This company used AI for its website — and it landed in court

Automating the work of complying with these guidelines could make the web more welcoming. But more than 600 accessibility experts have submitted their names to document Require website operators not to use these automation tools, including AccessiBe. Contributing signatories to the W3C Guidelines include employees of Microsoft, Apple, and Google. The document says, accusing some sellers of “deceptive marketing”:

The site was started by Karl Groves, founder of accessibility consultancy, who provided a debilitating 35-page analysis of AccessiBe in Murphy’s lawsuit against Eyebobs. Groves said he surveyed a total of about 1,000 pages from 50 websites using startup technology and found an average of 2,300 violations of W3C guidelines per site. Groves says this represents a significant reduction in value, because most guidelines can only be verified by professional manual analysis. “Artificial intelligence doesn’t work that way yet,” he says.

In his AccessiBe report, Groves cited a photo of a model wearing a white dress for sale on an e-commerce site. The alternative text provided, apparently generated by AccessiBe technology, was “Herbal nature and summer”. In other cases, he reported, AccessiBe failed to properly add labels to forms and buttons.

On its website homepage, AccessiBe promises “automated web access”. but Supporting Documents It warned customers that its machine learning technology may not accurately interpret the features of web pages if they “have not encountered these elements sufficiently before”.

AccessiBe’s director of community relations, Joshua Basile, says that since joining the company early this year, it has become more involved with disability advocacy groups and explains that they offer “manual therapy” along with automatic fixes. “It’s cutting edge technology and we’re getting better and better,” he says.

In a statement, AccessiBe’s head of marketing, Gil Magen, said the company analyzed the Eyebobs website and found it complied with accessibility standards. The statement said AccessiBe is offering customers assistance in litigation but Eyebobs has refused.

In its own statement, Eyebobs said AccessiBe failed to respond to requests for meetings with its attorney and provided standard responses that “assure us of our compliance with the Internet.” Eyebobs no longer work with AccessiBe and we will not work in the future. “

Although the Eyebobs settlement, which will be completed next year, does not include acceptance that its site has problems, it does require the company to pay for an external expert audit and dedicate one or more employees to work related to accessibility. “Eyebobs is committed to ADA compliance and support for all visitors who come to our website,” said Director of Marketing Megan McMoInau.

Habin Jerma, a deaf-blind disability rights advocate, says she hopes the Eyebobs lawsuit will discourage companies from using AccessiBe or similar tools. She believes that technology companies or regulators such as the US Federal Trade Commission should take action against inaccurate marketing of access tools. “Governments, Google and social media companies can stop the spread of misinformation,” she says.

Experts critical of automated accessibility tools generally do not argue that the technology is completely worthless. Instead, they say putting too much trust in the software can cause harm.

a Paper 2018 By W3C employees praised the potential for using artificial intelligence to help people with low vision or other needs, but he also cautioned of its limitations. He cited a Facebook project that uses machine learning to create text descriptions for images posted by users as an example. The system received an award from the American Foundation for the Blind in 2017. But its descriptions can be difficult to interpret. Sassi Outwater-Wright, director of the Massachusetts Blind and Low Vision Association, noted that the system sometimes showed a preoccupation with body parts—”two people standing, beard, feet, outdoors, water”—which she called “beard predicament.”

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