As Vice President, Accessibility at Charter Communications, the second largest cable company in the country, I am responsible for the planning, strategy and execution of accessibility efforts and the Universal Design of the company’s products and services. Our goal is simple: to enhance the overall experience for customers, including those with disabilities. It’s not hard for me to imagine these customers’ experiences, because I am one of them.
I have low hearing, and before I started using assistive technology I’d often miss things in meetings and on calls, and found it increasingly difficult to function in the workplace. With the adoption of Bluetooth hearing aids, my hearing impairment has no impact on my work. It still takes an inclusive employer to see that, however.
It’s not hard for me to imagine these customers’ experiences, because I am one of them. Mark Balsano Vice President, Accessibility, Charter Communications
I came to Charter for several reasons, not least of which was its inclusive culture. My goal is to build the Spectrum Accessibility Office into a world class program; one that is recognized as best of the best by our industry and consumers alike! To do so, I need not only the best designers and engineers, but also people who live and breathe accessible devices. 60% of my team has a disability, and that diversity is our core strength. We are the users of the products we make.
Our largest challenge is getting people to understand the need for products and services to be accessible. I am very passionate about trying to connect people to what accessibility really means and why it’s important, and I often use personal stories to demonstrate the power of assistive technology (AT). For me, AT has made all the difference, as it has for my father (who also has low-to-no hearing) and millions of others. Living these experiences drives a passion for accessibility and a strong desire to improve the lives of others.
I am so proud to have had the opportunity to speak at the White House on accessibility and technology, and to have led the efforts to launch two separate accessibility offices; first the Corporate Accessibility Technology Office (CATO) at AT&T, and currently the Spectrum Accessibility Office (SAO) at Charter. Universal Design is better design for everyone, and my team helps all Americans enjoy their home entertainment—we feel pretty good about that.