'I am a proud disabled woman.'

By: Katie Regner

V Teamers talk accessibility, the ADA and the work that remains.

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On today’s Up To Speed, host Katie Regner shared the following updates:

“Inclusion” includes those with disabilities

This week marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ADA is the cornerstone of civil rights for the 61 million Americans living with disabilities. It was the first comprehensive legislation to protect equal rights and access for people with disabilities across all aspects of community life, including employment and public accommodations.

Today’s show kicked off with Wendy Lu, a proud woman and a V Teamer journalist with HuffPost, whose words, “Our worth as human beings - that should just be a given,” are so powerful and true.

Work still to be done

Larry Goldberg, Head of Accessibility at Verizon Media, and Krista Hinman, global lead of ADVANCE, one of our employee resource groups, joined for a discussion around how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go. 

Larry said that, thanks to the ADA, there is now an entire generation of people who understand the principles that we all must embody. “That it is our environment, our tools, our workplaces - even our own attitudes - that need fixing, not people with disabilities themselves.”

ADVANCE is the new name for the DIAL and Neurodiversity groups at Verizon and Verizon Media, which have recently come together. “ADVANCE is an employee resource group with a mission to create and advance a more inclusive and accessible workplace for people with disabilities and caretakers,” said Krista.

Krista encourages any V Teamer with interest to become a member of ADVANCE and check out their resources on how to talk about disability, including a Disability Toolkit and Disability 101 Plan launching in October for National Disability Employment Month. Find the links on the ADVANCE VZWeb page. Verizon Media employees can learn more on The Street.

What else is Verizon doing in this space?

  • We just wrapped our second XR Access Symposium. Through this initiative and its community of practice and research and development projects, we are building an accessible future for immersive reality and similar technologies.
  • We know representation matters, and, along with our partners Getty Images and the National Disability Leadership Alliance, we recently hosted “Behind the Lens,” an online event that highlighted the work of photographers who are documenting the lives and experiences of people with disabilities.

What can each of us do?

  • Fight and protect the ADA, which continues to come under attack both legislatively and politically.
  • Continue working with accessibility teams to ensure our work is accessible to all.

Watch these recent events:

For many, the ADA is personal. V Teamers shared their perspectives on what the ADA means to them in a short video. Sometimes it can be difficult to be open - and we appreciate them sharing their stories.

Haben Girma

Haben is a disability rights advocate and author of “Haben,” the story of her journey through Harvard Law School as she became the school’s first deaf-blind graduate. She points out that many people are guilty of “ableism,” the assumption that non-able-bodied people are in some way inferior. She wants her story to be inspiring in the true sense of the word, to motivate others to act, not as a cover for pity. “I’ve been advocating for years. We need non-disabled people to start doing the work.” You can watch her powerful story here.

In other news…

VZPulse+ survey

The VZPulse+ survey is open now through August 10. Your feedback will help our leadership see what we need to do to move from a great company to a fantastic one. Verizon employees should have received an email from our partners at Gallup.

Partnering with Gallup allows us to benchmark our progress against other industry leaders. We want to be the best place to work. And we want our V Teamers not just to do their job but love their work. That’s why we need to hear from all of you and have every V Teamer participate.

The latest My Why - Vanessa Houston

Speaking of loving their work, today we feature the next episode in our My Why series.  To honor Verizon’s 20th anniversary, we’re spotlighting the Verizon journeys of 20 V Teamers. Today’s spotlight is on Vanessa Houston, a Solutions Specialist in Austin, TX. At the height of the pandemic, she created “The Made Up Morning Show,” a live social-media program featuring interviews with leaders about mentorship. Take a look.

For more V Teamer profiles like Vanessa’s, check out the My Why hub page. It includes information on how you can submit yourself for consideration for an upcoming episode of My Why.

If you have any questions, email them to live@verizon.com.

Get the latest information on our Coronavirus Resource Page (Inside Verizon, The Street).

Reminder, tune in to Up To Speed Live Monday at 12 PM ET/9 AM PT.

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About the author:

Katie is a member of the Verizon Corporate Communications team and a regular host of Up To Speed. She's a new mom with a passion for show tunes trying to keep up with the latest trends in tech.

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