Accessibility, Innovation and Sustainability at AT&T
A G3ict White Paper Documenting How Mobile Service Providers Can Serve Persons with Disabilities and Seniors
With more than five billion mobile devices in service worldwide, and exponential growth of mobile applications in all domains of activity, mobile phone accessibility and assistive applications for persons with disabilities are at the forefront of the agenda of all countries who have signed onto the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
. In the United States, 54 million persons live with disabilities, while that number reaches more than 650 million worldwide.
However, while technology is available to make mobile equipment and services accessible, promoting its usage among persons with disabilities and seniors remains a complex endeavor. In order to promote the business practices required to provide accessible and assistive mobile equipment and services to persons with disabilities, G3ict requested that AT&T opens its doors to review and document its internal R&D and business processes for the benefit all interested parties.
The study was conducted by interviewing AT&T personnel and third parties; analyzing the company’s product and service offerings; and examining internal documentation and processes. It is intended to serve as a case study to benefit all stakeholders involved in developing, marketing and promoting mobile accessibility and mobile assistive applications.
The results of this study show that the ability of a service provider such as AT&T to deliver effective solutions for persons with disabilities is highly dependent upon its culture of inclusion, commitment to innovation and Universal Design from the inception of product design to point of sales and customer service, and dedicated marketing, sales and services resources.
The G3ict White Paper also shows that AT&T’s inclusion of persons with disabilities in its internal processes, both via its own employees living with disabilities and through its Advisory Panel on Access and Aging (AAPAA), has played a critical role in its ability to make its products and services accessible and to gather input for continuous improvements and new solutions.
Released at the 26th Annual California State University, Northridge Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference (CSUN)
in March 2011, the G3ict study on AT&T’s expertise in promoting accessibility of mobile equipment and services illuminates the business case for accessible mobile services; shows how Universal Design is implemented across its organization and business divisions; and highlights the role of inclusive practices within the company. The study reveals how innovation is leveraged to develop new solutions for persons with disabilities, and it underscores the importance of sales and services resources dedicated to persons with disabilities and aging adults. The study discusses the evolving role of telecommunications carriers in crafting accessible new mobile technologies, and it highlights the emergence of a strong application developer’s ecosystem.