Bell Atlantic Invites Customers with Disabilities To Enroll for E-mail Updates on Products, Discounts

Bell Atlantic Invites Customers with
Disabilities To Enroll for E-mail Updates on Products,

Enhancement to 'AccessAbility' Web Pages
Highlights Communications Tools, Deals

February 29, 2000


Jim Smith,

NEW YORK - Bell Atlantic wants to help its customers with disabilities stay up-to-date on the growing line of call-management services that can provide communication and life-style assistance. Now, customers who enroll at the company's Web site can automatically receive e-mail
messages about new services and discounts on services and packages tailored to their personal profile.

With the new service, two current offers for free equipment available to people with disabilities would be circulated automatically to customers who enroll.

According to Bob Baublitz, manager of the people with disabilities market for Bell Atlantic's consumer line of business, many people with disabilities are unaware of the ways call management features can be useful to them. The company's AccessAbility Web site, www.bellatlantic.com/accessability, is an important information resource,
he said, but adding an outreach function using e-mail will help close the information gap between the company and these important customers.

"Our AccessAbility Web site was an innovation designed to give this group of customers an information resource of their own," said Baublitz. "But this new interactivity function adds depth to our tie
with these customers."

According to Baublitz, the new link with customers capitalizes on a developing trend called "permission marketing." Rather than pepper the advertising media with unheard messages, information is shared by agreement with a willing listener. The challenge is to send to the listener only useful information so that the desire to keep the link open remains.

Beyond that, he said, interactivity represents a new level of customer care
for consumers with disabilities. It is a tool for keeping them aware of news, information and developments they care about.

"Over time, there may be events and activities, sponsorships and information that is keyed to geography, disability type or company product," Baublitz said, "and Bell Atlantic can use focused
messaging to create a gratifying information exchange." He cited the recent introduction of 7-1-1 dialing for access to telecommunications relay services for the deaf in Massachusetts as the kind of news that could be shared via e-mail.

Visitors to the site can now fill in an enrollment form that Bell Atlantic will use to direct appropriate messages to customers. They will be invited to identify their individual disabilities and indicate the kinds of information from the company that they would like to receive. Information furnished by registrants is considered private and is guaranteed by the company to be secure.

"Our intent is to inform," Baublitz said. "This will not be junk mail. In fact, that's why we're asking for customer-specific information, so that what we send out is of interest to the individual

Two special offers are currently available at the Web site. Customers who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TTYs) can get a free TTY Caller ID display unit that works with TTYs. Customers who order the Call Manager package, which includes Caller ID, Call Waiting and Home Voice Mail, can receive a free Talking Caller ID Display, which reads aloud the number of the calling party.

The AccessAbility Web pages include a summary of Bell Atlantic discounts and services for which people with disabilities may be eligible, special equipment available to people with disabilities, details about relay
services for the deaf and hard of hearing, and the company's commitment to universal design principles.

The pages were launched last year and discounts on some of the services that support people with disabilities were promoted on the site. Customers with vision disabilities read the pages using screen reader software that translates computer screen text to synthesized voice.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With nearly 44 million telephone access lines and 12 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the
world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are
also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.