Verizon celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Day

By: Zachary Bastian

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May 20 is Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), the annual celebration of digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities. Technology is key to unlocking a more inclusive and equitable future for people with disabilities. As we build a more connected world through the power of 5G – the right technology can offer a greater quality of life, access and independence.  Today, I’m pleased to share some highlights of how we celebrate GAAD.

When we joined The Valuable 500 last year, we became part of a network of the world's largest businesses dedicated to driving greater disability inclusion. After recruiting 500 companies to join the coalition, The Valuable 500 announced today a partnership with a select group of industry leaders, including Allianz, EY, Google, P&G, Salesforce, Sony and Verizon, to develop programs that will break down barriers for people with disabilities. Verizon will work with The Valuable 500 to upskill students with the curriculum and experience they need to dream and design a world that's inclusive for all. We will focus our efforts on scaling Teach Access, a collaboration among education, industry, and disability advocacy organizations to enhance students' understanding of digital accessibility so that the leaders of tomorrow are prepared to build for everyone today.

Verizon has long championed the rights and needs of people with disabilities, and we expanded our focus under Citizen Verizon. As we find new ways to level the playing field, we need to lean into the perspectives of the disability community to fully leverage the promise of technology for our employees and customers. Today, we introduced Verizon's first-ever Disability Advisory Board, an external board of trusted leaders from disability organizations that will ensure accessibility is a lens we bring to all of our initiatives. The Disability Advisory Board will partner with senior leaders to make recommendations that will inform and support Verizon’s accessibility journey.

Our colleagues at Verizon Media continue their class-leading work supporting accessibility. They now closed caption 100% of original and partner video content streamed in its own video players to its nearly 900 million consumers on Verizon Media sites and apps. And they will donate $5 million in media to a number of disability organizations to support their important advocacy work. Verizon Media launched an Accessibility Council, an internal leadership group created to provide oversight to educate employees and create best practices and accountability to ensure its content and products are created accessible  from the onset.

Verizon’s 5G Labs is hosting a month-long event series focused on how accessible technology is moving the world forward. So far covering accessible virtual and augmented reality, expressing your identity at work, and on May 25th, a special discussion on delivering access to telelearning. And that doesn’t even cover all the ways we celebrate accessibility all year long. The Disability Collection, our partnership with the National Disability Leadership Alliance and Getty Images reached a three year milestone with over 3,000 stock images authentically portraying people with disabilities in everyday life.

We are proud of what we have done so far to make our products, workplace, and society more inclusive and accessible, but as a company, we know there is still more work to be done. By listening and learning from people with disabilities, we have an incredible opportunity and responsibility to ensure that no one is left behind or left out as we move the world forward for all.

About the author(s):

Zack Bastian is Manager for Strategic Alliances at Verizon.

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