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  • Brit Morse - Inc Magazine

This Founder Is on a Mission to Make Information More Accessible for the Hard-of-Sight Community


Drawing of a phone with different apps and people and icons coming out and surrounding it.

After countless clients came to the Splash Box Marketing founder for help with 508 remediation, she devoted herself to making the internet a more equitable place.


When Jenny Woldt founded Hendersonville, Tennessee-based branding agency Splash Box Marketing -- a 2023 Best in Business honoree -- in 2006, she was focused primarily on creating websites with high-end graphic design. That is, until six years later, when a client came to her with a problem she hadn't yet considered: They were being sued by the state of California for not having an accessible website.


To fix the website, Woldt would need to help her client remediate company documents, which involved converting PDFs into accessible resources for people with disabilities, specifically the hard-of-sight community.


Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires government agencies to ensure their information is equally accessible to members of the public who have disabilities. But it's not just government agencies that are required to ensure accessibility. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires all public-facing businesses -- such as retail stores, hotels, and hospitals -- to provide "full and equal enjoyment of their goods, services, facilities, and accommodations to people with disabilities."


When her client first approached her with the issue, Woldt had never even heard of the 508 remediation process. In a deep dive on the topic, she learned there was only one company that did 508 remediations at the time: CommonLook PDF, which the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended on their website. While the company did good work, Woldt notes, they charged $70 a page.


Woldt knew she could charge much less -- about $5 a page. So, she created her own certification program to train staff and clients on remediating documents in PDF, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and HTML. She also taught them how to create remediated documents from scratch using best practices she picked up while learning to do it herself.


"From the moment that we start from a blank piece of paper, we keep accessibility in mind," says Woldt.


Since then, Woldt has rebranded the company as both a creative marketing company and a compliance agency, spotlighting the company's mission to support the hard-of-sight community on its website as well as through its email marketing. But it's through speaking engagements that she has found the most success in leveraging this mission to secure new business. She regularly attends talks about accessibility at industry events, on podcasts, and during small business gatherings in Washington D.C., demonstrating expertise that has helped her land large contracts with the National Parks Service and the U.S. Department of Health.


Splash Box has also partnered with the Tennessee School for the Blind and the nonprofit Compassion International. "Any time that any kind of charitable organization reaches out to us, and they have documents, we do this for free," she says. Woldt credits these philanthropic efforts with helping Splash Box land new customers.


Now, Woldt says, the 508 remediation process now makes up roughly 70 percent of Splash Box's business (the company booked $2.4 million in revenue in 2023). She hopes to offer video remediation as part of the company's services soon, and this year she's also looking to release a version of the certification program she uses to train Splash Box's graphic designers so others can learn about the remediation process.


More than anything, though, Woldt wants to continue spreading the word about the need for this kind of work. In 2024, she's planning to publish Amazon's first 508 remediation book, which will emphasize the importance of making the internet accessible.


"We truly believe that creating a website that gives access to the 25 million Americans with vision issues helps to create an environment where everyone can participate in this space equally," she says, "and not be isolated for the important resources we all find online."


BY BRIT MORSE, FORMER ASSOCIATE EDITOR, INC.

INC Magazine

JAN 26, 2024

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