Computerworld Honors 2013: Technology gives people with disabilities better access to website content

Deque Systems' Amaze technology, the 21st Century Achievement Award winner for innovation, is an overlay that fixes inaccessibility issues in real time, without having to reprogram source code.

Computerworld Honors medal

The Web promises to deliver information to all, but those with disabilities are often unable to access the content on many websites.

Amaze is changing that.

Deque Systems developed Amaze as a way to more easily make websites accessible to people with disabilities. The technology works by looking for patterns inside an application and replacing pieces of the code in real time with HTML code that is accessible or that makes the application accessible to a variety of assistive technologies.

Deque Systems uses the following example to explain how it works: A website has a "Submit" button that is invisible to a customer who is blind and using a screen reader. The traditional approach to correcting this problem would entail pulling up the source code, reprogramming the form and then testing to confirm that the bug has been fixed. Even after testing, the correction might not happen until the website is scheduled for a revision. This means the organization that owns the website would remain noncompliant with accessibility guidelines, while disabled users would continue to have problems accessing information on the site or using its functions.

Further complicating the situation, many organizations use third-party content and applications on their websites and wouldn't have access to any faulty source code, meaning they wouldn't have the ability to fix inaccessibility issues.

But with Amaze, users can create an accessibility overlay that fixes bugs on third-party content or applications immediately, without having to reprogram a single line of source code.

Moreover, the Amaze Accessibility Overlay can be used as a guide to update source code when making scheduled revisions to a website.

Amaze provides real-time remediation on a massive scale without impacting load times, and it is capable of complying with stringent security requirements without impeding effectiveness. It is a fully developed software tool that Deque Systems has offered to clients since its launch in November 2012.

Amaze is already being used as part of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' compliance program. The VA is using the Amaze Accessibility Overlay to make all VA Web content, including all of the third-party content it uses on its websites, accessible while code is being remediated. The VA's use of Amaze will directly help more than 50 million disabled individuals who use VA services by ensuring that the agency's website is accessible.

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Pratt is a Computerworld contributing writer in Waltham, Mass. Contact her at

Read more about the 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureates.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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