Abilities Network

Challenge

Our employees and customers, as well as those in our local communities with special needs or abilities, face unique challenges on a daily basis. For our employees, it’s important to understand and address their workplace accessibility needs in order to enhance their lives and work contribution while also ensuring their working environment promotes a sense of belonging. For our customers with special needs or abilities, we strive to understand how our products may be developed to improve their usability and experience. For those in our community with special needs and abilities, we recognize the importance of providing support through our programs and sponsorships. However, solving for accessibility and inclusion for our employees, customers and those in our local communities can be challenging given the extremely wide spectrum of intellectual and physical differences.

Actions

We have approached understanding and addressing ways we can enhance accessibility and inclusion for our employees, our customers and our local communities through collaboration between our internal teams, our Abilities Network (Employee Resource Group) and our external partners. An example of how we are addressing accessibility issues for employees who are hearing impaired is to have real time closed captioning for large presentations and equipping some conference rooms with closed loop devices. 

However, it’s not enough to ensure all our employees have what they need to be successful in their roles. It’s just as important for them to have a sense of belonging and for them to feel that they are a valued part of the team. To this end, our Abilities Network has been instrumental in developing training programs that focus on educating all our employees on some of the hurdles our employees with special needs face on a daily basis. These programs include an introductory training on Disability Etiquette, developed in partnership with Springboard Consulting, a training on Mental Well-Being in the Workplace, and a pilot program focused on understanding how best to work with employees on the autism spectrum.

Through our diverse employee base and our Abilities Network, we strive to tap into insight for ways we can develop our products to enhance the experience for our customers with special needs or abilities. The Accessibility Champions Program focuses on helping our product developers better understand the needs of our customers with special needs. The program has 3 levels. Employees who have participated in the program receive a badge that is displayed on their internal directory profile

In addition to our Accessibility Champions Program, we strive to support our customers with special needs through both partnerships and sponsorships:

  • For the past 5 years, we have sponsored the SageBrush conference which focuses on meeting with blind and low-vision entrepreneurs to understand their needs with assistive technologies and connecting them with developers and project managers. We have also provided free licenses to QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop for entrepreneurs interested in converting to Intuit’s accounting software.
  • Yantern is a new company focused on deaf entrepreneurship. Intuit has made Yantern a preferred client and sponsored their inaugural Y-Summit, an online conference for deaf entrepreneurship. 
  • Aira (Artificial Intelligence Remote Agent) is a startup that is using a combination of artificial intelligence, mobile technology, data-driven design, and highly trained agents to give blind and low-vision people remote sighted assistance. We sponsor Aira usage for blind and low-vision small business owners to complete tasks related to running their business. This promotion is not limited to Intuit products or customers. The majority of Aira tasks have included reading inaccessible documents, signing forms, sighted assistance for inventory and inspection, and remote sign in to complete a task within inaccessible software. 
  • We sponsor the annual Web4All conference, which is the leading event for international accessibility research. Intuit’s sponsorship provides prizes for the best papers and travel scholarships for students to present their papers. Scholarship winners have included students with disabilities from across the world. Best paper winners have built applications to transform static chemistry images into accessible, interactive components, diagnose dyslexia in pre-literate children via music games, and detecting autism via eye-gaze tracking on websites. 

We recognize the importance of supporting those with special needs and abilities within our local communities. 

  • Founding member of Teach Access, an organization dedicated to incorporating accessibility into computer science curriculum through partnerships between top technology companies and Universities. We are also a co-host of the annual Teach Access Study Abroad program that brings students to the San Francisco Bay Area to meet with accessibility teams within technology companies. 
  • Partnering with Integrate - Autism Employment Advisors, which is a non-profit organization that works with organizations to identify, recruit and retain professionals on the autism spectrum. In April 2020, we will host mock interview sessions for college juniors and seniors on the autism spectrum. 
  • Partnered with AbleCloset which adapts books for children that have limited fine motor skills, making it easier for them to turn the pages. Our employee volunteers made more than 80 books to be distributed through AbleCloset. 
  • Employee volunteers spent time cleaning cabins at Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa, CA where many blind or low vision kids and adults come to learn how they can become independent. 
  • Co-sponsored an event with the organization Canine Companions for Independence.
  • Approximately 175 employee volunteers in India registered for running a marathon in pairs with someone with a disability.

The Annual Intuit Accessibility Summit was held in Bangalore in October 2019. This year’s summit is focused on employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The summit had participants from 200 companies and included presentations, workshops, panel discussions, and conversations.

Outcomes

We continue in our commitment to address the special needs of our employees, our customers and those in our local communities with special needs in both small and big ways. Listen to how changing the invoicing screen on our QuickBooks Online product directly impacted one of our customers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4fsRVb-Y_o&feature=youtu.be

Contact

Cheryl Aranha:
[email protected]

 

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