Our commitment to greater inclusion.

By: Rebecca Nicole Laming

Today marks International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Check out how we are moving the world forward for everyone.

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At Verizon, our purpose is to move the world forward for everyone. While we have long championed the rights and needs of people with disabilities, our work is ongoing as we continue to find ways to level the playing field by breaking down barriers, promoting greater representation and challenging stigmas that directly impact quality of life.

In recognition of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, here are some of the highlights of our progress this past year:

Creating an inclusive workplace

We are committed to being better allies by listening, learning and understanding what it means to live with a disability. ADVANCE, our Employee Resource Group dedicated to creating a universally accessible workplace and world, developed a Disability Awareness Toolkit on the Learning Portal 2.0. With a constellation of courses and pathways, V Teamers can explore the history of disability as a Civil Rights movement, understand why disability representation matters and dive deeper into the intersection of race, gender, sexual identity and disability. (Verizon I Verizon Media)

Sparking intersectional conversations

As part of the #Next20 series, Verizon Media’s Tatiana Pile moderated a panel with disability rights activists on the intersection between disability and race and the misperceptions millions continue to face. This episode was created in partnership with BOLD and ADVANCE, featuring speakers Imani Barbarin, Leon Ford and Maysoon Zayid.

Yahoo and In The Know launched a disability-focused content series to amplify the next generation of disability leaders like Annie Segara and Chella Man.

We also hosted a series of conversations throughout the year, including a dynamic discussion with disability rights advocates Judith Heumann and Maysoon Zayid on what the path forward looks like for disability inclusion. Additionally, V Teamers came together for a virtual watch party to view Crip Camp, a powerful documentary on the disability rights movement.

Looking beyond our walls

The Disability Collection, a partnership with the National Disability Leadership Alliance and Getty Images to create a library of stock images that authentically portray people with disabilities in everyday life, reached a two-year milestone with over 2,500 images. Over 5,600 businesses have downloaded the photos, and we awarded $40,000 in prizes to underrepresented photographers. In June, we hosted “Behind the Lens” to highlight photographers who documented the experiences people with disabilities have faced during COVID-19.

As part of our commitment to Teach Access, a coalition of industry leaders dedicated to closing the accessibility skills gap, we collectively awarded $125,000 in Faculty Curriculum Development Grants to support incorporating the teaching of assistive technology in the classroom.

We also hosted the second annual XR Access Symposium virtually on July 20 in partnership with Cornell Tech, bringing together researchers, technologists and the disability community to lead the way in making Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and 360 video accessible.

This week, Verizon is sponsoring and co-producing Sight Tech Global, an event focused on how rapid advances in AI and related technologies will create a more accessible world for the blind and low vision community.

Mark your calendars.

While we have moved the needle considerably for disability awareness and representation, there’s still time left in 2020 to keep up the momentum.

On December 14, join Magda Yrizarry, Verizon’s Chief Diversity Officer, Jay Beasley and ADVANCE Executive Advisory Board member Kelley Kurtzman to discuss disability biases and reinforce the strength of disability diversity as a business practice. Employees will also learn more about accommodations available and how to take advantage of those resources. Register now!

Reinforcing our commitment with the Valuable 500

When we joined the Valuable 500, we cemented our pledge to drive greater disability inclusion alongside a coalition of the world’s largest companies. We promised to be a force for good by keeping the expertise of people with disabilities at the forefront of our business and ensuring our products, workplace and society are inclusive and accessible.

As we build a more equitable future, it’s important to remember that creating a world that is both accessible and inclusive of people with disabilities is an investment that benefits society as a whole. If you want to learn more, join ADVANCE and take action with fellow V Teamers as an ally for the disability community.

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