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April 18, 2016

Improving Communications for the Hard of Hearing through HD Voice

Posted by Susan Diegelman

Note: this blog post originally appeared on the AT&T Connect to Good blog (http://www.about.att.com/content/csr/home/blog/2016/04/improving_communicat.html#sthash.1vVzjjos.dpuf)

For people with disabilities, it is rare that there is a single solution that meets everyone’s accessibility needs. Different circumstances and environments often require different solutions and this is certainly true for people who are hard of hearing or experiencing hearing loss. Hearing aids have become smaller, more comfortable and more powerful in recent years. They can make it possible to undertake activities that were previously more challenging – but they also have their limitations. The development of Hearing Aid Compatibility technologies that improve the ability of hearing aids to amplify mobile devices has greatly enhanced the experience for people with hearing loss, but it isn’t always the best solution for everyone.

For customers with hearing issues, both young and old, this technology provides a new accessibility tool that can boost independence and enhance opportunities.That is why we are excited about High Definition (HD) Voice, which is now available on the AT&T network and will eventually be available nationwide, across carriers. HD Voice uses noise cancelling technology and wide-band audio (the ability to broadcast in a broader range of frequencies then traditional phone service) to make conversations sound more natural, even in noisy environments.

Earlier this month I had a chance to meet with the Delray Beach, FL chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) to discuss HD Voice and get feedback on how the technology may improve the experiences of people with hearing loss. After the meeting, many attendees brought their hearing aids to me and asked if HD Voice would work with their particular hearing aid. The beauty of HD Voice is that it lives on the network so it delivers better quality mobile conversations for everyone, independent of the type of device they may have.

In addition to conversations with customers, like those I had in Florida, we’re also conducting research to understand how wideband audio impacts the customer experience. A recent study by AT&T and Gallaudet University in collaboration with HLAA confirmed that while wideband audio isn’t a silver bullet, it does offer significant benefits, such as:

  • Improving speech understanding among individuals with hearing loss
  • Decreasing expenditure of mental effort among individuals with hearing loss (making it “easier” to chat on the phone)
  • Helping to overcome some of the challenges presented by minor packet loss (call quality degradation)

Since wide-band audio broadcasts in a broader range of frequencies, packet loss in one or two of the frequencies are compensated by others, which results in significantly less “break up” during your phone calls.

For customers with hearing issues, both young and old, this technology provides a new accessibility tool that can boost independence and enhance opportunities.

New to HD Voice? Here are the basics:

What is HD Voice and how does it work?

HD Voice employs wide-band audio technology and noise cancellation that allows users to hear a wider range of frequencies. This broad range helps compensate for frequencies that a user’s ear may be unable to hear, making conversations sound crystal clear compared to standard voice calls.

What do you need to enable HD Voice?

The key to HD Voice is compatibility.

To use AT&T HD Voice, both the caller and receiver need HD Voice-capable phones, with the feature enabled, and they must be located in an AT&T HD Voice coverage area. There are a range of HD-enabled handsets that are available today at all price points and eventually HD Voice will be native to all handsets. AT&T is an early adopter of HD Voice capability and is currently the only network fully ready to fully support it. We look forward to the full national roll-out of HD Voice, across carriers, so that people with hearing difficulties and speech impairments will have a seamless, and much more productive, mobile phone experience.

March 09, 2016

Join us!

Posted by AT&T Alabama Team

Join us at the CHHS Cyber Senior Mentoring Program: Technology Training on Wednesday March 16 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Carbon Hill High School Library!

CHHS Cyber Mentoring Program Technology Training

November 23, 2015

CHHS Cyber Senior Mentoring Program: Digital Training

Posted by AT&T Alabama Team

Click HERE to download a full-size PDF of this image.

CHHS Cyber Senior Mentoring Program: Digital Training

October 29, 2015

Connecting at Hillfest!

Posted by Terri Williams, Regional Director for Legislative and External Affairs for AT&T Alabama

Hillfest was this past weekend, and we had a great time participating, connecting with community members and speaking with local customers. We had an AT&T booth set up in downtown Carbon Hill and enjoyed talking with customers and Hillfest attendees. We helped answer questions and were able to discuss the technology trial that is taking place in the Carbon Hill area and the products, services and technologies that are available.

Since we announced our selection of the Carbon Hill wire center as one of two locations for a technology trial last year, we have spent a lot of time in the local community talking with residents and getting to know community members. We are working hard to ensure that the trial is as inclusive as possible, customers are well informed and the benefits are offered seamlessly.

Hillfest AT&T Tent

October 09, 2015

Join Us at Hillfest!

Posted by Terri Williams, Regional Director for Legislative and External Affairs for AT&T Alabama

Hillfest, Carbon Hill’s annual community event, is quickly approaching, and we invite you to join us there! Hillfest kicks off on Friday evening October 16, and the fun continues through Saturday afternoon, October 17.

AT&T participated in Hillfest 2014. And, this year, we will have a booth in front of City Hall! I am looking especially forward to this event and truly enjoy being a part of the community spirit shared by area residents. It’s what makes this area and this event so special. The dedication that local folks have to the community and the sense of caring for one another really makes this area unique. It is something that I have had the privilege of experiencing first-hand over the past year and half while talking with area customers and community members at the meetings, informational sessions and senior technology trainings we have held here in the Carbon Hill area. Events like Hillfest are an important opportunity for my colleagues at AT&T and me to meet and get to know members of the community and to make ourselves available to you, providing information and answers.

