Access and Aging: Leveling the Tech Playing Field

By Roman Smith, Director, Sustainability Operations, AT&T
Jul 7, 2016 2:05 PM ET

Recently the AT&T Advisory Panel on Access & Aging (AAPAA) met in Washington, D.C. for a semi-annual meeting to discuss needs and trends in the accessibility and aging community with guest speakers and corporate advisors. AAPAA is a group of 15 different organizations that have a vast network of constituencies looking to AT&T to bring innovative technology to the market that allows individuals in accessibility and aging communities to lead fulfilling lives. Like prior gatherings, I had the honor of joining and participating. Over the course of two days, we had the opportunity to hear from both internal AT&T organizations and external speakers on how we are working together to meet the evolving needs of the accessibility and aging communities.

One particular highlight was listening to AT&T’s Chief Accessibility Officer, Jeff Lewis. He spoke about the mission of the AT&T Corporate Accessibility Technology Office, which is to “connect all people, regardless of capability, with their world – every place they live, work and play – and do it better than everyone else.” It was inspirational to hear his passion when he spoke, as well as when he revealed he had just lost his mother that same week. Despite his personal loss, I could tell the importance of the accessibility and aging community to him.

Additionally, we got a glimpse into the fast-moving world of the Internet of Things (IoT). We saw how things like smart watches, glucose meters, medication adherence and active discomfort management will revolutionize how people are informed, communicate with their medical practitioners and help empower them to live independently. Winifred Quinn, director of Advocacy and Consumer Affairs from AARP, even discussed how the new world of these technologies could be covered by Medicare/Medicaid and private insurance.

I also learned more about the 5000 Initiative: Autism in the Tech Workforce. With more than 500,000 young adults with autism expected to enter the workforce over the next decade, AT&T has joined other global companies to train more than 5,000 for defined jobs by 2020.

We all left the two-day meetings feeling truly inspired by the AT&T’s Beyond Limits campaign. It is an innovative social project that showcases the lives of people with disabilities and celebrates their achievements. Its purpose is to motivate everyone to keep striving for greatness and to always pursue their dreams. This campaign will truly melt your heart and inspire you!

It is a proud moment when I see how exactly AT&T is using the power of our network to Connect to Good. We’re bringing technology to the market and leveling the playing field so that people of all abilities can have the same opportunities for a life of endless possibilities.