Accenture believes that enterprises have a powerful role to play in ensuring technology helps bridge the divide for people with disabilities. To address technology accessibility company-wide, our internal IT organization in collaboration with other Accenture teams has set an ambition and strategy to have all of Accenture people’s interactions with software, devices and services be compliant with globally defined accessibility standards. The approach is holistic—spanning environmental, technological and behavioral aspects in the workplace to address any permanent, temporary and situational circumstance. To drive real and lasting change, an IT accessibility program was established.
The internal IT team needed to determine how to drive technology adjustments to make all interactions with Accenture’s technology accessible (according to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines [WCAG] 2.1) and generally strive to improve each employee’s digital user experience.
They started by gaining an understanding of the scope of the technology involved. This included Accenture’s key technology platforms, applications, internal and external sites, learning sites and social collaboration capabilities. An internal survey conducted among disability champions at Accenture helped uncover technology usage pain points.
From there, the team defined an accessibility program charter, established a dedicated practice and mapped out a multi-year road map defining key initiatives. Priorities are segmented according to technologies and activities that are internal, vendor-provided, and related to non-Accenture IT systems.
The program’s focus is not only on people with accessibility needs, but rather on changing every Accenture employee’s behavior so that accessibility actions are integrated from the start into all software development projects, daily work, content creation, procurement opportunities and technology support.
To change behaviors, program efforts are framed across four workstreams:
Establishing accessibility steps in the software development process and applying the same disciplines as for code issues, security or other performance standards.
Providing training courses to educate developers on what they need to understand, test and evaluate as they work with UI developers and develop code.
Conduct agile design reviews to identify problem areas before development, using tools to validate accessibility compliance.
Subsequent stages will extend to other levels of software beyond Accenture.
As software is made accessible, ongoing monitoring and maintenance are needed to keep it that way.
Established a process that includes checkpoints for validating accessibility requirements in new Accenture-developed software.
Use a third-party invisible monitoring service that scans software, web pages and systems to detect whether previously accessible items have become inaccessible.
New content created with Microsoft Office 365 was the first focus area to address accessibility of existing and new content.
Both Accenture and Microsoft are exploring new ways of creating content leveraging the Microsoft artificial intelligence (AI) platform so content is accessible by default.
Accenture tested products in the early adopter channels with around 2,000 employees to serve as an early provider of feedback on the new functionalities.
Existing content—an enormous volume of Word documents, PowerPoint decks, website content and more—is being evaluated as to how to address.
Accenture is also addressing web-based and audio media in the form of videos, webcasts and live broadcasts, much of which includes learning assets.
For web content, Accenture has introduced web content accessibility-creation tools.
For new media content created, Accenture has implemented closed captioning by default and real-time closed captioning for live events.
Supporting Accenture Procurement with the design of accessibility standards to help Accenture software and hardware providers meet Accenture accessibility requirements.
Efforts are two-way, as Internal IT works with Accenture Procurement to incorporate wording into Accenture’s Request for Proposals to key vendors to drive greater accessibility capabilities.
Accenture teams with major software and hardware providers, like Microsoft, to foster strategic partnerships around developing accessible software products and investments in new features.
As a digital company, Accenture is convinced accessibility benefits everyone in the organization—not only those with disabilities. Accessibility also assists with language barriers, cultural understanding and any person facing a permanent or temporary disability due to physical mobility, neurodiversity, disease or aging. Accenture believes accessibility functionality will become the rule, not the exception.
Ways Accenture is looking ahead: