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Accessibility at SAP: Raising awareness in our community

A man opens the gate to a hall and the light floods in.

Great accessibility comes with awareness: The recognition that each of us has a stake in this and is responsible for designing a more inclusive world. When I grew into the lead of SAP’s accessibility team back in 2019, I dreamt about one day hosting an event at SAP fully dedicated to accessibility and the needs of people with disabilities. Fast-forward to end of 2020, and the SAP Accessibility Summit became a reality.

SAP Accessibility Summit 2020 – great event, even greater learnings
Over a 4-day period, almost two thousand SAP employees participated in the first-ever global and virtual event featuring a 360-degree view on accessibility. At the core of the event: raising awareness for how our working routines and products connect with SAP‘s core values: diversity, equity, and inclusion.

As with most things, the event would have simply stayed a dream had it not been for the countless colleagues who supported this vision, from the executive management who saw the importance of the topic, to the core team who put together the event so seamlessly, to the participants who made this event such a hit and who helped affirm the importance of accessibility in our company.

Throughout the extensive planning process, it became clear that the event itself also needed to be accessible. Our careful preparation to ensure this resulted in a nice side effect: Based on our expertise and learnings during setup and hosting of the Summit, we developed a presenter’s guide with best practices for accessible virtual sessions. This way, we can ensure people with disabilities are included in such event formats from now on.

A packaged agenda with unique points of view

The Summit was split up into 20 sessions and featured insights from HR, Sales, User Research, Design, Engineering, and our IT department. Our speakers from across units and locations showed the unique talent and great diversity of employees at SAP. The icing on the cake for me was the contributions from our colleagues with accessibility needs. Their personal experiences, expertise, and positivity were incredibly moving and helped many of us to connect the accessibility vision to real people and their needs.

The event itself was kicked-off by Thomas Saueressig, Member of the SAP Executive Board and Head of Product Engineering, who emphasized the importance of accessibility for SAP in a very personal opening message.

Thanks to our great partnerships across the industry, we were able to enrich our agenda with insights from leading accessibility evangelists, helping to bring an outside in view to our audience.

  • It was a blast having Hector Minto, Senior Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, share how Microsoft made accessibility part of their DNA.
  • Anne-Marie Nebe, a world-class Usability and Accessibility leader at T-Systems MMS, shared insights about the impact of software accessibility to SAP customers and its eco-system.
  • Marco Richardson, Managing Director and CPO, and Nina Hauer, Product Manager at Inclusify AG, jointly inspired us with their innovative ideas to bring augmented and virtual reality together with inclusive design to build better experiences for all.

The story continues with the SAP Global Accessibility Awareness Day Event

The whole Summit echoed my daily experience: We are curious to learn and exchange on this topic. We want to come together to get accessibility right in our products. Therefore, I’m excited about our next steps.

After having spent some years speaking at external events on the occasion of the Global Accessibility Awareness Day, I am proud to announce the first SAP Global Accessibility Awareness Day Event taking place at May 18, 2021 at SAP. As a one-day shoot-off of our SAP Accessibility Summit, we will again shine a spotlight on the needs and desires of people with disabilities and bring that into our design and development practices.

Accessibility is the superpower for innovation, equity and justice. We are eager to discover new aspects every day and to share our learnings with you along the way. Stay tuned for my recap blog of this event, and make sure to follow me by follow me to get insightful updates and information about product accessibility at SAP.

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