Accessibility Today, Inclusion Tomorrow

With the rise of accessibility, disability inclusion can become reality for more and more people. 
To help us understand what that might mean, we asked our partners on the AT&T Advisory Panel on Access and Aging (AAPAA) to weigh in.  These national leaders in assistive technology, aging and cross-disability issues provide AT&T with regular, ongoing input on how we are doing on issues related to accessibility.  They offer a rich and diverse perspective on the many facets of disability that informs our approach.

 

When posed a simple question, “What does inclusion mean to you?”  their heartfelt and sincere responses illuminate what’s possible.  

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Lise Hamlin has advocated for those with hearing loss for 25+ years. In her public policy role at HLAA, she helps those who experience barriers to employment, technology, public places and telecommunications – an experience made more meaningful by her own experience with hearing loss. Lise represents HLAA on multiple, high profile federal advisory committees, consumer coalitions and industry advisory groups, including AAPAA. A true leader in the field, she has taken part in developing and presenting on hearing assistive technology and emergency preparedness, and she has been nationally recognized for advocacy and community service, including as a recipient of TDI’s prestigious Karen Peltz Strass Advocacy Award.

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Xian Horn is a joyful half-Asian woman with cerebral palsy who founded Give Beauty Wings. Her non-profit’s tailored self-esteem programs began at NYU's Initiative for Women with Disabilities and help promote greater self love and discovery, purpose and connection. Xian was named in Women's eNews' 21 Leaders for the 21st Century in 2017 and in Walker's Legacy Power 15 in 2018. Xian joined the State Department's Speaker's Bureau in 2016 and has been featured in The White House Blog's Women Working To Do Good series. Passionate about Adaptive Clothing, Xian has worked with Open Style Lab at Parsons since 2016. She blogs for Positively Positive, a community of over 2.5 million readers, and ForbesWomen where she writes on leadership, empowerment, and disability.

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An expert in low vision access technology and a user of assistive technology himself, Lee Huffman analyzes products on the basis of accessibility to persons who have low vision. He is a leader in the field of vision impairment and blindness with a combined 16 years of experience at both American Printing House of the Blind and American Foundation for the Blind (AFB).  He has published extensively as editor-in chief of AFB’s online technology magazine, AccessWorld, has achieved national recognition for his work on video magnification technology and also has developed close working relationships with national technology and device manufacturers, some of whom have changed their products on the basis of his product evaluation findings.

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Angela Jones brings her passion for baseball plus more than 20 years of executive leadership experience to her role at AARP Services. There she oversees members experiences across the Telecom, Travel, Dining, Entertainment, Technology, Retail, Pharmacy and Caregiving sectors.  A growth-oriented executive, Angela is expert in helping organizations craft meaningful relationships with their stakeholders.   Through her work at AARP, Angela offers an informed perspective on the high expectations of the aging community for all their interactions with technology.  A member of AAPAA at AT&T, she holds a BA in Psychology and Gerontology and an MBA from the University of South Florida.

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Ben is a research coordinator at the Crawford Research Institute at Shepherd Center, a rehabilitation hospital for people with spinal cord injuries, acquired and traumatic brain injuries and other neuromuscular diseases.  For the last 15 years he has worked on a variety of federally funded grants exploring the intersection of disability and assistive/accessible consumer wireless technologies.  He is currently working on a 4-year project for the LiveWell App Factory testing mHealth apps by people with disabilities for accessibility and usability.  He is a co-founder and leads user testing efforts for the Accessibility User Research Collective. He served as a Project Director for the Wireless RERC’s project on Industry and Consumer Outreach, Education & Support. For the past several years, he has served on AAPAA. 

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Living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a neuromuscular disease, Heather Tomko brings firsthand experience and passion for disability advocacy and access to bear in her career and community. Her leadership spans the University of Pittsburgh, CLASS, a Pennsylvania-based disability resources organization, The Andy Warhol Museum, AAPAA and Accessible YOUniverse, a disability advocacy organization she founded. She has been recognized with the ACHIEVA Award of Excellence for Community Awareness, the Dick Thornburgh Disability Service Award, and was Ms. Wheelchair USA in 2018. Heather is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health.

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Since 2012, Amy VanDeVelde has led the Oasis Connections program, which has offered thousands of classes under her leadership. Expert at helping digital newcomers and older adults access the internet safely, she guides them in the use of technology to support and enhance interpersonal relationships by decreasing social isolation. Amy obtained a certificate from Harvard University in Cybersecurity Risk Management in 2020.

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