Transcript from "Employers & Accessible Technology: The What, Why, and How." The webinar was recorded on Wednesday, August 6 2014.
The following is a transcript from "Employers & Accessible Technology: The What, Why, and How." The webinar was recorded on Wednesday, August 6 2014.
Good morning or good afternoon. My name is Loren Mikola. Thank you for logging on. We are going to give everybody a few more minutes to connect to the webinar but we will be starting shortly. We are going to put everybody on mute and we will be back with you in just a few moments. Thank you so much for attending.
Well, good afternoon everyone, andwelcome to today's webinar on promoting the use of accessible technology in the workplace. My name is Loren Mikola, and I'm pleased to serve as today's session chair. I'm also the project director of the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology, or PEAT, which is the sponsor of today event. We have an absolutely outstanding panel of experts here today, and we look forward to introducing them in a moment. But first, let me just start with a couple of housekeeping items and accessibility information. Most of you are joining us through the GoToWebinar platform and are hearing the audio by voice over IP through your computers or mobile. The audio is also available over a phone line for those of you who would like to access the discussion in that way. The dial-in information is 1-480-297-0021 and the access code is 288-617-800.
We are live captioning this webinar we have provided the link over on the right side of your screen in the chat window. Additionally, you can find the captioning link in the confirmation email you received. I just want to make sure, everything is going correctly, correct? Great. Again,please note that we will also be accepting questions from the audience during today discussion. You can submit your if you are logging on the go to webinar app on the right side of the window. Just a quick note, if you submit questions that way, please select panelists, that way the panelists can see that? Did the entire audience. So, just that small caveat. If it is more convenient, you can also Tweet ask questions with #PEATworks, or e-mail them to us at info@PEATworks.org. So, with those things out of the way, but getting to the subject on hand.
I thought I'd tee up the discussion by briefly connecting the dots between accessibility and employment, and by telling you about the project I lead. Accessible technology is obviously crucial to the hiring, employment and career advancement of people with disabilities. Because when someone can't access or operate the tools they need to do their jobs, they can't perform to their fullest potential. And all of us have a role to play in solving this workplace accessibility puzzle. Employers need to buy and implement workplace technologies that are accessible, technology providers need to manufacture accessible technology for the marketplace, and people with disabilities need to know what tools they need to be productive on the job, how to operate them effectively, and how to request the support they need from their employers. So it's that very trio of stakeholders that we're aiming to serve with PEAT, which is a Trio of employers and business, technology providers and technology users. Well, we are amulti-faceted initiative working to advance the employment, retention and career advancement of people with disabilities through the development, adoption and promotion of accessible technology. Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy through a grant to RESNA, PEAT is the only entity of its kind that brings together employers, technology developers, accessibility thought leaders, disability advocates, government policy makers and consumers around the topic of accessible technology and employment.
Now, PEAT's activities fall into three action units focusing on thought leadership, public education tools, and solutions-oriented policy reform. And I like to talk about each one of those.The PEAT Policy Think Tank is the Partnership thought leadership arm. It brings together relevant partners to identify trends, formulate recommendations and collaborate on efforts related to accessible workplace technology issues. Right now, for example, we're exploring accessibility issues related to online job applications and pre-employment testing. Another action unit is the PEAT Network, a vibrant and connected community that will exchange information and success stories, provide a sounding board for the voices of key stakeholders, and generate new ideas. Several organizations, including two represented on our panel here today, have already joined our Network; organizations like Oracle, Ernst &Young, AT&T, Cannon, CTIA, NOD and Deque Systems to name a few. And as we continue building a robust group of PEAT Networkers, as we call them, I really hope to bring many more on board. And finally, there is PEATworks.org, an online resource center that will house PEAT's education and outreach activities. This soon-to-launch portal will feature educational articles, guest blog posts, a basic primer on accessible workplace technology, and a gateway to opportunities to collaborate and contribute to the dialogue around accessible technology in the workplace. Also featured is TechCheck, an interactive tool to help employers assess their technology accessibility practices and find tools to help develop them further. You can visit www.PEATworks.org now to sign up for email updates about the portal's launch and to learn more about getting involved. You can also follow PEATworks on Facebook and Twitter.
The other thing I would like to say before we hand things over to our moderator is we will have at least two other webinars in the next couple of months focusing on our other two stakeholder audience which would be technology users and technology providers. So I really encourage anyone interested in that topic to sign up for that webinar once we post it on PEATworks.org or spread it to friends and colleagues at my be interested.
I know a lot of you employers out there are very eager to get more information about the new Section 503 regulations. And while our discussion might touch on that a bit today, the real official source for information on 503 is the Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs or OFCCP. They have loads of great resources available on their website at www.dol.gov/ofccp . So, without further ado, let's get to it. I'm going to hand it over to our moderator Mr. Richard Crespin to introduce himself and each panelist, and we'll hear some remarks from each of them. Then, we'll open it up to Q&A. Richard? Please take away.
Thank you so much, I am Richard Crespin, and I am the CEO on collaborate up and I'm honored to serve as moderator today. As moderator I will be playing traffic cop. I'm here to make sure that our panelists get to share their great information with you but more than that, I'm here to make sure you get your questions answered and issues addressed. I can't say this often enough, this is your webinar. So we want to make sure that we get your voice, your perspective, your virtual voice in this conversation right from the beginning.
If we could please bring up a polling question. And, while that polling question has come in, oh, there it is. What we want to know from you is, what is your role in your organization? You can select one of the following. Human resources, sales and marketing, government affairs, IT or are you on accessibility officer? Please select one of those answers and submit it. While you are answering, entering your answers, I also want to remind you that you can, as was mentioned, send in your questions through GoToMeeting, e-mail or Twitter, an if you have a question, feel free to send it in now and we will get to as many of them as we can. In addition, I encourage you as you listen to our panelists to think about what questions you might want them to address. As I said, we really want this to be your webinar, we want to make sure that we are getting to your questions. So if you haven't already, please answer this polling question about your role in your organization and as soon as those results are ready, let's put those up. Look at that. So, it looks like we've got about an even split between HR and government affairs. 31% and 32%, respectively. The next song from our accessibility officers at 20%, IT at 10% and sales and marketing at 7%. That is a great distribution for our conversation today. So with that, I want to bring in our first panelists, MikePaciello who is the founder of the Paciello Group and WebAble.TV. He also the author of Web Accessibility for People with Disabilities. and he is an overall wonderful resource. Mike, take it away.