It is AT&T’s mission to connect people with their world, and connecting with you is the best part of my job! I look forward to seeing you at Hillfest and continuing conversations on the technology trial taking place in the Carbon Hill area.

September 24, 2015

Congratulating Carbon Hill FCCLA

Posted by Terri Williams, Regional Director for Legislative and External Affairs for AT&T Alabama

First Place STAR Event Award Winner at the Alabama FCCLA Leadership Conference and STAR Event Silver Award Winner at the FCCLA Leadership Conference

As part of the IP trials taking place here in Carbon Hill, we’ve looked to engage and inform our customers and members of this community. Our goal has been to share information and updates about the trial itself and to talk more broadly about the benefits the transition will bring about. An important part of this outreach has been with local seniors to answer questions about how smartphones and tablets work and how digital devices and technologies can make their lives - and connecting with the folks that they love – easier.

AT&T has been incredibly fortunate to have many wonderful partners in these efforts. One of the most inspiring is the Carbon Hill High School chapter of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA). The Carbon Hill High School chapter of FCCLA has created a senior “tech training and literacy” program, with local high school students working one-on-one with local seniors to demonstrate smartphone and tablet basics, so they can enjoy the many benefits of our digital age. FCCLA students helped develop the curriculum for this program and worked monthly during the 2014 – 2015 school year with seniors to illustrate the importance of digital literacy and safety for all generations. The one-on-one nature of the events helped ensure seniors were able to have specific questions answered and allowed them to work with FCCLA students on an array of digital “tasks” – everything from learning how to video chat with friends and family, program security locks and codes to protect devices and personal data, post photos on Facebook, and use calendar and reminder apps for things like doctor’s appointments and important dates.

The Carbon Hill High School FCCLA has been honored at both the state and national levels for its great work on this senior tech literacy program. This press release features more information on the awards the group has garnered, including those won at the 2015 FCCLA National Leadership Conference, held in Washington, DC this past July. Carbon Hill FCCLA students Kristen Bennett and Jordan Romine were presented with Silver awards at the National Conference for their work on the senior tech trainings project and had the opportunity to meet with members of the Alabama Congressional delegation. The program has been such a success that Alabama FCCLA will partner with the Alabama Department of Senior Services and AT&T to take the program statewide – stay tuned for more information on this effort!

Carbon Hill High School FCCLA members and award recipients Jordan Romine and Kristen Bennett

AT&T would like to congratulate the Carbon Hill High School FCCLA students and teacher advisor Rebecca Franklin on their awards and recognition and thank them, Carbon Hill High School principal Dr. Gypsy Stovall and Alabama FCCLA state adviser Jennifer Adams for their hard work on this project. We know the benefits that access to technology can deliver, but we also know that tech education and digital literacy are vital to ensuring that everyone knows how to use these technologies and can experience their benefits. The work of the Carbon Hill FCCLA students has helped local seniors understand and experience these benefits first-hand, and we are proud to have FCCLA as a partner in our efforts to educate, engage and inform folks on these important issues.

September 08, 2015

Using the Latest, Smartest Technologies for our Customers with Disabilities

Posted by Fred McCallum, President — AT&T Alabama

July 26, 2015 marked the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed this landmark bill into law, assuring civil rights protections and equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities. Many celebrated the anniversary by holding events, signing the ADA’s Pledge, or sharing personal stories about how the law has affected them. As AT&T celebrates, we also focus on what else must be done to further ensure access for individuals living with disabilities.

At AT&T, we are as excited about future developments as we are about past gains, and we recognized the ADA’s anniversary by holding the Connect Ability Challenge in partnership with New York University’s ABILITY Lab. The contest promoted the development of technology solutions to help enhance the lives of individuals living with disabilities, and participants were challenged to “create ready-to-use solutions that ‘solve’ a problem for people with disabilities.”

Open to entrants from around the world, Connect Ability participants came from 16 different states and 15 different countries.  Developers with disabilities as well as those inspired by family or friends living with disabilities were among those who entered. Entrants were encouraged to include people living with disabilities in designing and testing their ideas. And, all were encouraged to include “end user feedback” – where an individual with a relevant disability would use the app or product and talk about their experience. More information about the challenge can be found here.

Connect Ability entries were judged by tech and engineering experts, and winners were announced in New York City on July 27. Over $100,000 in prize money – provided by AT&T and RESNA (the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America) - was awarded in categories including Best Solution for People with Communicative and Cognitive Disabilities; Best Mobility Solution; and, Best Solution Impacting Policy and Society.

The Connect Ability grand prize winner of $25,000 was Kinesic Mouse, a hands-free mouse that uses a 3D camera to help individuals operate their personal computers with head movements and facial expressions. Other winners included LOLA, a Lifelong Organizational Learning Application that tackles issues that many children and parents face by breaking activities into smaller task systems, which is helpful for individuals who struggle with executive function. LOLA won Best Social/Emotional Solution and the Popular Choice Award. And, MySupport won the Best Practices Collaboration Award for success in matching users with disabilities and caregivers and other supports and services. Information on all of the winners can be found here.

