AT&T: Working to Make Accessibility Universal

AT&T: Working to Make Accessibility Universal

Monday, June 9, 2014 - 10:05am


By Diane Rodriguez & Kendra Cox

AT&T’s Corporate Accessibility Technology Office was launched in December 2012 to lead AT&T’s efforts to meet the needs of customers with disabilities. This team serves as AT&T’s hub for accessibility-related issues, working throughout the company to assess accessibility implications and provide counsel on the design and development of products and services. While the team’s primary responsibility is to ensure compliance with accessibility regulations for all of AT&T’s products and services, it also has a bonus effect of raising awareness of disability-related issues and creating a culture of accessibility throughout AT&T. 

This year, the accessibility office is collaborating with the Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center in Atlanta to create Accessibility Training sessions that teach people with disabilities how to use accessibility features already installed on their phones, tablets and phablets. These training sessions not only help participants better understand and use their devices, but also provide AT&T with feedback and information about experiences that consumers with disabilities have with their mobile devices and services. The training sessions are free and open to the public, not just AT&T customers. 

The importance of providing access to communications technologies is clearer now than ever. During one training session, a woman with a hearing impairment shared an example of how accessible technology allowed her to stay connected with her family when she was in the hospital, unable to move or use Sign Language. Through an iPhone held in front of her face, this person was able to see her daughter, who was out of state, and engage in basic communication via a “FaceTime” session. More importantly, she felt the love and support from her daughter despite the many miles separating them.

In addition to the outreach training, the Corporate Accessibility Technology Office partnered with AT&T’s Citizenship and Sustainability, Corporate Real Estate and IDEAL Employee Resource Group to sponsor the Disability Cinema Coalition/Inclusive Cinema Empowerment Project (DCC/ICEP) mentoring program for a filming project with Cicatrice Pictures. Cicatrice is committed to inclusive casting and crewing and worked with Inclusion Films to hire qualified crew members with disabilities.

Our next Accessibility Technology Training sessions will be in Washington, D.C., Chicago, IL and Berkeley, CA. While in Washington, DC, we will hold a training session at the M-Enabling Summit on June 10. This conference is dedicated to promoting mobile accessible and assistive applications and services for senior citizens and users of all abilities. We will provide our Accessibility Technology Training to people from the community who have visual impairments, and we will also open the training to professionals attending the conference.

AT&T is delivering great services, new devices and faster access to our customers, which helps enable connections that are changing their world. We are delivering this with our multi-billion dollar investment in seamless, reliable mobile IP connections – meeting consumer demand for connections that are always on, anytime, anywhere. We are committed to making these services accessible and beneficial to people with disabilities. 

Diane Rodriguez is Lead Compliance Analyst and Outreach Coordinator for the Corporate Accessibility Technology Office for AT&T.

Kenda Cox is Manager of Complaince and Outreach for the Coporate Accessibility Technology office and the Corporate Operations - Privacy organization for AT&T.