New PeopleSoft interface demonstrates improved inclusion and accessibility

You might have noticed a change the last time you logged in to PeopleSoft. As part of an upgrade earlier this month, the Business Resource Center (BRC) implemented a new look and feel to the interface, including new icons.

While the old icons served their purpose to illustrate the tasks and functions, they didn’t reflect the diversity of our workforce and the communities we come from. They also weren’t designed to be accessible for people with vision impairments.

“All employees, at one time or another, access PeopleSoft for payroll, benefits, or other HR needs. The old homepage tile icons lacked the diversity we have at King County; many employees couldn’t see themselves represented in these images, ” said Amanda Gudmunson, a member of the BRC project team that implemented the upgrades. “At King County we have the shared value of being racially just and part of that is acknowledging systemic ‘…racism and oppression’ and seeking ‘…to undo it at all levels.’ The prior person icons in PeopleSoft perpetuated white/Caucasian as the default, which doesn’t reflect this value – so it needed to change.”

Amanda shared these concerns with Oracle, the vendor responsible for PeopleSoft, at their RECONNECT conference in 2020. Hannah Gacey, the PeopleSoft Release Manager in the BRC, was a driving force for these changes by routinely engaging with Oracle to help champion this move to a more inclusive and accessible application.

To help guide the equity and accessibility changes, Oracle created a PeopleSoft Accessibility monthly focus group and invited Amanda and fellow BRC colleague, Jennifer Gilbert, to participate. Through this process, they have advocated for equity and accessibility in PeopleSoft.

“The focus group has been key in gauging where we are on our accessibility journey and comparing how far along other organizations are. Distributing more information, finding common ground, everything works better when we can come together and discuss best practices,” Jennifer said.

Not only were the icons updated to be more race and gender inclusive, but Oracle also increased color contrast, text spacing, and included better labeling for images and background processes. These changes help those with low vision, color blindness, and anyone who utilizes assistive technology, like a screen reader.

This work also set the stage for implementing other PeopleSoft enhancements, including the ability for employees to set their pronouns and gender identity in the system. The BRC will partner with the Department of Human Resources to roll out that enhancement later this year.

“Changes like these can have a big impact,” Amanda added. “Everyone at King County should feel welcomed, included, and represented – and that extends to the technologies we use as well.”