Companies play an important role in helping ensure that people with disabilities have accessible products and technologies that allow them to participate in modern society.
We are committed to increasing digital inclusion and helping ensure today’s technologies are accessible to everyone by supporting innovative products and solutions that meet a variety of disability- and accessibility-related needs.
Accessibility and digital inclusion are core considerations in our business decisions. Statistics show that more than 1 billion people worldwide have a disability or an access need.1 We strive to create opportunities for people with disabilities to connect to the online world more easily – whether by requiring manufacturers to build accessibility into their products or providing consumers and employees with accessible solutions – and support efforts to create a more diverse and disability-inclusive world.
Accessible Products & Services
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 accessible. This commitment requires AT&T and our suppliers to think inclusively about those who use our products and services.
In the U.S., this commitment adheres to applicable laws, such as Sections 255 and 713 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In Mexico, this commitment follows the General Accessibility Guidelines for Telecommunication Services for Users with Disabilities of the Instituto Federal de Telecomunicaciones (IFT).
Our Chief Accessibility Office works with AT&T’s organizations to apply universal design principles across the company. The office defines corporate standards, offers training and provides tools and resources to determine when accessibility gaps or needs should be addressed, what additional functionality should be added and whether accessibility enhancements were successfully implemented. Our Chief Accessibility Officer, who reports to our Chief Compliance Officer, oversees these efforts. At least once per year, our Chief Compliance Officer reports to the Audit Committee of the AT&T Board of Directors on accessibility topics.
Based on regular engagement with the disability community, our internal training programs help developers think about accessibility from the beginning of the product life cycle and help customer-facing employees better serve the needs of customers with disabilities. The Chief Accessibility Office also develops employee accessibility champions and coordinators across the business to enhance accessibility at all stages of product development.
AT&T offers dozens of wireless handset models that are hearing aid compatible or offer free screen reading capabilities for blind customers. We also offer devices with capabilities such as screen enlarging, biometric login, speech-to-text dictation, customizable ringtones/vibrations and more. Our internal Accessibility Corporate Resources website serves as the go-to resource for accessible product development across the company. And our external Accessibility website provides links to products and services for people with disabilities and shares informative stories about technology and disability.
Culture of Accessible Design and Inclusion
Our commitment to accessible design and inclusion begins with our employees. AT&T offers more than a dozen courses to help employees create a more welcoming and accessible workplace. In addition, Ability, our disability-focused employee group, provides opportunities to learn American Sign Language, conducts presentations to promote a better understanding of disability and was featured in AT&T’s internal EqualityFirst podcast series – an initiative focused on eradicating inequality at AT&T.
Our culture of inclusion helped AT&T receive the 2021 Corporate Leadership Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities. The National Organization on Disability recognized AT&T as a Leading Disability Employer. And we scored a 100 on the Disability Equality Index, making us one of the 2021 Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion for the 7th consecutive year.
In 2021, more than 7,000 existing employees and approximately 1,000 new hires confidentially self-identified as having a disability.2 In addition to confidential self-identification for record-keeping purposes, AT&T now invites employees to share this data voluntarily to help promote diversity and inclusion. The Chief Accessibility Office convenes a cross-functional accessibility working group monthly to share accessibility initiatives, amplify and replicate efforts, and work cohesively throughout the company – and celebrates these efforts on Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Our Accessibility and Inclusion initiative consists of volunteer teams that evaluate and improve accessibility for AT&T employees and prospective employees. The effort further integrates accessibility within the AT&T culture, provides better tools for employees and makes it easier for all individuals, including those with disabilities, to pursue employment and career advancement at AT&T. Our internal Accessibility in Action Award aims to inspire employees to think differently when developing solutions for consumers and each other.
AT&T provides a range of options through its reasonable accommodations process to make the workplace accessible to employees with disabilities and/or other needs such as health-related concerns. For example, an employee with a condition that weakens the immune system may be able to work from home to reduce the risk of exposure to illnesses. A person with diabetes may need to take breaks to check blood sugar levels and eat when needed. A blind employee may choose to use a screen reader or Braille notetaker. Or an employee with a hearing disability might use a mobile phone that can connect directly to a hearing aid, online captioning and/or a sign language interpreter.
In 2021, the AT&T Job Accommodations Interactive Dialogue team began a proactive approach to reaching out to managers who have direct reports with a medically qualified disability to help identify accommodations to support employees with disabilities.
The AT&T Accessibility website provides a platform for accessibility education, awareness and support. Designed to spark curiosity and dialogue, the site focuses on AT&T’s philosophy, approach and leadership in empowering the disabled and aging communities. Examples of the products, services and resources visitors can find include:
- Products and services that support those with disabilities related to vision, hearing and speech, cognitive impairment, mobility, and aging
- Customer support services such as Braille billing and complimentary dialing assistance
- Assistive technologies such as real-time text, closed captioning, text-to-speech apps and other wireless accessibility features3
We also operate dedicated customer care centers to assist our customers with disabilities. The AT&T National Center for Customers with Disabilities provides specialized customer service for AT&T wireless customers with disabilities. In addition, our Disability and Aging Center provides specialized wireline customer service for older customers and those with disabilities. These centers can arrange for customers to receive bills in an alternate format, such as Braille or large print. They can also advise customers with hearing, vision, cognitive, mobility and/or speech disabilities about equipment, accessories, features and calling plans. Learn more at about.att.com/sites/accessibility/support.
Outreach & Education
AT&T is committed to supporting and raising awareness of organizations that make a meaningful difference in the lives of those with disabilities. AT&T understands that culture change must start with boosting authentic voices and living true to the motto of the disability community: “Nothing about us, without us.” Our 2021 efforts focused on supporting people with disabilities internally and externally by elevating the voices of AT&T employees with disabilities in National Disability Employment Awareness panels, profiles and presentations. AT&T or the AT&T Foundation also supported a number of disability-led organizations, including:
- The World Institute on Disability: Supporting the Global Alliance for Disaster Resource Acceleration program, which coordinates disability-related resources with local disability-led organizations, international business partners and foundations during disasters
- American Association of People with Disabilities: Advocating for full civil rights for the millions of Americans with disabilities by promoting equal opportunity, economic power, independent living and political participation
- The American Council of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind: Promoting the civil rights and full inclusion of blind and low-vision individuals in work, play and civil society
- The Autistic Self Advocacy Network: Supporting autistic people in the decisions that affect them, including legislation, depiction in the media and disability services
- National Disability Institute: Convening experts on financial inclusion and race, ethnicity and disability
- World Health Organization
- Not inclusive of WarnerMedia, AT&T Mexico or AT&T International.
- In July 2021, we completed a transaction with TPG Capital involving our North America video business – including DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse – to form a new company called DIRECTV. In November 2021, we completed the sale of our Latin America video operations, Vrio, to Grupo Werthein.
Related Priority Topics
- Accessible Products & Services
- Outreach & Education
- Culture of Accessible Design and I
- Philanthropic Giving
- Disaster Response
- Connected LearningSM
- Supporting Our Workforce
- Rural Connectivity
- Supporting Human Rights
- Due Diligence
- Safeguarding Children
- Health & Welfare Benefits
- Training & Career Development
- Union Relationships
- Consumer Marketing
- Equality in Marketing
- Customer Data Privacy
- Parental Controls
- Awareness & Education Campaigns
- Collaboration with Stakeholders
- Internal Risk Assessments
- Empowering Consumers