Accessibility Empowers All of Us to Fully Participate and Contribute Our Best
Pandemic or not, people with disabilities have always faced challenges of insufficient accessibility, lack of equal opportunities and most importantly lack of empathy. COVID-19 amplified these challenges and hurt this segment of the global population economically, politically, and socially. This community, which encompasses a variety of conditions and needs have experienced disruptions due to the lack of health services they normally rely upon.
This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities (December 3) promoted by the United Nations is focused on understanding disability issues and mobilizing support for the rights and wellness of people with disabilities post-COVID-19 to create a more inclusive and accessible future. According to the UN:
- Of the one billion population of persons with disabilities, 80% live in developing countries, an estimated 46% of older people aged 60 years and over are people with disabilities.
- One in every five women is likely to experience disability in her life, while one in every ten children is a child with a disability.
- Persons with disabilities in the world are among the hardest hit by COVID-19.
At SAP, a major component of our effort is to create true inclusion by enhancing awareness and accessibility in the workplace and removing barriers for persons with disabilities – so that they can be empowered to optimize their full potential in the workplace and feel included in every way. SAP is recognized as a “Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion” by the Disability Equality Index and such recognitions speaks volumes of our persistent efforts to be intentionally inclusive. The efforts are led by a large number of colleagues who jointly make efforts to move the needle on Disability Inclusion. Some noteworthy examples include:
- The Global Diversity and Inclusion Office at SAP has dedicated experts who focus on Disability Inclusion in the workplace. As a part of this team, I work with my colleagues to raise awareness and offer solutions on all aspects related to workplace accessibility. Our efforts in recent years have included fostering accessible meetings and events by offering subtitles and speech recognition technology that help people who are hard of hearing, or who are vision impaired. These tools are also advantageous for people without impairments but for whom a subtitle or a voice message is helpful for enhancing comprehension if they are not familiar with a language. In cooperation with a start-up company, we offer eye-tracking solutions for people that are facing physical barriers such as, a broken arm or suffering from arthritis and cannot use the keyboard or the mouse. The eye-tracking solution is in fact useful for everyone as it allows to navigate faster on a screen and is a good prevention tool for developing the well-known ’mouse-arm’.
- The Future Workplace program supports colleagues across SAP office buildings that need accessible meeting rooms through an app that provides multiple relevant information.
- The most recent SAP Accessibility Summit 2021 organized by the Inclusive Design Team is a great example of the internal education and awareness building efforts we take on as a company. The three-day virtual internal conference focused on communication and allyship for people with disabilities attracted over 2000 colleagues who have provided resounding feedback.
- Our Autism at Work initiative embraces the idea of neurodiversity and promotes the message that skills and talents should be the focus, never bias or stigma. Autism is a broad spectrum and being on the spectrum is not always considered a disability, however many individuals on the spectrum have co-existing conditions and this serves as a reminder of intersectionality. Accept and celebrate the whole person!
- Finally, three Employee Network Groups (ENGs) – SAP Vision, SAP Hear and Friends, SAP Differently Abled People offer all our disabled colleagues and their allies to find community within the company and advocate on topics that are of interest to them. The ENGs are employee led movements that contribute to the company culture in a meaningful way.
All these efforts help us become more inclusive and enable our colleagues to be highly efficient and feel that they belong. Contributing to a culture of equality and inclusion is a part of our DNA and we are proud to be a workplace that supports Disability Inclusion.
On this day, we stand with all our colleagues and recognize everyone who champions inclusion by telling like it is to enrich the lives of everyone in the workplace and within our communities, for helping SAP to become the innovative company it is today and most of all, for driving a diverse and inclusive environment for every individual.