At AT&T, we are committed to finding technology solutions to make all of our lives easier. The Connect Ability challenge was an opportunity to partner with others to help encourage the development of innovative solutions to meet the needs of users living with disabilities, but it is not our only work in this area.  Throughout our history, AT&T has sought to ensure that allof our customers—including those living with disabilities— can easily connect to the information they need and the people they love.  That is our goal and our passion.  The Connect Ability Challenge is just one way we seek to use the latest technologies and best thinking to make sure our customers are fully connected.

August 12, 2015

National Digital You Program

Posted by AT&T Alabama Team
Get Your Internet Game On - Safely!

AT&T launches Digital You - a national program to teach you ways to help protect yourself online

Do you know someone who claims they’re “too old” to get online? Or who has had their email — or social media — account compromised? Anyone who has been bullied online? Someone who has posted something they later regretted?

If so, you are not alone!

That is why AT&T, with the help of Common Sense Media, AARP and other national community organizations, is launching Digital You.

This new program is designed to help educate and empower people to learn more about how to have a safe and secure online experience.

Digital You includes features like:

bullet pointA new AT&T website (digitalyou.att.comoffering research-based materials about how to use devices safely and effectively for parents, youth, seniors, people with disabilities and others, with key information in Spanish.

bullet pointCommunity events, training and discussions are led by AT&T employees and community organizations across the country.

bullet pointDigital Compass, a free, interactive game, was developed by Common Sense Media to help teach pre-teens how to make smart decisions online.
   

Digital You can help you take advantage of what the Internet has to offer — while also teaching you ways to help protect yourself from identity theft, online harassment and scams.

So get your Internet game on! Check out Digital You at:
digitalyou.att.com.

21%  of Internet users have had an email or social networking account compromised or taken over by someone else without permissionof Internet users have had an email or social networking account compromised or taken over by someone else without permission.[1]

 
 

33% of disconnected adults say that they stay offline because accessing the Web is too difficult or frustrating; they are physically unable; or they are worried about other issues such as spam, spyware or hackers

of disconnected adults say that they stay offline because accessing the Web is too difficult or frustrating; they are physically unable; or they are worried about other issues such as spam, spyware or hackers. [2]



43% of teens (13-17 years old) say they have posted something online that they later regrettedof teens  (13-17 years old) say they have posted something online that they later regretted.[3]
 

>40% of teens (13-17 years old) have been bullied online — 25% report it has happened more than onceof teens (13-17 years old) have been bullied online — 25% report it has happened more than once.[4]
 

 

 

[1]Pew Research Center, “Anonymity, Privacy, and Security Online,” September 5, 2013
[2]Pew Research Center, ”Who’s Not Online and Why,” September 25, 2013
[3] Moessner, Chris. "Cyberbullying, Trends and Tudes." NCPC.org. Accessed February 10, 2014,
http://www.ncpc.org/resources/files/pdf/bullying/Cyberbullying%20Trends %20-%20Tudes.pdf.
[4]The Online Generation Gap: Contrasting attitudes and behaviors of Parent and Teens, Submitted to The Family Online Safety Institute by Hart Research Associates, Nov. 14, 2012.
 

August 06, 2015

AT&T Statement on FCC's Tech Transitions Order

Posted by AT&T

“In the National Broadband Plan, the Commission clearly recognized the critical need to modernize our country’s communications system, and carriers have invested billions of dollars to make this happen. The ongoing transition from a circuit-switched network to an IP-based platform – over which voice, data and video services converge – has created extraordinary opportunities for consumers.  The order adopted today threatens to stifle this transition by erecting new regulatory obstacles that serve to benefit not consumers, investment or competition but rather select companies."

“The FCC cannot call on the industry to invest in more fiber deployment, raise the bar for what qualifies as a broadband service and then make it more difficult to retire services that do not even qualify as broadband.  We share the Commission’s goal to protect consumers as this revolutionary technological movement continues. But requiring carriers to prolong the use of and maintain an outdated infrastructure is not the way to go about doing that.”

This statement can be found in it's entirety here.

August 04, 2015

Providing Accessible Connections for Our Customers

Posted by Terri Williams, Regional Director for Legislative and External Affairs for AT&T Alabama

At AT&T, connecting our customers – using the newest and best products, services and technologies – is our job. The trial technology programs in Carbon Hill and the West Delray Beach area of Florida are helping us find the best way to do so. We know that customers with low vision, hearing loss or other disabilities may need assistance during the transition and helping these customers is a priority for us.

But accessibility isn’t just an issue of importance during the trials or technology transitions. At AT&T, we have a longstanding commitment to accessibility and to working with our customers with different needs. In 2012, AT&T launched the Corporate Accessibility Technology Office which focuses on working with AT&T’s business units to make our products and services accessible for customers with disabilities. The Corporate Accessibility Technology Office also works with a number of disability organizations around the country to get their feedback on how products, services and devices are working and what new innovations might be helpful. Since its launch in 2012, the Corporate Accessibility Technology Office has processed over 24,000 requests for accessibility review, making sure the services and devices we offer are accessible to, and usable by, customers with disabilities.

The Corporate Accessibility Technology Office also offers a number of trainings across the country. Some trainings are geared toward AT&T employees, helping us to understand the challenges that customers with disabilities face in connecting and educating us about how we can best serve their needs. Other trainings are offered for customers with disabilities and their family members so they can learn about the different services and technologies that can help them connect seamlessly, regardless of their individual needs. So far, the office has conducted 26 of these customer trainings across the country with over 800 participants. This year, the Corporate Accessibility Technology Office is working to provide even more trainings and reach even more customers using AT&T’s Employee Resource Group members and Customer Service Representatives to lead trainings in their local areas. These trainings, titled “Wireless Independence Now! Workshops” use PowerPoint presentations available on the Wireless Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center Website to demonstrate accessibility features available on wireless devices, including smartphones and tablets. The presentations review where to find accessibility settings, what they do and how to activate them, and provide information about resources and websites with accessible applications and devices.

