Bell Atlantic, NYNEX Announce Plans to Make Services, Products More Accessible

February 3, 1997

CONTACT: Bell Atlantic, Michel Daley, 202-392-1021;

NYNEX, Maureen Flanagan, 212-395-0500; United Cerebral Palsy

Associations, Jenifer Simpson, 202-973-7111; National

Association of the Deaf, Karen Peltz-Strauss, 301-587-7466;

or Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership, Judy

Brewer, 617-355-6380

Bell Atlantic, NYNEX Announce Plans to Make Services, Products More Accessible

Leaders of Disability Community Challenge

Telecommunications Industry To Improve Accessibility,

Representative Edward Markey Applauds Initiative

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3 -- Bell Atlantic (NYSE: BEL) and

NYNEX (NYSE:NYN) today announced a far-reaching program

designed to make their services and products more accessible

to people with disabilities. Representative Edward Markey

(D-MA), one of the key architects of the Telecommunications

Act, and a coalition of leaders from the disability

community endorsed the move at a press conference held in

Washington, D.C.

The companies pledged that when they merge the new

Bell Atlantic will:

* Adopt Universal Design Principles to ensure that

all company-wide telecommunications services are fully

accessible and widely marketed to a broad range of diverse

users, including individuals with disabilities;

* Include people with disabilities on consumer

panels and advisory committees;

* Use advertising that is accessible to consumers

who have hearing or visual disabilities; and

* Expand the existing line of Bell Atlantic and

NYNEX products and services that are already accessible and

usable by people with disabilities.

Michael Morris, Executive Director of the United

Cerebral Palsy Associations (UCPA), said: "We live in a

world where a strong, accessible communications

infrastructure is essential to the daily routine of every

citizen -- including citizens with disabilities. Universal

design, or inclusive design, strives to make products and

services usable by the broadest array of consumers. UCPA,

together with other national disability organizations and a

number of industry players, worked to make disability access

a reality in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. And now we

want to work together to make Universal Design happen.

"We commend Bell Atlantic and NYNEX for their

leadership in committing to make their products and services

accessible for all consumers. We challenge other

telecommunications companies to step forward and work in

partnership with the disability community," concluded


Bell Atlantic and NYNEX said that the commitment to

the Universal Design Principles is based in large part on

the companies' commitments to people with disabilities. It

was developed in close cooperation with leaders of

organizations in the NYNEX region representing people with

disabilities and is an example of the "best practices" of

the combined Bell Atlantic/NYNEX. At the press conference,

the companies demonstrated current products that make

communications access easier for all customers.

Donald B. Reed, NYNEX's President and Group

Executive, External Affairs and Corporate Communications,

said: "The significance of the universal design program is

that it will be fully integrated across the entire company.

Rather than designing special products or services for

disabled consumers, we are pledging to engineer universal

design principles into everything we do. Our goal is to

make the new Bell Atlantic's products and services

accessible to all consumers -- helping everyone communicate


Bruce S. Gordon, Bell Atlantic's Group President

Consumer and Small Business Services, said: "The merger of

Bell Atlantic and NYNEX is about finding new ways to meet

the challenges of a diverse customer base. We will

incorporate the NYNEX approach to providing universal access

to all telecommunications services and products offered by

the new Bell Atlantic and will expand consumer input through

the development of universal design committees and consumer


A coalition of leaders from the disability community

endorsed the far-reaching Universal Design Principles

adopted by Bell Atlantic and NYNEX, and issued a challenge

to all telecommunications providers and manufacturers to

take steps to improve the universal accessibility of their

services and products.

Groups represented included the American Council of

the Blind, Association of Late Deafened Adults,

Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership, National

Association of the Deaf, Self-Help for Hard of Hearing

People, Inc., United Cerebral Palsy Associations, the World

Institute on Disability and the Technology-Related

Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Project.

The proposed merger between Bell Atlantic and NYNEX

was announced April 22, 1996. The combined corporation will

serve 39 million telephone access lines in 13 states and

more than 4 million cellular customers. Shareowners of both

companies overwhelmingly approved the merger at special

meetings in November 1996.