Over one billion people worldwide have an accessibility need. Despite that staggering number, many services and products are built with accessibility as an afterthought.
Brittany King-Offord wants to change that. For her, accessibility awareness started long before she joined AT&T. One might call it fate: In college, she stayed with a roommate who had cerebral palsy – a disorder that can severely limit one’s movement, posture and balance.
“In getting to know her, watching her navigate life, I saw people with disabilities in a new light,” Brittany said. “She taught me to address elephants in the room and have candid conversations to gain understanding.”
This understanding is what drew Brittany to join Ability, our employee group dedicated to creating a culture of understanding and awareness for individuals with disabilities. Ability’s goals spoke to what Brittany hoped to accomplish in her advocacy.
“Ability is a space for accessibility. To be a voice for those who do not have the loudest voice in the room.”
Accessibility in Action
There are many types of disabilities. In response, Ability has a broad range of initiatives tackling accessibility challenges. Among them include supporting caregivers of patients with disabilities, panel discussions on mental health awareness, and amplifying the voices of employees with autism.
One AT&T program, iCount, allows employees the opportunity to self-identify if they have a disability. This tool is especially important in cases of unseen disabilities, which are those that may not have physical symptoms. The information gained from iCount is is critical in our ability to develop meaningful strategies and promote new opportunities for our diverse talent.
“There’s a stigma around self-identification because of the assumptions related to certain disabilities. However, once employees cross that bridge, we can go to decision makers with data on how to expand our support. We encourage employees to be braver and bolder about what they share so we can provide resources. We don’t know what we don’t know.”
Brittany’s time at Ability started by leading mentoring circles, which offered participants career opportunities through training, mentorship and other development pieces. The experience helped her realize how much she could accomplish within AT&T. Today, she’s Chief Operating Officer of the employee group.
“I never thought my passion would take me this far. I’m awestruck.”
Through her position, Brittany speaks at countless panels, helps plan for future events, and connects with executive leadership on making a direct impact for accessibility causes that matter most to them. She also aligns her current position as a Lead Talent Marketing Manager to her work with initiatives like Second Chance, supporting applicants who were previously incarcerated and often fit under categories that Ability supports.
“In many cases, their records are seen as a blemish. But a lot of people we engage with likely did not receive proper resources or did not have their accessibility needs addressed.”
A Vision for What’s Possible
“My major goal is to move what we do out of the realm of afterthought. Right now, many companies don’t think about accommodation until it’s too late. After witnessing the social unrest of 2020, I think it’s important for everyone to get out of the mindset that accessibility is the last step. We need to navigate those conversation at the forefront, make sure everyone is included, and not make assumptions.
Not long ago, Brittany attended a wedding. It was her college roommate’s wedding, someone who transformed her perspective and refused limitations put upon her by others. She had her first child and is currently a special education teacher.
That success story continues inspiring Brittany to use today’s opportunities to nurture and grow opportunities for thousands – perhaps millions – tomorrow.
“We all seek understanding. With AT&T, I knew I could continue learning, maturing and creating a voice that encourages us to do better. In all the things we do, the great part here is you can synergize your work with your passion.
“When that happens, it’s a sign that you’re doing your life’s work.”Learn more about our team’s abilities