Good afternoon everybody. I trust you can hear me. This is Judith Stark speaking and welcome to Accessible Technology Webinar series. I''m an Accessible Technology Consultant for the Pacific ADA Center and the Accessible Technology Webinar series is sponsored by the Great Lakes ADA Center and the Pacific ADA Center. Both are members of the ADA National Network. Before we begin a few housekeeping items. Please hold your questions until the end of the session. Towards the end of the presentation we will open the chat session for you to submit your questions to our speaker using the public chat area. Today''s session is being recorded and archived on the www.ADA.audio.org website and you will receive an email with the link to the archive as soon as it is available. This session has real-time captioning available. The CC symbol is on the lower right hand of your viewing area. If you click on the icon you will open a dialogue box where captioning can be viewed. The window can be resized and moved anywhere on your screen so please go ahead and try that and let us know if it''s not working. After the session the handout will be emailed to you along with an evaluation survey. Please take a couple of minutes to fill out the survey. We really value your feedback on these sessions. Today session is Return on Investment: The Business Case for Accessibility and our speaker is Frances West. Frances is Director of the IBM Human Ability & Accessibility Center. The Center''s mission is to enable human capability through innovation, so all people can reach their potential, regardless of age or ability. She is charged with the worldwide responsibility of establishing IBM market leadership by promoting IBM advanced research technology, products, services and solutions in the area of human ability and accessibility. Prior to this assignment, Frances was Director of Channels, Alliances and Business Development for the Lotus Software Group. She recruited and managed IBM Business Partners globally that specialize in Lotus software. In addition, Francess was Director, Financial Services Sector Solutions in the IBM Global Services organization. She managed investment funding and executed financial services solution plans for banking, insurance and financial markets globally. In 2005, Frances was nominated to be on the Board of Directors of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) and of the Assistive Technology Industry Association. She also was invited to testify, on behalf of the IT industry, at a US Senate hearing on the impact of accessibility open standards on the European Union. Frances, welcome and please go ahead with your presentation. I will hand the mic over to you. Please just click on the mic and you should be good to go.
Thank you very much. It''s an honor to be at this webinar this afternoon. Again I want to thank the Great Lakes ADA Center and the Pacific ADA Center to give IBM this opportunity. What I''m hoping to do in the next half an hour or so is to take you through a bit of journey inside IBM and how we view disability as a part of our, not just a core value of IBM but as a business initiative inside IBM and share with you some of the principles and also some of the research and innovation projects that we have conducted in this area. If you look at IBM we are a company that''s running about 100 billion dollar revenue and operate in about 170 countries. It is-- we are one of the largest IT companies and part of being a successful IT company is to have a lot of innovation so accessibility, this topic actually has been embedded in our company history and company''s psychic to some degree. We hired the first person with disability back in 1914, 76 years before the American Disability act and the reason that we believe that including people with disability in our workforce is because we believe that diversity really drives innovation. So one can really look at our employment history and understand that we look at this topic really very much as a core value of IBM. What I want to share with you a little bit is how we integrate accessibility inside IBM. Not just a standalone HR employment initiative but as an embedded initiative. This is accomplished actually by having accessibility integrated into four major corporate functions within IBM. First and foremost certainly is the Human Resources Department in IBM. So HR is actually leading a lot of our recruitment, hiring and also retaining our people disabilities. But we also have done a lot of work in making sure our procurement policy is in such a way that we embed accessibility into our process so we can leverage the buying power of IBM in the market place to induce the right change in behavior. For example, about four years ago we changed our master contract globally to say that we want our suppliers to be compliant and to provide accessible solutions. These could include for example our pension applications, our expense accounting applications. By putting accessibility inside our procurement contracts we have seen immediate and drastic change in our supplier''s behavior. These are examples as to how accessibility was integrated into the main part of IBM business. RESO stands for real estate in operation. This is a division of IBM that for all the buildings, the physical assets of IBM we made sure that they are accessible globally and we applied the same ADA or sometimes beyond ADA standards to all our facilities around the world. We just finished a brand new laboratory acquisition in India and we actually-- we were recognized by the Indian government for leading the charge or giving a very positive example of making our buildings completely accessible. Last but not least is through our CEO office. Because for this audience many of you are involved in research and technology and you understand that the technology of implementation has to be in such a way that we don''t create a digital divide. So we work very closely with our CIO office to make sure that our accessibility beliefs and also practices