By Jaeson “Doc” Parsons
Verizon has created an employee resource group (ERG) that utilizes diverse perspectives to put out products that are critically needed in our world today and tomorrow.
DIVERSEability Magazine recently spoke with Verizon at the CSUN Conference in Anaheim regarding one of the products created by their ERG that has already begun to dramatically change the way the world sees the disability community.
For years, the disability community has been asking for a more realistic representation of images featuring individuals with disabilities. But now the wait is over. Verizon, in partnership with Getty Images and the National Disability Leadership Alliance, has created a solution—Disability Collection.
Over the years, Verizon puts out a tremendous amount of media, and when they tried to present people with disabilities using photos from stock image libraries, they had difficulty finding images and especially finding images that portray individuals with disabilities accurately.
“Any time we tried to find an image of someone with a disability, it would either be a pitiful image or a heroic image, neither of them really reflecting reality”, said Larry Goldberg, the senior director of media accessibility at Verizon.
Goldberg said he himself has a hearing loss and his career started with closed captioning on TV, “so this is my community. Currently, I am part of a great team at Verizon — a group within Verizon called Verizon Media — which is all about content and apps and how to make them accessible for people with disabilities,” he added.
Margaux Joffee, Verizon’s associate director of accessibility, went to Getty Images, one of the largest stock image libraries in the world, to jumpstart this solution. But first, she approached the National Disability Leadership Alliance to ensure that people with disabilities had a strong voice in how they are being represented. This led to the joint creation of the first ever guidelines for photographers on how to accurately represent people with disabilities in photography. Those guidelines have now been distributed to over 250,000 Getty Images photographers worldwide, resulting in set of truly accurate, diverse and dignified images.
“Getty Images, the National Disability Leadership Alliance and Verizon has put out this amazing collection of images. It has touched everyone in disability leadership groups, but also inside Verizon,” Joffe said. “When we launched this project in D.C., the disability community loved this, but what was really cool was that Verizon’s staff and executives fell in love with the project too because it was tangible and real. “The new Disability Collection is a culmination of the efforts of companies like Verizon who are focused on portraying people with disabilities by breaking through stereotypical images, and providing a more realistic picture of this community.
The development of this image library will continue to change how the world views the disability community, and will challenge other companies to follow suit in the future. Learn more about the Disability Collection and how to view and download the images at DisabilityCollection.com