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6th European eAccessibility Forum
Putting eAccessibility at the core of information systems

26/03/2012, 9:00 - 18:00
Cité des sciences et de l'industrie, Paris

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Challenges related to e-accessibility in large companies

Bruno Ménard (Paris, France)
Sanofi ; CIGREF

Speaker's information

photo Ménard

Bruno Ménard is the CIO of Sanofi. He graduated from the Ecole Superieure de Commerce of  Lille. He has got a Masters in Finance from the University of Lille and a Graduate Diploma of Accountants. Bruno MENARD began his career with Sanofi in 1987. Having held several financial positions in France and the United States, he became General Manager in Singapore in 1994 and the Philippines in 1995. In 1998, he joined Sanofi Winthrop France as Director of Resources. In 2001, Bruno MENARD became Chief Information Officer of Sanofi-Synthelabo and in 2004, Vice President, Information Systems, Sanofi-aventis.

Bruno Menard is Vice President of the Club Informatique des Grandes Entreprises Françaises (French CIGREF), after having served as Chairman from October 2008 to October 2011.



Warning : The short papers of this conference have been prepared by BrailleNet who accept any responsibility for them. However the slides supporting the presentation have been provided by the author.  A video of the full presentation is also provided. Slides and video are available through links blelow.

Bruno MENARD discusses the issues of e-accessibility in large companies. It will build on some specific examples to identify the corresponding practices that must be developed in the organizations and functions of Information Systems.

Sanofi group and its corporate social responsability

Sanofi is a leading global diversified healthcare company, researching, developing and distributing therapeutic solutions centered on patients' needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the health field with six developing platforms: the management of diabetes, human vaccines, innovative products, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, and animal health.

As a healthcare global leader, Sanofi must promote social progress, economic development and environmental protection, while acting ethically and responsibly. A sustainable growth model assumes to consider health from a new perspective, patient-centered.

Social responsibility (CSR) is a strategic imperative for Sanofi: it draws our performance, fosters innovation, attracts talent and makes employees proud to be members of society. Integral part of strategy and corporate values, CSR also represents a vision for the future that promotes sustainable growth.

e-Accessibility in practice

According to Tim Berners-Lee, W3C Director and inventor of the World Wide Web, the definition of web accessibility is:

"Making the Web and its services available to all individuals, regardless of hardware or software, network infrastructure, native language, culture, geographical location, or their physical or mental abilities."

The two fundamentals of this definition are access to “web services” and  to “all individuals”. The first concept clearly indicates that what matters above all is access to information, whatever its form, and services, that is to say their functionality, regardless of the technology used. The second concept emphasizes that even if accessibility is strongly related to physical disability or sensory impairment, it affects everyone. Everyone can find oneself disabled at one time or another, even temporarily, because of an arm in a cast, a low-speed connection making pages too long to download.

It also is important to remember that accessibility is not a constraint, but a fundamental principle of the definition of the Internet and of the Web itself at the base of today digital technology.  

Accessibility begins with a pragmatic approach, and the establishment of good practices. The difficulty, when looking at this issue is knowing what to do, without having technical knowledge. At Sanofi, we recommend starting with some good practices: making each feature usable keyboard, captioned videos, add text alternatives to images, and especially structure information (titles, blocks, tags) to be intelligible without images, color codes and relative position on the screen.

These practices, if they are simple, often require some rethinking work habits, and to adapt the tools of content management accordingly. At Sanofi’s Management Information Systems, we had to specifically choose the "frameworks" of development suited to the production of accessible content and to implement specific modules on our content management tools (CMS) for Intranet and Internet.

But this requires to go far beyond the change of tools for creating and developing. To adapt we also have to make sure of the proper use of tools already in place, and of a coherent (and consistent) approach of all families of expertise involved in content creation. First, we set up training courses and information for staff of the Department of Information Systems. Such training should also be tailored to satisfy the criteria specific to professions as diverse as computer graphics or code development. Then we had to convince our partners and suppliers to meet these standards. Finally, it is each person in the company (about 120 000 people at Sanofi) that generates information on a daily basis and must recognize that logic and contribute. A tutorial is presented on a dedicated page for our intranet to each employee to become familiar with these concepts and practice of accessibility points.

For new projects, development of accessibility in information media is taken into account in the design of a project. Setting a minimum level of accessibility, its implementation in the development and sustainability must be integrated into the specifications. While it is difficult to give precise figures on the cost that this represents (approximately 3000 applications for Sanofi) it appears clearly that this represents a significant impact in terms of resources and investment. Nevertheless, we believe that it does not exceed 5% of the total cost on average, and that failing, corrective intervention may prove much more costly and sometimes exceed 20% of the total cost of a system already in place.

Our feedback

Of course, compliance with recommendations on accessibility of information systems is beneficial primarily for people with mobility impairment, mild cognitive, auditory or visual, and made for seniors who may have more or less pronounced forms and combination of these handicaps. But, an interface that makes it accessible, becomes much easier to use for everyone, because lighter, faster to load, better organized. This is similar to buses or trains that floor lowering to allow access to wheelchair users, also benefits people with pushchairs or heavy luggage, and to those who are temporarily forced to walk with canes.  We also noted that our websites following the W3C accessibility levels-A (or AA) was more easily found by search engines. This has a positive impact (not quantified!) On the commercial visibility of our Group. Indeed, a project according to the first level of accessibility is potentially better suited to a good SEO because it contains more keywords, explicit links, text alternatives to images. It also encourages better retention because the functionality provided by Flash animations or scripts, for example, are then designed to be operational in many situations. This illustrates that it is clearly preferable to design a single project that can be both accessible and pleasing to the eye rather than trying to create pages dedicated to a particular disability.

But the process does not stop at the "simple" compliance with a new project. The need to change work habits, to develop processes for validating the accessibility of content generated daily and staff training requires a structured actions, recurring and sponsored by leaders of the company. At Sanofi, this was formalized by the signing of a charter by the Director of Information Systems and the Director of Corporate Social Responsibility.




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