In addition to the work and trainings that the Corporate Accessibility Technology Office does, AT&T’s commitment to accessibility includes a National Center for Customers with Disabilities (NCCD). The center provides “white glove” service for customers who have questions about accessibility devices, features, equipment or applications, as well as information about how to obtain alternate billing. New customer issues are assigned to an AT&T employee who serves as a support person and is involved in managing each case from the beginning to its resolution. Customers are provided with direct contact information for their individual support person, so that they can have questions answered and issues resolved at any time. The customer service center can be reached on the AT&T NCCD Website or toll free via voice, for wireless customers, at: 866-241-6568 or via TTY at: 866-241-6567 and for wireline and U-Verse customers, via voice at: 800-772-3140 or TTY at: 800-651-5111.

All of us here at AT&T share in this commitment: to do as much as we can to help make sure our customers can access the connections they need – for work, education, entertainment, and to reach loved ones. Our efforts to make connections seamless for our customers with disabilities is a big part of this commitment, as are the technology trial programs in Carbon Hill and the West Delray Beach area. We look forward to continue strengthening our customers’ connections in more, new and better ways as we move forward.

May 15, 2015

Celebrating Seniors & Attending the M4A Older Americans Picnic

Posted by Terri Williams, Regional Director for Legislative and External Affairs for AT&T Alabama

Senior Training at the Sumiton Senior Center

It was great to get out and celebrate seniors and enjoy a beautiful day last week at the Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging’s (M4A) Older Americans Picnic. The picnic took place at the Sumiton Senior Center, and attracted about 150 attendees and 15 vendors, including AT&T. The event featured a presentation by ABC Birmingham affiliate meteorologist James Spann, and attendees were very interested in his remarks – lots of those present used their smartphones to record his presentation and to take photos!

Senior taking a picture with her smart phoneI value the opportunity to attend and participate in community events like this one held in and around the Carbon Hill area. We’ve shared in previous blogs about participating in events like HillFest and other community fairs and events. As we move forward with our technology trial here in Carbon Hill, we think it is important that we are out in the community talking to residents, answering questions and keeping folks informed. We hold regular meetings and information sessions at the Carbon Hill Community Center to do this, but we also realize that residents have busy lives. The more that we can have a strong presence here in the community, at all types of events, the more able we will be able to establish an important relationship and continued presence. We want to make sure our customers here in Carbon Hill know me and my colleagues by name and how and where to get in touch with us when they have questions or need information.

Senior using her smartphoneOur goal is to make sure local residents and customers are informed about the trial, every step of the way, and understand that the newer products, services and technologies it enables can benefit them in their everyday lives. We are focusing our outreach efforts on customers as well as seniors and residents with disabilities – to make sure that all residents have the information they need and the answers to their questions. We’ve met with senior-focused organizations and groups that represent the needs of residents with disabilities in the Carbon Hill area and will continue to do so in the days and weeks ahead, to answer questions and share information. This includes talking with representatives from groups who also attended the M4A’s Older Americans Picnic, including folks from M4A, the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind, Alabama’s State Health Insurance Assistance Program, the state Department of Veterans Affairs, and Disability Rights and Resources. We have also teamed up with the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) to ensure that people with disabilities are aware of and informed about the trials, and AAPD has created great resources, including a microsite and a brochure that includes information about the IP Transition, the trials, frequently asked questions, and more. The AAPD web resources are available here: www.aapd-iptrials.com.

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May 04, 2015

Learning from Alabamians with Vision Loss

Posted by Terri Williams, Regional Director for Legislative and External Affairs for AT&T Alabama

On Thursday, April 22, AT&T Alabama team members and I participated in the National Federation of the Blind of Alabama Northwest Chapter’s first “Living with Vision Loss” health fair in Jasper, Alabama. The event was designed to provide information about the local and statewide supports and services available for blind and low vision Alabamians, and to answer questions for those interested in learning more about the issues that impact these individuals. Held at the Community Health Services Activity Center, the health fair attracted a number of attendees and vendors, and featured a presentation by Dr. Dawn DeCarlo, director of the Center for Low Vision Rehabilitation at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

Mickey Harbin, Terri Williams, Gail Smith (NFB) and Jessica Edmiston (AIDB) - also Finley the dog!

Left to Right: Mickey Harbin, Terri Williams, Gail Smith (NFB) and Jessica Edmiston (AIDB) - also Finley the dog!

At the health fair, we talked to Alabamians with vision loss about the issues and challenges they face, and the role that different technologies and services can play in helping make sure that their connections are user-friendly, and can make their daily lives easier. One attendee told us how her husband who has vision loss is using today’s technology to help stay connected.  At AT&T, we work hard to make our products and services usable by people with disabilities including vision loss. AT&T’s blind customers can choose from smartphones that talk to them, send text messages, and read documents as well as apps like AT&T U-verse Easy Remote that make watching television much easier for those with vision loss.

