GAAD: An Interview with Swisscom about Accessibility
May 20, 2021, marks the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). GAAD’s goal is to help get the more than one billion people with disabilities and impairments fair access in the digital world
We talked to Monica Castaldi from Swisscom about what her company does to help people with disabilities manage their daily lives, and how making the Swisscom App more accessible can improve the lives of said people.
Monica, how is your organization raising awareness for digital access and inclusion among your employees?
We are offering internal training explaining what accessibility is and who is affected. Following the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and being part of the Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) initiative is very important to us.
By having regular accessibility testing through Applause, we can make sure there are fewer bugs in our apps. We follow a rotation plan by choosing the teams and use cases, ensuring that the knowledge gets spread throughout the company. We also raise awareness by having a monthly Community of Practice Meeting concerning accessibility.
Where do you see the most urgent needs in terms of digital access and inclusion for your customers? Which channels do you offer for these customers to voice their needs?
We have removed barriers for the My Swisscom environment so everybody can access it on their own without needing help. This gives individuals a bit of independence. Swisscom also plans on improving the accessibility of the Blue TV app so all customers, disabled or not, can use it easily. We’re hoping the Blue TV app will follow the example set by My Swisscom.
What is your vision to become (more) accessible and inclusive to those who engage with your digital products?
The goal would be to get the AA-Certification or an appropriate self-declaration. We aim to provide 100% self-service coverage of our products through My Swisscom.
How are you working towards achieving this vision? Which of your offerings is a great example of digital access and inclusion, and why?
We started to make the My Swisscom environment accessible two years ago. So far most of the involved teams are now aware of accessibility and know what the difficulties are. They now know how to use a screen reader and helping tools such as axe core or wave. Some teams even implemented axe core in their testing pipelines.
Which challenges have you encountered on your journey towards (more/ better) digital access and inclusion? Whom do you partner with to help you address and resolve these challenges?
One of our current challenges is to reach an acceptance for the topic internally. Everybody thinks accessibility is a good thing, but the mindset that it gets too expensive or too complicated to implement is widespread.
Finding a team to do the testing is sometimes difficult as everyone is short on resources, and A11y is often not the highest priority. Applause helps us with regular tests and supports us if there are questions. Their reports are easy to understand and implement.
What are your key learnings so far? What would you like to tell other organizations striving to offer more accessible and inclusive digital products and services?
Start working on making your products and services accessible as soon as possible! Make this topic a “must have” and not just a “nice to have.” Raise awareness that the benefits of accessibility aren’t just for impaired individuals, but for everyone. Make sure to involve the whole development chain, and ensure that management supports the need of accessibility.
With our full suite of accessibility testing and inclusive design services, Applause helps organizations identify weaknesses in their digital experiences, resolve issues quickly and integrate best practices into regular operations. In honor of GAAD 2021, we are showcasing organizations that are dedicated to delivering and improving accessible and inclusive digital offerings.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Applause helps Swisscom with their journey to full accessibility, check out our case study.