Hi, my name is Tom Boudrow, and I work in the Verizon Center for Customers with Disabilities (VCCD). I myself am Deaf, so working with the disabled community holds a place close to my heart. Prior to coming to the VCCD, I worked as the executive director of the state association for the Deaf in Massachusetts. I had a long term contract with Verizon operating a specialized equipment program, and when I later came to the VCCD I was one of the people responsible for overseeing the program I once worked under as a contractor with the state association.
Since coming to the VCCD, I have had the opportunity to educate/advocate for many accessibility improvements for our customers. One that stands out is the creation of the videophone gate, which permits Deaf customers to call using a videophone where they actually see who they are speaking to, and use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate. This allows ASL users to communicate in their first language with which they are most comfortable. It also created job opportunities for people who are Deaf at Verizon.
Verizon was recognized on a national level by deaf service agencies, and received awards for this ground breaking endeavor which was the first of its kind. I was recognized and received the “2009 employee of the year” award by “Careers and the Disabled” magazine. Verizon continues to give me the opportunity to reach out and improve access as well as create partnerships with different disability communities. I am currently working with the Talking Information Center (TIC), a radio station for individuals who are blind. TIC reaches out to 20k people in Massachusetts alone, and many more in other states. As a result of this collaboration, TIC has recently started running public service announcements about the services the VCCD brings to people with disabilities. They agreed to do this because they believe in the importance of getting information about the VCCD services out to their listeners in order to make the experience of calling Verizon an easy and comfortable one.
With technology rapidly changing we need to stay alert and be sure people with disabilities are able to have the same access as everyone else. I have conducted many disability sensitivity classes and always explain what I believe to be the definition of disability. I state that a disability is when the person and the environment don’t match, so our job is to make it match. As the best team in telecommunications we CAN make it happen.
Anyone wishing to learn more about people with disabilities should reach out to the Verizon ERG called Disability Issue Awareness Leaders (DIAL). Also, you would like more information on the services the VCCD offers please email us at VCCD@Verizon.com.
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