Why is Optimizing PeopleSoft for Accessibility so difficult?

By Chris Heller • September 10, 2017

If you’re responsible for Accessibility at your organization, you have a lot of responsibilities:  facilities, training, technology, documentation, note taking, testing, and in the case of higher education – all of the supporting student and employee systems.  And, PeopleSoft is just one of those areas of responsibility – but it’s also something that is always a challenge – and your IT group struggles to meet your requirements.

This blog entry is intended to describe why PeopleSoft is more difficult to change than some of your other systems – as opposed to your website (for example.)

So, what makes PeopleSoft unique?  In a nutshell, it comes down to these 3 things:

  • PeopleSoft has thousands of Complex Use Cases (business functions it supports)
  • PeopleSoft Generates HTML Programmatically
  • PeopleSoft’s development tools don’t have a mechanism for addressing Accessibility Issues or optimizing user experience for assistive technologies

PeopleSoft Use Cases

A standard PeopleSoft environment has between 6,000 and 12,000 pages.  This is because, as an ERP system, there is a lot of data to be captured and managed – spanning all key areas of your HCM and Financial systems.  Institutions of higher education offer additional complexity as PeopleSoft’s use cases cover students enrolling in classes, in addition to the standard use cases found in commercial organizations (ex. employees enrolling in benefits, entering time and expenses, as well as back-office functions to support these processes.)  This creates a high bar for optimizing behavior for all of the assistive technologies available; spanning the wide range of users who routinely access those systems.

PeopleSoft’s Application Architecture

PeopleSoft is what’s called a “definitional development architecture.”  This means that, for the most part, developers use a Graphical User Interface (GUI) to define how the user interface will look instead of writing the code directly.  It has the benefit of streamlining the development process, but also has a significant downside from an accessibility perspective – in that the HTML is generated from these definitions.

What does this mean?  From your perspective, it means that your PeopleSoft development team does not have the ability to change how PeopleSoft generates the HTML.  All of the issues that you may see – such as repeated labels, lack of appropriate ARIA tags, the fact that the HTML is complex and does not follow a semantic structure (relying on CSS) – can not be changed by your PeopleSoft team because is generated by code developed by Oracle in a manner that cannot be modified easily by anybody outside of Oracle.

So, what can I do?

This architecture is why GreyHeller created our UX product (PeopleUX), which intercepts PeopleSoft’s HTML to apply rules to it and give your PeopleSoft team the hooks to change how PeopleSoft generates HTML for given transactions.  The rules address the vast majority of accessibility issues across the 6,000 or more PeopleSoft transactions, while the control allows you to optimize the most complicated use cases in the ways that you would like.

PeopleUX Features

PeopleUX delivers platform-wide consumerization of PeopleSoft (for smartphone, tablet, and desktop), optimizing all PeopleSoft pages without customizations. To take a closer look at how PeopleUX optimizes PeopleSoft to accommodate for a wide variety of disabilities requiring assistive technologies (blindness/low vision, color blindness, limited mobility, and cognitive disabilities) you can view our PeopleUX Features Datasheet HERE. We would also encourage you schedule a customized demonstration today!

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