Panelist 1: Mike Paciello, The Paciello Group
Thanks, Richard. Let me just get my slides set up here in presentation mode. And, we should be good to go. I think that everybody can see my screen. So, hi, my name is Mike Paciello, I am the founder of The Paciello Group and as you can see on the title slide, I'm also the author of one of the first books on Web accessibility for people with disabilities. Just a little bit of background related to my company, especially The Paciello Group, we are a professional services organization that have been in business now for approximately 12 years, since 2002. We focus on software and ICT accessibility, that is the only business that we deal with 100% of our business, Strickler dedicated to enhancing and ensuring that ICT, that is information and communication technology, is usable and accessible for people with disabilities. We offer a wide variety of professional services, software development, quality assurance development, training, usability and user experience. WebAble TV, another brand I have developed, has been around for about five or six years. It is an Internet TV channel that is dedicated to technology and people with disabilities and perhaps some in the audience that are listening online, we launched a brand-new show yesterday that has turned out to be quite accessible, called, the Viking and Lumberjack show which features well-known accessibility consultants, Karl Groves and Billy Gregory, talking about the ADA and other aspects of technology. So we hope you get a chance to see that. My focus today is on this aspect of technology and people with disabilities. Let me just try to get my slide to move here. There we go. I'm going to come at this from two perspectives, where TPG particularly is involved with our clients. And also try to answer the what, why and how related to the theme of our presentation with PEAT today. So at the organizational level, we are really focused, with our clients, on helping to build what we call kind of a think accessibility culture. Literally trying to create a DNA where accessibility and disabilities and technologies are less of an unknown quantity, a topic that even at the Chief Executive Officer, chief operating officer, CTO, CIO, those folks at that level of management, understand what accessibility is, what and how important it is to ensure that their technologies, especially those online, across the Internet, across various popular platforms, for example, the mobile platforms, the cable industry and what is happening at that level, wireless, all of these areas now involve and are important and critical and crucial, really, to the employment of individuals with disabilities but first and foremost, to ensure that they have access to the digital assets, so to speak, that these organizations use in terms of their business and their services.
So, that, we hope, and what we are seeing amongst our clients and what you are beginning to see more frequently across the industry level is this uptick in an accessibility. We are a priority and we need to move the needle at Internet speed, to use an old expression. Because the past has shown us that corporations and organizations, government, educational institutions, for example, have not been able to keep up with technology and accessibility at that level. So, creating this uptick in accessibility is a priority of getting things done, getting them right, building awareness around the various standards and laws that are in place. We believe that is what needs to be done to stimulate the employment opportunity. If you have an accessible technology workplace, then time has shown and proven that individuals with disabilities are without barriers. Whatsoever. There is nothing preventing them from working and being what they are, and that is productive, are major contributors to the economy and to the industry and employment workplace.
So how do we go about doing that? TPG has created a program that we callAccessibility inPractice. It is a trademarked program values and literally, with all of our clients. And again, the focus there is basically the two points. The ones that you see here on this slide. First, that the organization at the sea level — C-level, board level, from their standpoint, so to speak, make a fundamental commitment to accessibility. That is where it starts. It filters its way down to management, across the board to engineering, through product managers, to marketing, to sales, etc. and so forth, through the various service organizations, certainly HR being an important and integral part of that. But, there have got to be a fundamental commitment to accessibility. By and large when we walk into organizations, it is not unusual today to find program offices that are set up but these program offices tend to have very little leverage when it comes to nevermind employment, but perhaps more importantly, as we are focused on today, enhancing and making those digital assets that they use within their products and services usable and accessible to people with disabilities. If they are employees or their clients. So, without that kind of top to bottom commitment, we find that usually organizations aren't able to accomplish much. But what they do accomplish tends to be very fragmented. And again, the level of commitment is low. So, accessibility and practices are all about building a mindset, about building a culture, and about getting that commitment. And then, once we get the commitment, quite obviously, it is important to build and sustain a practice with accessibility. Inside the organization. So again, that means at the technological level, you have CIOs and CTOs, now we are seeing, very popular within organizations, IBM recently announced for example, law Frances West as the new chief accessibility officer, Rob Sinclair has a very similar position at Microsoft. That kind of level of commitment helps to brief Mr. sustainable — this sustainable practice and we have people making that commitment. It also helps to filter down, as I said, to the product groups. And, it looks like somehow I have lost the presentation here. Are my slides are still up?
Yes, Mike, the slides were off to the side so we are presenting from my machine, just please tell me when to advance.
Oh, thanks so much. Sorry about that. So, I was moving towards where on the technological skill, the information technology aspect of it, within an organization. Again, we talk about products and engineered commitment to building usable and accessible digital products, software and information technologies. And while that commitment sounds relatively good, I've got to tell you, having been in this industry now for over 30 years, we have yet to meet an organization of any nature and we are an international company, anywhere that has built an out-of-the-box, fully usable, fully accessible products. So, it takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of dedication and commitment at that level. It means that your quality assurance organizations need to be on board. They need to understand what the standards are, the technological standards are that they need to build, they need to understand assistive technologies and how they work, and we need to be able to test and do the checks and balances at that level. And of course, the entire product lifecycle. It needs to be focused on that, in order to, again, build and create the sustainable practice with accessibility. So let me talk about that a little bit more in-depth. Next slide, please.
