“I’m always telling our representatives that the definition of the word ‘disability’ is when the person and the environment don’t match. So our job is to make it match.” That comes from Thomas Boudrow, Outreach Manager at Verizon’s Center for Customers with Disabilities. I’ve recently blogged about Verizon’s efforts to meet the needs of our customers with disabilities. From instituting Universal Design Principles to our advocacy for the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), Verizon has been committed to enabling customers to fully participate in the digital world many of us take for granted.
A big part of that commitment is empowering our customers to communicate with us in a manner that’s simple and comfortable for them. For example, inside Verizon’s dedicated wireline service centers, specially trained representatives use direct video connections to help our deaf or hard of hearing customers identify the best products and services to suit their needs. Our videophone customer service reps are uniquely qualified to understand our customers’ needs because the reps are themselves deaf or hard of hearing and they use the same technologies as our customers. These reps who communicate face-to-face with our customers using American Sign Language (ASL), handle approximately 150 calls per month covering Verizon’s eastern footprint. These may seem like comparatively small numbers, but these special centers meet the equally important goals of enhancing accessible communications and expanding job opportunities for people with disabilities.
Today, in a keynote at the Telecommunications for the Deaf Conference in Baltimore, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler acknowledged the work Verizon has done on accessibility by noting our use of direct video communication capability, which we recently extended to our wireless customers by opening a new wireless National Accessibility Customer Service (NACS) center. Like its wireline counterpart, the Verizon Wireless National Accessibility Customer Service center features specially trained representatives who support customers who need additional assistance due to a physical or cognitive impairment. The National Accessibility Customer Service representatives can provide support to our customers on everything from how to use products and accessories to troubleshooting problems with mobile devices.
Diversity and inclusion are central to Verizon’s culture, as is providing easy and convenient ways for all of our customers to interact with us in order to meet their needs. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners in the disability community to make sure we are setting the standard for delivering an accessible customer service experience.