Bell Atlantic, NYNEX Announce Plans To Make Services, Products More Accesible

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Bell Atlantic, NYNEX Announce Plans To Make Services, Products More Accesible

Leaders of Disability Community Challenge Telecommunications Industry
To Improve Accessibility, Representative Edward Markey Applauds
Initiative


February 3, 1997

Media contacts:

Michel Daley, Bell Atlantic 202-392-1021

Maureen Flanagan, NYNEX 212-395-0500

Jenifer Simpson, United Cerebral Palsy Associations 202-973-7111

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

Judy Brewer, Massachusetts Assistive Technology Partnership 617-355-6380

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- 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 useable 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 Morris.

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 better."

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 panels."

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.

####

Who are the supporters of the New Bell Atlantic? Take a look here to find out.

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