand the digital collection, and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB. Visit: www.afb.org

About The Chicago Lighthouse
Serving the blind, visually impaired, disabled, and Veteran communities through innovative education, rehabilitation, employment, assistive technology, and other programs, The Chicago Lighthouse is one of the nation’s most comprehensive social service organizations. For additional information, visit www.chicagolighthouse.org.