Bookeo Refuses to Acknowledge Website Accessibility Issues (An update on online scheduling)
A few weeks ago, we told you of exciting updates that were planned for September. We are happy to announce that we do have Saturday hours available now, and we are now equip to accept credit card payments. We hope that you will find these to be added conveniences when you work with us here at MAST.
Unfortunately, one of the updates I was most excited about, online scheduling, has hit a road block. We thought we would tell you about it because it is a very common and discouraging problem that affects all of us in the disability community. Even though we are not web developers, we put a very high standard on all of the online materials and services we put out to you. MAST needs to be accessible, end of story. When we built the website, I did as much as I could on my own, and then we hired a web developer with online accessibility expertise to help me with the bugs here and there that were not working for screenreaders and braille displays. We will continue to ensure that our site and online presence are accessible to you. If you find something that isn’t working, by all means let us know and we will fix it.
When looking for an online scheduling platform, we searched far and wide for one that we could use, and thus our clients could use as well. The best we found was a service called Bookeo. Bookeo had a few minor problems, but we decided to go with it and hope that through customer support, Bookeo would work with us and be willing to update and fix some of the small accessibility bugs. We spent several weeks learning to use Bookeo and setting it up to meet our needs. We even had some volunteer clients (Thank You!) agree to be our beta testers. During this time, I also worked with Bookeo on some general support issues, which they were very prompt and helpful with. And so I also ventured into trying to get the few accessibility bugs taken care of as well.
Unfortunately, Bookeo was not interested in hearing about or working with our accessibility suggestions. Furthermore, a few weeks after we started using Bookeo, they apparently put out an update that made it even more inaccessible. This level of inaccessibility was a deal breaker, we could not publish it live for our customers or use it ourselves when now even the calendar scheduler was not detected by screen reading programs. Somehow, since our first requests to work with them in regards to improved accessibility, they made it even LESS accessible. We would like to think this wasn’t intentional.
We reached out several times to Bookeo. We offered to evaluate the web service and develop a plan for improving it for them. We have provided high quality web accessibility assessments to a variety of universities, transit companies, and other organizations. We went so far as to offer our services for free. We also offered links and resources to help them improve accessibility. And we offered to find them local technical assistance in their area. In our initial review, we thought that the work they might have to do to get the service up to par might take them just a few hours or a day or two tops. However, our requests and offers to assist were ignored or rebuffed.
We often reach out to organizations to make their websites and apps more accessible. Sometimes the problems are fixed within days. More often what happens is that upon the next update, we are happy to find that many, if not all, of the problems have been fixed. And then sometimes we get the blow off.
We want Bookeo and any other companies to know that the blow-off is not acceptable. Online scheduling services can be useful to many, many disabled small business owners, consultants and vendors. I can’t even name all of the blind business men and women I know that are lawyers, counselors, licensed massage therapists, teachers and tutors, hair dressers, yoga instructors, food venders and caterers, musicians and piano technicians and many other professions that would be in the market for online scheduling services. Not to mention the disabled customers that want to solicit the services of any number of businesses. It is unfair and it is discriminatory to deny us the same access that you afford to everyone else when the technology is there and can be so easily fixed.
For now, please continue to call us or email/text us to schedule your training or workshops. We will continue to search for online solutions that will add convenience and quality to our services. If anyone out there has a good product in mind, please let us know and when we find a working product, we will advertise that product far and wide and celebrate the company’s willingness to include ALL potential customers and leave no one on the sidelines. Unfortunately, we cannot say that about Bookeo, and we strongly recommend that everyone who is in the market for online scheduling services avoid Bookeo until they agree to include everyone. Remember, even if you are a sighted business owner, you will be excluding disabled customers (the largest minority in the US) if you have online services, websites or apps.
We, the disabled, are customers, business owners, clients, and service providers. We will not accept being ignored.
Oh, and feel free to tell Bookeo how you feel about blind and disabled business owners and customers getting blown off by them. Here is a the Bookeo Feedback page.