Verizon Sponsors Landmark Housing Project for Disabled in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Verizon has joined Habitat for Humanity International and ABILITY Magazine to help provide an Anne Arundel County family with a home designed for their special needs.

The ABILITY House program provides affordable, accessible housing for low-income families in which one or more members have a disability.

Volunteers from Verizon and residents of Anne Arundel County will begin working together this month to complete the ABILITY House by May 2004. Volunteers will build a ramp and install an automatic slide door to allow easy entry into the home. The home will feature wider-than-normal hallways and doors to allow for wheelchair access, grab bars in all bathrooms and levered door handles.

A unique aspect of this program is its use of volunteers with disabilities during all phases of construction, emphasizing their abilities and talents.

ABILITY Awareness, a nonprofit organization that has successfully harnessed the power of local people with disabilities for the good of the community, created the ABILITY House program. President Bush recently awarded this group a Presidential Community Volunteer Award.

"The ABILITY House program helps remove barriers that keep people with disabilities from owning their own homes," said Millard Fuller, founder and president of Habitat for Humanity International. Through the program, local people build accessible homes and raise public consciousness of what access really means to individuals.

"Less visible, perhaps, but even more important, the program highlights the skills, volunteering potential and mentoring capabilities of people with disabilities. Every ABILITY House sends a powerful message: People with disabilities can make a house into a home," Fuller said.

Lisa Harrison-Burke, Verizon manager of diversity markets, said, "We are honored to be associated with an organization like Habitat that performs innumerable acts of community outreach, touching millions of lives each year. And we are especially proud to help one family with special needs realize their dream of home ownership."

Other Verizon Initiatives for the Disabled

Verizon is a leader in helping to enhance the lives of people with speech, cognitive, hearing, visual and mobility limitations. For example, Verizon serves those with special needs through two Centers for Customers with Disabilities, which currently support customers in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, Texas and California. The centers eventually will serve Verizon special-needs customers nationwide. Customers can contact both centers via voice or text telephone (TTY) at 800-974-6006.

Verizon publishes Forward Access, an online newsletter geared to the interests of the company's 4.9 million customers with disabilities. The quarterly newsletter, available at www.verizon.com/forwardaccess, provides updates on technology for people with disabilities; government policies on accessibility; information on the use of telephone equipment; and links to helpful Web sites such as that of the American Association for People with Disabilities.

In addition to receiving the Helen Keller Achievement Award from the American Foundation for the Blind in June, Verizon was the sole corporate recipient of the 2003 "Justice for All" Award, presented by the American Association of People with Disabilities. The award was presented in recognition of the company's contributions to the political and economic empowerment of children and adults with disabilities.

To find out more about Verizon's initiatives for customers with disabilities and to view the company's portfolio of products and services, visit the Verizon web site at www.verizon.com/disabilities.

About Verizon Communications

A Fortune 10 company, Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services, with approximately $67 billion in revenues. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with more than 139 million access line equivalents and 36 million Verizon Wireless customers. Verizon is the third largest long-distance carrier for U.S. consumers, with nearly 16 million long-distance lines. The company is also the largest directory publisher in the world, as measured by directory titles and circulation. Verizon's international presence includes wireline and wireless communications operations and investments, primarily in the Americas and Europe. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.

About the ABILITY House Participants

ABILITY Awareness, founded in 1995, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people with disabilities through housing, education, employment, media and volunteer opportunities.

Habitat for Humanity International, established in 1999, is an ecumenical Christian nonprofit organization that is dedicated to building houses for low-income families.

ABILITY Magazine, a bimonthly publication with a circulation of 165,000, helps create new awareness surrounding disabilities through celebrity interviews and in-depth articles.