Recognizing Global Accessibility Awareness Day and Beyond
Each year, Comcast is proud to celebrate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). Founded in 2012, GAAD represents a moment for us all to reflect on the importance of creating equitable and inclusive experiences. We’ve made a lot of progress, which is inspiring, but there are always new technologies on the horizon, like AI for example, that make it exciting to think about future applications.
At Comcast, accessibility isn’t an afterthought. My team and I partner with teams across the company to deliver first-rate, accessible products and services. From day one, we have a seat at the table working closely with product teams to identify solutions to enhance the experience for the widest possible audience. In addition, we spend a lot of time talking with external audiences—through direct customer interactions and in partnership with leading disability organizations like the American Council of the Blind, the National Association of the Deaf, National Federation of the Blind, Team Gleason, United Spinal Association and many others—to get their feedback about how we can improve our products to be even more inclusive for people with a variety of disabilities.
As a consumer with a disability myself, I can always tell when I’m using a product that has taken accessibility to heart. It shows when a company has brought individuals with different types of disabilities into the product design conversation early as well as throughout the entire development lifecycle. I’m proud to say that for more than a decade at Comcast this approach has been fundamental to our product innovations.
Most recently, we followed this method with our Large Button Voice Remote, which was launched last fall. Since then, it has been lauded by USA Today and FastCompany for its inclusive design. During the development process, we worked with our Experience Design research team in senior centers, independent living facilities and at disability-focused technology and consumer conferences where we could talk directly with people who offered us a wide range of perspectives and feedback.
Last week, I revisited one of those locations, New Horizons, near Hartford, Connecticut, which houses seniors and adults with physical disabilities. I had the opportunity to thank them for their input and participation in helping us build such an innovative device.
The Large Button Voice Remote builds on our many years of other product innovations. These include our Xfinity Web Remote app, which won TIME Magazine’s “Best New Invention” in 2019, and enables customers to independently control Xfinity X1 and Flex using their preferred assistive technologies. We also have our “ Talking Guide” that reads the menu of our X1 TV menu as you move through the screens. All these options are important because we know accessibility isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone.
So, on Global Accessibility Awareness Day we reflect on all that we’ve been able to accomplish so far, but we’re also thinking creatively about what other new solutions are just around the corner. Comcast is proud to join with other organizations to raise awareness and inspire others to have conversations about creating a more inclusive world.
Tom Wlodkowski is Vice President of Accessibility at Comcast.