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.
We work in close partnership with the disability community, both formally through our AT&T Advisory Panel on Access and Aging, and informally through guidance from organizations serving and representing people with disabilities.
The simple fact is that people with disabilities, like other Americans, need to have access to broadband for full inclusion in today’s society and today’s economy.