Protecting the public’s channels

KUC News

AT&T Criticism Mounts

May 24, 2012

AT&T is facing mounting criticism from PEG advocates calling for the company to change how it delivers public channels to subscribers so that visually impaired and blind people can access them. American Community Television (ACT) sent letters to AT&T President, Randall Stephenson and to Jacquelyn Brand, the chair of the AT&T Advisory Panel on Access & Aging, urging AT&T to correct the issue and deliver PEG channels the same as commercial channels on the U-Verse system.

Multichannel News quoted ACT President, John Rocco, who is visually impaired and the manager of the Charlotte Mecklenberg Public Access Corporation, "I cannot navigate to my own channel, "said Rocco, "This impacts all persons with visual disabilities, particularly the elderly."

In its release on the issue, ACT points to the fallacy in claims AT&T makes in a report titled, "Accessibility, Innovation, and Sustainability at AT&T." In that report, AT&T's claims that it thoroughly tests products in the development stage to make sure they are "accessible, useful and usable" for people with disabilities and that its goal is "to learn and adjust product design in the lab from inception, rather than after a product or service is deployed to tens of millions of customers."

ACT President, John Rocco, says, "We believe this report is the smoking gun that shows AT&T knew in advance of its roll out of U-Verse that PEG channels would not be accessible to the visually impaired...The irony here is that PEG channels provide more programs by and about persons with disabilities than any other television medium."