ACCESSIBILITY AND PEOPLESOFT 8
As many as 500 million people worldwide have physical, sensory, or cognitive disabilities. In the US, about 26 million people (one in ten) have a severe disability (1). Disabilities can require use of special technologies, such as screen readers or braille machines, which perform optimally when web pages follow the conventions in the accessibility guidelines.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act requires that Federal agencies' electronic and information technology is accessible to people with disabilities, including employees and members of the public.
This document provides an overview of PeopleSoft's plans for ensuring PeopleSoft 8 applications are accessible and usable by people with disabilities. These plans are up to date as of March 2001.
What PeopleSoft means by "Accessible Applications"
By "Accessible Applications", PeopleSoft means that to the best our knowledge our applications adhere to the W3C and DOJ accessibility guidelines (see below) which apply to enterprise business applications. It also means that PeopleSoft has made design modifications, beyond what is spelled out in the W3C and DOJ guidelines, in order to provide applications that can be used by people with disabilities and that PeopleSoft is testing the PeopleSoft 8 applications with disabled users.
The following accessibility guidelines from the W3C and
DOJ are being used by PeopleSoft to ensure the accessibility of our applications:
PeopleSoft expects the accessibility guidelines and technologies to evolve over time and we will continue to enhance our technology and applications to adhere to the newest guidelines and to maximize the user experience for the disabled user.
What PeopleSoft has done up to this point to deliver accessible PeopleSoft 8 applications
The effort to address accessibility with PeopleSoft 8 applications started in early 2000 and at this point we are progressing nicely with our goal to begin delivering accessible applications by the end of 2001 across all PeopleSoft 8 product lines.
Browser-based Applications: With PeopleSoft 8, all PeopleSoft 8 applications are browser-based. This means that end users interact with PeopleSoft applications the same way they interact with any website. A big benefit of this is that the end user does not have to learn a proprietary means of navigation and interaction to use PeopleSoft 8 applications. If the end user has experience using a web browser, he or she can leverage this experience when using PeopleSoft 8 applications. We expect this to be a great benefit to disabled users since many are experienced web users.
Metadata-driven Architecture: The PeopleSoft Internet Architecture is a very metadata-driven architecture. Where this is extremely helpful in adhering to the web accessibility guidelines is the HTML generation engine of the architecture. PIA has one place in the architecture where all of the HTML for our browser-based applications is generated and this greatly improves our ability to deliver applications that adhere to the guidelines across all product lines. Why? Since the HTML generation engine creates the HTML for the 14,000-plus PeopleSoft 8 pages, modifying the HTML generation code so that it creates HTML that adheres to the W3C and DOJ accessibility guidelines tackles the vast majority of the work for accessibility. This is a great example of the benefits of a metadata-driven architecture.
PeopleSoft Power HTML Enhancements in PeopleTools 8.12: In PeopleTools 8.12, PeopleSoft made a huge step towards accessibility with the introduction of numerous power user enhancements. See the PeopleSoft Power HTML white paper for details on these enhancements. The primary enhancements related to accessibility deal with mouse-less data entry. Prior to PeopleTools 8.12, end users had to use a mix of the keyboard and mouse for interacting with PeopleSoft 8 applications. Starting with PeopleTools 8.12, the PeopleSoft 8 applications can be completely controlled through the keyboard.
What PeopleSoft is doing in 2001 to deliver accessible PeopleSoft 8 applications
In order to deliver accessible applications, both PeopleTools and applications changes are being made. PeopleSoft currently plans to begin delivering accessible applications across our public sector products in Q4 2001 and plans to have accessible applications across all of our public sector products in 2002. PeopleSoft's long term accessibility goal is to deliver accessible applications across all product lines by the end of 2002.
Note that improving the usability of our applications will be an ongoing process that PeopleSoft will continue to invest in throughout 2001 and beyond. As of March 2001, PeopleSoft has a team of skilled engineers and consultants (who are experts in accessibility issues for web-based applications) addressing this issue and who will continue to improve our products going forward. PeopleSoft currently has more engineers working on this issue than ever before in our company's history and is fully committed to delivering accessible applications. We expect the accessibility of PeopleSoft applications to continue to improve as the guidelines and technology evolve, but just as enhancing the user experience for our traditional end user is a never ending process, the same holds true for delivering a high quality user experience for the disabled user.
To summarize, the following work is being done in 2001
to deliver accessible applications:
PeopleSoft's plans beyond 2001 to continue to deliver accessible applications
PeopleSoft is committed to continue to deliver accessible
applications beyond 2001. To make sure this happens, PeopleSoft is
doing the following:
1 Statistics from Microsoft Windows Guidelines
for Accessible Software Design, December 1999
2 The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 can be found at http://www.w3.org/TR/WAI-WEBCONTENT/ .
3 The DOJ Web Page Accessibility Checklist can be found at http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/508/.