Verizon launches Disability Advisory Board and pledges to upskill the next generation of innovators.

By: Rebecca Nicole Laming

In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, take a look at some of our new initiatives to create a more inclusive and equitable future for people with disabilities.

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Today marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), an annual celebration to discuss and learn about digital inclusion for people with disabilities. With over one billion people living with a disability worldwide, we want to make sure everyone has access to the technology they need to thrive and participate to their full potential.

Check out what we're doing to reinforce our commitment to disability inclusion:

Upskilling the next generation of innovators.

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.

"I believe technology is key to unlocking a more inclusive and equitable future for people with disabilities. The right technology can offer a greater quality of life, access and independence, which is why it is so important to amplify the voices of the disability community and bring their perspectives to the forefront, as a guiding principle around what we create and build." - Hans Vestberg

Introducing Verizon's Disability Advisory Board.

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.

Members of the Board include:

  • Zainab Alkebsi, Policy Counsel, National Association of the Deaf (NAD)
  • Lydia X. Z. Brown, Policy Counsel, Privacy and Data Project, Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT)
  • Lawrence Carter-Long, Communications Director, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
  • Divya Goel, President, DeafBlind Citizens in Action
  • Lise Hamlin, Director Public Policy, Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA)
  • Matthew Janusauskas, Chief Technology Officer, American Foundation for the Blind (AFB)
  • Becky Kekula, Director, Disability Equality Index, Disability:IN
  • Eddie Ndopu, Senior Partner, Global Goals Advisory
  • Katherine Perez, Executive Director, The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy, & Innovation
  • Liz Weintraub, Senior Advocacy Specialist, Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD)

“To make good on the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals to create a more equitable future, we must include the expertise of the disability community at all tables where decisions are being made.The invitation of this moment is about harnessing disability inclusion as a site of innovation, to drive greater prosperity and systems change. Verizon is doing this in its deep work at the intersection of technology and inclusion, and that is why I am proud to join Verizon's Disability Advisory Board, alongside this diverse group of leaders. Together we can create a future that truly leaves no one behind.” - Eddie Ndopu, Award-winning Humanitarian and Senior Partner at Global Goals Advisory

We are IN!

Disability:IN is a nonprofit that partners with businesses to expand opportunities for people with disabilities. You may recall their name from the group's Disability Equality Index, in which Verizon scored a 100% based on our policies and programs to support employees with disabilities.

As the next step in our partnership, Hans joined other CEOs and industry leaders by signing a letter to advance disability inclusion and build a more equitable workplace that empowers all.

Volunteer to be a force for inclusion.

Get involved with ADVANCE.

Another way for V Teamers to drive and champion disability inclusion is to join ADVANCE of Verizon, our employee resource group dedicated to creating a universally accessible workplace and world. Through ADVANCE, we focus on how Verizon shows up as an employer and brand to ensure disability inclusion is reflected in every aspect of our business.

Moving the world forward for all.

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.

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