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Stephen Cutchins standing at table at accessibility event

CIO Accessibility Lead Stephen Cutchins attending an Accenture accessibility event

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In celebration of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we shine a light on how Accenture is creating an inclusive, accessible and barrier-free work environment for people with all abilities around the globe.

Together with Melissa Summers, Managing Director, Internal IT and Jesús M. Rodríguez, Senior Manager, Global IT, Accessibility, we created a virtual Accessibility Center of Excellence. Our Global IT Accessibility practice is designing a work experience to help all employees feel that they belong, personally and professionally, and contribute to a culture of equality.

The importance of accessibility 

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines accessibility as “capable of being reached, seen, used or understood.”

For the 1 billion people worldwide experiencing some kind of disability, accessibility in the workplace is not simply “nice to have;” it’s imperative.

Inclusion in business is a game changer.

When I began my journey as the CIO Accessibility Lead at Accenture, my goal was clear: Make digital accessibility a standard for everyone. And that’s just what we do, every day. Our Accessibility Center of Excellence ensures that digital content consumed on websites, multimedia and other office products can be read and understood by all our people with special needs.

Living by example 

Accenture’s Accessibility Center of Excellence team proactively infuses accessibility in the technology development and design journey.

Our team of roughly 30 accessibility professionals is dedicated to ensuring that people with all abilities have equal opportunities. Nearly half the team members have a special need, including being deaf, blind or having physical disabilities that necessitate the use of special equipment for mobility, such as a wheelchair.

The perspectives of this inclusive team are vital to our success. Testing tools like screen readers, Braille displays and speech-to-text software allows us to experience how it feels to live in a world where we can’t see or hear, for example.  

We are always investigating new forms of assistive technology. And as the global point of contact for all assistive technology requests at Accenture, I put these lessons into practice to help our people around the globe. Every day, I’m learning, growing, moving and changing—it keeps me motivated.

In a recent Enabling Technology Accessibility at Accenture podcast, I discussed technology accessibility solutions with my colleague, IT Service Management Analyst Paul Clayton. We explained how we make tech accessibility an important part of Accenture’s DNA and how to ensure interactions with software, devices and services are compliant with globally defined accessibility standards.

Accessibility ABCs: Simple actions to take

So, how do you make accessibility common practice? There are several things everyone can do: 

A) Ensure emails and documents you send every day are accessible. Products like Microsoft Office have a built-in “Check Accessibility” tool on the Review toolbar that checks for common accessibility errors and provides guidance on how to fix them.

B) When you create your content:

  • Include alternate text that describes an image for vision-impaired users.
  • For better readability, ensure proper contrast between text and background.
  • Insert well-defined hyperlink text (avoid simply saying “click here”).
  • Use bulleted (unordered) lists when there is no sequence order and numbered (ordered) lists to show a progression or sequence, so list items will be interpreted correctly by screen readers.
  • Create accessible tables, including header rows, to ensure accuracy and easy navigation with the use of assistive technologies such as screen readers.

C) Use accessibility features such as automatic captions during online meetings and calls to assist users who are deaf or hard of hearing.

We are our own success story 

I’m proud of Accenture’s aspirations and achievements as a leading company in the accessibility ecosystem, and that we’ve become an industry role model for accessibility.

Clients often ask how to support their customers and clients who have different abilities. They want to hire the best person for the job, removing any barriers to do so.

Through our accessibility work in the Center of Excellence, we guide clients in areas such as:

  • Identifying problem systems
  • Training teams
  • Testing websites
  • Using proper coding standards
  • Supporting end users with various abilities

Technology is the great equalizer. Want to want work in an accessible and barrier-free work environment? Join us.

 

Copyright © 2020 Accenture. All rights reserved. Accenture, its logo, and New Applied Now are trademarks of Accenture.

Stephen Cutchins

CIO Accessibility Lead, Washington, D.C.

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