1998 Conference Proceedings

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BELL ATLANTIC AND UNIVERSAL DESIGN PRINCIPALS IN THE MARKETPLACE - A CORPORATE-WIDE COMMITMENT

by
JAMES M. BARRY
jimbarry@idt.net

The merger of Bell Atlantic and Nynex reinforces a deep determination to bring the promise of the information age to people with disabilities. Before that promise could be delivered, several key steps needed be addressed.

The approach we used was to determine the "best practices" of each company. On this point, the best approach was accomplished through an extensive series of community outreach programs and a focused attempt to channel customer input regarding product design and function to the appropriate divisions in the combined organization.

A marketing initiative of giving the customer with a disability p/s that are both wanted and needed is a new approach in this market. This effort was a critical step to help in developing a corporate rational for the allocating of resources. This is a response to the telecommunication act of 1996.

We found we had a blend of products, product names and product functions and protocols to be streamlined. A systematic campaign was launched company wide to advance this concern. We were able to identify several "quick wins" and "easy fixes" such as matters relating to nomenclature and brand names differences. The more technological incapable issues were assigned a team of subject matter experts and given a timeline to complete the reconciliation. A capital budget item was prepared and work was started. The process is ongoing.

All this activity was deemed essential if the customers were to be offered real choices and receive quality service.

These steps are required before the customer could, realistically, begin to travel the information superhighway barrier free. We had to identify the tools required for the necessary friendly user interface with the complex infrastructure in the network. These tools had to be there to meet our [public commitment to the universal design principals.

A marketing initiative coupled with the engineering know-how makes public policy work in a competitive arena.


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