At AT&T, our mission is to inspire human progress through the power of communication and entertainment. We can’t fulfill this mission if people are left behind, and so we remain committed to offering innovative and accessible products and services to meet a variety of disability-and age-related needs.
Accessibility is a core consideration in all our business decisions, from the products and services we offer to the way we hire, develop and engage employees and prospective employees with disabilities. Whether we’re working with manufacturers to build accessibility into their products or working to provide employees with accessibility solutions, we create an inclusive experience for customers and employees. Doing so allows all to progress, grow and achieve. The AT&T Chief Accessibility Officer (CAO) leads our accessibility efforts, serving as our champion for accessibility.
AT&T adopted a Universal Design Statement more than 20 years ago to convey our commitment to the concept and process of making technology universally usable. This commitment requires AT&T and our suppliers to think inclusively about those who use our products and services. Our goal is to create solutions that meet their varying needs.
To further our dedication to accessibility, we appointed our 3rd CAO in 2018. Our CAO is responsible for retaining and growing a culture within AT&T that advocates accessibility for our customers and our employees. In fulfilling that mission, the CAO engages with the disability community and ensures that AT&T understands and is responsive to the community’s issues and recommendations.
- Accessible Products and Services
We have a team dedicated to enabling accessibility. The AT&T Corporate Accessibility Technology Office (CATO) leads our efforts to ensure AT&T products and services are designed to address the needs of those with disabilities, in accordance with our Universal Design Statement. CATO defines corporate standards, offers training and provides various tools and resources to help ensure accessibility is implemented by project teams throughout the company. CATO also provides significant guidance on pay TV set-top boxes, over the top streaming services and testing accessibility on content-driven apps and websites.
CATO oversees internal training programs tailored to different roles employees play within the company. These programs are designed to help developers think about accessibility from the beginning of the product life cycle. They also help customer-facing employees better serve the needs of customers with disabilities. CATO also works to identify and train Accessibility Champions and Coordinators from all parts of the business. These individuals work with their teams to enhance accessibility at all stages of product development. The Accessibility Center of Excellence within CATO serves as the go-to accessibility resource for product development across the company. These combined steps allow CATO to track the growth of business units’ awareness, skill and implementation of accessible technology.
Accessibility in Action
In 2018, we launched the “Accessibility in Action Award” to recognize employees who go above and beyond to promote accessibility and inclusion. This award is a new way to inspire employees to think differently when working on solutions for consumers and each other. The inaugural winner of the award is a group from the AT&T Business Solutions (ABS) Digital Delivery Team. They created a solution to help ensure an online project for a government customer was accessible for people with disabilities. The group showed resourcefulness, collaboration and creativity in their efforts. In recognition of AT&T’s global reach, we introduced the 1st “Accessibility in Action Award” for AT&T Latin America in early 2019. Within AT&T Mexico, 4 employees received the award for building a new accessibility program.
- Customer Resources
AT&T maintains att.com/accessibility, which is designed to help customers find AT&T accessibility resources and identify products and services that best meet their needs, including:
- Real-time text
- Closed captioning
- Braille billing
- Text-to-speech apps
- Amplification apps
We also operate dedicated customer care centers to assist our customers with disabilities. The AT&T National Center for Customers with Disabilities (NCCD) provides specialized customer service for AT&T wireless customers with disabilities. In addition, our Disability and Aging call center provides specialized wireline customer service for older customers and those with disabilities. Among other things, these centers can arrange for customers to receive bills in an alternate format, such as braille or large print, and can advise customers with hearing, vision, cognitive, mobility and/or speech disabilities about equipment, accessories, features and calling plans. Read more about these AT&T call centers at AT&T wireless support.
- Outreach and Education
AT&T is committed to leveraging technology to improve accessibility wherever and whenever people need it. We aim to improve accessibility in our own products and services, and to help other companies improve accessibility in their products.
In 2019, CATO and the CAO, along with representatives from advocacy groups, government, academia and vocational rehabilitation centers, joined the AT&T Foundry for Connected Health to discuss how AT&T can continue to create accessible, healthcare-related advances using Internet-of-Things (IoT) technologies. The dialogue centered on how the innovation process can help ensure the needs of people with disabilities are included from the beginning of the product development process. We also discussed the need to address specific applications, such as medical devices and prosthetics, aging well at home, smart cities and communications between first responders and people with disabilities during emergencies. We shared the story of Ahmet Ustunel, who is blind, and how technology helped him realize his dream of kayaking across the Bosporus Strait. See our Innovation for Social Good issue brief for examples of AT&T innovations supporting people with disabilities.
