According to the WHO, about 15 percent of the global population – approximately one billion people – live with some form of disability. Despite this huge number, considerations around accessibility remain an afterthought for many companies around the world. When companies do think about accessibility, especially as it relates to work environments, most focus on the layout and design of physical office space. However, physical space is only one of many considerations that need to be taken into account. Some disabilities, whether they be physical, neurological or mental, are invisible, and yet they are just as important. We may not all be able to grasp what it truly means to live life with a disability. But, at Poly, we are going to try. This year for Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we’re putting a big focus on increasing our internal dialogue around the importance of accessibility awareness within Poly’s corporate culture.
Accessibility Features in Poly Products
At Poly we embrace our potential to foster accessibility inclusion on a global scale by delivering technology solutions that help give everyone an equitable seat at the meeting table. Some of our products integrate features that are helpful to those with accessibility challenges, especially in today’s hybrid work environment. For example, Poly headsets have built-in audio cues like “muted” that let people with vision or neurodiversity challenges know if their microphone is on or off in addition to active noise canceling, which is great for people with sound-related sensory integration issues.
Conference rooms are another area where accessibility is not always considered. Poly conference phones are equipped with auto-answering so those who cannot manually answer a phone don’t have to do so to join a call. Our video conferencing systems also offer a flexible experience thanks to multiple controller options. Instead of a one-kind-fits-all design, the redundancy of controller options allows people to utilize the controls that suit them best. This, coupled with the speaker tracking on most of our new cameras, help create a more equitable conferencing experience for those with disabilities—including blindness, mobility impairments and some cognitive challenges.
In a recent blog titled Poly Innovations Support a More Inclusive Workforce, we highlighted some great anecdotal feedback from our customer Amicus Therapeutics, who deployed a Poly Studio P15 to help an employee whose disability requires him to use a ventilator. The use of Poly’s unique NoiseBlock AI technology to eliminate the background noise from his ventilator gave this team member the confidence to be a much more active participant in team meetings.
An Inclusive Workplace
Poly recognizes its role in creating and upholding an inclusive, accessible workplace where everyone feels they belong. Our Global Services team is equipped to communicate and deliver the design, deployment, optimization and support for more accessible global workspaces. While our products, which make workspaces effective, already hit a lot of requirements across the portfolio for accessibility, we are continuously innovating to improve and establish greater consistency across all our products. Return to our blog later this year to read about new products that will have more specific accessibility features designed right in!
Internally, we are fortunate to have passionate people at Poly who are committed to addressing ability bias and improving accessibility standards throughout the business. Just this year, an Accessibility Council was formed and between May 9 and May 13 they led a series of activities designed to raise awareness and cultivate empathy around accessibility. Their work on internal initiatives like this are important as is their collaboration with cross-functional teams, influencing our culture and our products.
Our Inclusion, Diversity, Education and Awareness (IDEA) program leader, Estelle Jackson, hosted an educational webinar on accessibility, covering Poly’s journey and aspirations. The Accessibility Council also hosted lunch and learn sessions, featuring “day in the life” activities that help employees empathize and understand the challenges others face and, most importantly, how to support each other in an inclusive way.
Influencing the Future
As a global technology company, we know we are in a position to make a real difference. By enabling businesses and professionals with accessible audio and video services and solutions, we can make the world of work more equitable. We are proud to be making progress on our accessibility journey and raising awareness around these important issues is a critical step.