I.T. Stars with Visual Impairment Improving Web Access

Oct 25th, 2019

For Immediate Release
Aaron Baar, 312-997-3662; aaron.baar@chicacgolighthouse.org

CHICAGO – Three Chicago Lighthouse IT professionals, all of whom are blind or visually impaired, are working to make the internet more accessible to everyone by applying to become Certified Professionals in Accessibility Core Competencies.

It’s nearly impossible to find a job, get a date, or order delivered food these days without the internet. For those who are blind or visually impaired, however, using the web can be a struggle. By getting this certification from The International Association of Accessibility Professionals, Jose Martinez, Juan Gonzales, and Geovanni Bahena are helping The Chicago Lighthouse further its mission of inclusion and independence.

Martinez, Gonzales, and Bahena are available to bring their unique perspectives to small businesses and organizations throughout the Chicago area to make websites and mobile apps more accessible, using tools such as JAWS, ZoomText, and OpenBook. Already, they are partnering with Chicago digital marketing agency Monday Loves You to help make client websites more accessible.

“I know first-hand how difficult it can be for those who are blind or visually impaired to access websites and apps,” says Jose Martinez, desktop support specialist at The Chicago Lighthouse. “Through this work, I’m helping open doors to a wider world of education, employment, and accessibility for those with disabilities.”

This initiative to make the internet more accessible is particularly timely. On October 7, The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of Domino’s Pizza v. Robles. In that case, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled websites and apps must be accessible for people who are blind and visually impaired under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Such lawsuits are becoming more common. In 2018, plaintiffs filed 2,285 federal lawsuits challenging website accessibility under the ADA, a 181% increase from 2017, according to UsableNet.

“Internet accessibility is an essential element of modern life,” says Lighthouse President and CEO Janet Szlyk. “As a social service agency serving the blind, visually impaired, and disabled, The Chicago Lighthouse is leading the charge to help everyone lead more independent, fulfilling lives both on- and offline.”

About The Chicago Lighthouse
Serving the blind, visually impaired, disabled, and Veteran communities through innovative education, rehabilitation, employment, assistive technology, and other programs, The Chicago Lighthouse is one of the nation’s most comprehensive social service organizations. For additional information, visit our website at www.chicagolighthouse.org.