Microsoft invests in Evinced to make the internet accessible to all

Gal Moav and Navin Thadani met first while working at Ravello, an Israeli startup that was acquired by Oracle. Now, the two unveil Evinced, the duo’s new startup, which aims to help organizations implement accessibility elements during development, on both web and mobile, creating naturally accessible code. In addition to the accessibility software launch, Evinced also announced a $17 million Series A funding round from Microsoft.

Automating accessibility into development

According to the World Heath Organization, over a billion people worldwide suffer from a disability, a stat that points towards the importance of digital accessibility. Adding this to global market regulations, and a fear from lawsuits, have ignited organizations and companies to invest millions in making their digital assets accessible to all. Evinced’s technology automatically identifies issues with accessibility in the development process, and provides improvements to code in odder to catch the bugs early on. The company combines AI, computer vision, and advanced algorithms to offer a variety of services and solutions for the different stages of development – starting from code, through QA, and CI/DC processes, and finishing in production.

In a conversation with Geektime, Evinced co-Founder Gal Moav explains that the company’s system scans a company’s website, beginning by examining the UX, meaning standard user experience. The system then creates a model to run accessibility focused experience, including how the web page content is voiced to the user, and compares with the standard experience. The system examines every aspect of the user-faced code.

Moav tells that Evinced’s technology is what differentiates its solution from competitors: “All existing automation solutions are based on syntax analysis, which in HTML, for example, is very limited. Our solution is based on user experience (UX), and from there the code learns how to adapt the experience for users with disabilities.”

“Out of belief that it’s a priority”

Evinced was founded in 2019 and has raised $19.5 million to date, with $17 million coming as part of the Series A. The investment was led by M12, the Microsoft investment arm, BGV, and Capital One Ventures, with Seed investor Engineering Capital also participating in the round.

“With over one billion people globally living with a disability, corporations need to ensure the accessibility of digital properties so that all customers can access their products and services,” said Global Head of M12 Nagraj Kashyap. “Building accessible code is the right thing to do, and it’s also good for business. Evinced has a unique technology approach that will enable enterprise developers to weave accessibility into their software development process, and ultimately, engage more customers.”

A bit provocative, but what are the motives behind your customers? Do they go accessible just for potential new markets/customers, and commercial success? Or maybe to clean the old conscience and escape heavy fines?

Moav: “Generally, people who get involved with a project like this, do it out of belief that it’s a priority, but the company does it for commercial reasons. More specifically, the driving engine is primarily regulation, like the WCAG, which sparked the best of companies to take accessibility seriously: Banking and medical services are required to implement digital accessibility; Both Federal and EU governments require websites be accessible; the education system in many countries aims to be fully accessible; the public opinion on making everything inclusive for everyone, especially for B2C companies – translates easily to financial considerations.”