At Telefónica we believe that the digital revolution must generate new opportunities for everyone, in line with our purpose of “Making our world more human by connecting people’s lives”.
“It is our collective responsibility to future generations to spread the benefits of digitisation and ensure that no one is left behind. Inequality of opportunity is the main challenge we face.”
Digitisation has burst onto the scene, changing the way we relate to our environment. This revolution applies in particular to people with disabilities, for whom technological advances mean that they can, in many cases, overcome the barriers they have traditionally faced in their daily lives. To this effect, at Telefónica, we use the potential of new technologies to improve the lives of people with disabilities and incorporate accessibility as a cross-cutting element for our products, services, facilities and channels.
Based on this commitment, once again this year we are joining the International Day of Persons with Disabilities with a campaign that seeks to make diverse realities visible, focused both on our employees and the rest of the stakeholders with whom we interact.
Training and awareness-raising as a basis for progress
In the context of this campaign and with the aim of bringing the reality of disability closer to its professionals around the world, we have launched a new specific course that informs employees and managers about the different types of existing disabilities and provides tools that facilitate equal treatment towards colleagues with disabilities.
This course, available on the in-house training platform, complements and completes the guide “Disability at work: everyone’s responsibility” published in 2020 and freely accessible. This manual has been adapted in Spanish-speaking Latin America to the current local situation in 2021.
In terms of training, this year we have developed specific courses and training with the heads of teams and strategic departments of the company, such as People, Comunicación or Marca. Thus, we seek to guarantee, on the one hand, barrier-free working environments and, on the other hand, to ensure interaction with all our stakeholders on an equal opportunity basis, regardless of the possible disability of their interlocutors.
In the same vein, we continue to encourage participation in affinity groups made up of employees with disabilities and disability awareness. These groups boost the visibility of their members and give a voice to their participants.
Incorporation of professionals with disabilities
Aware of the difficulties that professionals with disabilities face when integrating into the labour market, throughout 2021 at Telefónica we have signed framework agreements with several entities that help to locate candidates with disabilities with profiles in line with the company’s needs. This is the case of Down Madrid, Fundación Bobath and Fundación A La Par.
In addition, Telefónica Tech collaborates with “Good Job Foundation” within Include Programme, a through which people with disabilities have been trained in cybersecurity, offering internships in the company once the training process has been completed.
In addition, through the Conecta Educación project of the Telefónica Foundation, we have trained technicians and trainers from a variety of organisations that work with people with disabilities, with the aim of providing their beneficiaries with the digital skills required by the market, thus promoting their integration. Through the social action of our Foundation we have assisted almost 170,000 people with disabilities in the last year.
This diversity within the teams allows us to be stronger and more competitive as a company. The talent of each of us contributes to our common success, because when we connect talent we are able to achieve incredible things.
Accessibility of the 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. The company builds on a solid foundation, which started with the mutual support organisation ATAM which is currently adapting its assistance model to technologies such as IoT, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and Big Data in order to optimise care for its beneficiaries in situations of disability. To this effect, ATAM is supported by ViveLibre a digital service specially designed to enhance the autonomy of people with support needs. In 2021, prototypes of the ViveLibre Home sensor devices have begun to be deployed to generate predictive models to identify alerts in a proactive and non-intrusive manner.
On the other hand, Telefónica’s products and services integrate the philosophy of “Design for All” philosophy, which incorporates accessibility in the development of solutions from the creation phase. In order to promote this commitment, and as part of the “Responsible Design” project, we have trained product managers in accessibility criteria to guarantee a good user experience for people with different types of disabilities. Our goal is for 100% of new products and services to be comprehensively designed with this approach from 2022 in Spain.
An example of this is the television service Movistar+ 5S, which offers accessible content (with subtitles, audio description and sign language) for people with visual and hearing disabilities. Over the course of 2021, it has offered around 900 triple-accessible contents. Another notable example is the development of accessible terminals (POS) for ONCE vendors, deployed in 2021 and for the first time incorporating a touch screen with accessible markings.
In addition, we have improved the accessibility conditions of their call centres in operations such as Spain and Colombia, allowing communication between the disabled client and the advisor through an interpreter.
SUPPORTING PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES THROUGH ATAM
NEW PRODUCTS AND SERVICES WITH RESPONSIBLE DESIGN
TRIPLE ACCESIBLE CONTENT ON MOVISTAR
However, despite advances, the digital world still poses barriers for those with disabilities. Technology has not yet been able to integrate all people on equal terms. For this reason, Telefónica has reinforced its commitment to accessibility by signing the “Principles for Advancing the Digital Inclusion of People with Disabilities“, promoted by the GSMA, which seeks to close the digital divide through a specific framework of action for telecommunications operators.
Adherence to these principles is in addition to our commitment to the global initiative The Valuable 500, through which we make four concrete commitments to strengthen the force of disability on the global agenda.
Elena Valderrábano, Global Chief Sustainability (ESG) Officer at Telefónica.
Marta Machicot, Global Director of People at Telefónica.
Raquel Fernández León, Director of People at Telefónica de España.