We want these types of products and technologies to be available to more Alabamians and more Americans. Connecting you to friends and family – our commitment to doing this has guided AT&T for more than a hundred years and this same commitment is what guides us going forward for the next hundred. That’s why we are undertaking an FCC overseen trial technology program in Carbon Hill. This trial program will help us understand how best to deploy newer technologies; how to best talk to our customers and community members about the benefits that they offer; and make sure that everyone can get the most out of these connections.   

Taking part in events like the “Living with Vision Loss” health fair allows us an important opportunity to continue to hear from – and talk with - our customers about how they connect. Everyone needs connections that are reliable and easy to use, and this includes customers who are blind or low vision, have hearing loss or just dealing with some of the challenges most of us will face as we age. We are working to make sure that use and availability of the products and services that we offer is easy and seamless, for all of our customers. And, we are working with our customers and community members in the Carbon Hill area to make sure that, throughout the trial, they are informed about what we are doing, that they know that they can come to us with questions, and that we are working to make sure that – no matter how they connect – those connections will deliver everything they need – and more.  We are holding community information sessions at the Carbon Hill Community Center a few times a month, and reaching out to customers, organizations and groups in the area to make sure that everyone is informed and engaged in this process. To learn more about upcoming meetings and events, please visit the events page of this website.

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March 19, 2015

Keeping Carbon Hill Connected & Informed: An Update

Posted by Terri Williams, Regional Director for Legislative and External Affairs for AT&T Alabama

Learning how to use a tabletIt’s been a little over a year since AT&T announced its intention to select Carbon Hill as one of two locations nationwide for a trial technology program. Over the past twelve months, we’ve held a number of public events and information sessions in Carbon Hill to talk about this program and what it means for our customers in Carbon Hill. We’ve met community members and leaders in their homes, at the high school and the Carbon Hill Community center; participated in meetings with local organizations and had the opportunity to be involved in great events like Hillfest.

Group help for mobile devicesJust this week, we held our latest multigenerational “Technology 101” training session with Carbon Hill seniors and high school students. Since last year we have held a number of these events in order to work with residents of all ages to provide hands-on experience with smartphones and tablets. This week’s training session – like those we have held before -  helped demonstrate the real benefits these connections provide, and how easy and seamless they can make things like staying in touch with friends and family, getting healthcare information, or just checking the weather forecast. Carbon Hill high school student members of the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) worked one-on-one with Carbon Hill senior citizens to help them learn how to use tablets, and to answer questions about this technology.

In February of last year, when the trial technology program was first announced, we emphasized our commitment to the Carbon Hill community. Being here in the community, talking to customers and Carbon Hill residents, answering questions and providing information, keeping you informed – those are all things that we wanted to do over the past year, and all things that we will keep doing in the weeks, months and years to come. The events and activities that we’ve held to date are just the beginning.

As part of this, we will continue to hold events, organize activities, and have information sessions. Upcoming information session dates (held at the Carbon Hill Community Center) for the next few months are: March 24, April 7, April 28, May 5 and May 19th. Information about upcoming events and about how to get in touch with us if you have any questions is always available on our website: http://ip4carbonhill.att.com/.

We believe that the technologies, products and services that the technology trials will provide access to will benefit our customers, the larger Carbon Hill community and, eventually, communities across the United States. They will help our customers connect in all of the ways that they want to, whenever they want to, using whatever device they want to. They will make it easier for small business owners to connect with customers around the country, and access suppliers around the globe. They will help family members separated by miles share important events like blowing out the birthday candles in real-time. They will help teachers and doctors in communities like Carbon Hill connect to – and with - classrooms, experts and specialists across the country. And they’ll help sports fans manage their brackets and watch every second of the Sweet Sixteen, even when they are nowhere near their televisions.

As the trial progresses and into the future, we look forward to continuing to work with the Carbon Hill community to assure that our customers understand, and can take full advantage of, the connections and technologies that will most benefit them.

One on one lesson for a senior with an AT&T empolyee

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November 21, 2014

AT&T Statement on FCC's Proposed IP Transition Rules

Posted by Bob Quinn, AT&T Senior Vice President of Federal Regulatory and Chief Privacy Officer

“The principles the FCC’s IP Transition NPRM seeks to uphold – public safety, reliability, universal connectivity, competition and consumer protections – should be implemented in a manner that reflects the many marketplace and technological developments that today are driving the transition to next generation networks.  Customers are demanding higher speeds and more capacity, and a vibrant, competitive environment exists to provide robust, innovative options. The success of what Chairman Wheeler describes as the Fourth Network Revolution can be achieved by adapting the FCC’s technology transition framework in recognition of these realities while preserving the ability for all industry participants to continue to invest in faster and better Internet for consumers.”

October 21, 2014

IP Transition Holds Great Promise for People with Disabilities

Posted by Eva LaManna, American Association of People with Disabilities

Gentalmen using a disability friendly deviceAs representatives of the American Association for People with Disabilities (AAPD), we are excited about the expansion of access to more technologies, products and services, and the potential they have to bring new opportunities to people with disabilities. We are working with AT&T to help make sure the disability community in Carbon Hill and beyond is able to take full advantage of innovations that can deliver economic and quality-of-life benefits to empower all people to live more connected, independent lives.

