As the COVID-19 pandemic impacts almost every corner of our world, we are all focused on keeping our people safe, while making sure they have the right tools and conditions to work productively. Working remotely raises issues about getting accessibility right so productivity flourishes — and it’s a subject that has been close to our hearts for some time.

On Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), May 21, 2020, we’ll recognize how Accenture is committed to the disability inclusion advantage with an approach that has championed enabling technology accessibility for our people. We are committed to accelerating equality in the workplace and have demonstrated that by enabling every employee to interact with accessible technology. We’ve also discovered that doing so gives a natural boost for productivity—and profit. 

Why accessibility is the best way to work on our “best day”

The accessibility advantage

It’s no surprise to our Global IT team that technology and productivity are so closely linked. Working with other areas in Accenture, we’re carrying out a multi-year plan of initiatives to have everyone’s interactions with software, devices and services be compliant with globally defined accessibility standards.

Here’s some of our achievements from our program so far:

  • We set up a virtual accessibility center of excellence and mapped out a multi-year plan with key initiatives to make our technology more inclusive.
  • We drew on the skills of Accenture Interactive and Fjord to use their human-centered design capabilities to shape solutions.
  • We’re working with partners and vendors, such as Microsoft, to increase accessibility inside and outside the company. For instance, we’re looking at new ways to create content with little or no effort using the Microsoft artificial intelligence platform, so that Microsoft Office 365 content is accessible by default.
  • All new video and broadcast media posted internally on our Media Exchange is now captioned automatically within 10 days, and we’ve added captions to previously recorded content.

Going forward, we plan to use artificial intelligence and advanced technologies to make navigation far easier — our goal is to make all technology interactions accessible.

We’re also collaborating with others to reach that goal. Our research, in partnership with Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities, found that the 45 companies we identified as leaders in areas specific to disability employment and inclusion, had 28 percent higher revenue, double the net income and 30 percent higher economic profit margins than their peers on average, over a four-year period.

Kicking things off with an internal webcast

This year, I’m co-hosting Accenture’s internal GAAD virtual broadcast, along with Chad Jerdee, the Accenture Executive Sponsor – Persons with Disabilities. We are honored to be welcoming guests Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Chief Accessibility Officer at Microsoft and Joe Devon, co-founder of GAAD itself.

I’m excited at the prospect of so many of our people listening in and having their questions answered live on the day. Chad will kick off the event by introducing new content — “5 Reasons Why Accessibility Matters.” He will explain why accessibility is important and how we all play a role in making our work and communications accessible.

We’re also going to use this opportunity to launch an online Accessibility Guide, which includes everything our people need to know about disability inclusion and technology accessibility in the workplace. Stephen Cutchins shares his view of these efforts and our Center of Excellence in his recent blog.

I hope you will be able to join me in celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day. In the meantime, you can catch up with our Driving the Disability Advantage case study or watch our Enabling Technology Accessibility video to find out more about how we believe accessibility is the best way to work on our best day.

Melissa Summers

Managing Director – Global IT, Corporate Technology

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