So, this leads us to, from the organization to the infrastructure. And I started to talk about the product lifecycle. So, from an infrastructure standpoint, from a product lifecycle standpoint, we need to integrate and — end to end accessibility into the product lifecycle. That means the ultimate goal of creating something that is not just accessible, but usable. And, when we merge the two, and when we combine the two, then we have something that is equates to great opportunities for employment. So, technologies that are created today, sometimes you'll hear people use the expression, well, or ask the question, is it accessible? Don't just leave it there. You've got to combine the two. We have found three number of studies that you can make things connect or work with assistive technology, for example, mainstream technology, but it is not actually usable. It is not comprehensive. The user experience tends to be degraded, very hard to follow, the navigation schemes and things of that nature just don't make sense. They just don't have a good usability and relate to, or results rather, in a usable experience for the people with disabilities. So, accessible and usable ICT will promote and increase opportunities for employment. Because users of disability and potential employees will be able to use that technology. How do you enhance that infrastructure and go about building this and to and accessibility into the product lifecycle? Well again, up on this screen, there are six areas that we focus on with our clients. This is not an all-inclusive list but there are six key elements of where in a product lifecycle organization, your companies, your corporations need to focus. First, and foremost, you need to have a good handle and a good understanding of the standards and policies that are out there. There are different standards and policies. We have worked, those of us in the standards business, so to speak, in that environment, have worked over the last several years to try to harmonize a lot of the international and national standards. We are still working on that. Section 508 refresh is highly focused on being harmonize with other international standards, both ISO and W3C, for example. But, if you understand those standards and you understand how to apply them and you don't understand the policies by which many of them are mandated, for example on the federal or state level here in the US, then it is very unlikely that you are going to be able to address them in a well-rounded and well balanced manner. So, get a good handle on those standards and policies. Get your technology folks, engineers and standards people up to date on what those standards are. You need to develop a focus on a content strategy. That content strategy has got to first and foremost focus on what things need to be done within a content environment. Especially because we live in such a highly involved, and literally, a complete paradigm shift to an online workstyle that we live in. So, if your content is and usable and accessible, and available, then you're going to have a very, very difficult time, again, getting out to your clientele, or employee individuals with disabilities. You may have seen this morning that the FCC has delayed some of the captioning standards that many of us are very anxious to see, get up and get going. That is content. We are talking about the ability of deaf and hard of hearing and other communities of people with disabilities to be able to have access to that content that may be crucial, again, to that work environment. Develop a content strategy that focuses on accessibility. To people with disabilities. The third area there is code repositories. This tends to focus mostly on the software side of technology. More and more, organizations that are developing their online presence, their digital assets, use, frankly speaking, a common programming and engineering environment which is a library, if you will, a software library. Which functionally is a code repository. And, those libraries are full of programmatic code that often results in a software service or the look and feel of your screens. For example, the buttons and forms that you see or rendered otherwise on a screen. Those code repositories need to be enhanced for accessibility. There is an awful lot of work been done by organizations like the Web accessibility issue, the W3C, to promote the accessibility of these repositories and be sure that they are well-documented for engineers and developers. So again, look at your code repositories and ensure that the widgets and libraries and controls and objects are properly programmed and develop so that they are interoperable, and interactive with assistive technology used by people with disabilities. The last three items I'm going to lump together. Style guides, content and development tools, quality assurance and accessibility user experience. These are all things that add to that product lifecycle. And, again, need to be integrated into that and to and environment, to ensure that the style guides, development for designers are in place and documented for accessibility. The content development tools are there and enhanced to make it easier for the developers to develop more usable platforms, usable software. And then, the final piece of that, the quality assurance and accessibility user experience are there to ensure that that technology that you develop is fully usable and accessible to people with disabilities. So I think with that, I will turn it over and we can introduce our next speaker. Thank you.
Thanks, Mike. This is Richard. We are going to move right off of that great information to our next panelist, Peter Wallack, the director of the accessibility program office of the Oracle Corporation, he is also a member of the PEAT network. Without further ado, take it away for us, please.
Panelist 2: Peter Wallack, Oracle Corporation
Great, thank you very much, Loren.Hopefully I am coming through okay. So, as was mentioned, Oracle Corportation is a member of PEAT. We found out about this last year and we were absolutely thrilled. We heard it directly from Kathy Martinez from the office of disability employment, we are so pleased to be a member of this organization and contribute in any way that we can. So, my name is Peter Wallack and of course that is another way why I like PEAT. I am in charge of the accessibility standards act — at Oracle Corportation. My job is to educate the entire organization on how to build an accessible product. So let's talk about some of those products briefly. This may look like a sales pitch but trust me, it's not. I just want you to get a sense of how Oracle Corportation fits into this whole thing. So, we filled enterprise class hardware and software systems. These are very, very large systems that large organizations use, to basically run the whole company. And if you don't know, the Oracle name, you might know some of the other names of companies that we have acquired . Recently, we have purchased companies like PeopleSoft, JDEdwards, Siebel, Hyperion, SUN Microsystems, Taleo, and about 95 others. So those acquisitions have also presented some interesting challenges in the area of accessibility that we'll get to in a moment. So, most people know us for our database but we also have technologies like Java, which we acquired from SUN and ADF, the ApplicationDevelopment Framework, our main text stack for building all of our products. We also build engineered systems where we take our hardware and software and bundle them together. So, the big thing that we build our these large sort of back-office applications, we get into acronyms on some of these, but, these are like HRMS, human resources management systems, sometimes referred to as human capital management, CRM, customer relationship management, SCM, supply chain management, ERP, enterprise resource planning, and that list of acronyms just goes on and on and on. But again, these are the big systems, not necessarily sexy, that they are things that every organization must have in order to run the business. And we also focus on a lot of industries. Financial, retail, utilities, public sector, basically, we are kind of everywhere. So, that is a big burden on us. Can you advance to the next slide, please? Thank you. So, because hundreds of millions of people use our products and hundreds of thousands of organizations have them, there is a big impact on persons with disabilities. We recognize that if our products were not accessible, that would be a basic barrier to many people working in certain organizations or holding jobs or even getting jobs or doing other things like shopping online. Many of our technologies are used for shopping websites. So, it can be that the entire interaction that an employer has might be on Oracle products. Starting with how they got hired. We have recruiting systems. In fact, several of them. So, we have to make sure that those are accessible and that extends to the whole on boarding process and once you're working, there may be recording your time and vacation, doing our annual benefits enrollment, all of that stuff could be done with Oracle technology. That brings us to the two different types of applications that we have. Self-service, those are the things that you are frequently doing, maybe once a month, once a year, maybe once a life time. I have been at Oracle pretty much my whole career so I only applied for a job once. So, those are the sort of self-service information. A little bit different than core applications. Those are the applications that you might run all day long to do your actual job. A classic example of that would be something like a call center. So, if you are a call center operator, you are running an application, you know, eight or nine hours per day. And, these also have different accessibility and usability requirements that we have to address. So, something really interesting about our product is that many users don't often realize it is actually a Oracle product. Because our products typically tape — take many months to many years to install and customize. They have to be modified to how your organization runs and part of that organization is making it look like it is your organization's product. So, that, again, has interesting accessibility ramifications. It also creates other, kind of, simple challenges or actually complex challenges, even for our support organization. It is not unusual for us to see screens and we don't even recognize that they came from Oracle because all of this stuff can be customized. Having said all of that, we are absolutely committed to making these products assessable to the extent possible. And the reason that I added the clause there is because our acquisitions are a little bit challenging. We know that building accessibility into a product from the very start is the proper way to do it. But, many of the companies that we have acquired did not address accessibility or did not address it to the extent that we would have liked. So, we have had to go back and retrofit accessibility into those products. That doesn't always yield the best results. It is certainly the most costly way to address the problem. But, you know, we do our best. In many cases we have actually had to completely rewrite products in order to make them accessible.