Across the country, more people, including increasing numbers of people with disabilities, are quickly adopting IP (or Internet) -based technologies that facilitate stronger connections with greater capabilities at work, home and school. For people with disabilities, IP-based technology provides new opportunities to connect. For example, many people who are deaf have taken advantage of video chatting applications, which run over IP networks, to converse in sign language with their loved ones, or to study or work remotely. Many people who are deaf or hard of hearing have also gravitated toward communicating via text message (SMS) from their mobile phones. Some people who are blind or low- vision have used screen-readers and text-to-speech technology on their smartphones, which enable them to make full use of email, maps, currency readers and many other applications. In short, the types of communications tools enabled by IP connections allow everyone who is using them to take full advantage of the new capabilities, whenever they want, wherever they are.

IP networks not only connect people to each other, they also connect cars, appliances and a growing number of home management tasks to the network. When fully implemented, this “Internet of Things” will offer even greater benefits for people with disabilities. Greater control over daily tasks like adjusting the thermostat and locking the door are made more convenient for consumers with limited mobility, all with the touch of a button on a smartphone or tablet. These are the types of advances and applications that will be made more fully available to everyone as a result of the IP transition.

We look forward to working with community members as AT&T rolls out an all-IP network in Carbon Hill, so that the transition of AT&T customers with disabilities to IP services happens in a careful manner designed to make sure they can access and enjoy the benefits of newer technologies and continue to have suitable accessibility solutions. Throughout the transition, AT&T is committed to assuring that, no matter how our customers choose to connect, their connections are safe and reliable.

Already, AT&T and AAPD have begun reaching out to members of the community to inform them of the benefits of these newer technologies, and we will continue to do so. As the trials progress, we’ll be able to better monitor and measure the technological needs of people with disabilities and use this information to help make sure those needs are being met in this new age of technology. If you have questions or concerns about what the IP transition means for people with disabilities, dedicated customer service representatives are available to speak with you at 1-855-920-0066 (voice calls) or at 1-800-651-5111 for TTY callers.

October 13, 2014

The Carbon Hill community engages with the It Can Wait® movement

Posted by Mickey Harbin, AT&T Alabama Executive Director for Legislative and External Affairs

According to the National Safety Council, texting while driving was involved in more than 200,000 vehicle crashes in 2012, often causing injuries and deaths.(1) Here in Alabama, texting while driving is a primary offense.Fred McCallum TV Interview on ICW It’s a dangerous act, but working together, we have the power to stop texting while driving and help end the behavior once and for all.

At AT&T, we are dedicated to empowering consumers to use technology responsibly and make the communities where we work and live safer. By sharing the no texting while driving message with our loved ones, colleagues and neighbors, we can influence others to stop.

We know the sense of community is strong here in Carbon Hill from the work we’ve done in meeting with folks and listening to them as part of the IP trials. That strong sense of community will be vital as we work to make our roadways safer and change behavior.

That’s why we brought our It Can Wait no texting while driving campaign to Carbon Hill recently.  Hundreds of students joined us in the school auditorium to hear from local officials about this dangerous habit. 

Dr. Gypsy Stovall, principal of Carbon Hill High, kicked off the presentation to students.  State Sen. Greg Reed spoke about how we can make a difference in the community by reaching out to friends and families. And students from the Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) club, helped speak and organize the event.

After the assembly, local leaders and students had the opportunity to take a spin on our vehicle simulator that demonstrates the dangers of texting while driving firsthand.

State Senator Greg Reed using ICW simulator

At a time when afterschool activities are in full swing and new drivers are hitting the road, this was a great opportunity for AT&T and the Carbon Hill community to raise awareness and provide solutions to texting while driving.

We couldn’t be more grateful for the support of the Carbon Hill community. The principal, FCCLA students and others have taken an active role in reaching out to community members, especially teens. On average, teens send five times as many text messages a day as a typical adult(2) and 75 percent of teens surveyed said texting while driving is “common” among their friends.(3)

The truth is though, it’s not just teens – and it’s not just texting. Nearly half of commuters self-reported texting while driving, and 43 percent of those who did called it a “habit.”(4) What’s more, drivers face other distractions like tweeting, emailing and surfing the web behind the wheel too.

The good news is that with the help of thousands of advocates across the country, more than five million personal commitments to never text and drive have been made. Thanks to the engagement of communities like Carbon Hill, we can make texting while driving a problem of the past.

(1) Annual Estimate of Cell Phone Crashes 2012 Report published by the National Safety Council.

(2) Virginia Tech Transportation Institute Research.

(3) AT&T national online survey among 1,200 teenagers aged 15 –19 years old on their driving and texting habits.

(4)Commuter survey conducted by ResearchNow on behalf of AT&T.

September 22, 2014

AT&T sets up for Hillfest in downtown Carbon Hill

Posted by Terri Williams, Regional Director for Legislative and External Affairs for AT&T Alabama

No one can say that the Carbon Hill community doesn’t know how to maximize summertime family fun as long as possible. As the season slowly changes from summer to fall, Hillfest 2014 kicked off this past weekend with music from every generation and offered something fun for everyone in the family.

As many of you know, AT&T is working closely with the Carbon Hill community to share information and answer questions about the technology trials that we are conducting here, overseen by the the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The purpose of the trials is to ensure that, as our country moves from older communications technologies to newer ones, everyone can enjoy the benefits of safe, reliable, modern connections.

Terri Williams, AT&T Alabama Regional Director, sets up for Hillfest in downtown Carbon Hill.

Terri Williams, AT&T Alabama Regional Director, sets up for Hillfest in downtown Carbon Hill.

