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Accessibility Takes the Spotlight at Joint Diversity Advisory Council’s Sixth Biannual Meeting

Accessibility was a leading theme during the sixth biannual meeting of the Comcast NBCUniversal External Joint Diversity Advisory Council (JDC), held on October 2-3, 2013 — the first week of National Disability Awareness Month.

JDC members were among the first guests at the newly opened Accessibility Lab, part of Comcast Innovation Labs, at the company’s Philadelphia headquarters. The working lab and showroom features demonstrations of Comcast’s current and planned accessible products, and helps visitors learn how customers with disabilities can get the most out of Comcast services. Highlights included: 

  • Cable TV’s first talking program guide, which enables blind, low vision, or cognitively disabled customers to navigate the TV experience

  • Enhanced closed captioning controls, readable voicemail, and text messaging for people who are deaf or hard of hearing

  • A computer interface that enables customers with physical disabilities to operate home controls — such as lighting and thermostat — using eye tracking technology and XFINITY Home devices

JDC members also received an overview of best practice accommodations at Universal Studios theme parks, including’s "Accessibility Information" page, where visitors can access Universal Orlando's Rider's Guide for detailed information about each attraction, many of which have been designed to offer guests with disabilities an identical experience to other riders. 

"Our JDC meetings are an invaluable resource because they enable us to discuss, evaluate, and further develop our diversity and inclusion strategy and initiatives," said Maria G. Arias, Comcast’s Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion.  "Accessibility is a differentiator for us.  At the recent fall meeting, we had the chance not only to demonstrate some of our new accessible products, but to educate ourselves and our JDC members on some of the issues central to the disability movement. We gained many insights, and we will continue to engage with our workforce and product teams to become a best-in-class employer for people with disabilities." 

One of the focal points of the meeting was a live panel featuring executives with disabilities from across the country, who spoke candidly on civil rights, advocacy, employment, and accessibility, among other issues. 

Anil Lewis, Director of Advocacy and Policy, National Federation of the Blind participated in the discussion.  "I don't come to the employer as a blind person. I come with a skill set," he said, referring to difficulties that the blind and other people with disabilities face in the job market. "To challenge the barriers, we have to conduct ourselves in a fashion that allows us to earn respect. We need to educate employers on our capabilities and show that we can become productive members of the work force." 

Moderated by Fred Maahs, Director of National Partnerships, Community Investment and Vice President of the Comcast Foundation, the panel also included Lise Hamlin, Director of Public Policy, Hearing Loss Association of America; Andrew J. Imparato, Executive Director of the Association of University Centers on Disability; and Jean Lin, Outreach Coordinator, Asia Pacific Islanders with Disabilities of California. 

About the Joint Diversity Council

The JDC was formed in 2011 and is comprised of 41 national leaders in business, politics, and civil rights. Four nine-member Diversity Advisory Council sub-groups represent the interests of African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanics and women. Other members represent Native Americans, people with disabilities, veterans, and the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender communities. At its biannual meetings, the JDC receives updates from Comcast NBCUniversal senior executives about the company’s continued diversity and inclusion progress, as well as shares and provides advice on best practices.