We also participate in ongoing work with the disability community, including the AT&T Advisory Panel on Access & Aging (AAPAA). Comprising national leaders in assistive technology, aging and cross-disability issues, AAPAA provides disability and aging-related advice and counsel to AT&T leadership teams. This expert panel meets regularly with AT&T leaders — from the CAO to AT&T Labs to Marketing to Human Resources — and provides ongoing input on accessibility efforts.
We’re also committed to supporting and elevating organizations that are making a meaningful difference in the lives of those with disabilities:
- The Oasis Institute: AT&T provided $600,000 over the last 2 years to support the OASIS Institute’s Connections program, which helps adults over 50 build skills and confidence using computers, the internet and portable devices. The Oasis Institute, a non-profit educational organization, currently offers the Connections program in 40 cities and reaches adult learners through a national network of partners such as libraries, colleges, and community and senior centers. Many Oasis Connections programs are available in English and Spanish.
- American Association of People with Disabilities: In 2018, AT&T provided $95,000 to the American Association of People with Disabilities to support 10 scholarships, enabling a diverse group of students with disabilities to participate in a 10-week summer internship program in Washington, D.C. The program addressed employment disparities within the disability community. The funding also supported a new academic certificate program on disability.
- The Washington Center: AT&T provided $75,000 to The Washington Center (TWC) in 2018 to support scholarships helping approximately 10 students with disabilities participate in TWC’s Leadership Initiative for Students with Disabilities college-to-work program. This program emphasizes academic support, leadership development, civic engagement and one-on-one mentoring opportunities to assist disabled students in becoming productive, self-sufficient members of their communities.
- Accessibility Awareness Lab: The Accessibility Awareness Lab is a guided experience to build understanding of and empathy for persons with disabilities. The lab consists of a shippable collection of common assistive technologies that demonstrate how AT&T products and services are used by people with disabilities, as well as a website that can be used alone or in conjunction with a physical lab. In 2018, more than 800 participants experienced the lab in showcases across 6 U.S. cities, including at the AT&T Disability and Aging call center.
- Global Accessibility Awareness Day: On May 17, 2018, AT&T celebrated Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) with a 90-minute companywide event featuring a number of speakers and demonstrations of assistive and accessible technology, including screen reader and Real-Time Text (RTT). Speakers from across AT&T discussed their experience as a person with a disability and how those disabilities impacted the way they perform their jobs. We also set up our Accessibility Awareness Lab near the auditorium to promote employee awareness and encourage involvement at the GAAD event.
- Shape Up Your Accessibility: The CAO and CATO hosted “Shape Up Your Accessibility” as part of the AT&T SHAPE Hackathon in April 2019. The goal was to expose designers and developers to the benefits of and how to make technology accessible to people with disabilities. Out of 22 teams, the winner of the accessibility prize was the developer of an app that enables crowd-sourced data about pros and cons of building and other physical accessibility.
- Workforce Inclusion
At AT&T, our commitment to full inclusion is an essential part of our success. AT&T is a company that is inclusive of all backgrounds, races, genders, ages, disabilities and sexual orientations. The broadest ideas and knowledge we can garner, the better solutions we can develop for our customers. Our goal is to promote diversity, inclusiveness and opportunities for employees to flourish.
In 2018, AT&T launched an Accessibility and Inclusion (A&I) Initiative consisting of 12 sub-teams of more than 70 volunteers to evaluate and improve accessibility for AT&T employees and prospective employees. The effort aims to implement changes that will further ingrain accessibility as part of the AT&T culture, provide better tools for AT&T employees and make it easier for all individuals, including those with disabilities, to pursue employment and career advancement at AT&T.
We engage people with disabilities through targeted recruitment advertising, attendance at disability career events and engagement with professional associations at the national and grassroots levels. Ability, our employee resource group (ERG) for those with disabilities, and AT&T Veterans, our veterans-focused ERG, help enhance the understanding, awareness and resolution of the challenges facing individuals with disabilities in the workplace and help promote our efforts to make technology accessible to the disabled community. To learn more about our diverse workforce, please see our Diversity & Inclusion Report.
- Awards and Honors
As a result of our accessibility efforts, AT&T has won numerous awards in 2018, including:
- Disability:IN, Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion (100% on the Disability Equality Index)
- National Organization on Disability, Leading Disability Employer Seal
- Springboard Consulting, Disability Matters North America Honoree, Marketplace Category
- Careers & the Disabled, Top 50 Employer
- DIVERSEability Magazine, Top Disability-Friendly Company
Since the acquisition of WarnerMedia in June 2018 and the launch of Xandr in September 2018, we are continuing to integrate operationally and through our CSR reporting. For this reason, information for these 2 affiliates is not included in this brief, except where specifically referenced.
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