One out of five people in the world lives with some form of recognised disability. With an aging population specially in developed countries, this figure is rapidly increasing. Companies, and specially technology companies, are key to ensure the inclusion of the world’s largest minority group. If we are able to do so, both companies and individuals will benefit and what is most important, society as a whole will progress by guaranteeing a basic human right.
At Telefónica we have been working for more than 35 years in this field, with the firm conviction that new technologies can, and must, serve humanity to break down barriers.
Our aim is to become a more accessible company every day and to actively contribute to ensuring equal opportunities. For that, we apply the ‘Design for All’ approach in the believe that accessibility goes hand in hand with usability, and therefore, with a client centric approach for our products and services. This is the approach that we want our teams to incorporate in their daily work.
“Becoming an accessible company entails making structural changes in the ways of working across all functions, from Human Resources to IT, procurement, marketing or product development.”
Accessibility: a crosscutting issue
However, bringing accessibility to our company’s agenda, as part of our crosscutting diversity strategy, will not happen automatically. We are ready to take the responsibility and there are laws that ensure that we move forward. But this is not enough. We need to internalise this commitment, we need to get personal.
And for that, we all need to expose ourselves to people with disabilities, to put ourselves in their shoes, to understand the barriers they face in their daily tasks. Our aim is to ensure that all our employees have a direct exposure and are able to empathize with people with disabilities. To improve something, we need to understand it and to understand it, we need to deeply care about it.
Our strategy to become an accessible company
Our strategy focuses on four areas of action: people, facilities, products and services and processes. Although we acknowledge that we have a long way to go, we are taking firm steps forward in all of them.
For example, in products and services, through Movistar+ 5S, we are proud to say that we are the first TV to offer accessible prime content with subtitles, audio description and sign language for people with visual and hearing disabilities.
Moving forward in some areas, like Movistar+ 5s, has also allowed us to move faster in other related areas. For example, thanks to having accessible content in our TV, we now have an accessible platform through our APP, Movistar+. Also, we have recently classified our catalogue of mobile devices according to accessibility criteria to ensure that our clients can choose the devices that better suit their needs.
In brief, awareness is the key. Disability is often hidden and it is easy for companies to think that it is not an issue. However, it will affect most of us at some point in our lives. We need to stop thinking about it in terms of “them” and start thinking about “us all”.
Director of Diversity at Telefónica