WASHINGTON, DC — Verizon Wireless and Dr. Bonnie O'Day announced today that they have reached a settlement agreement resolving a complaint before the Federal Communications Commission concerning the accessibility of Verizon Wireless' wireless products and services. In a complaint filed with the FCC in February 2003, Dr. O'Day, who has impaired vision, contended that Verizon Wireless was violating Section 255 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 by failing to make its wireless telephones and services accessible to people with visual disabilities. Verizon Wireless answered the complaint asserting that its products and services are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities consistent with the requirements of Section 255. The parties entered discussions that resulted in the settlement of this dispute. Dr. O'Day and Verizon Wireless have moved the FCC to dismiss the complaint.
Dr. O'Day praised the settlement, stating: "I filed the complaint because blind and low vision people were frustrated with the pace of progress achieved by the wireless industry. Verizon Wireless' commitment in this settlement to breaking down the barriers to accessibility, however, makes them a leader in providing wireless access to blind and visually impaired consumers."
Terms of the settlement are not being released. The parties did, however, disclose that later this year Verizon Wireless intends to introduce a moderately priced wireless handset with new accessibility features to address some of the concerns raised by Dr. O'Day.
Verizon Wireless has also taken additional steps to provide people with disabilities easier access to user information such as bills, manuals, and product information in accessible formats; to modify its Web site to be more user friendly for blind and low vision individuals; and to modify employee training on disability issues. Verizon Wireless is currently assessing additional, more advanced speech output capabilities for mobile handsets carried on its network with a view toward incorporating these capabilities in future models. Dr. O'Day had filed a similar formal complaint against Audiovox Communications Corp. which was settled last December.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 40.4 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To receive broadcast-quality video footage of Verizon Wireless operations, log onto www.thenewsmarket.com/verizonwireless.