Verizon Invests $100,000 in Nonprofits That Use Technology to Help Individuals With Disabilities

MARLBOROUGH, Mass.  - Technology is the pipeline to opportunity, especially for people with disabilities.  That's why the Verizon Foundation, which is committed to improving access to information and services that address the needs of people with disabilities, is awarding $100,000 to five Massachusetts nonprofit agencies that are dedicated to improving accessibility.   

The agencies, which each received a $20,000 Verizon Assistive Technology Award, are: the Carroll Center for the Blind, Children's Hospital, Easter Seals Massachusetts, National Braille Press and The Learning Center for Deaf Children. 

A ceremony recognizing the grant winners was held today at Verizon's Center for Customers with Disabilities (VCCD) in Marlborough.  The VCCD, which fields over 700,000 calls per year, is staffed by 100 service representatives who assist customers with vision, cognitive, mobility, speech or hearing disabilities and provide them with technology solutions that meet their individual needs.

"We are committed to advancing technology solutions to improve efficiencies and increase access to services for people with disabilities," said Donna Cupelo, Verizon region president of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.  "We are thrilled to partner with organizations that open up new opportunities for people with disabilities." 

The award recipients will use the grants to do the following:

  • The Carroll Center for the Blind, based in Newton, will provide a distance learning program that uses broadband technology to provide training to blind and visually impaired individuals around the world.  Due to the vast array of courses offered, the Carroll Center is able to increase the technical capacity of both beginners and advanced computer users, often enabling its clients to return to the workforce, be successful in school, and enjoy the use of the computer in their everyday lives.

  • Children's Hospital of Boston will provide early intervention (EI) webinars for parents of deaf and hard-of-hearing infants and toddlers to provide them with essential foundational information and issues to be addressed when a child is diagnosed with a hearing loss early in life.  The webinar format will allow EI providers and parents who are without ready access to such training and who would be unable to attend a conference in person to learn the information first-hand and be able to ask questions directly to knowledgeable, experienced professionals.

  • Easter Seals Massachusetts will support a newly formed Demonstration and Loan Regional Center to help people with disabilities in eastern Massachusetts make informed decisions about assistive technology they can use to increase their independence and safety in a variety of environments. At the center, technology specialists consult with individuals, parents, professionals and educators to help them gain hands-on experience with products that are available.

  • National Braille Press will support its ReadBooks! Because Braille Matters program, which helps families of blind infants and young children, including those who are economically disadvantaged, underserved and Spanish-speaking, improve their literacy skills so they are prepared for school and on par with their sighted peers.   ReadBooks! helps parents throughout the nation become more aware of the power of braille literacy, instill in their child an early love of reading, and equip them to be effective advocates for braille within their local school system.

  • The Learning Center for Deaf Children, based in Framingham, will launch a new program, Signing for Success, to enhance communication between hearing parents and their deaf children. They will provide families of deaf and hard-of-hearing children with instruction in American Sign Language (ASL) in their own home.  Classes will be delivered through videophone technology to families across the state.

The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, supports the advancement of literacy and K-12 education through its signature program, Thinkfinity.org, and fosters awareness and prevention of domestic violence.  In 2007, the foundation awarded more than $67.4 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched the charitable donations of Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $25.1 million in combined contributions. Through Verizon Volunteers, one of the nation's largest employee volunteer programs, Verizon employees and retirees have volunteered more than 3 million hours of community service since Verizon's inception in 2000.   For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers.  Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 69 million customers nationwide.  Verizon's Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network.  A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 228,600 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion.  For more information, visit www.verizon.com.