The 20th Anniversary of the ADA

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on July 21, 2010 at 3:31 pm

By Susan Mazrui, AT&T Director of Public Policy

On Monday, I had the privilege to participate in events led by the White House, in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Commerce, highlighting the 20th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the role that technology has played in providing a level playing field for people with disabilities.  As always, Kareem Dale’s remarks were on target but it was his personal experience that speaks most strongly to the fact that, with access to technology, people with disabilities need know no limits.

More than twenty years ago, I first heard about a new bill being circulated that would address the civil rights of people with disabilities. I was writing the final research paper for my master’s degree on a computer with one of the first screen readers ever commercially offered. As a blind person, it was the first time I could edit what I wrote. This was a huge advancement.

Today, thanks to the commitment made to access and to innovation by individuals like Bonnie O’Day, Karen Strauss and Jim Fruchterman, and companies like AT&T, Apple and Research in Motion, I have more power in my little cell phone, even better access to information and more ways to communicate.  I can choose from hundreds of thousands of books without having to ask someone to record it for me. I can access government sites and learn about important activities in the community. I can text my daughter who lives across the country from me – who even thought of texting then?  I still can’t get her to listen to my voicemail messages before calling back but that is a generational issue, not an access one. 

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Broadband and People with Disabilities

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on March 10, 2010 at 1:09 pm

By Susan Mazrui, AT&T Director of Public Policy

Today, the Silicon Flatirons Center, in conjunction with the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, and the Federal Communications Commission hosted a conference on “The National Broadband Plan and Accessibility for People with Disabilities.”  It brought together all parties concerned – government, industry, and people with disabilities – to advance our common goal of bringing broadband to all Americans, including people with disabilities in the context of the National Broadband Plan.

I was pleased to have been invited, on behalf of AT&T, to make a presentation at this conference.   We look forward to a series of stimulating discussions in the areas of access to broadband and legal and regulatory issues surrounding broadband deployment.  AT&T’s comments in the FCC’s proceeding on the National Broadband Plan contained a series of strong recommendations for ensuring access to broadband for people with disabilities.

We have consistently taken the position that the unique and common needs of people with disabilities must be addressed as the nation moves toward the goal of 100% broadband adoption.  Technological innovation has a critical part to play in this effort, and companies like AT&T must – and do – take a leadership role in supporting accessible design, offering products and services to meet the needs and desires of people with disabilities, as well as promoting Universal Design, both internally and by encouraging our vendors to adopt similar policies.

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