AT&Twill hold its first-quarter Advisory Panel on Access & Aging (AAPAA) discussion to announce its continued dedication in product and service offerings to keep its customers and employees, including seniors and those in the disability community, connected.
The panel discussion will take place Thursday, February 4, and Friday, February 5, in Atlanta, Georgia.
The AAPAA - composed of national leaders in technology, aging and disability issues - meets quarterly to provide advice and counsel to AT&T's subsidiaries, affiliates, leadership and external partners on critical issues impacting seniors and people with disabilities. The focus of this year's first meeting will be national marketing with the Disability and Mature segments, in addition to the development of applications that can further support these communities.
"As a member of AAPAA, I enjoy having regular opportunities to brainstorm strategies that can help AT&T better serve the large and diverse markets that benefit from accessibility," said Andrew J. Imparato, president and chief executive officer, American Association of People with Disabilities. "This week's meeting takes place against the backdrop of a yearlong celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and we need companies like AT&T to play an important role in helping us realize the vision of that critical law."
Over the past four years, AT&T has implemented a number of recommendations from the Panel, including:
Dedicating disability customer service centers to assist people with disabilities, such as the National Center for Customers with Disabilities for AT&T Mobility and the AT&T Sales and Service Centers for Disability and Aging for AT&T's land-line customers;
Offering products and services that are accessible to people with disabilities and address the needs of customers as they age;
Providing closed captioning and transcript services for non-live or taped video or webcasts;
Building strong national relationships with organizations that provide opportunities for youth with disabilities, such as the National Internship Center, helping students with disabilities find internship opportunities; and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) to connect them with Junior Achievement and try to develop ways to increase participation in the AT&T Job Shadow program;
Providing creative input to Custom Sales Channels regarding preferred communication models for people with disabilities (Click to Chat, Video Relay Services);
Initiating partnerships to promote corporate sponsorship of the U.S. Paralympic athletes at national community and recruiting events;
Reaching out to people with disabilities to increase the number of qualified applicants with disabilities and looking at the unique needs of veterans with disabilities; and
Reaching out to people of color with disabilities, such as providing support for Project Vision of the World Institute on Disability and to low income people with disabilities, and support for the National Disability Institute's Real Economic Impact Tour.
"It's no secret that advanced communications are a central function of life, independence and productivity, and I am pleased to know that AT&T is confirming its commitment to Universal Design to ensure that people regardless of age or disability can participate fully. AT&T's collaborative approach and leadership in working with those in the disability, diversity and aging communities help it develop and market innovative products and services inclusive of people with and without disabilities," said Claude Stout, executive director, Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. (TDI).
AT&T has the largest number of and most accessible wireless handset offerings for people in the United States who are blind and or have low vision. AT&T also offers customized rate plans and services tailored to meet the needs of customers who are aging and/or have disabilities; such as the Text Accessibility Plan (TAP) for the iPhone. In total, AT&T offers 25 handsets certified as meeting FCC hearing aid compatibility (HAC) standards, as well as more than 65 (TTY) compatible handsets.
Last year, AT&T announced the launch of AT&T Real Time IM, which enables users to log in to a specialized AIM interface that works with an Internet connection on a PC and on many wireless devices. A specially-trained relay operator reads IMs to hearing callers and types IMs which are displayed "in real time "to the end user. The new service is offered at no additional charge to customers who register with AT&T Relay Services. AT&T is the first and only provider to offer the new real-time feature "providing more than 31 million people with hearing and speech loss, nationwide, with a more immediate way to communicate with standard telephone users.
AT&T customers also have a range of innovative handsets, many of which showcase AT&T's Universal Design business imperative. Universal Design is the practice of designing products and applications that are usable by the broadest possible range of consumers. Application developers and handset manufacturers are actively being encouraged to consider the needs of customers who are aging or who have disabilities when these developers and manufacturers design products and services.
"We know that our customers rely on our services to empower them and help them live independently," said, Charlene Lake, chief sustainability officer and senior vice president of Public Affairs, AT&T. "As we embark on the 20th anniversary celebration of the American Disabilities Act, we hope that our customers know that providing a valuable customer experience is a big part of who we are and what we continue to do as a communications provider."
AAPAA participants consist of leaders in marketing, accessible technology, senior living and disability, as well as those engaged in public policy development and senior organizations, including:
Alliance for Technology Access;
American Foundation for the Blind;
National Asian Pacific Center on Aging;
Carl & Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media at WGBH;
American Association of People with Disabilities;
California State University System Chancellor's Office (Accessible Technology Initiative);
National Council on Independent Living;
The OASIS Institute;
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Inc.;
Inclusive Technologies; and
National Hispanic Council on Aging.
For more information on AT&T's commitment to people with disabilities and seniors, please visit AT&T's Disability Resources website.
*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.
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