Global Accessibility Awareness Day – Embracing inclusion and accessibility at HGS

As an organization, HGS beliefs that Diversity and Inclusion fosters innovation and creativity, our focus has always been on ensuring that everyone, from every dimension of diversity is provided equal opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.

Our Disability Inclusion Program has been a part of this journey since early 2017 with well-defined programs and policies that enable hiring talent, ensuring accessibility through reasonable accommodation, providing equal learning opportunities and create awareness through proper disability sensitization.

According to World Bank, a staggering one billion people, or 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability. As per the 2016 updated census data, in India alone, 26.8 million people have disability, which accounts for 2.1% of the overall population. Given this, it is crucial for organizations, governments and societies at large to enable and provide accessibility with the aim to bring people with disability to main stream. The Rights to People with Disability Act, 2016, guaranteed some fundamental rights for People with Disabilities, but the real battle for PwDs still continues as they fight everyday discrimination, stereotypes, biases and inaccessibility.  

The Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), is marked just to bring forth those issues and create awareness about accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities. It is marked annually on the third Thursday of May (i.e., 21st May this year).

At HGS, last year has been crucial and a milestone in many ways as we committed ourselves to creating and enable digital and physical accessibility for all our colleagues with disability. The launch of the voluntary Self-Identification Form helped us to reach out to our colleagues who needed Reasonable Accommodations to perform their jobs/ roles to full potential.  Through this structured approach we were then able to provide assistive devices and accessible technologies to all those who needed them to optimise their efficiency at work. And we don’t limit Reasonable Accommodation just for our people, we go beyond that through the entire recruitment process for our potential candidates as well.

During this time, we also continued to make our internal and external digital platforms accessible too. Do you know that HGS Connect, TLDC, SPARK, AIM and many more internal applications used by our people are accessible for anyone with visual, auditory, motor or cognitive disabilities? The same is true for our external facing website, that would enable applicants and potential candidates with disability apply for roles with ease.

Our mandatory disability sensitization e-module has also helped in creating awareness about disability and promote inclusion through usage of ‘people-first’ terminologies and displaying proper disability etiquette.

Amidst the focus on digital accessibility, we also conducted physical infrastructure audits for all our offices across HGS India. Key recommendations were implemented and this will continue through the coming years. Did you know that we even modified our existing emergency evacuation procedure to make it work for a process that primarily employs people with hearing impairments? This process changes the auditory signals used for emergency evacuation to visual signals. 

With all these changes, last year, in FY 19-20, we hired and deployed 69 people with disabilities in various client facing, support and business roles. With that, today HGS India family has 161 people with disability with us and each one of them bring along their unique abilities and skills.

All this definitely called for a celebration and therefore, we marked the International Day for People with Disabilities through the month of December 2019 with a focus on ‘Celebrating Abilities’ and the campaign received overwhelming response across all social media channels. And we didn’t stop at that. Our corporate D&I video is completely accessible for those with vision and hearing impairment.

 We continue to trudge this path with the firm belief that social inclusion and acceptance is the key to integrate people with disability and will reaffirm our belief through various processes and policies in the coming years as well.

We are very proud to be a PWD inclusive organization and look forward to attract and retain more candidates while focusing on their abilities.