At Telefónica we want to put the enormous potential of technology to good use and have a positive impact on society by helping people with disabilities, in particular, break down the barriers they face in their daily lives.
This year 2020 has shown how this commitment has become more important than ever. The health crisis emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that many elderly and disabled people, especially those considered most at risk, have had to endure more severe isolation than the rest of the population.
In this context, technology, and in particular connectivity, has been an essential tool to avoid social isolation and ensure that all people, without exception, can be connected to their families, access information or have a variety of basic services available to them.
However, despite the progress made, the digital world continues to pose barriers for people with disabilities. Technology has not yet been able to integrate all people equally. Telefónica is therefore strengthening its commitment to accessibility by signing the “Principles for Driving the Digital Inclusion of People with Disabilities” promoted by the GSMA. The aim is to close the digital divide for these people through a specific framework of action for telecommunication operators.
Adhering to these principles is a step forward for the company, which joined the global initiative The Valuable 500 in 2019, thus taking on four specific commitments to give more weight to disability on the global agenda.
Introducing our guide to disability
As part of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Telefónica presented the guide “Disability at Work: Everyone’s Responsibility” with the aim of offering tools that facilitate the respectful and equal treatment of colleagues with disabilities.
In parallel, we are developing specific training and courses with team leaders and strategic departments of the company, such as Human Resources, Communication or Brand. In this way, we want to ensure barrier-free working environments and equal opportunities, so that people with disabilities feel free to make their circumstances visible, should they wish to do so.
Accessibility in our products and services
At Telefónica we have been working for more than 40 years to ensure that our products and services help to break down barriers. We started from a solid base, which began with our mutual support organisation ATAM, which is currently adapting its help model to technologies such as IoT, cloud computing, artificial intelligence or Big Data in order to optimize care services for its beneficiaries in disability situations.
On the other hand, our products and services integrate the “Design for All” philosophy, which incorporates accessibility into the development of our solutions from the earliest stages. To promote this commitment, and as part of the project “Responsibility by Design”, Telefónica has trained its product managers in accessibility criteria to ensure a good user experience for people with different types of disability.
An example of this is our television service Movistar+ 5S, which provides accessible content (with subtitles, audio description and sign language) for people with visual and hearing disabilities. Another noteworthy example is the development of terminals (POS) accessible to ONCE vendors. The new system will have an accessible touchscreen thanks to tactile markers for the first time and is expected to be fully deployed by 2021.
In addition, we’re striving to improve the accessibility conditions of our call centres, with the aim of enabling communication between a customer with a disability and an advisor through an interpreter.
director of Labour Relations at Telefónica, and
Purpose, Diversity & 2030 Agenda director at Telefónica