So something somewhat unique to Oracle is that we run Oracle on Oracle. So, all of the systems that we used to run the company are Oracle products. That means, we've got the burden of making sure that these systems are accessible to our employees, because we want to employ the best and rightist people, and we really don't care whether they have a disability or not. That should just be a minor, little nuisance. But, we certainly don't want to make it a case that our internal systems are a barrier to employee these wonderful employees. Next slide, please.
A couple of years ago, we went to a customer and studied many of their disabled users very closely. We went to their place of employment and observed each one of them for many, many hours. And, we recorded every accessibility related issues that they encountered. And we actually, over the course of studying 12 people, came up with a list of hundreds and hundreds of items. And then, we went to characterize these, you know, we were surprised at the quantity of them, so we said, what went wrong here? We characterized them and came up with something called the accessibility puzzle. We program down into 12 different categories and I will explain this as I go through it in detail. But what we were really surprised that it was of these hundreds of issues, only 3% of the issues were actually under the control of Oracle. The other 97% were affected by other people who touched our system in some way. So, let's walk through some of those. And I'm going to walk through this picture clockwise, starting on the middle left out the application vendor. While that of course is Oracle. In this case, or in your organization, it might be your IT department developing custom applications for the company. To make things accessible, of course, the application vendor has to do the right things. You've got to follow standards, train all of your developers, and all of that. Next up is the consultant or implementer. Again, our systems typically take months or years to implement. We found a lot of things go wrong during that stage. We may ship a product that we think is accessible and what it is ultimately deployed, it is not. So, to give you a quick and easy example of a problem that happens almost all the time, we shift our product with a particular color scheme that actually needs the accessibility standards, has a contrast ratio of 4.521. But, our customers, long and apply their corporate color scheme. Well, frequently, that color scheme looks beautiful within their corporate logo but when you take those colors and spread it across the whole application, you may break that color contrast tool. We have seen cases where headings in the products suddenly become purple on green. Well, that doesn't meet the color contrast ratios so therefore people with low vision may not be able to read that. That is just one example that people implementing these systems need to be aware of. Don't break the accessibility while customizing it. Then we move onto people like support and helpdesk and I will let those together. These people need a lot of training on accessibility so that when people come and start mentioning things like JAWS and Dragon, that they don't think they are crazy and hang up on them. We've actually had cases like that. They also need training on things like the what does a call from a relay service on Mike? — What does a call from a relay service sounds like? It may be a little bit different because some other person is going to be on the phone line. We don't expect the people to all be necessarily experts, but they need to know how to find people within the organization who are the experts. It is just unrealistic to expect everyone in your organization to be an accessibility expert. You really need to subject matter experts and everybody needs to know how to connect to that. The next part of this puzzle is standards. And, Mike already alluded to this, and our world standards are very important and I spent — am going to hold off on that because that is my final slide. Then we move onto trainers. These are the people training the end-users. They have a huge responsibility. This technology is changing really fast and then got to keep up with it. Products like the JAWS screen reader comes out with new releases every six months. It changes a lot. We expect users to know a lot of those features and therefore, the trainers need to know all of those features. So, that is a rapidly changing area. Then we moved onto the browser vendor, the people who are making, like, Firefox browser, Internet Explorer, they got a huge role in this. They've got to take our application code, parses properly, and what is called the accessibility API, the communication between the assistive technology had actual browser. A big responsibility and the got to keep up with changing technology. Very much like that is the ATA vendor. As I mentioned, JAWS updates every six months because they are trying very desperately to keep up with the changing and technology. Things like Aria, and [ Indiscernible ] standards change very fast in all of these vendors have to move equally as fast. Very much like that, the operating system vendors. Now, the operating systems, they provide certain accessibility features directly. Things like filter keys, sticky keys, high contrast. So you know, there got to make sure they are doing all right and communicating that information to all of the applications running on top of the operating system. Hardware vendors. Sometimes we skip over hardware because the web stuff is so much more interesting but there are hard work — hardware standards out there. Section 508 has been and we have to make sure that we adhere to those. Things like the amount of pressure necessary to press a key or turn a dial. Then we go to the center of my accessibility puzzle which might actually be the most important thing of all. It is the employer and the employee. They have a huge responsibility. You, as an employer, have to make sure that you are deploying accessible systems, that you are providing reasonable accommodations to your employees, and I can include things like proper training, a proper work environment, proper assistive technology. Don't necessarily go with the free assistive technology, it may not be powerful enough to run certain applications. So, on the employee side, they are a huge part of this puzzle as well. You've got to take every bit of training that is available to you, you've got to stay up to date on the latest technology, again, that assistive technology is changing fast. Our applications, the Oracle applications, really push the technology to the maximum. So, you've got to get that training, demanded from your employer, and, you know, just keep up to date on that. One aspect to that is motivation. A lot of our customers in particular in the customer sector area may be working from character mode products, we you can get away with using them and not knowing a lot of screen reader commands. In this brave new world of the web, that does not work. Products like JAWS have over 330 commands. We don't expect anybody to know all 330 but if you only know 10 commands, you're probably not going to succeed with a web application. You've really got to know quite a few of them. Which brings us to my last slide. If we could just fans the slide, please.