are fully integrated. So from our company process standpoint we believe that a technology accommodation is one of the key areas we have to focus and so that we can bring about an equal opportunity not just for employment but also drives the kind of productivity parody for our people-- of our employee with disability and our employee without disabilities. And we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what''s the way to balance the requirement of more accommodation and the ease of management from an organization perspective. How can we take away the barrier, the financial barrier in the line organization? Accommodation costs in many cases could be a barrier to hiring people with disability because our line managers, especially in the first line level they are being challenged to face day to day financial and also business objectives. So a lot of times to take for example, accommodations funding out of their day-to-day budget can become a challenging past. So we came up with a policy that we consolidated the accommodation fund at the corporate level. So any line organization can hire a person with disability. If they require any kind of accommodation cause they can request funding from the corporation versus out of their line budget and this simple policy change and just did away with all of the financial barriers and really helped us to encourage our line management to hire people with disabilities. So this is an example of how a simple policy, a financial policy at the corporate level really helped to produce the positive change and behavior change at the line management enhanced, influenced the hiring activities. Now let me just step back a little bit that we do run a big corporation and especially from an IT perspective we spend about 3 billion dollars a year on our IT budget, our CIO budget. And at any given time we have about 5 to 8 thousand active applications and again we have over 40 thousand developers. And we have many, many for example digital team rooms where people read content and file content and share content. So what this does to us is it creates a tremendous challenge for us to make sure that we can provide people with our disability, our employee disability with the accessible workplace environment both from an application standpoint and also from content standpoint. So you will see that over the next few charts that because we have such a large constituency and large amount of IT requirements it really forces us to think about solutions that addresses that the people disability day-to-day workplace challenge in a very scalable and sustainable and systemic way. One of the ways that we try to make sure that despite a very large portfolio and despite a 24 by 7 operation that we have a process standpoint really focus on three basic processes that is we innovate and then we transform our corporation and we rob the organization. These are the kind of the basic principle when we bring a new technology or new application inside IBM. When I say innovate this applies to many new technologies that you all probably are dealing with or struggling with. A lot of the web 2.0 technologies whether its social networking technology like face book or 3D internet like Second Life and many of these technologies are technology of the future and then really creating a significant change in the size in the workplace. But it is very important that we take this technology and transform that so that it can be used by people with different abilities and that on a day-to-day running basis we don''t accidentally create a digital barrier or digital gap. So how do we achieve that? How do we make sure that when we have the innovation research or innovation ideas in the company when we introduce it and how do we insure that its accessible by the time it gets to what we call the run stage meaning into a day-to-day usage stage. We have a technology innovation process called a TAP, technology adoption program. This is a place many of our scientists, programmers, researchers, can innovate. Think of them as an electronic sandbox. People are encouraged to test new ideas and my organization in this case actually provides advice to a lot of these innovators and depending on their innovation we actually give them guidance as to whether they should be focusing on accessibility, let''s say user interface requirement or focus at this point of entry or they can afford to wait a little bit longer as they go down the creation cycle. This is very important because sometimes when a scientist or researcher goes through the innovation cycle, we don''t want to stifle that idea. So the point of concept inception is not, in some cases may not be necessary to bring in the accessibility angle. But as this idea becomes mature in going through what we call the production cycle we''d want to make sure the accessibility requirements issue gets built in to the production thinking so by the time it''s deployed in the marketplace or inside IBM in our workplace it is indeed accessible. So it is a highly process driven approach and this way you really insure that we can continue and actually encourage innovation without sacrificing the accessibility in the deployment stage. We also make sure that IBM, all the divisions whether it''s a software division, a hardware division they all follow the same development process, which is depicted on this chart. This is a transformation management process. And the benefit of standardizing this kind of a development process is that my team then gets to be able to provide, for example check-point help for all the developers. By the way there are over 40 thousand developers in IBM and they span the entire globe. We make sure that everybody who are in a development job understand the base of facing, for example from concept, to plan to develop to qualify. And within each of the stage we provide a checklist for accessibility consideration. So a checklist at the concept level looks very different from let''s say at the qualified level, because at