Telecomms giant Comcast just announced that in collaboration with Connect Direct, a subsidiary of Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD), it’s launching ASL Now, an American Sign Language support services program for customers with hearing loss.
Comcast announced the expansion of its accessibility services at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf Tuesday morning, where it donated a computer lab and gave 90 students tablets and six months of internet service through its Internet Essentials program.
The partnership is an expanded effort to make internet usage more accessible for folks with disabilities.
“By partnering with Communication Service for the Deaf-Connect Direct and working with the deaf community, we want to address and break down the barriers to broadband adoption that are unique to this population,” said Comcast’s SEVP and chief diversity officer, David Cohen. “That starts by being able to speak with customers in their native language.”
Comcast’s accessibility site now brings customers an ASL chat function, the ability to order materials in Braille and large print and watch about 50 internet safety and digital literacy videos with closed captioning. The site also operates with assistive technology like screen reader software.
“We are especially happy to partner with Comcast on this initiative, which represents a significant leap forward in broadening the reach of services available in ASL and creating more avenues for fuller participation of deaf people in society,” said CSD CEO Christopher Soukup.
Earlier this year, Comcast announced another addition to its Internet Essentials program when it gave a grant to the American Association for People with Disabilities to create and deliver digital literacy training programs that address the digital needs of residents within the low-income disability community. In June, it also rolled out Xfinity X1 eye tracking, which allows people with physical disabilities to use their eyes to change the channel, set a recording or search for shows.
Also on Tuesday, Comcast announced the grand opening of a computer lab at the Nationalities Services Center, a nonprofit serving immigrants and refugees in the area.
Funded in part by a Comcast Foundation grant, the lab will become part of the City of Philadelphia’s KEYSPOT network of public, private, and nonprofit organizations that provide technology, training, and other opportunities through community-based computing labs. The corporation also gifted 75 clients with laptops and six months of internet service.
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