So, we think maybe not the entire solution but a large part of the solution is standards, standards, standards. We, right now, are focused on developing products that meet the Web content accessibility guidelines version 2.0. It is a lot of work to do that. We are literally investing millions and millions of dollars and thousands of personhours to do this work. But, we are committed to doing it. Standards are important because it allows everyone to focus on one solution. We get the application vendors, the 18 vendors, browser vendors, trainers, all looking at what to the standards required and what do I need to do to make my little piece of the puzzle conform? Now, to Mike's point earlier, we recognize that there is merely having a product that meets the standards doesn't guarantee that it is going to be usable. There is a gap there. But we've got to get to that point first when we do meet the standards, otherwise we don't stand any chance at all of bridging that final gap of really addressing usability. And that concludes my remarks.
Terrific, thank you so much, Peter. For those of you who are live tweeting, the sure to use #PEATWorks, and you can also send us questions using that hash tag.Next up we have Lori Golden, a strategy worker at Ernst & Young. We are really looking forward to your presentation, I know that you are one of the model employees so let's hear what you guys are up to at the EY.
Panelist 3: Lori Golden, Ernst & Young
Thank you so much, it is a privilege to be on with you all. I remarks are going to be a little bit different because I am not an accessibility's professional. I am in the business, I and my diversity and inclusiveness professional who is collaborating very strongly with our accessibility folks in the service of our larger goal which we, at EY, our mission is building a better working world and that begins with building a workplace at Ernst & Young where people of diverse abilities can do their best work. And, it is interesting, our firm was founded actually because of accessibility challenges. We are still socializing this around the firm, but not everybody knows, yet, but one of our two founders, Arthur Young, was deaf and has low vision. And actually founded the firm because he was not able to comfortably practice his chosen field of law. And, oh, I hope you're not getting this screen. Sorry about that. And, turn to the emerging field of accounting. Founded a firm and became not only an entrepreneur but an innovator in accounting practices. Because he had to find a new way to leverage his talent. So, we have a long, proud history of not only welcoming diverse abilities, but figuring out how people, whatever their physical, mental health, or intellectual capabilities can leverage their full talents at EY. And obviously, accessibility plays a big role in this. I don't want to imply that we've got it figured out. Accessibility is a journey. We have made great progress in the past few years, but, we have a long way to go. On slide number two, what I am showing you by way of introduction, happens to be a billboard that we have at the adjacent to our Americas headquarters building in Times Square. And, what we are highlighting here, and I think what is significant, is that we are using the concept of inclusiveness of all abilities to really showcase our brand. And, who we are as a firm. That is just kind of how committed to it we are. And, what I'm going to do with the time I have today, we are running a little bit late, so I want to be respectful of your time. Is, I'm not going to go through kind of our entire approach to abilities, inclusiveness to set context, I'm going to topline and I'm on the slide three right now. Some of the key things that we focus on and why that is, and then zero in on the part that accessibility plays. We find that there are four keys to getting where we want to get. Which is, leveraging the full talents of the diverse abilities in our organization. The first is hiring the best talent we can find. However that talent is packaged. So, it is the recruiting imperative. The second is providing all of the tools, the resources, and the physical environment as well, needed not just to do the job, but needed for our people to really thrive and to succeed and grow in their jobs. The third is really talent development. We don't speak in terms of retaining our people, we speak in terms of helping our people grow and succeed. And when people have differing abilities, we have to be very strategic early on and take a team approach to ensure that the adjustments, a.k.a., the accommodations for differing abilities, or the differing abilities don't, in any way, negatively hamper somebody's career prospects. So, we try to be very proactive about that. And then the final area that we focused on is taking a very holistic and integrated approach to educating broadly. So, not relying on just training and not just for discrete audiences, but, really focusing on educating all of our people in many different ways for many different venues at many different times. And, I'm going to jump a little bit too slide number five here. Which is most relevant to accessibility. And that is providing everything it takes to excel. We realize that adjustments, or accommodations, what you do to make the work comfortable and efficient and productive, for an individual, is just part of the puzzle. The other part of it is making your tools, resources, information, and physical environment comfortable and usable for everybody, whatever physical abilities they bring to a situation. And so, we focused both on technology accessibility, and physical accessibility. We also look at the safety and productivity. We have developed an office ergonomics initiative, tied in with enhancing productivity, taking a look at emergency response plans to make sure that they take into account people of differing abilities and bringing people together on networks to see how we can build them or enabling workplace. But, back to our core topic, which is accessibility, we focused on two pieces. The first is making, and I will confine my remarks to today's topic, which is really technology, rather than the built environment, we focus on making our technologies and our information and communications available for our own people. Usable and accessible. And also, focus on accessibility — building accessibility into the products that we create for our customers. Now, we are a services provider. We, in essence, leveraging our intellectual capital, not creating hard products, but, we use technology to deliver a lot of what we do. And, so, we began to focus a few years ago I taking a look what we create for our clients and educating our technologies and developing standards to ensure that those products are acceptable for our clients, just like our own tools and information need to be accessible for our own people. Both of those efforts fall under a global accessibility initiative. That is evolving as our business goals change and as technology changes. And, that framework aligns to what is called the accessible technology charter, which is a statement of 10 Commandments two leading practices and accessibility and a high-level commitment to progressively improving in those areas over time. That was issued about three years ago by the business disability forum, a leading practices group led out of the United Kingdom. We signed the accessibility technology charter three years ago when it was introduced. We were the first, and I believe are still the only big for financial services firm, consulting firm, to find the accessibility charter. And that commitment came at the highest levels. It was our chief information officer, Mo Osborne, who made that commitment for the firm and part of doing that was chartering a small, collaborative team, and elite for that team to drive our efforts. John Wooten, who cannot be on this call today, but will be on any subsequent calls, works in our global enterprise architecture group. And Peter, I know that he has spoken to you in the past, the two of you know each other, and John is our lead for accessibility, globally. And, I am part of a team that John has pulled together that spans several areas. I am, as I mentioned, and diversity and inclusiveness. We have people in communications, a number of people in different areas of technology. Here in the United States, we have a go to, one person who we have designated as our accessibility and assistive technology group. Who is the person that we go to when we are looking to source new assistive technologies, have issues to answer around compatibility, are looking at how individual technologies might work within our larger systems. One of the first things that this group did was build accessibility criteria into our global procurement standards. So, now, it is a part of our RFPs, that products that we buy must be accessible and our user architecture group test them, the vendor products that we are considering buying for accessibility. And put our own products and solutions through the same acceptance testing product.
