The Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communications Technology (G3ict) has recognized AT&T and its Corporate Accessibility Technology Office (CATO) as a company that is empowering aging and disabled employees by providing digital accessibility technology in the workplace and marketplace.
Released today, G3ict’s most recent white paper is titled “AT&T’s Corporate Accessibility Technology Office: An Industry Model.” The paper explores the inner workings of CATO, an organization within AT&T charged with ensuring that AT&T’s product and service develop cycles consider the accessibility of persons with disabilities, and highlights how it enables AT&T workers to continue their jobs and thrive, all while pushing the business forward.
“AT&T has implemented an exemplary proactive policy, both internally and externally, that stands tall in the telecommunications industry,” said Axel Leblois, Executive Director at G3ict. “The company is providing remarkable tools and services that give access to users of all abilities to modern technologies.”
Today, more than 57 million Americans live with disabilities* and control $220 billion in annual discretionary spending power.** That significant share of the economy will only increase over time, given the growing aging and disabled veterans populations. Recognizing those trends and furthering its longstanding commitment, AT&T announced its groundbreaking new accessibility initiative in 2012, when the company created CATO.
“The purpose of CATO is to lead AT&T’s efforts in developing products and services that are accessible to persons with disabilities,” said Christopher Rice, AT&T’s Chief Accessibility Officer. “Accessibility has always been one of our core values at AT&T and the creation of CATO furthered our commitment to meet the needs of all the customers we serve. CATO truly is ‘Accessibility Central’ at AT&T. It works with business units throughout the company to evaluate the accessibility implications of new projects and provides counsel on the design and development of products and services across the enterprise.”
The new white paper explores stories like that of Matt Myrick, who not only is a CATO accessibility solutions engineer, but also has cleared personal hearing hurdles via AT&T’s accessibility technology. That same technology has enabled Myrick to develop the next breakthrough products for disabled people.
“I’ve been hard of hearing since birth and grew up intimately aware of the need for technology that could adapt to me, rather than expecting me to adapt to it,” Myrick said. “I have experienced AT&T’s commitment to accessibility first-hand. In less than six months, I’ve already worked on more than 37 different accessibility projects. I know AT&T cares deeply about the disability community and demonstrates this commitment by not only providing equal opportunities for employees like me with disabilities, but also by working to improve the lives of its customers.”
Currently, CATO has more than 30 employees. Its creation has encouraged a broader discussion about and commitment to greater accessibility throughout the company. While its primary responsibility is to ensure compliance with accessibility regulations for AT&T’s products and services, CATO’s very existence serves the wider purpose of raising awareness of disability-related issues, as well as furthering a culture of accessibility and inclusion throughout the company.
“G3ict is grateful to AT&T for sharing its experience in the White Paper,” Leblois added. “Promoting good practices is essential to advancing accessibility for all.”
Access the G3ict white paper here to learn more about Myrick and others with compelling stories, as well as the AT&T Corporate Accessibility Technology Office.
* U.S. Census Bureau, Census.gov
** Witek.com, “America’s Disability Market at a Glance”
VP Institutional Relations, G3ict
G3ict – the Global Initiative for Inclusive Information and Communication Technologies – is an advocacy initiative launched in December 2006 by the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development, in cooperation with the Secretariat for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities at UNDESA. Its mission is to facilitate and support the implementation of the dispositions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) promoting digital accessibility and Assistive Technologies. Participating organizations include industry, academia, the public sector and organizations representing persons with disabilities. G3ict organizes or contributes to awareness-raising and capacity building programs for policy makers in cooperation with international organizations, such as the ITU, ILO, UNESCO, UNITAR, UNESCAP, UN Global Compact and the World Bank. In 2011, G3ict launched the M-Enabling Summit Series to promote accessible mobile phones and services for persons with disabilities in cooperation with the ITU and the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). G3ict produces jointly with ITU the e-Accessibility Policy Toolkit for Persons with Disabilities (http://www.e-accessibilitytoolkit.org
), as well as specialized reports which are widely used around the world by policy makers involved in the implementation of the CRPD. For additional information on G3ict, visit http://www.g3ict.org