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By Stefanie Nennstiel and Renate Dötzer

More than one billion people—about 15% of the world’s population—have some form of disability, and between 110 million and 190 million adults have significant difficulties in functioning. We are seeing a trend in society towards increasing inclusion of differently-abled people as emerging technology will help over 350 million people with disabilities enter the labor market in the next 10 years. Governments are noticing this trend, and many have passed accessibility legislation which can be found in SAP’s Accessibility Competence Center.

Everyone benefits from the inclusion of differently-abled colleagues in the workplace, and avoiding it is costly. Developing countries lose up to seven percent of their gross domestic product every year due to the exclusion of people with disabilities from the labor market. Employers are missing out too as more than 75% of employers surveyed ranked employees with disabilities as good or very good on work quality, motivation, engagement, integration with co-workers, dependability, and attendance (Institute of Corporate Productivity).

SAP aims to be at the forefront of this trend by developing both the inclusive work environment and the technology that will allow us to access this untapped talent pool to offer unique customer insights. With differently-abled employees in a variety of roles at SAP, we are always gaining new insights regarding the best methods for tackling accessibility issues, and we have been focused on accessibility for many years because accessibility leads to better usability and improves efficiency. We are proud of our achievements but there is much more we can do.

Achievements to Date

We are proud to offer services that enable visually and/or hearing-impaired people the ability to participate in key SAP communications in an efficient and non-compromised way. We also provide an accessibility guide for our employees so they can be inclusive and accessible in their communications. The guide includes information about accessibility legislation for respective countries, readability guidelines, and golden rules for ensuring various forms of communication are accessible such as emails, PowerPoints, Excel spreadsheets, videos, meetings, and much more.

Golden rules and guidelines include minimizing background noise, speaking clearly and slowly without dialect, and giving clear verbal explanations of referenced objects and processes. Recommendations for font types, presentation styles, graphics, contrast ratios, and textual descriptions for best accessibility practices are included as well. The guidelines also stipulate that embedded or external videos in presentations are closed-captioned and video player settings are accessible.

Accessibility requirements are included in several internal and external guidelines, such as People Survey and Supplier Code of Conduct. Additionally, the SAP Diversity and Inclusion Office has joined forces with the Ariba Development team and Global Procurement Office to embed accessibility requirements into all Global Procurement categories and processes. SAP now has Amazon Alexa linked to our Ariba catalogue so blind and partially sighted (BPS) customers and colleagues can use speech to search for products.

We currently provide subtitling and live transcript service assistance for our Global All-Hands events, and we provide guidelines for accessible meetings and events to embed accessibility requirements into all virtual meetings and provide tips about how to make meetings and events as inclusive as possible for those who are differently-abled. Our guidelines for virtual events involve ensuring the invitation to the meeting and other communications are accessible and making technical support options for the event available. Another recent SAP accessibility initiative is using SAP Media Share for publishing All-Hands recordings as it allows automatic subtitles. Please find an example on the screen in the picture on the right. This additional functionality was featured throughout the keynotes at SAPPHIRE and was extremely well received by all attendees. Making things accessible to people with different abilities makes things better for all of us.

SAP is also committed to including diversity and inclusion best practices in SAP SuccessFactors’ product design and development under the Business Beyond Bias umbrella. The job analyzer tool is one example which makes job postings gender neutral. Our future goals for accessibility at SAP are ambitious but achievable. Among them, we want our enablement and training materials to be inclusive, and we are working on solutions and guidelines for designers of future trainings to ensure an inclusive culture. We are also developing an accessibility framework for Mergers and Acquisitions to include diversity and inclusion principles into the mergers and acquisition roadmap and product design.

At SAP, we are proud to continue to update our accessibility guidelines, conduct accessibility awareness sessions, and improve our accessibility features and testing for products with defined accessibility requirements and processes.

Stefanie Nennstiel is the Senior Director of the Global Diversity and Inclusion Organization and a Senior HR Program Manager with a focus on accessibility, third party and supplier diversity. Stefanie is also one of the key stakeholders involved in SAP’s Autism at Work program and was recently interviewed by Diginomica about SAP’s differently-abled inclusion efforts.

Renate Doetzer is the HR Project Consultant for Global Diversity and Inclusion Organization with a focus on accessibility standards for SAP HR and Mergers and Acquisitions. Renate has been instrumental in creating SAP’s Accessibility Guidelines and SAP’s adoption of speech-to-text technology like how SAPPHIRE keynotes now include close captioning.


To get more details, please visit https://www.sap.com/corporate/en/company/diversity/accessibility.html and https://experience.sap.com/basics/accessibility-user-experience/, which describes how SAP handles accessibility topics.