As the healthcare sector made a rapid shift to digital platforms during the pandemic to contain the virus for a variety of care services, it struggled with conforming all its platforms to comply with all the regulatory and statutory accessibility standards for people with disabilities.
eSSENTIAL Accessibility is a comprehensive digital platform that lets organizations create an inclusive service experience for their clients through digital accessibility testing, evaluation, and remediation. eSSENTIAL Accessibility enables corporations to comply with the regulatory and statutory accessibility standards and display an inclusive and disability-friendly presence.
In the following interview, Simon Dermer, the Co-founder and Executive Chairman, talks about the revolutionary services that the company delivers ceaselessly, and also his vision for the company’s future.
Please brief our audience about eSSENTIAL Accessibility, its values, and the key aspects of its stronghold within the healthcare services space.
eSSENTIAL Accessibility (eA) is an Accessibility-as-a-Service platform dedicated to helping organizations create inclusive, disability-friendly experiences on their digital properties. We accomplish this through testing, evaluating, and remediating websites. We ensure that its three core values (unity, accountability, and resolve) are present in customer interactions while striving to make the digital landscape accessible for all.
As a social enterprise that spun out of a rehabilitative services provider to help patients with disabilities access technology, healthcare is the backdrop that informs our DNA. eA works with health care organizations to achieve and maintain compliance with accessibility standards, regulations, and guidelines, combining software, processes, and people to mitigate legal risk and achieve digital accessibility.
Tell us more about the products/services that make eSSENTIAL Accessibility stand out from the competition?
Other companies tend to focus on a specific area of accessibility rehabilitation without accounting for the rest. For instance, an overlay company or a consultant may provide automatic scanning of a website, but they won’t provide human testing, legal support, accessibility program management, etc. — all things necessary to make a website accessible.
In the consultant’s case, they may provide those services, but at an additional cost and on a fragmented basis. We provide all those services and more on our platform so customers can get the expertise and support they need on their journey to accessibility.
What is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the global healthcare sector, and how has eSSENTIAL Accessibility fared during the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns?
As with all verticals, the pandemic has driven the global health care sector through significant change, including increasing drives to digital transformation and online engagement. Telehealth, in the form of doctor visits and patient monitoring, has taken off due to safety precautions around diminishing the spread of COVID-19. Websites have started to replace traditional phone calls for patients wanting to make appointments or access their medical information quickly.
Health care organizations need to adapt their existing digital properties to handle this transition. As they update their digital assets, they must also comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), and other compliance guidelines for people with disabilities.
The pandemic has caused not only individuals but businesses to reflect on what they could improve internally. Some businesses have homed in on DE&I initiatives to reach previously unengaged and unaccounted for audiences. As a result, more have started making their assets accessible for people with disabilities and have chosen our platform to assist in their journey to accessibility.
In your opinion, what could be the future of the healthcare services sector post the pandemic?
Digital transformation, although perhaps driven by the pandemic, is a boon for healthcare companies’ clients, giving them greater access than ever before. But that means that we owe it to them to ensure accessibility, transparency, and ease of use for all users, especially now that digital may be the first, or only, point of contact.
For example, navigating websites to find vaccines or testing sites was inefficient, to say the least, during the pandemic, which is exclusionary for users with disabilities. Users need information in a timely, uncomplicated manner. Companies should oblige them by making their websites more user-friendly and adhering to accessibility standards.
As an established leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts aspiring to venture into healthcare services?
Be on the lookout for a problem and provide a solution. The healthcare sector is an industry where the population expects thorough answers to their questions because their health (i.e., quality of life) is directly impacted. Be prepared to provide them with that. Getting ahead of the curve and seeing where there’s a need helps shape aspiring ventures into full-fledged companies in the healthcare sector.
How do you envision scaling eSSENTIAL Accessibility’s operations in 2021?
We’ve experienced very strong growth during 2020 and 2021 and expect the trend to continue in years to come. The market understands the need and urgency for accessible digital experiences — created by a massive shift to digital due to the pandemic, litigation under the ADA, and changing expectations in the marketplace — and we’re well-positioned as leaders in this space to help companies solve this challenge.
We’re scaling by continuing to invest in technology and development and adding even more accessibility experts to ensure we can help every company that needs it.
About the Leader
Along with co-founder Spiro Papathanasakis, Simon Dermer previously ran departments for the rehabilitative services division of one of North America’s largest long-term care and home care providers. His work in the health care industry exposed him to the needs of individuals wanting to reintegrate into the workplace following their rehab stay, and the technological barriers they faced.
These individuals needed a digital experience that accommodated their disabilities and allowed them to use a website like their peers. Simon and Spiro recognized this gap and endeavored to create a functional platform that would eliminate these barriers and make websites usable by all. Thus, eA was launched. Over the years, they realized that the best way to help people with disabilities was to help companies build digital experiences that were more accessible for all in the most cost-effective manner.