By Autumn McReynolds, Employment Brand Sourcing Manager
Do you know what the “world’s largest minority group” is? Often unseen, disabilities are more common than most people know. For me, however, this has always been top of mind, having grown up with a grandmother who was unable to walk, a close family friend with a learning disability and a former coworker with an intellectual disability. Understanding how to best communicate with and be respectful of them was critical to building positive, lasting relationships.
Because of this, I became a member of the Sodexo Organization for disAbilities Resources (SOAR) national committee earlier this year to help myself and my colleagues become more aware of the types of disabilities that exist and how to focus on the abilities of others and what they can do in the workplace. One way we’re working toward this is by launching a one-stop shop for disability training, resources, accommodation request information and much more that Sodexo employees can access at any time.
The launch of our one-stop shop coincides with National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) and will include stories of how my fellow SOAR members and other Sodexo management employees are getting involved in their communities and making strides to become allies for people with disabilities. To kick off the month, here is the first post in our 4-part series, highlighting the important work they’re doing:
The VOICE Training
The VOICE, SOAR’s signature learning lab, provides training on how to become an ally for people with disabilities by raising awareness of what a disability might be, including seen and unseen cognitive disabilities, providing ideas on low or no cost accommodations and sharing best practices on how to assist people with disabilities. To date, over 1,000 employees have participated!
While employees have the option of participating via webinar, one of the benefits of classroom training is that it gives people the opportunity to learn with their hearts and to see the visual reactions of other participants.
“We’ve had some real ‘aha’ moments in our training when we were surprised to learn about team members with hidden disabilities,” Bill Anstee, Vice President of Human Resources for Healthcare, said. “That promotes understanding on why they might respond differently or not at all. This training has changed the way we communicate with each other; it’s a great team-building tool.”
This is just one example of how Sodexo employees are supporting people with disabilities, and we will continue to publish more throughout the month. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series next week, and follow our dedicated Pinterest board for additional content, facts and much more.
To read more stories about the Sodexo culture, our people, job seeking tips or job opportunities, visit our Careers Blog at www.SodexoUSACareersBlog.com
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We firmly believe that the internet should be available and accessible to anyone, and are committed to providing a website that is accessible to the widest possible audience, regardless of circumstance and ability.
To fulfill this, we aim to adhere as strictly as possible to the World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 (WCAG 2.1) at the AA level. These guidelines explain how to make web content accessible to people with a wide array of disabilities. Complying with those guidelines helps us ensure that the website is accessible to all people: blind people, people with motor impairments, visual impairment, cognitive disabilities, and more.
This website utilizes various technologies that are meant to make it as accessible as possible at all times. We utilize an accessibility interface that allows persons with specific disabilities to adjust the website’s UI (user interface) and design it to their personal needs.
Additionally, the website utilizes an AI-based application that runs in the background and optimizes its accessibility level constantly. This application remediates the website’s HTML, adapts Its functionality and behavior for screen-readers used by the blind users, and for keyboard functions used by individuals with motor impairments.
If you’ve found a malfunction or have ideas for improvement, we’ll be happy to hear from you. You can reach out to the website’s operators by using the following email
Our website implements the ARIA attributes (Accessible Rich Internet Applications) technique, alongside various different behavioral changes, to ensure blind users visiting with screen-readers are able to read, comprehend, and enjoy the website’s functions. As soon as a user with a screen-reader enters your site, they immediately receive a prompt to enter the Screen-Reader Profile so they can browse and operate your site effectively. Here’s how our website covers some of the most important screen-reader requirements, alongside console screenshots of code examples:
Screen-reader optimization: we run a background process that learns the website’s components from top to bottom, to ensure ongoing compliance even when updating the website. In this process, we provide screen-readers with meaningful data using the ARIA set of attributes. For example, we provide accurate form labels; descriptions for actionable icons (social media icons, search icons, cart icons, etc.); validation guidance for form inputs; element roles such as buttons, menus, modal dialogues (popups), and others. Additionally, the background process scans all of the website’s images and provides an accurate and meaningful image-object-recognition-based description as an ALT (alternate text) tag for images that are not described. It will also extract texts that are embedded within the image, using an OCR (optical character recognition) technology. To turn on screen-reader adjustments at any time, users need only to press the Alt+1 keyboard combination. Screen-reader users also get automatic announcements to turn the Screen-reader mode on as soon as they enter the website.
These adjustments are compatible with all popular screen readers, including JAWS and NVDA.
Users can also use shortcuts such as “M” (menus), “H” (headings), “F” (forms), “B” (buttons), and “G” (graphics) to jump to specific elements.
We aim to support the widest array of browsers and assistive technologies as possible, so our users can choose the best fitting tools for them, with as few limitations as possible. Therefore, we have worked very hard to be able to support all major systems that comprise over 95% of the user market share including Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Opera and Microsoft Edge, JAWS and NVDA (screen readers), both for Windows and for MAC users.
Despite our very best efforts to allow anybody to adjust the website to their needs, there may still be pages or sections that are not fully accessible, are in the process of becoming accessible, or are lacking an adequate technological solution to make them accessible. Still, we are continually improving our accessibility, adding, updating and improving its options and features, and developing and adopting new technologies. All this is meant to reach the optimal level of accessibility, following technological advancements. For any assistance, please reach out to