the qualified level you are just about to roll out. So, one of the checklists at the qualified phase is for example, testing. So are you testing this application for usage by blind employees, for a person with hearing impairment and so on and so forth? So we track, we manage and we provide guidance in a very consistent way and this is another way of insuring consistency in delivery and quality delivery and also very importantly helping us to keep track of the cost and also the benefit of the accessibility efforts. In the next chart you will see that we are constantly looking at what we can do to improve our employees, especially our people with disabilities participation in IBM. About three years ago we began to realize that our accommodation process globally really needs some revamping. What happened was because IBM''s record expansion into many geographies, in this case a lot of them are emerging countries like in China, India and Brazil and we encourage all our IBM countries to hire people with disabilities but we didn''t have a consistent global process or accommodation. So a blind employee we hire in India, if they want to request a JAWS license for example, a screen reader license, it''s all handled by a person and if you multiply that kind of a process by 170 times, and we realized that it''s a very inefficient process. So we draw the team together both from our user community, some of employees with various disabilities, along with our CIO office, along with my group and we actually spent about a year and half to come up with this case to justify building a global collaborative workplace portal and through this portal all managers and employees with disabilities can go in there and electronically request the accommodation. And for a new manager who has never hired a person with a disability before there is actually guidance, you know advice to help the managers to walk through the roadmap of securing accommodations. So this is a single place, a one-stop resource for both employees and managers to come and get the support and order the necessary accommodation. No this business case, this is a multi-million dollar investment that we made two years ago. If you remember two years ago we were right in the midst of the financial meltdown. We went through the exact same process like any other business case inside IBM and we justified the cost and also the benefit and were able to get this project approved through our executive commitment and also the review of the business benefits. And by doing so we now have-- we are on our way to create a global workplace portal that we think when it''s through its full implementation will provide much higher quality support, much higher productivity gains and therefore actually drive to the bottom line impact of IBM. Because that will really help over time to drive down the individual cost of deployment through a human being. Now I want to kind of switch the topic a little bit, by looking at accessibility more than just a kind of cost of supporting the business, we have begin to really tap into this thinking that accessibility actually can be and should be and could be an innovation differentiator for IBM. And on this chart you will see that there is so many web 2.0 types of technologies coming out, the Twitter, face book and so on. All these technologies are fueling a different generation of users and is creating a different workplace kind of environment, and we as a group need to really embrace all the changes and take the accessibility innovation angle and embed in this new technology so that we can create the inclusive work environment for our employees. So by doing-- how do we do that? We do it by really combining the efforts of advocacy groups. We are for example very involved with different advocacy groups in the U.S. including the American Association of People with Disability, American Foundation for the Blind, just to name a few because these advocacy groups really give us a user''s point of view of what they need and what their constituencies, whether it''s a blind constituency or hard of hearing constituency, what they need and require and that becomes a feedback into IBM''s development organization into our research organization and can give us insight into the market place. And then we form a strategic partnership with the advocacy groups and then we begin to understand and invest in our technology base. We are also very much involved in the standards of organization whether its W3C standards and some of you probably know that some of our people are actually on the access board, the transportation access board trying to define the future standards for accessible transportation. By involving with advocacy groups and also standards groups give IBM a kind of proactive view of what marketplace needs and then we take that inside and input into our own camp, our development camp, into our research camp and that in turn creates, helps us to create leading edge ideas and leading edge products and leading edge solutions into the market place. So overall we have a viewed accessibility as a business differentiator for IBM. It''s you know beyond the traditional view of accessibility as a cost factor to a business and in our kind of a journey of embedding and incorporating accessibility into the main bodies of IBM business we have found a few things that we can share, that is accessibility really needs to be, especially from an information technology standpoint needs to be a built-in concept in that if it is added on afterwards, it will always be a lot more costly and be less intuitive and less user friendly and then in many cases will create unintended barriers between the employee with disability versus an employee with no disabilities. We also have learned that you know accessibility as a technology really needs to be embedded into applications and that again we try to stay away from add-on type of technology. And testing, because disability is essentially a nuance scenario, one person''s disability can be