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Pega Celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Jill Power, Log in to subscribe to the Blog

The month of May often brings wonderful events, whether it is a graduation, a recital performance, a championship game, or outdoor spring event. Another event near and dear to many of us at Pega is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) on May 19th. While accessibility is discussed daily at Pega within our product teams, taking a day to get everyone across the organization talking, thinking, and learning something new about digital access and inclusion helps us to grow and plan for how we can be better.

Accessibility is more than ARIA roles and Alt-text

Discussions around accessibility can often get tied down in the nomenclature. For example, not everyone may know that ARIA stands for Accessible Rich Internet Applications. The acronyms and terminology leave many people bewildered (e.g., WCAG, JAWS, VPAT, POUR, ATAG, WAI, etc.). At Pega, our emphasis is always on people. Compliance is important, but people are at the core of what we do. How people work, communicate, engage, and succeed is the basis for our products and our organization.

This is not to say that Pega has all the problems of accessibility solved. Far from it. We are on a journey, like many organizations. We learn every day and we try to do better every day for our customers, our users, and our employees.

Commitment to our products

Over the last couple of years, Pega has significantly increased its investment in creating accessible, inclusive user experiences. Along with our accessibility statement, some of our key strategic initiatives include:

  • Conducting usability testing with users with varying visual impairment
  • Engaging a third party to audit our platform and application
  • Building an Accessibility Team dedicated to creating an accessible experience within our products and within the organization
  • Hiring individuals who are not only specialists in accessibility requirements but also native users of assistive technology to work daily with our designers and engineers
  • Introducing training opportunities and best practices for teams

Commitment to our employees

Most recently, Pega has created a new Employee Resource Group (ERG) focusing on Persons with Disabilities (PwD). This new ERG joins Women@pega, Pride@pega, Black@pega, Veterans@pega, Asian@pega, and Latinx@pega. We support each other through allyship across all ERGS. Everyone is welcome, and everyone has freedom to express their needs and receive support.

Our PwD mission:

“We will raise understanding of visible and invisible disability and break unconscious bias, thereby creating a culture of transparency and buoyant community where everyone can thrive.”

Our PwD leaders and what drives them:

“My experience of being-in-the world following an accident and chronic pain diagnosis, extensive time volunteering at a rehabilitation hospital, and education background in the sociology of health, illness, and disability fueled my passion for disability advocacy. There is so much potential for what we can do at Pega with PwD, and I want to be a part of this vision, change, and future”

Olivia Christmann Solutions Consultant & Co-chair Persons with Disabilities Employee Resource Group, Pegasystems

“I have recently become a volunteer for the National Rheumatoid Arthritis Society and this has really opened my eyes to the impact you can have. Having personally dealt with a debilitating medical condition for 12 years and never sharing my diagnosis with my employers. I felt I understood the nuances associated with this type of role. It’s not sympathy that is needed, it is empathy. And there is a big difference there.”

Paula Milton VP Specialist Sales and Co-Chair of Persons with Disabilities Employee Resource Group , Pegasystems

GAAD Day

So, in honor of this year’s GAAD day, we have some fun activities planned for our teams, in addition to all the free courses on the GAAD website. Last year we did a ‘put your mouse down’ challenge where our teammates had to complete several tasks throughout the day by just using their keyboard. We will look to introduce similar events to encourage empathy and discussion.

On May 19th, we will also be offering a webinar for anyone interested on “Inclusive design: A path to an inclusive, accessible user experience.” Please register and join us if you are interested. We hope to see you there!

Inclusive Design: A path to an inclusive, accessible user experience

Join this webinar to learn about inclusive design and its benefits, as well as our accessibility design practices at Pega.

About the Author

Jill Power is the Senior Program Manager for the Accessibility Experience at Pegasystems. She has worked with various government entities and industry leaders to address accessibility and compliance challenges. Jill has also worked with populations of varying abilities throughout her career and is passionate about bringing the online world to those often left outside of it.