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Building for Inclusion: Becoming Accessible-First in our Organization, Teams and Product

Jill Power, 5 minute read

Exciting things are happening as Pega continues its accessibility journey by introducing continuous improvements and adopting best practices!   As an organization we are growing, learning and educating.

In our organization

Accessibility starts with the organization.  Leadership must recognize that to be successful, diversity and inclusion are paramount.  Persons with disabilities, whether visible or non-apparent, are an important part of that equation and we recognize and celebrate this at Pega. Below are some events we are engaged in.

  • We participated in the 2022 Disability Equality Index for the first time – and received a 100/100.   We are gearing up for 2023.
  • We have launched and have active engagement in our Persons with Disability (PwD) Employee Resource Group (ERG).   We have many passionate voices steering us.
  • We celebrated Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) in May 2022 and have many activities planned for National Disability Employment Awareness this month, including fabulous speakers.
DEI Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion 2022
Pega has been named a Top Scoring Company in the 2022 Disability Equality Index® (DEI), with a score of 100%

 

In our teams

When the organization is behind your work and decisions, that enables teams to get things done. We have many passionate people throughout the Pega organization when it comes to accessibility.  Everyone brings ideas to the table and we try to educate, enable and build our teams in support of our mission.  Some team updates include:

  • We have hired persons with disabilities into our teams who leverage assistive technology for their day-to-day work
  • We have integrated persons with disabilities into our Pega Internship Program so that we may introduce diverse opinions and experiences. 
  • We chose accessibility as the topic for our 2022 annual intern competition project in which all interns across the globe presented strategies on how we enhance the experience at Pega

In our product

With the focus of our organization and our team on accessibility as a priority, we are on the trajectory to do some amazing things at Pega.  For our products, we are simultaneously improving on the existing platform while developing our Constellation architecture and design system so that it’s accessible-first. 

Accessible-first at Pega means that we have iterative discussions with our design team and engineers to build accessibility into our full agile process.  This allows for continuous testing and feedback throughout the cycle, before anything moves to production.

In our Pega Platform 8.8 release you will notice improvements in some of our key platform components including the rich text editor, date/time calendar, and helper text.  All have been updated to reflect WCAG navigation best practices.  We have also added improvements to error validation and initial focus order.  Lastly, to help authors new to accessibility, we have introduced an accessibility checklist into our authoring studios.

New helper text icon that takes focus is now available for relevant controls
New helper text icon that takes focus is now available for relevant controls

 

We have added many built-in accessibility features to our Constellation component library, including semantic structure, page navigation, and labeling options.  We have also introduced features to assist Pega authors to create more accessible applications.  For example, we have warning flags when an author adds non-compliant color combinations that would fail contrast.  Also, our rich text editor requires alternative text when you attempt to upload images by default. 

New features in our Constellation component library include the ability to display target URLs as text, which is much more screen reader friendly. We have also introduced a new feature in our main navigation to allow users the option to pin the navigation pane open at all times.  This will help users who have memory challenges or those that rely on voice recognition so they may always see the visible label for the related icon.  Additionally, we have improved our row-level actions such that they have increased context for screen reader users, insuring unique labels. 

Pega users can now pin the navigation panel open at all times
Pega users can now pin the navigation panel open at all times

 

Our ultimate goal is to provide the easiest path to accessibility for both end users and our authors.  We continue to improve the product and look to introduce methods to facilitate ease of creating accessible applications. 

We are excited, and we hope you are, as we move towards a more inclusive experience for all our users.

 

Related Resources

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About the Author

Jill Power manages the Accessibility Experience program at Pegasystems.

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