[Vabs] Fwd: [nabs-l] Any Virginia Tech Students or Others Familiar With Emergency Notifications From Everbridge Portals - Accessibility Issue in Boston

Corbbmacc O'Connor corbbo at gmail.com
Sat Dec 4 15:47:43 UTC 2010

Please respond directly to Mika.

Begin forwarded message:

From: Mika Pyyhkala <pyyhkala at gmail.com>
Date: December 1, 2010 7:33:34 PM EST
To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>
Subject: [nabs-l] Any Virginia Tech Students or Others Familiar With Emergency Notifications From Everbridge Portals - Accessibility Issue in Boston
Reply-To: National Association of Blind Students mailing list <nabs-l at nfbnet.org>


We understand that a company called Everbridge
hosts a number of portals that are used to provide alert, emergency,
and other notifications.  The firm operates serving government,
education, and other industry sectors and customers.

We have come to learn that it appears the Virginnia Tech emergency
notification system, which allows users to receive text and voice
alerts, may be powered by an Everbridge platform.

It may appear to a user that Virginia Tech or another entity hosts the
service, but behind the scenes, such a service is often hosted by a
third party like Everbridge.

I would like to know if we have students at Virginia Tech, or other
universities, that use Everbridge solutions.  If so, what was your
experience in signing up for and using the service?

The issue comes up for us in Massachusetts because on Monday November
29th we received word that the city of Boston would begin sending out
emergency, snow, and other alerts via an Everbridge portal located at

Unfortunately, the Boston implimentation uses an inaccessible captcha.
A visual only captcha is not natively accessible to screen readers,
and requires that blind users go through extraordinary measures that
may or may not be available in order to try to solve the captcha.  In
many cases, a blind user will have no way to solve a visual only
captcha.  As all of you know, there are numerous other technology
solutions that can provide the same security benefits as captcha that
this Everbridge company could have chosen to use.

A great deal of research and time has been spent on this issue since
Monday, including locating and reaching out to Everbridge executives
and those concerned with such jmatters at Boston City Hall.  They have
thus far not responded to our inquiries, or even appologized and
acknowledged this failure when it comes to accessibility.

An official technical support case, with a case number, was also
logged Monday afternoon.  A call to the company today revealed they
were not sure about the status of this case number

Shortly before I  have writign to you, I again reached out to the CEO
of Everbridge saying that this issue was an 8 out of 10 in terms of an
emergency for blind people.  I'm still waiting to hear back.

In addition to reporting on any experiences you have with Everbridge's
technology, you can help this effort by mentioning
in your tweets on Twitter.

So that we can review such tweets, it would also help if you can use 1
or more hashtag

You can also "mention" @NFBMA or my own twitter account @pyyhkala in your tweet.

Note that Virginia Tech is by far not the only university that uses
the Everbridge solution.  I will try to look up a list of other
universities for a follow up email.

Mika Pyyhkala
National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts

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