Last week I had the privilege of joining my close friends at AAPD to celebrate the anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, a transformative piece of legislation that’s afforded individuals with disabilities essential civil rights and unprecedented opportunities in the workplace, the classroom and in their own homes and communities.

We believe that creating an inclusive community is about more than screen readers and ramps. It’s about bringing together diverse perspectives, identifying needs and working with the disability community to find new and more innovative ways to meet those needs through technology.

This year, AT&T was honored to receive the prestigious AAPD Connector Award in recognition of the company’s work to enable members of the disability community to connect with their world anytime, anywhere and on any device.

Throughout our long history working with AAPD, our organizations have both worked to harness the potential of technology to greatly improve life for people with disabilities by enabling full inclusion in the workforce, and therefore economic independence.  We also know that use of any technology will only occur if we all actively work to make technology accessible for all users.

Take a quick glance at our data-driven, tech-centric society and it’s easy to see that this potential for change has become a reality: People with and without disabilities use the internet to seek and obtain employment, and use their smart phones to access household appliances and security systems. With today’s technology, a voice can be heard whether you can speak or not. At AT&T, not only are we committed to working with other organizations and businesses to develop accessible technology, but through our Wireless Independence Now program, we are working with local and national non-profits to train people with disabilities on how to get the most out of the accessibility functions that are built into devices they already have.

We believe that creating an inclusive community is about more than screen readers and ramps. It’s about bringing together diverse perspectives, identifying needs and working with the disability community to find new and more innovative ways to meet those needs through technology.

While the Connector Award is a huge honor, we were equally excited to be recognized for receiving a 100% rating in the Disability Equality Index – an initiative by AAPD and USBLN to provide businesses with an objective evaluation of their disability inclusion policies and practices. People with disabilities are a valuable part of a diverse workforce and our strength in recruiting, retaining and promoting employees with disabilities strengthens our workforce and provides us with a competitive advantage in producing cutting-edge accessible products. It’s this belief in developing the next generation of leaders in the disability community that has led us to support the AAPD Internship Program for many years.

While AT&T is committed to improving accessibility and creating a more inclusive workforce, we can’t do it alone. Support and guidance from organizations like AAPD, USBLN and others make those improvements possible. As we mark this anniversary of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s a great time to remember how collaboration and inclusion can help to accomplish more than we could ever accomplish on our own.

About the Author

SUSAN DIEGELMAN

SusanDiegelma

Susan brings 20 years of professional experience to AT&T Public Affairs. A veteran of the enterprise software and hosting industries, Susan is well-versed in marketing communications and market strategy in the IT and Telecom industries. Having Joined AT&T’s Public Affairs team in June 2013, she works closely with stakeholders in the seniors and disability communities as well as the education and energy industries.

Susan formerly served as the Director of the Strategic Messaging at AT&T Business Solutions. Previous to that, she held the position of Marketing Director for AT&T’s GEM and Wholesale marketing team. In these roles Susan worked across corporate resources to establish public relations and marketing programs. Susan lead the teams responsible for development of thought leadership content, content merchandizing strategies, segment advertising and collateral and managed a robust events program at the regional and national levels.

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