Evinced is on a mission to make as many web properties as possible accessible, and doing that means getting that work done ASAP, which means integrating with the development process from the start. The company is continuing this “shift left” mentality with $38 million in new funding that it plans to put to work making designing for accessibility essential.
“For years, the accessibility business has been what you might call a consulting business,” said founder and CEO Navin Thadani. “You hire someone, they review your products once a year, produce a big report, and then maybe work with your engineers as they work their way through an undifferentiated bug list with thousands and thousands of issues.”
That has started to change as accessibility standards have crept into the development process, but in many cases accessibility is still considered a layer on top of a “normal” site or service, to the point where some companies offer a “overlapping” of the secondary market. (The usefulness of these overlays has been widely questioned in the industry, and also by Thadani.)
Evinced also uses machine learning and other modern tools to automatically detect accessibility deficiencies or designs that don’t follow best practices, but it does so early in the development process, when coders are still working on the basics of the design. place.
Like automated code review tools and basic error detection, it can tell a developer that, for example, the way they’ve structured a form may cause some screen readers or pointerless navigation methods to fail. These can be automatically tracked like any other bug or feature. As of last September, this works for both mobile development and desktop browser environments.
By identifying root problems instead of detecting them in the final product, you avoid problems later on; a few fixes early on could prevent thousands of small bugs or UI hiccups from happening later. It’s really just adding accessibility to the list of good coding practices, but in a much faster and better way than the methods most companies use now.
Of course, consultants (like those at Fable) and regular audits are still needed to catch high-level issues or evolving best practices, but “accessibility is too important to put off this late in the cycle,” Thadani said. “It has to be as much a part of a developer’s job as making sure their code works.”
The company has garnered a number of very large clients (think top 10 financial institutions and B2B SaaS), but can obviously be used by smaller ones as well. 2022 will see them reach more companies that see the wisdom of “shifting left”—that is, shifting the task earlier in the development timeline.
“In technology, it’s often hard to make something easy, and this funding will allow us to expand our engineering commitment, which we already believe to be the largest in the industry, to levels the industry hasn’t even thought of. much less seen,” said Thadani. “By the time we’re done, accessibility will be just another technology category, like communications or security.”
The latest funding round, a $38 million Series B, was led by Insight Partners, with participation from M12, BGV, Capital One Ventures and Engineering Capital.