19-year old Ryan Kelly has launched his company, Ascend Applications, and its premiere plugin – AccessAbility.
Recognizing the challenges faced by people with disabilities, especially the limited access to online information, Kelly created a plugin to address these problems. The plugin is a single line of code, easy to install on a website, and allows people with disabilities to access online information more easily. Users accessing websites with the plugin installed can adjust screen text to simple fonts, increase font size, increase contrast, and have content read aloud.
In 2021, public websites and content posted after January 1st, 2021 must be accessible (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines Level AA). Websites that are not accessible leave out one billion people, or one seventh of the global population.
Throughout the development process, Kelly accessed various entrepreneurial supports including Leap Junction at Fanshawe College, and Propel at Western University. Both are part of the campus linked accelerator (CLA) program, an initiative of the Ontario Government and administered through the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). CLAs are an important step in the evolution of Ontario’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem.
Why Accessibility Matters
- One in seven Canadians, and nearly one billion people worldwide, have a disability. As the population ages, that number is expected to increase to one in five.
- For businesses, government agencies, and academic institutions, this represents economically untapped markets – and unintentionally excluded citizens.
- Reaching potential customers with disabilities could help businesses access $9.6 billion more in revenue.
- People with a disability have significantly lower rates of access to basic communication and information technology, which includes websites.
- Accessibility enables more people to actively participate in the workplace.
- The AccessAbility plugin instantly makes websites more usable for over one billion people worldwide.