Aligned to the belief that technology must satisfy the needs of a diverse population, Cognizant is building out new solutions and services with accessibility and inclusion at the heart.
Fresh from taking home Microsoft’s Asia Pacific Region Social Impact Recognition – Inclusion Changemaker award in 2021, the global system integrator (GSI) is building capabilities that support inclusive design and accessibility as a standard for all offerings delivered to customers.
“Accessibility is a responsibility as well as an opportunity that drives innovation,” said Shaun Ng, director of Strategic Alliances across ASEAN at Cognizant.
As outlined by Ng, plans are underway to continue investing in training associates aligned to the business’ fundamental value proposition of ensuring designers and developers are not only technically savvy but possess a “critical understanding” of accessibility and inclusion.
“We engineer impact to improve everyday life,” he added. “The ability to design, develop and deliver accessible solutions to our customers is the biggest motivation for us to empower our associates with trainings on accessibility and inclusion.”
For example, the Microsoft Inclusion and Accessibility trainings are equipping Cognizant associates with the “awareness, tools and technologies” which will be the foundation of every solution that is delivered to customers.
This includes designing user journeys which consider the needs of people with disabilities, ensuring every webpage and application is tested for accessibility and creating accessible content.
“Microsoft technologies are enabling us to service a diverse customer base,” Ng outlined.
“This includes features in Microsoft products – such as closed captions on Teams or PowerPoint presentations for inclusive communication – plus Accessibility checkers and accessible templates for inclusive collaboration or Azure Applied AI services like Immersive reader which embeds text reading and comprehension capabilities into applications that support those with learning differences.
“Third-party applications like Accessibility Insights are also helping us spot and address issues quickly. For instance, to assess websites for WCAG 2.1 AA coverage or using Visual Helper to spot and fix accessibility errors with visualisations.”
Partnering on social responsibility
Building on more than 17 years of partnership and shaped by multiple joint accolades –
Cognizant and Microsoft continue to engineer solutions capable of modernising technology and processes in response to “fast changing” customer requirements, underpinned by an unwavering commitment to social responsibility.
“Through our business and through our social responsibility program, Outreach, Cognizant engineers’ impact to improve everyday life,” Ng said.
“Our partnership with Microsoft Enabler aimed to address accessibility and inclusion back in 2020 for persons with disabilities to benefit from technology that advances employability and improves inclusion in the tech workplace.”
This project originated in ASEAN and has now been propelled globally. This is due to both parties driving initiatives such as mentorship / career readiness programs, alongside developing artificial intelligence (AI) solutions for wheelchair navigation systems.
Other key initiatives include providing pro-bono Microsoft Power BI solutions for a prominent disability charity in Singapore to analyse social trends to advocate and shape policies for people with disabilities.
“Earning the Microsoft Asia Pacific and Singapore Partner of the Year Award for Societal Impact back-to-back in 2020 and 2021 is a testament of our strong partnership with Microsoft in their Enabler Program,” Ng acknowledged.
“What gives us more joy is the positive feedback we have jointly received directly from people who have benefited from our joint efforts. This motivates us to keep moving in this direction with over 6,400 of our associates (and counting) across 31 countries now taking part in accessibility and inclusion initiatives.”
In looking ahead, Ng cited “skilling” as a top priority for Cognizant – evident through the GSI working with Microsoft on the Include Cloud Skills Challenge to improve inclusive design capabilities.
“Accessibility is a part of CALIBER 2022, the annual Cognizant training, enablement and hackathon in Microsoft technologies, which includes developing accessible and inclusive solutions for everyday things, such as e-commerce journeys for people with visual impairment, people unable to use a mouse or neuro-divergent users,” he added.
Highlighting how the ecosystem can support increased customer appetite for transformation, Vivek Puthucode – Chief Partner Officer at Microsoft Asia Pacific – outlines the path to partner success. To read – click here.