Even before we signed the charter, kind of, we began on our journey, focusing on accessibility by going out and finding a vendor to codevelop with us, in-house accessibility training and we put all of our content owners globally, all of the people who have the rights to post content on our internal global sites through mandatory accessibility training in order to get the right to post. And then, a few years ago, one of our key clients, for whom we produce accessible tools, came to us and asked us about the accessibility of those tools. I'm sorry, I said produced technology enabled tools, we did not know if they were accessible, yet, because we have not really approached it in that space, yet. We took a look at the tool and, you know, put it through some tests and found some gaps. And really uncovered a whole area of opportunity. We realized then that as important as it was for us to do internally, it was equally important to make sure that whatever we created for clients could be usable by people of any abilities and using any assistive technologies. And, we began to develop a series of educational sessions for our technologist who develop our products to educate them on the business case for accessibility, why we were committing to it, to educate them in the standards, and then, began a policy of working toward creating only accessible client base and pulls. At this point, we have developed a suite of materials to educate our people. We have accessibility roadmap that we have developed to help keep our executives informed on our progress toward improving and accessibility. We have developed presentations, on accessible technology, and accessibility in general. We have developed training courses and build on what we have developed a few years ago for our content folks, and we have developed a series of lunch and learns on the whole issue. On the business case for accessibility and what we are doing in this space, and what our clients are doing in this space, and, we even, a few years ago, took a step back and our diversity and inclusiveness folks and communications folks and technology people came together to put together an article for trade journals on accessibility and why accessibility in terms of the tools we create for our clients and we have begun increasingly talking to our clients service teams about talking to their customer base, about the importance of accessibility. We see it not only as Senate. Therefore our people, and imperatives for our clients, but a real differentiator in the marketplace. And by creating accessible tools and educating our people, on how to talk about it, we see ourselves as having an opportunity to educate our clients and bring them along. So that we can work in concert to increase accessibility in the marketplace in general. And then, find we, last year, we hosted a forum for chief information officers on accessibility. The national business and disability Council which we are councils of — which we are members of, came to us and asked if it would help them together an event. The keynote was Sir Andrew Whitte, chief information officer of the Barclays Bank, and about 15 technology leaders of our client and national business and disability Council member companies to talk about how we can drive accessibility both within our organizations and more broadly in the marketplace. We see this as an important part of our EY inclusiveness brand, and look forward to doing more and more in this base and are really grateful to PEAT for forming percent work and giving us an opportunity to share what we are doing and learn from others in this space. And, I apologize that I did not have slides on a lot of what I just described. We just did not have the opportunity to pull them together. But, all of this information is pulled together in a case study that will appear on the PEAT website when it is launched. So, you'll have a visual and a written point of reference in good time.
Awesome, thank you, that was really great and I want to thank all of our panelists. I think that was some great information that you have all given us to chew on here. I do want to move into the discussion and why we arranged part of the conversation here. I want to remind folks, you can send questions using the chat or questions function within GoToMeeting, you can also tweet them using #PEATWorks or send them in via e-mail. I will also be moderating a few questions that I can't. But as I mentioned, this is your webinar and want to make sure that we get to our questions and issues so please do send us those questions. The first thing I want to come to is a question for you, Lori, and that is something we have been getting from our audience. People want to know, is that EY accessibility charter public? And if so, where can they get it?
It is public and let me clarify. Happy to say it is public, and pleased to share it with you. It is not that EY accessibility charter. It is the global accessibility charter of the business — I'm sorry, the name has changed. The business disability forum. So, it is the business disability forum's accessible technology charter. One could look at the business disability forum, or, I can send information and send a link. I can't do it right now, but would be happy to do that. And you could send it out to participants, we can put it on the PEAT site, etc. I'd be happy to share.
Wonderful. We will definitely take you up on that offer and thank you for that clarification. So, my first question, to help levels that some of our forthcoming conversation, what I would like to know from each of you is, how your organization defines accessible technology, and what are your organization's top three goals when it comes to accessible technology? So I first want to go to Peter. Peter, if you could take that question, how does your organization defines accessible technology and what are your organization's top three goals? Are you with us, Peter?
Oh, I think I'm there now. Yes, sorry, I was on mute. Yes, so, we define it largely as conforming to accessibility standards because we are a development organization. You know, our developers need to come in each day and have a set list, kind of like a checklist that they can follow. We recognize that that is not the be-all end-all of accessibility. There is a usability side to it. But, a large part of our definition is simply conforming to standards, and those standards today are the Web content accessibility guidelines version 2.0.
Terrific. Mike, how would you answer that?
You mind if you can repeated question mark I want to make sure I get the whole thing.
My question was, how does your organization defines accessible technology and what are your organization's top three goals?