very different from the other, we are focusing more and more on how do we leverage technology to personalize the technology for different users and the only way you can get that personalization is through lots of testing, lots of experienced testing. And last but not least is that one thing about accessibility is that it is a technology that can be globalized that our employee in India, China and Brazil''s requirement for technology is exactly the same as our employees in the U.S. So we are able to really, to get the return on our investment in a very, very dramatic way by studying the requirement and then take the time to embed the technology or the requirement into the new design and the benefit of this very systemic and also very focused approach is that it allows to really have the return on investment globalized, to multiple division and also to multiple organizations. So my organization inside IBM carries what we call the corporate function. We share our knowledge across all divisions of IBM. We participate in many of the world-wide standards organizations. Again like I mentioned we do a lot of research innovation and then we try to help to take the research out of ideas, research first of a kind, proof points and then integrate into our technology and product divisions. So it''s a very holistic approach. It''s not just HR. It''s not just CIO office, it''s not just the product team, but on an every day basis we work across IBM in a very holistic way and that''s why it''s very-- I want to share with you that my organization actually is situated organizationally speaking inside research. We feel that accessibility and support people with disabilities through technology really needs to be viewed as an innovation initiative and that''s why we''re not an HR organization. We''re not in lines of business. We view this as a very important differentiation for IBM. Now I want to just switch gears one more time to share with you some of the innovation projects that we''ve been working on just to give you a sense of what we are about. And one of the areas that we focus the most is in the web 2.0 technology and so for example in the virtual world area we view the virtual world like Second Life as a very new and exciting platform and especially in the future we think that a lot of education can be rendered through virtual world, because our next generation youngsters are very much into this gaming kind of a scenario. We actually begin to see companies producing on-line 3D internet based curriculum. But if that becomes trend, if we don''t do some research and really allow the 3D kind of environment be assessable to people who are blind or vision impaired, we potentially will leave some of our youngsters with vision impairment behind. So we''ve been working with the University of Nevada, trying to see how we can take the rich metadata that''s embedded in this 3D world and how to leverage those data and pass on the tagging information to a screen reader so that even a blind person can navigate in the 3D internet world of the future. Another example is that we know that currently in any application or any website they are not compliant and they are not usable for people with disabilities, because the website is not designed to be assessable. So how do you solve that problem? One of our scientists in the Tokyo research lab is leveraging social networking technology to allow a kind of real-time reporting of a problem or let''s say a page that''s not accessible through an infrastructure setup that''s invented by this researcher. The person can report a problem and volunteers who have signed up to provide these kind of services can go into the page and maybe provide the alternative text description of the chart of the picture and then alert the person with disability to say yes, I have just created an all text for this picture so now you can go back in and look at it. So it''s a very innovative way of leveraging social networking, crowd sourcing technology to address some of our outgoing accessibility that''s in the website and in the different documents. When it comes to hearing impairment we spend a lot of time looking at how can we provide transcription services through technology? Again we talked about the business case of accessibility. Everybody understands that the cost of having a human transcription is tremendous and therefore it''s very important that we have automated way of tooling to do so. So we recently are experimenting automatic real-time transcription and this is a very exciting technology that we''re beginning to beta test and we think that for future webcasts and for future learning, e-learning this knowledge will provide tremendous help to the various learning groups or to the offering groups. We also have activities working with other organizations. Earlier I talked about standards. This is one area we collaborated very closely with even our competitor Microsoft because we believe that interoperability for accessibility is very important. So we''re not just limited in leveraging the knowledge inside IBM but outside organizations like the Linux Foundation and also Microsoft. The last couple of examples I''m going to give you are developmental platforms. One of our biggest challenges, not just IBM but all the customers, especially large enterprise customers like Wal-Mart, like Disney, like Bank of America is how can they produce accessible applications easily? So we have a whole research and development effort that is created for companies to create applications that are accessible. So the last comment I just want to make is accessibility actually can be viewed as a differentiation and it can be balanced with innovation and to allow the company to really benefit from not just providing the right environment workplace for people with disability and provide the best service to the customer but create the business differentiation and benefit for their company. So, I think this is what I''ve asked to share and I guess I can turn back the microphone.
