There is one slide in Erika Faust’s presentation on accessible communications that shows an empty picture frame. The caption reads, “Check out this great picture from our recent event.” Faced with this slide, people who are blind or have low vision do not have an inclusive experience. A Communications Analyst at TD Bank Group, Faust says her presentation is as much about building empathy between colleagues as it is about presenting new accessibility tools—and how they can be used to empower people to do more. The emphasis on a culture of inclusion at TD has evolved over a decade-long journey. It began by initially providing technology accommodations to employees and has transitioned to creating a culture in the workplace where celebrating diversity is a core value for all 85,000 employees—and it’s good for business.
“Over the past 10 years, we have learned that accessibility goes beyond compliance,” says Bert Floyd, Senior IT Manager, Assistive Technologies at TD. “Today, understanding and supporting diversity is a strategic advantage. It means we can hire the best and the brightest. And when everyone at TD is thinking in terms of inclusivity, we have that edge when it comes to creating accessible web content and mobile apps for all our customers.”
Along with establishing the Assistive Technologies Program to process accommodation requests from employees and consult with colleagues on “just about every IT project in the company,” TD created the Assistive Technologies Lab. Here, staffers research the latest in assistive technologies and developers can learn how to meet the bank’s internal standards, which align to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0, published by Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium, at the AA level. And employees can visit the lab for one-on-one support and training.
“We provide an assistive technologies lab to employees,” says Julie Branscombe, Senior Inclusion and Diversity Lead at TD Bank Group. “Approximately 6 percent of our employees have self-identified as having a disability. This climate of inclusion reinforces a sense of shared responsibility in collaboration for everyone and generates a sense of confidence as we all work together to drive success at TD.”
Today, TD is taking another step toward becoming what Branscombe calls a “disability confident” organization by deploying Microsoft Office 365 to all employees. It has also deployed Windows 10 on all corporate workstations. “In a disability confident organization, everyone recognizes the unique skills and talents of each other. It’s about being comfortable acknowledging each other’s differences and realizing that we have a shared accountability for inclusion,” she explains. “By using Office 365 and Windows 10, we’re making it simple for our employees to create inclusive content for each other and for our customers, opening a new world of opportunity.”