Thank you. So we define accessible technology very much, like I said in my presentation, it needs to be accessible. That is, accessible to people with disabilities in the technologies that they use to interact with technology that is out there in mainstream, businesses and organizations and what have you. But, equally as important, it has to be usable. And, the only way, really, to ensure that it is usable, is to do some of the three things that I will bring up. Number one, you need to have individuals with disabilities employed. Which TPG does.And number two, you need to integrate them into the test process. So, integrating users with disabilities into the design and development of the digital assets, software, and the technologies that you build, is absolutely crucial to understanding the user experience. And on the back end, to ensuring that quality assurance of that. And, the last point is exactly what Peter emphasize. Standards, standards, standards. I think universally, from a web standpoint, or WebEx, and if sites are concerned, we all agree that the site have been built by the Web consortium are universal and harmonized by most other international governments. There is still a lot of other work, though, that needs to be done on other platforms where the harmonization of those standards is not as clear or addressed in the WCAG standards or they are in Section 508 or 21st century communication and accessibility act and a couple of the other international and ISO standards out there.
So from your perspective, technology needs to be accessible and usable and your top three goals are to ensure that you have persons with disabilities who are employed within your organization that are integrated into development and testing, and that you are furthering the use and development of standards.
Terrific. Lori, what would you add?
Our definition is also not strictly accessibility but we look a lot at usability. Just, again, I'm not a technology person, so you know, I would put it in the simplest terms, to make our information and our tools and systems and processes comfortable, usable and productive, and productive efficiently, for people of all abilities. That is our focus. And so, you know, an example is just today, I was messaging back and forth with somebody in our accessibility's resource network, which focuses on differing abilities. And somebody in our communications team, and somebody in our global technology team, because we are putting together not just kind of tips and resources and tools, but, a communications plan to inform our people on how to make Microsoft Outlook and Lync, which are platforms here in the US that we have recently moved to, easier to use for people with a variety of both accessibility needs, and just kind of daily use needs. How to do simple things, like, increase font size. And, as we message about that, we are messaging about usability and about accessibility and it's important for everybody. Which ties into one of our top two goals, which is awareness and education. And, awareness and education, not just among those who need to know, but, the technologists and the developers and the decision-makers in this area, but among our population. And, to that end, we've done things, like, developed [ Indiscernible ] groups. We have two active groups, one about a variety of disabilities and issues, but one just around accessibility issues, where people from all over the world chat about what we can do better. Last year, we had an idea jam, where we solicited people's ideas for accessibility's, improvements, and, you know, kind of another way to bring awareness to this is our CIO gatehouse kind of recognition, or did recognition profiles on some of the people on her team who have gone above and beyond and we have nominated John Wooten, our accessibility league, which gave us an opportunity to crow about the work that he does and the relevance to our people. So, one of the key areas of focus is awareness and educating everybody, but another is really institutionalizing and making sure that we embed both the mindset and the processes into everything that we do and in an organization like ours, that is not only global, but decentralized in many of the ways that we operate that can be pretty challenging. So, I would say our two greatest goals are awareness and education and institutionalizing and embedding.
So, comfortable, usable, productive technologies for people of all abilities in service and awareness of education, both for people who need to know as well as for general population and institutionalizing and embedding this into the organization. Those are terrific goals that we can all learn from. With that backdrop, I want to bring up our next polling question if we could, please. We want to know if you have an accessible technology initiative in your organization. If you could just simply respond yes or no. While we are going through that, I kind of want to pick up on Lori's point about institutionalizing and embedding and I want to return to something, Mike, that you mentioned in your presentation about getting out the fundamental commitment at the top and working through changes in mindset and culture. How do you do that? You know, Lori kind of touched on a few points there in terms of getting folks out and speaking about it and getting recognition, but, Mike, from your experience, what is the magic formula?
Boy, I tell you, that is a great question and I'm not sure that there is a magic formula. One thing that we have done over the past couple of years is to try and demonstrate that there is a business value proposition to the decision-makers. Because they are the ones that obviously are going to, you know, make any work, they come to us a go or no go decision at that level. So, you know, that is really where we focus. So you know, companies are in the business of making money. That is just the bottom line, that is what it is. If we can show them how they can enhance their bottom line by increasing their digital assets, by making them more available, again, going back to that commitment, making it more accessibility and useful to a broader population of individuals, you know, whatever figure you want to use, and you include baby boomers and those older generations and those in the elderly community, you are talking somewhere upwards in the neighborhood of 60 to 75,000,000 individuals in the United States alone. And, that is a value proposition. When properly quantified can mean good revenue to a company that is worth achieving. That is really part of the sales pitch.
So, we need to make the business case. Lori, did you have to make a business case and if so, what was it?
I'm glad you asked and I like the way you put it, Mike. For us, it's really simple. I mean, I think the mantra here is to align with the business goals of the organization. So, if you are a consumer facing organization, then it is a marketplace driver. If you are permitted business to business, it is a little bit different. But, our thrust as an organization is to develop the highest performing teams to do the best work so that we can maintain the exceptional growth. That is our strategic thrust right now. And, one of our hot buttons is high-performance teaming, the entire notion. What accessibility does is make the work possible and productive for the greatest number of people. It literally allows our top talent to give us their best so that we have the highest performing teams. And, that allows us to grow as a business. And, that is our mantra. We don't talk about equity or fairness, we talk about performance. That is the language of our business right now. And, every business has its own culture and language, and hot buttons. And, the more closely you can align with whatever that is, that is going to be your sweet spot.
I love it. So, we need to align with our business goals, align with our culture, and this isn't simply about equity and fairness, it is really about achieving business objectives. Just quickly, to touch on our polling question here, it looks like almost 3/4 of our audience are engaged in accessible technology initiative. So, that is terrific. Peter, I want to come to you. We have gotten a question from the audience and think it is a really great one. How can we expose more employers to accessible technology? I'll start with you and then maybe come over to Mike. But, Peter, your thoughts?
That is a good one. You know, of course, at Oracle, we see this a lot because we deal with public-sector organizations and most of them have legal requirements that they must procure accessible products. Oracle is actually the number one supplier to the government. But, how do you get the word out that you have accessible products? What you should have a website. Most companies have something like company name.com/accessibility. That is the place to then sort of advertising or accessibility policies, what you're doing, and all of our peer companies have advertised the accessibility of our product using something called the voluntary product accessibility template, VPAT.So we encourage companies that sell products to post those VPATs on your website, they come available to everyone, don't hide them. That is a great way of getting the message out, if you are a vendor of accessible products.