Over the past several months, we’ve held information sessions, appeared at a wide range of meetings and talked to smaller groups throughout Carbon Hill, but Hillfest definitely stands out because of how much fun it was. AT&T had two booths, and we were able to talk to many Carbon Hill residents, reconnect with those who had attended our earlier meetings, and enjoy some great music and food. But it’s not just about great music and food – Hillfest was and is a great event because of the people in Carbon Hill and the tight-knit community. Our experiences in talking to members of the community about the trials have been nothing but helpful. People have been open to receiving information and thoughtful in their questions about the trials. At Hillfest, dozens of people asked to receive more information about the trials and to be a part of the ongoing conversation about bringing modern Internet-based technology to the Carbon Hill area.

At AT&T, one of our most important goals is bringing our customers access to the technologies they increasingly depend on in every facet of their lives – from home to work or school and everywhere in between. Modern connections are delivered over an IP network, which can connect a wide variety of products and devices – like tablets and smartphones  and support a number of services that the older, copper based network cannot offer. In Carbon Hill and across the country, people are increasingly using and depending on newer, IP-based products and services, and so we are working tirelessly in this trial to expand access to these newer technologies, and put solutions in place that assure that these technologies are safe, reliable, and that the transition forward is seamless for all.

We are looking forward to continuing to work with the people of Carbon Hill, and we have upcoming information sessions at the Carbon Hill Community Center on Oct. 14 and 28. You can find more details here. We welcome your questions, comments and suggestions for individuals or groups that we should be sure to talk with to make sure we do this right.

Not every meeting can be a celebration like Hillfest, but I’ve found that in Carbon Hill the spirit of community and connections is present no matter where we are.

August 06, 2014

Generations learning together

Posted by Terri Williams, Regional Director for Legislative and External Affairs

It has been such a pleasure for me to spend time in the Carbon Hill area over the last few months. Along the way, I’ve met some folks who have made my job and my time in the Carbon Hill community even more enjoyable.Mr. Campbell shows off his Smartphone

Recently, I had the chance to join one of the meetings of the “Young at Heart” group at the First Baptist Church of Carbon Hill, a fun group of seniors who live in the community and meet every other month. We had a great time of fellowship, a delicious pot luck meal, and I was able to talk a little bit about why AT&T is spending so much time in Carbon Hill.

Folks of all experience levels were in the room, from residents who considered themselves experts to those who had never used a tablet or wireless device before, and this made it even more fun and interactive. Mr. Campbell, a long-time Carbon Hill resident, is already an expert at using smartphones and showed the others in the room how he uses his device to capture and share videos of his favorite pet, a dog appropriately named “Dog”.

The highlight of the day for me was when I passed around some tablet devices I had brought to the meeting. I was able to show the seniors in the room how the technology that these devices deliver can help make communicating easier than ever before.

Older adults of all experience levels found the session to be very helpful and many noted they learned new skills and tips that they would be able to use. The program included walking participants through how to use smartphones and tablets to do things like take pictures, search online and learn how to use weather- and news-oriented apps. The program lasted an hour, and a few attendees even stayed longer just to explore and play on the tablets.

I was fortunate that local Carbon Hill resident Zak, age 5, was in the room. He helped me show people like Mr. Stovall the kinds of things you can do when you are using a tablet. It was really nice to see how the technology can connect two generations-and provide ways to work together to teach, learn and explore. It really drove home the point that wireless and broadband services and the benefits they make possible are not just for the young; they can help connect all generations, making doing things like sharing news, and taking photos and videos easy, immediate and seamless.

Over the past several months, AT&T and its employees like me have been out in the Carbon Hill area holding meetings and information sessions, like the one at the First Baptist Church, with residents, business owners, community leaders, older adults, and people with different physical abilities. We have answered questions about our proposed technology trial, and we will continue to do so going forward.

The excitement about new technologies, and everything that they make possible, is not just limited to seniors in the Carbon Hill area. According to a survey conducted by The Pew Research Center, six in 10 older adults are online and 77 percent have a cell phone[1]. And newer devices like tablets are helping many overcome physical challenges or personal skepticism toward using technology and the Internet. Advanced communications services such as wireless and broadband help make it possible to live more active, independent and connected lives than ever before.

Many families are spread across the country, so in-person visits aren’t always possible, but wireless and broadband services can help fill the gap between visits. Families and older adults are using social networks to stay connected no matter where they live. An email or text with a photo from children and grandchildren is an amazing pick-me-up for anyone’s day. Not only does the ease of communication enhance older adults’ lives, it also can help build and strengthen an irreplaceable family connection for grandchildren.

Older adults in Carbon Hill and across the U.S. are using the web to learn about community activities, to join social clubs, and to continue their educations. Like other Facebook users, seniors are reconnecting with old friends, neighbors and schoolmates online. Wireless and broadband can help break down the walls of isolation that many older adults experience. Recent mental health research suggests that using the Internet to connect with family and friends helps older adults combat loneliness and depression.

Zak and Dr. Stovall learn how to use a tablateEvery day, we see an increase in older adults using the Internet to extend their independence and enhance their lives. They use mobile services that can connect them instantly to live help in the event of an emergency, medical monitoring devices that bring care beyond the confines of a doctor’s office and right into the home, and GPS services that provide turn-by-turn directions to help them get where they’re going when they’re out and about.

These devices and services need an advanced network to provide the connectivity that consumers, including older adults, are demanding. That is why AT&T has proposed converting to an all IP (or Internet) based network in the Carbon Hill area.

