Level Access has worked in the digital accessibility field from just about the time there was a field to work in.
Digital accessibility became part of the Americans with Disability Act in the mid ’90s, and about a year later, Level Access was founded. The company’s flagship product is a platform of the same name, providing a transparent view into digital accessibility by allowing customers to test, analyze and identify any accessibility red flags
“Ensuring access to the digital world is legally and ethically required, but it can be overwhelming, even for committed organizations,” said Vice President of Engineering Lee Hoggard. “Our software is created to help in some important ways.”
Today, the Level Access platform can identify accessibility issues at all stages of the software development lifecycle, from design to implementation to production, and it has the ability to guide teams on where to start when they are faced with a problem.
Its newest evolution — a developer suite that allows product engineers to assess if their methods are digitally accessible — is the latest launch in the company’s progress toward a more accessible future. The suite also helps determine what aspects are most important to fix, track their progress towards remediation, and integrate with external systems like Jira and Azure DevOps.
“In a previous company I worked for, there was a big push to make our product digitally accessible,” recalled Hoggard. “We read WCAG, searched the internet and discussed how to identify and fix issues, but even though we wanted to fix these problems, no one really understood how to do it. Our solution at Level Access is exactly what we needed to be successful — tools to identify issues, training to understand accessibility concerns and ways to embed accessibility testing into our process.”
“Our solution at Level Access is exactly what is needed to be successful — tools to identify issues, training to understand accessibility concerns and ways to embed accessibility testing into our process.”
The World Health Organization estimates that 16 percent of the global population experiences a significant disability. That’s 1.3 billion people. While disability rights is a fairly new step legally — the Americans with Disabilities Act was only created in 1990 — it became clear just a few years after that legal protections needed to be put in place to ensure technology and the expansion of the internet was created with accessibility in mind.
“Countries around the world are beginning to take action to ensure businesses, government entities and education institutions are creating inclusive digital experiences,” said Chief Product Officer Andrew Chung. “Many organizations begin their digital accessibility journey with the question, ‘Where do I start, and how do I maintain a practice of accessibility?’”
Chung then explained how the Level Access platform helps organizations achieve and maintain digital accessibility in a cost-effective and efficient way. Today that looks like helping organizations “level up” product design and the development process, Chung noted.
“We can then create, build, test and deploy digitally accessible experiences,” he said. “We integrate into their existing workflows to embed accessibility at every step of the creation process.”
Level Access’ new developer suite stands out by providing data and insights so that organizations can track and understand their progress in real time. The idea, said Chung, is to continuously help them evolve their culture.
“We needed to build this product because Level Access is deeply committed to leading the charge in digital accessibility,” said Director of Product Nicholas Hubert. “Our position as the industry leader in this space drives us to be highly innovative and user-focused.”
The Level Access developer suite was built on not only technical knowledge, but also a deep bench of accessibility expertise.
“It’s the result of our dedication to crafting a truly robust platform,” said Hubert. “This product launch will have a transformative impact on both our business and our customers. It will propel our business further as a pioneering force in digital accessibility.”
“This product launch will have a transformative impact on both our business and our customers. It will propel our business further as a pioneering force in digital accessibility.”
Hubert noted that the impact of a developer suite will be felt nearly immediately by Level Access clients. The extension of the platform will mean the ability to create accessible and legally compliant websites, mobile apps, software and other technology.
Building for a Broad Scope
Level Access works hand-in-hand with literally thousands of organizations — from Fortune 500 companies to government agencies, educational institutions and private sector businesses of all sizes.
“It really comes down to making digital technology an empowering force in every user’s life,” said Hubert.
For him, the aha moment was realizing how important it is to have accessibility built into every level of a digital product.
“Digital accessibility cannot be an afterthought but must be at the core,” he added. “It’s about weaving accessibility seamlessly into the entire product development process, from initial design concepts to final deployment.”
Level Access is one of the most prominent industry leaders in accessible product building, which can be credited largely to an internal product team that balances the needs of customers with ever-changing regulations from the ADA, WCAG, CVAA, AODA, Mandate 376 and Section 508 requirements.
“While others may view accessibility as a compliance checkbox, we’ve made it the very heart of our mission,” said Hubert. “This focus sets us apart as leaders in creating products that genuinely make the web more inclusive, driving a profound and lasting change.”
Listening to, Then Leading the Market
“The digital accessibility space is still a very nascent market where many organizations do not yet understand how to solve their particular version of the problem,” said Chung.
He added that one of the main obstacles that the team faced was understanding how organizations of different sizes address issues with accessibility in their sectors and products. Chung’s team was able to build new relationships with thought leaders in the digital accessibility space during their product design. They were able to gather research through interviewing and observational study. Finally, one of the biggest keys to success was working early on with a customer advisory board.
“We were looking for that blue ocean opportunity,” Chung added. “The majority of the competitive landscape at the time was really focused on the automatic identification of accessibility issues. We pivoted away from this knowing that our customers truly struggled more with the workflow steps after identification which led to our strategy around integrations.”
Level Access’ work — and importantly, the developer suite — helps product teams think about folks with disabilities as not just a customer, but the ideal customer.
“I want to reiterate that our mission at Level Access extends beyond just building products; it’s about making digital technology an empowering force in every user’s life,” said Hubery. “Our relentless dedication to this mission fuels our innovation and distinguishes us as a leader in the digital accessibility space. We are forging a future where digital experiences accommodate the unique needs of everyone, and we invite others to join us on this transformative journey.”