Thank you so much for that. That is wonderful. We''ve just opened the text area if anybody does have any questions. Please type them in and Frances will be able to read them. We will read those out loud as well and get her to respond. Just a few comments on the talk for me, which really stood out for me, which I think is so important. Obviously some of us have bigger businesses and some of us have smaller businesses but really is the aspects of having built in accessibility, so right from the word go of having that mindset that accessibility is really a part of the process rather than something that one has to do on the sides. So for instance I would be interested in your comments about have you received any resistance from people in terms of that concept or has this now got to the point where IBM is really seeing accessibility as really a part of the whole process? And I''ll hand the microphone back to you.
This is still an ongoing challenge every single day. This is not something that we ever can take for granted. I think part of it is because accessibility as a topic has not reached the general awareness as some of the topics like privacy and security. So on a day-to-day basis we have to be very vigilant in educating the awareness and understanding of our development team. Now the task is getting easier if you can integrate your accessibility into the standard process. So earlier I talked about the IBM development process. It took my team many years to come up with the right checklist and to integrate ourselves into the mainline development process. So that action in itself really helped to drive a lot of adoption within our private development group but on a day-to-day basis there is still a lot of hard work because until this topic accessibility becomes top of mind like security and privacy, the challenge will remain there.
Great thank you. And I see we have a question from Thomas who is asking cost is always a consideration from the small modern mom and pop type business as well as government agencies on fixed budgets. How can major organizations such as IBM interface with these varied organizations to fully embed this as IBM has done? Is this more or less a societal integration issue?
This is definitely a topic that we''ve actually been thinking a lot. But the cost issue is not just accessibility and small amounts of business just in general have caused challenges. We think that over time we need to potentially change some of the business models to allow the smaller companies to do what they''re best in doing, like providing services and providing merchandising and take perhaps the IT infrastructure burden away from them. So you can see that they are beginning to have a host of services for HR, for accounting. And we actually think that in the not so distant future perhaps there cold be shared services provided by the government with IBM so that because we can invest in larger infrastructure and have the scalability and the reason, I don''t know how many of you are aware that the kind of technological cloud computing, the could computing the best example is like Amazon. You now when you buy something on Amazon you don''t know who''s running the infrastructure behind. We envision-- we see a new generation of computing platform and also business platform converging to take away a lot the cost burden from the small media enterprises.
Great thank you. And I guess my question was also you know we''ve seen just from an accessibility point of view just looking back on the last 50 years of the ADA how much we had-- the curb cuts in the street have just become so mainstream. Do you think the fact that we are so mobile now with the social media that we have and everybody is needing to have accessibility right at their fingertips is going to make that process become more mainstream just as much as the curb cuts have become mainstream, people don''t even think about it anymore.
We absolutely believe that there is a convergence, the mobile revolutions actually is creating a great opportunity of accessibility to mainstreamed. Because if you look at mobile devices like cell phones it really requires a very simple and elegant design and in many cases accessibility design, some people will call it universal design, the concept is so you reach to a design scenario where it''s very intuitive, it''s simple, it''s easy and we think that these kind of mobile design principles map very well to the accessibility design principles. So within IBM we actually have began to merge our accessibility team with our usability team and we are striving for what we call the usable design, usable access design principles. So yes I believe that there is, we are on a, perpetually on a journey through the technology and also through technologic changes like mobile that are leading us to mainstreaming in the not so distant future.
Thanks Frances. The other question or the other point that you raised which to me was very interesting is the question of collaboration. So even a company which is as big as IBM and has the resources behind it, it sounded like you still needed and used the input of people who were using your product who might be outside of the company. And that to me was a very positive thing, which I think that for those of us who are in smaller businesses can make use of is when we are looking at accessibility and needing to take usability or accessibility or so on is that we can make use of that broader community of advocacy groups or interest groups who might be able to and might be interested in actually helping us to make our products or our services more accessible. So could you talk a little bit more about that collaborative effort? Frances go ahead and click on your mic.
I''m sorry. Can you hear me now? Yeah I was saying that inside my organization we have an advocacy and outreach group team. We do this globally and we have found that working with these advocacy groups and outreach organizations has been tremendously helpful in that they really supplement us with in the business term the market intelligence of the user requirements and then also they are very up-to-date on policy and legislation changes. Business as you know is all about anticipation and risk management. By having these equal system partners with us they really give us a heads up view of what the market, also the user requirements are. So we have really benefited tremendously from working with these different advocacy groups. We also work with different service providers, also with assisted technology companies just so we can have, even though we are not into assisted technology business ourselves but again many times they bring to us what the customers you know really are dealing with and what their challenges are. So I could not say enough how important these external organizations is to the long-term you know kind of value of our organization.
