My name is Josh Basile, and I am a 35-year-old disability rights advocate, lawyer, mentor, adventure seeker, and C4-5 quadriplegic. My life was flipped upside down in 2004 on a family vacation when a wave picked me up and slammed me headfirst against the ocean floor, breaking my neck. I spent four weeks on a ventilator which kept me alive but unfortunately took my voice away. After weaning off the machines and regaining my voice, I decided never to be silenced again. From that point on, I made sure that every word and contribution would be made with purpose. My proactive advocacy radar constantly has me gravitating towards projects and initiatives focused on access, inclusion and improving the quality of life for persons with significant disabilities.
The major barriers found within web accessibility inspired my involvement with accessiBe and accessFind. To make a difference, I am working as the community relations manager within accessiBe to help advise and execute strategies to properly address the web accessibility gap on the internet and within accessFind to make sure the initiative is built for the community and with the community in mind.
It is so important that the voices of disability-focused organizations and persons with disabilities are heard from the beginning while accessFind is being built. I’m so excited for accessFind to change how accessible websites are searched for persons with disabilities. It’s going to lead to a more inclusive world filled with opportunity and freedoms.
What is accessFind, and how will it benefit the paralysis community?
accessFind will be the first search engine to display only accessible websites. This is important because less than 2% of websites are accessible. Making searches on the internet can become a difficult scavenger hunt for people impacted by paralysis, especially those paralyzed below the shoulders with a high-level cervical injury. It can be filled with frustration, struggle and lots of wasted time. Current search engines are more likely to generate results displaying inaccessible websites rather than accessible ones because hundreds of millions of websites remain inaccessible.
accessFind will change this by only displaying accessible websites, saving time, leading to greater confidence, and increasing the quality of life for persons with disabilities. There is no hiding that communities with consistent access and inclusion to valuable information, products, and services have improved outcomes and opportunities. When done right, the internet creates freedoms and opens users to a new world of possibilities. The beauty of the internet should not be about the search but more about what we can do with the search.
How does accessFind assist in filling the accessibility gap?
accessFind will play an important role in simplifying and catalyzing the accessibility gap on the internet. With 98% of the internet being inaccessible, accessFind simplifies how we search the remaining 2% of accessible websites. accessFind removes the struggle of finding accessible websites and, at the same time, plans on investing in educating the world about accessibility on the internet. Effective educational campaigns will play an important role in bridging the accessibility gap. People with disabilities and businesses can both gain insights into the power of web accessibility access and inclusion. Users of accessFind will learn about a new world of possibilities by being matched with valuable information, products, and services. Users can also raise awareness through their personal web experiences both before and after accessFind.
These experiences will shine a light on the transformative impact of an accessible web. On the other hand, businesses will learn that accessibility leads to an untapped population with tremendous buying power and the highest levels of brand loyalty. accessFind will catalyze persons with disabilities to demand web accessibility and businesses to recognize how investment inaccessibility is not only the right thing to do but a smart investment. I hope that together, people with disabilities and businesses, will help bridge the accessibility gap so that one day down the road, we will not need a dedicated search engine like accessFind because the internet will be accessible.
What do you hope to see in the future with web accessibility?
In the near future, I’m hoping to see a united front of persons with disabilities and persons without disabilities coming together to advocate for more accessibility on the internet. There are hundreds of millions of websites that need to become accessible. Only together and with scalable solutions do we have a chance to tackle the web accessibility gap.
After we achieve web accessibility across the internet, I believe we will see a future filled with opportunity and choice. Having full access and inclusion on all websites will feel like a superpower to persons with disabilities. For the first time, from the comfortable walls of our homes, our offices, and our devices, persons with disabilities will have full access to information, products, and services. This will create so many opportunities that were once not obtainable because we just did not know what was in front of us. No longer will the door be shut, but rather the door will be fully open to a whole new world filled with unlimited choices.