If there is one thing that organizations have learned over the last few years, it is that our workforce is resilient and adaptable. With the onset of COVID, organizations scrambled to put processes and technologies in place to support remote workers across most industries. Companies were able to move quickly to a digitally dependent operations model. However, this new digital world also exposed a gap globally, i.e., the lack of adequate access for people with disabilities. Activities that once could be managed in person were now only available online, and unfortunately many applications did not meet the needs of people with disabilities. This lack of support not only impacts an organization’s customers but also their workforce. All internal processes had to be handled online due to the now remote teams. So, the question must be asked, are we creating an equitable and digitally inclusive environment for all our team members to be efficient in their job?
At Pega, our product team and engineers have spent countless hours discussing and developing prototypes to address this critical question. In creating our new Constellation Design System, Pega made it a goal to develop features with accessibility in mind. We wanted to ensure that any applications built on this platform could be used by everyone.
"To accomplish this, we partnered with digital accessibility solution provider, Level Access. The CEO and Founder of Level Access, Tim Springer shares, “It was clear to us from the beginning that Pega is committed to delivering exceptional experiences for all users, and ultimately to creating more equitable workplaces for people of all abilities. By embedding accessibility into its Constellation design system, Pega is ensuring that new features incorporate accessibility standards by default and is setting a consistent standard for inclusive workforce solutions.”
"By embedding accessibility into its Constellation design system, Pega is ensuring that new features incorporate accessibility standards by default and is setting a consistent standard for inclusive workforce solutions.”
Prioritizing accessibility meant that every component, every feature and every template went through scrutiny with regards to optimizing for the broadest possible user base. This was essential particularly for some of our more complex designs. And in many cases, we leveraged our auditor to validate solutions. We found that many capabilities that were essential to Pega applications went beyond the standard examples in the accessibility guidelines, so we had to innovate and drive new methods for access.
One such innovation was the introduction of quick keyboard shortcuts for navigation through content-heavy applications, such as our Pega Customer Service™ solution. While individuals who used a screen reader assistive tool had methods for navigating to different parts of a page, we felt that sighted keyboard users lacked the same efficiency. Therefore, with Infinity ‘23 we introduced a quick key that allows any user to quickly navigate to different regions of a page using the keyboard, thus creating a much more efficient method to access important next steps in their daily work. Now any customer service representative can move quickly, from accepting an incoming call to filling out a form to reading a knowledge article to help answer a question, easily and efficiently.
When it comes to authoring, creating Constellation as a prescriptive design system gave us the opportunity to provide only accessible compliant component options. In other words, there are no bad choices with Constellation! We built accessibility best practices within the authoring process itself. In Infinity ’23, creating a table, using a field group, or designing a form will all have compliance baked into the design. Our goal was to allow the authors to focus on creating the optimal workflow with the confidence that it would meet accessibility guidelines, without relying on complex configuration. Some additional features in Constellation include:
- Guardrails for flagging issues during authoring
- Setting accessible configurations by default
- Optimizing element semantics based on web standards
- Facilitating use of alternative text for images
At Pega, we recognize that creating accessible applications is critical for organizations. We also know that not everyone is an expert in accessibility. With Constellation UX on Pega Infinity ’23, Pega has introduced a solution that optimizes for an efficient and inclusive workforce by taking the complexity out of building accessible applications, allowing organizations to focus on their business goals.