Interview: Pioneering Digital Accessibility with Eye-Able®

Oliver Greiner, one of the co-founders, was inspired to start his company by his best friend's visual impairment. We asked him and Menno Hoekstra, the country manager for the Netherlands, to share their passion and vision with us. In the conversation they share insights regarding digital accessibility and talk about the inspiring, personal journey of Eye-Able®. Their commitment to accessibility and inclusivity has a significant impact on countless lives.

Carl: Thank you both for joining us today. To start, Oliver, can you tell us how Eye-Able® began?
Oliver Greiner: Eye-Able® was founded by four friends who shared a vision for more inclusion and digital participation. We started developing our technology eight years ago and have been evolving it ever since. In the early years, we didn’t have any income; we were focused entirely on development. Our mission from the start has been to fight for greater digital accessibility for everyone.

Carl: There’s often a misunderstanding about who faces digital accessibility issues. What are your thoughts on that, Oliver?
Oliver Greiner: It’s true, there’s a lot of misconception. The reality is that 1 in 4 people have a vision impairment, 1 in 5 have a hearing impairment, 1 in 7 have a cognitive or learning impairment, and 1 in 10 have a physical impairment. These numbers are significant, yet not widely known.

Carl: What has Eye-Able® achieved so far?
Oliver Greiner: In Germany, we’re already helping thousands of users with our tools, and we’ve expanded to many parts of the world. Our next step is to introduce Eye-Able® to the Netherlands. We believe the Netherlands, with its serious approach to the ESG and WCAG Acts, is an ideal next market for us. The ESG Act promotes sustainability and ethical practices, while the WCAG focuses on web accessibility. Eye-Able® is right at the intersection of these important frameworks.

Carl: Menno, what are organizations in the Netherlands doing right now for digital participation and accessibility?
Menno Hoekstra: Currently, most organizations conduct manual audits of their websites to become WCAG-compliant. While these audits can help improve websites, they’re costly and not sustainable solutions. Eye-Able® offers continuous auditing of new content and a digital assistant, providing a more effective and long-term solution for digital accessibility.

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Carl: Oliver, was law and compliance the focus when you started Eye-Able®?
Oliver Greiner: No, there was no specific law when we started. Our focus has always been on the people – 15% of the population is currently excluded, and we want to change that. We aim to give everyone an easy digital experience.

Carl: What advice would you give to web developers regarding your tools?
Oliver Greiner: Many web developers use free tools, but they often don’t use them correctly. They focus a lot on user experience, but they need to consider that 15% of users aren’t getting any experience at all without proper accessibility measures. Embracing our tools can lead to happier clients. And by integrating accessibility into their workflow, they add a significant group of users to their target audience.

Carl: What drives you to keep improving digital accessibility solutions, Oliver?
Oliver Greiner: For me, it’s all about the individual. We aim to build technologies that bridge the gap between barriers and access. There’s still a lot to develop, and we want to be the single solution provider that addresses all web accessibility issues.

Carl: Is creating a community important to you?
Oliver Greiner: Absolutely. Changing perceptions about people with disabilities is crucial. In Germany, we have team members with disabilities who provide invaluable insights and feedback. It’s also about understanding the market and using the right language. By integrating Eye-Able® into websites, organizations show their commitment to inclusion, which can change internal cultures and promote a more inclusive society.

Carl: Menno, why did you decide to take on the challenge of becoming the country manager for the Netherlands?
Menno Hoekstra: I’ve spent most of my career in sales, and I was determined to work for a company committed to a sustainable society. Eye-Able’s mission to promote inclusivity and break down digital barriers resonated with me deeply.

Carl: Were there personal reasons that influenced your decision?
Menno Hoekstra: Yes, definitely. I have a close friend with only 10% vision, and I’ve seen firsthand the digital frustrations she faces daily. This personal connection gave me an extra reason to help spread the message of Eye-Able®. I’m proud to work for a company making such a meaningful impact. If this opportunity hadn’t come along, I likely would have found another way to contribute to making the world a better place.

Carl: Thank you both for sharing your insights and the inspiring journey of Eye-Able®. Your commitment to digital accessibility and inclusivity is making a significant impact on countless lives. Oliver, Menno, your dedication, and passion are truly commendable. We look forward to seeing Eye-Able’s continued growth and the positive changes it will bring to the digital world. We hope this conversation has shed light on the importance of digital accessibility and the incredible work being done to ensure everyone can fully participate in the digital age.

About our digital accessibility services

Did you know that 21% of Dutch people have some sort of disability? This means that a lot of people may struggle with interpreting information on websites or even finding the right information through search engines. This presents an opportunity not only to expand your reach but also to contribute to an inclusive digital world.

We want to be your partner in digital accessibility. We understand how important it is to make your website accessible to everyone. Not just because it’s legally required, but because it offers a better experience for your visitors and grows your customer base.