At AT&T, we see great opportunities for our customers and communities across the nation in these technologies, and we look forward to helping the Carbon Hill area get the most out of this transition to advanced networks. We are looking forward to continuing the conversation with you about our progress in Carbon Hill. Please visit our events page at http://ip4carbonhill.att.com/events/ for a schedule of coming informational sessions and technology trainings. We hope to see you at one soon!


[1] http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/04/03/older-adults-and-technology-use/
June 18, 2014

Updating You On Our Progress in Carbon Hill

Posted by Fred McCallum

We all know the way we communicate is changing. When I talk to friends and neighbors, business owners and customers across Alabama, we marvel at how far we’ve come: from corded phones attached to our kitchen wall; to home phones that deliver connections using newer technologies (like VoIP and AT&T’s wireless home phone), cell phones, and other devices that help us not only talk, but also text, email and video chat from wherever we are. And it is exciting to think about what tomorrow will bring – how technology will help us connect in more, new and different ways.

Last Friday, the FCC discussed and reviewed AT&T’s proposal to move forward with our multi-year technology trials in Carbon Hill, Alabama and the West Delray Beach area of Florida, moving us closer to a future powered by these newer connections and the benefits they make possible.

Our goal with this trial is to make sure our customers can obtain access to these newer connections and technologies. High speed Internet access, U-Verse, VoIP and AT&T’s wireless home phone and mobile devices like tablets, e-readers, and cell phones – these are all powered by a newer, faster network. The trial will help us to bring this network, and the products and services it fuels, to more people and to provide connections that are reliable and dependable. This trial will provide us with the opportunity to work with customers who have not yet transitioned to our new network to make sure they are able do so safely and seamlessly. And we are committed to doing so in a way that ensures and preserves the essential values of universal service, competition, public safety, reliability, and consumer protection.

We’ve been out in the Carbon Hill community over the last few months, talking with customers and community members about the trial. We’ve held a number of public meetings and met with customers and Carbon Hill residents at the Community Center and in their homes. We’ve presented to the City Council, and partnered with the Carbon Hill Senior Center to talk to older residents about the trial and what it means for them, and how to use some of the newer products and technologies (like tablet computers). We’ve answered questions and listened to ideas and concerns.

If you’ve attended one of our meetings, or had the opportunity to meet or talk with us, I thank you. If you haven’t yet, we will be holding more meetings in the days, weeks and months to come. For us, one of the most important elements of the trial is that it is open, responsible and transparent. That means working with the FCC, state and local government, the Carbon Hill community and with our customers. That means, throughout the trial, working together with you; listening to and learning from you; providing the information that you need; answering your questions and addressing your concerns.

Really, that’s what this trial is about: ensuring that our customers—the communities we serve—have the power of new technologies and strong connections available to them. That’s always been our goal at AT&T, and it will continue as a guiding force going forward.

April 29, 2014

Keeping Carbon Hill Connected

Posted by Terri Williams, Regional Director for Legislative and External Affairs for AT&T Alabama

Last week, AT&T held an interactive “Technology 101” training session at the Carbon Hill Community Center. It was an opportunity for Carbon Hill residents of all ages to learn about and experience using new devices, and see first-hand how these technologies can help them easily connect, communicate and stay informed. From taking “selfies”, to using smartphones to send Facebook messages to friends and family, to learning how tablets can be used to connect to the Internet on-the-go to check the weather or nearby gas prices – these are all small but important ways that we have integrated technology into our lives to make getting important information easy and to help make (and share) new memories instantly with friends and family no matter where they live.

The technology trials that we have proposed to the FCC to conduct in Carbon Hill are really all about helping everyone – no matter their age, income, where they live or level of “tech savvy” – to discover new ways to seamlessly stay connected and access information. To help everyone connect to the people, places and things that they care most about, and to do so simply, reliably and at the touch of a button. Whether it is a college professor who wants to hold “office hours” with students remotely using Skype, a doctor who wants to send patients a text or an email to remind them of an upcoming appointment, or a grandparent who wants to use his phone to take and send a photo to grandchildren that live across the state – these are all ways that people in Carbon Hill and across the nation are using technology.

And, as the availability of technologies like wireless and broadband increases, more people (and businesses and communities) will be able to use the products and devices these technologies enable to do more. If we can watch our favorite television show on our smartphone today; if doctors can perform “remote surgery” from thousands of miles away from their patients; if entrepreneurs can set up shop in Carbon Hill and connect with customers and suppliers (and compete with other businesses) from around the world – imagine what we will be able to do in the future! An event like the one we held in Carbon Hill last week is designed to make sure that we are helping everyone learn how to use these technologies so that they can get the most out of them.

Over the past few months we have had many opportunities to meet and talk to members of the Carbon Hill community. We have held events at the Community Center and have been invited to speak with community leaders. We have visited the homes of Carbon Hill residents and talked to business owners and teachers and customers about the questions and issues that are most important to them. We want to hear what Carbon Hill residents have to say, and we consider you an important partner in this effort. What you tell us – about the questions you have, about the ways that technology can help in your day to day lives - will not only help shape the trial here in Carbon Hill, but also will help inform the eventual rollout of these technologies and the transition to an IP-based network in communities across America.

Keep an eye on our Click HERE icon events page for more information about upcoming trainings and events where you can learn more about our proposed trials and we can answer any questions you might have.