Lovely thank you. One other question, right at the beginning of your presentation you were talking about the importance of the policy change that you put into effect that really made the whole process take off for you. I''d be interested a little bit more in that process and how you got the policy to be implemented and what maybe triggered that process to be accepted by IBM, but really all about that policy.
Yeah, the policy, by the way we actually believe that accessibility is one of those topics that have to be topped down. It has to be a policy-driven business initiative. It is not a bottom up approach. I mean you certainly can do it bottom up, but its going to be a lot harder because the whole basic concept of accessibility is not readily understood or appreciated by every person or every manager and every customer, every employee. So there is a differential understanding or also the levels of you know the level of understanding that it really requires a clear top down policy statement. So inside IBM we have this corporate instruction, think of them as IBM laws. We have corporate instruction for how to deal with the environment. We have corporate instruction for how to deal with security and privacy. And we have a CI-162, which is the corporate instruction dealing with accessibility. And this is a policy statement, we actually work on it, publish it and distribute to all the divisions within IBM, whether you are a lines of business division or you are a corporate function like HR or finance, you must adhere to, in this case, accessibility principle in your organization. And it has turned out to be extremely effective in making sure that there is no misunderstanding about how important accessibility is in an operational study.
Thank you one other question, which Thomas has raised, I think is very near and dear to a lot of our hearts and a source of endless frustration, and that is how far along is real-time application? We all know the frustration of non-customer service and just getting a hold of computer companies and having call or help centers outside of the U.S. can you give us an idea of what IBM is maybe doing in terms of online customer service and how that affects accessibility?
I''m sorry I''m not too sure. Are we talking about on-line customer service for let''s say a person with hearing impairment, is that what we''re talking about?
I''m sorry, Thomas perhaps you can just type in a little bit more clarity of what you''re meaning but it sounds-- my interpretation would be about anybody with a disability who''s using an on-line customer service facility.
The-- maybe Thomas can-- okay the real-time assistance for-- there are a couple of scenarios. Real-time assistance lets say for a blind user, that is the technology that we are-- so for example in that case it''s really about content, like content accessibility for a blind or low-vision user. The technology is right now in beta testing in Japan, because this technology was developed by our Tokyo research lab, so there a couple counties in Japan has implemented this technology and they are trying to see if their government does county services provided to their citizens can be improved by having this on-line real-time social collaboration scenario billed out. So that''s one example. Another one is like the customer services for deaf employees; in that case you want to be able to transcribe the call center representative speech that also is in beta testing right. Yeah, both of these technologies, Thomas'' point is very well taken. Both of them go way beyond assisting a disabled person. And that''s why we actually are looking forward to collaborating with some research project that''s potentially some of your controversies they are working on is to really begin to blend the corporate research or private research that we have done along with some of your government funded research to see if we can accelerate the adoption in the market place.
Great. Well Frances thank you so much. I think we''ve just run out of time. It''s just right on the end of our session. We don''t have any more time for questions. But thank you all once again for participating and Frances for a very interesting and thought provoking presentation. I think this is particularly timely as we do celebrate the 20th anniversary of the signing of the American with Disabilities Act, which is coming up within the next week. We do realize that many of you do still have many questions for our speaker and we''re sorry if you didn''t have an opportunity to ask your question. And we would advise you please to contact our regional ADA centers and the number for that is 800-949-4232. Once again, that''s 800-949-4232. And perhaps Ernestine can just type that in for us there. We are-- just want to thank Frances once again for sharing time and knowledge with us and we really do hope you''ve all learned a lot about what we can really do within your own businesses for the case for business to accept and to adopt the accessibility within their frameworks. So thank you all for that. And please join us again for our next session, which will be on September 8th and that one will be talking about creating accessible videos for your website with Marcia Swank and that will be very much a high tech session, but we look forward to having you all there. And Frances, thank you once again and that concludes our session. So have a good weekend everybody. Bye bye.
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