John M. Williams
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.
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
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
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
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
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.