The UEX Project: Access Is (Not Taken for) Granted

By James Tehrani

When it comes to improving software, people come first. But shouldn’t that mean all people? 

We think so.  

When we think about our favorite apps and programs, nowadays form is just as important as function. The two really go hand in hand because a visually appealing program can help make navigation intuitive and frustration-free.  

There’s a lot that goes into any robust web/mobile design, but there are some things that you might not even have considered that user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) developers do, such as, “How would I navigate a program if I am visually impaired?”  

Glad you asked. 

This is something that PrismHR has been planning for some time as accessibility is a key component of our focus with the recently announced PrismHR Unified Employee Experience (UEX) project. 

Disabilities in the United States 

More people have disabilities than you might think. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 4 U.S. adults (27% of the population) have some type of disability. 

Of course, there are many types of disabilities ranging from movement-related to thinking-related to mental health-related disabilities and more. Also, about 1 in 10 of the people in this country with disabilities (11%) experience hearing and/or vision difficulties, including color-blindness.  

The point, of course, is not to point out our differences but to discuss how we can become more inclusive to ensure everyone has the same opportunities. Access, especially when it comes to technology, plays a big part in that. And that’s especially true when it comes to any human resources-related processes. Everyone who can use a computer or smartphone on their own should be able to use an HR platform to sign up for benefits, check payroll, etc., without issue. 

Being accessible will help your clients’ expand their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) efforts. In turn, it will help your business grow as well as your clients become more inclusive and grow their business. 

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A 2017 study from Deloitte and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative found that 80% of respondents thought inclusion is important when choosing an employer and 39% said they would leave their current organization for a more inclusive one. Small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) are already struggling to recruit and retain talent, so being able to provide them with a tool that can help promote DEI should be a no-brainer.  

Rob Roberts
PrismHR Director of User Experience 

Just as buildings should be accessible—software tools should be, too. After all, a unified experience means a great experience for everyone.  

“With this UEX project, we’re aiming to support the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0,” says Rob Roberts, PrismHR’s director of user experience. “This will also give HR outsourcers the ability to broaden their appeal to attract new clients.” 

What Does This Mean? 

Even though web and app development wasn’t on the radar in 1990 when the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) went into effect, still states: “When Congress enacted the ADA in 1990, it intended for the ADA to keep pace with the rapidly changing technology of our times. Since 1996, the Department of Justice has consistently taken the position that the ADA applies to web content.” 

What started as a 14-point guideline to do things like provide text equivalents for graphics, video and audio, has now morphed into WCAG 2.0, which states content “must be perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust, supported by success criteria for meeting those principles.” 

Unless there’s a major revamp, like the PrismHR UEX project, it is difficult for companies’ websites, mobile apps, etc., to meet those standards. Now that the UEX project is rolling out soon, PrismHR software will target the WCAG 2.0 Level AA requirements for accessibility, which includes: 

  • Ability to navigate using screen readers and keyboard sequences. 
  • Color contrast that will be at least 4.5:1 in most instances, meaning text is easily read over different backgrounds on a webpage (Learn more)
  • Alt text (text describing an image that can be read by screen readers) or a similar solution that is used for images that convey meaning. 
  • Navigation elements that are consistent throughout the site. 
  • Form fields that have accurate labels. 
  • Status updates that can be conveyed through a screen reader. 
  • Headings that are used in logical structural order. 

Access should be granted not taken for granted with today’s software technology, and PrismHR is ready to roll out the pièce de résistance of user experience to help prove that point.  

James Tehrani is PrismHR’s digital content marketing manager. He is an award-winning writer and editor based in the Chicago area.