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Deque Is Positioning Itself to be 508 Leader

John Williams
John M. Williams

Fairfax, VA – In an industry dominated by men and big business, Indian born Deque’s (deque.com) Founder and CTO Preety Kumar is determinedly positioning her company as a leader in Section 508 compliancy and in developing accessibility solutions for web sites and applications. And Deque’s success is gaining notice from 508 companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Macro Media and Watchfire.

Kumar is astonished at the obstacles facing hundreds of millions of people with disabilities worldwide who lack access to computers and the web and the empowering opportunities the web provides says, “I want my legacy to be that we have provided the developers the means to painlessly provide equal access to everyone, regardless of their ability so they can enhance their life’s choices.”

One of the first questions people ask Kumar when they meet her is, “What is the origin of Deque?”
A veteran programmer, she replies, “Deque is a C++ data structure.” She speaks with firmness and pride in her voice that makes you believe her when she adds, ”The name Deque stands for double-ended queue and denotes efficiency. Here at Deque we believe in executing our processes with great efficiency so as to provide the best value to our customers.”

“Best value for her customers,” is her rock-based creed. Deque was founded three years ago by Kumar who after being introduced to accessibility issues decided she had found her vocation. A hard-charging manager, Kumar takes the hard work in her stride, with a mission to take Deque to wider business markets and out perform competitors such as Crunchy Technologies and Hiawatha Software. Her single mindedness has razor sharp vision when she speaks of her company’s survival through fiscal discipline during the tough tech times and her growing firm’s expanding sources of revenue.

“Deque’s goal is to be the best universal accessibility solution company in the world,” says Kumar. She points with pride to her company’s products such as RAMP 2.0 (Robust Accessibility Management and Production) and RAMP Section 508, Capabilities by Paragraph.

RAMP Section 508 automatically detects and then provides auto remediation in the 16 paragraph areas under section 1194.22 for web- based intranet and Internet information and application. How important is this comprehensive project?

A federal employee working on Section 508 accessibility issues told me, “I don’t know of any company whose products provide the extensive 508 paragraph capabilities that Deque’s do.”

Knowing how important alliances are, Deque formed one with the National Federation for the Blind, Baltimore, MD to
become a partner on NFB-NVA’s Certification program. The program certifies that a web site is accessible. A national organization, NFB advances opportunities in all aspects of life for blind people.

Of Deque’s contribution to the program, NFB’s Brad Hodges, Technology Accessibility Manager, says, “Deque is our web accessibility partner. The firm’s leadership has consistently demonstrated both technical expertise as well as understanding of the issues surrounding accessibility for those of us who are blind.”

Hodges also praises Deque for “RAMP software working consistently well and for framing their tools in context of their performance.” In other words, Deque does not oversell the performance of its products.
This is high praise coming from an organization known for its independence and uncompromising stands on accessibility issues affecting blind people.

With focus and relentless execution, Deque has been aggressive in going after its share of the 508 market, capturing an enviable customer base. It has won contracts with the Social Security Administration for automated conversion of complex data to an accessible format, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond for complex Web Application Analysis and Remediation, and the Maryland State Highway Administration for ongoing analysis of their website. Other clients include the US Department of Education, George Mason University and the US Department of Agriculture.

Kumar keeps an extra ace up her sleeve, as she demonstrated with the surprise of being the first Java Web Accessibility

Evaluation and Repair tool, RAMP to Integrate with Mercury Interactive's Test Director, beating competitors who had been claiming a partnership for months.

Knowing the value of marketing to consumers and federal and state governments, the company exhibits at the Assistive Technology Industry Association and CSUN. Their presence has caught the eye of consumers.

Florida state worker, Ted Lawson said during the ATIA conference, “This company’s programs are the most comprehensive 508 products I have seen to date.”

Deque also exhibits at state and federal conferences dealing with accessibility, including IDEAS 2002 Conference & Expo Interagency Disability Educational Awareness Showcase and E-Gov 2002 Conference and FedStats 508 Accessibility Workshop. The firm will attend these conferences this year.

It has never been about money for Kumar who comes from a prominent, well-to-do family in India. However, Kumar wanted this venture to be self sustaining and funded and chose not to use family funds. Now, as any other small company, Deque is challenged by a lack of funds but knows how to keep its head above water It is discussing partnerships with larger companies
for business reasons, neither Deque nor its possible partners want to mention the names of potential partners. The company is confident of its future, and it does look good.

Kumar says, “We are going to stop at nothing short of being the market leaders in making
information technology accessible to all.”

Kumar has come a long way from three years ago when the company was dependent on one customer for it’s revenue to at least two dozen sources of revenue and is on a mission to repeat the David versus Goliath scenario.

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