Terrific. I'm going to come to Mike for just a second I just want to mention two folks, we are going to go a little bit beyond 3:30 PM. We might go to 3:35 PM, because we did get a little bit of a late start, so if you need to leave at 3:30 PM, we understand that if you can stick around until 3:35 PM, we will get to as many questions as we can. Mike, your thoughts on how we can expose more employers to accessible technologies.
I agree that is a good question and something that at TPG, we are trying to be more active in. Generally speaking, we are on a one-to-one situation with most of our clients. But, we have focused on building awareness, industry awareness, by having our folks involved in the standards activity that goes on. So almost every civil technologist who works for TPG is involved in technology standards and awareness building at that level. Second, we have gotten involved with media and social networking and we have done an awful lot between our own blogs, our own social networking experience, and now, for example, mediums like WebAble TV. Promoting more awareness around people with disabilities in technology. Because, that is the common thread that the company, you know, our mission is built on. Posing that gap in building a bridge and ensuring that there is complete accessibility and usability of technology. So I think those two things are things or avenues that we are doing. We have programs where we train employees on various topics related to technology and people with disabilities, how they use it. And how it works with their technologies and things along those lines. But, I think our people being fully immersed and fully involved in the standards of the laws and our building on the media opportunities to build more awareness at that level are big waste of building that level of awareness that you are discussing.
Terrific, thanks. We saw in our polling question that about three quarters of full path a program underway. I guess what I'm wondering, all three of you mentioned the importance of standards. So, my question would be, for those of us in the audience who are just getting our programs started, and we are maybe not sure of how to or what we can play in helping to advance and develop standards, what would your advice be? How do we get our programs off the ground, running, and how do we make sure that we are doing that in a way that is hoping to further the development and use of standards? I will come back to you for that.
Well, you know, first and foremost come you got to be involved in the standards activity. PEAT is closely attached, you know, and integral to the department of labor and a lot of the work that Kassie Martinez and her staff have been working on, she has also been responsible for working with organizations like the international Association for accessible professionals, that too is working on the promotion and development of standards. There are a lot of, frankly speaking, US-based standards that are very important, cutting-edge leaders in terms of technology standards that, again, PEAT should be fully involved with and build awareness around. Have your constituency organizations both be aware and involved in.
Beautiful. Lori, you gave us a lot of great information about the results you have been able to achieve at EY. What would your couple of top recommendations before somebody who is trying to take their program to the next level? And maybe what are the top two or three things it should look out for after getting going?
One of the most important things come it is no surprise to anybody on the phone, I'm sure, is getting strong leadership buy-in at the highest levels of the organization. So, getting your CEO and getting your leadership not just in technology, but, beyond the technology area, to understand how this aligns with overall business needs. And, kind of connecting the dots between what we need to do to make our technologies accessible and what we need to do to build organizations that really can harness the talents of all of our people or to be able to really, fully tap our customer, you know, market basis. You know, whatever the business drivers are, getting that leadership by him, so that you can have the people resources allocated, as well as, you know, whatever financial resources you need to make changes. But, it is chiefly to get people to focus their time and energy and attention, and, we find that that focus needs to be broad-based. This has to be driven from different places, not just from technology. Technology is part of it, but, communicating around that, building awareness, educating people, connecting with talent development, and, the recruiting function, and all of those things, I mean, unique kind of a broader team, and you need to pull in players with a variety of connections and perspectives to put together kind of an overall approach, if you are really going to embed within the organization.
So, we need a broad-based approach that has multiple players from different perspectives and differing abilities as part of the team. Peter, I'm going to give you, here, the last word. Top three things that you folks need to think about, worry about, avoid, as they are setting up their program.
Well, as Lori just said, executive commitment is absolutely critical to this. Most people come to work and have far too much to do in a day that can possibly be done. So, the issue is, how do you prioritize accessibility among all of the competing things? You know, when it comes to technology, there is pressure to address security, performance, cross-platform, all of these things. You know, mobile. So you know, without executive commitment that allows accessibility to the elevated above some of these other things, it is just never going to happen. And, the other thing that I would absolutely stress is a centralized program management. One of the things we quickly learned is accessibility touches on every aspect of technology. The underlying framework, the user interface, how it is developed, how it's tested, how it is supported. You've got to have people in charge, down at the individual product level who are responsible for all of that. They are going to have to do some cat herding to get a whole bunch of people who normally don't talk to each other to talk to each other. Because accessibility touches everything. And then, I guess the third piece of advice is just training. Merely going to the standards, if you send a whole bunch of people to read the WCAG 2.0 standards, they're probably not going to get it. They are very complicated, thousands and thousands of pages of material out there. You got to have subject matter expert to our internal resources and can answer the tough questions and provide, you know, very detailed training, appropriate to your organization.
Terrific, thank you very much. Well, I'm sorry to say we have reached the time when we are going to need to wrap up our webinar. But I'm happy to say that this has been, at least for me, a very enriching discussion. I know there are other questions we did not get to. We will get to as many of them as we can the other chat and in follow-up, so thank you for seminar questions and we will do our best to get to them. I know I've learned a lot about what employers can do to make their workplace more accessible. As was mentioned, this is the first of a three-part series. The other two webinars will focus on technology providers and users and we invite everyone to stay tuned as we move forward with those. Employers out there, our panelists have given you a great deal to think about and I hope that you can take some things away from this and start implemented some best practices in your workplace almost immediately. Today we had time to cover test is not part of the larger accessibility topics, so please, stick with PEAT and we will help you along the way. For those of you that want to view the webinar again or tell your colleagues about it, and archived version will be available on PEATWorks.org in the future. We will have great resources and you can follow PEAT on Facebook and Twitter for more information so please stay tuned about more webinars and the big conference in October. Thank you much to our panel, Mike, Peter and Lori, you have been amazing and we thank you for taking the time to share about your technology and think you to the audience. We hope that you enjoyed it as much as I did. Until next time, I am Richard Crespin, thank you for joining and signing off.
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