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Cisco Collaborates on Phones with American Council of the Blind

March 19, 2018 - 19 Comments

This week Cisco is in San Diego for one of the biggest events in the accessibility world, the annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference. It’s amazing to see so much technology innovation happening in this space. And I’m grateful to work for a company that is developing solutions to enable people with disabilities to communicate and collaborate more effectively. At the conference, we’re showcasing a new solution that we know will make an impact.

We now offer the first enterprise-grade desk phone that includes built-in text-to-speech functionality capable of conveying vital information on the display through audible voice and tone indicators. Developed with collaborative input from the American Council of the Blind (ACB), the software update for the Cisco’s IP Phone 8800 Series is a huge step toward making the digital workplace more accessible for the blind and visually impaired.

“We’re excited by the commitment Cisco has shown in making their leading business enterprise workhorse accessible,” says Eric Bridges, ACB’s executive director. “With businesses relying more on telework and virtual office settings, employees who are blind and visually impaired require reliable telecommunication solutions free of access barriers.”

Although third-party solutions were previously available, they were often difficult to use, required connections to external computers, and were not always reliable. This new accessibility update is built into the phone’s operating system. You can deploy it on all on-premises registered 8800 Series models via a simple software update. A blind or visually impaired employee can sit down at any workstation with an updated 8800 Series phone and easily enable the accessibility features.

Working with ACB to create new possibilities for people with disabilities in the workplace has been an amazing experience. ACB is the nation’s leading grassroots consumer organization representing Americans who are blind and visually impaired. With 70 affiliates, ACB strives to increase the independence, security, equality of opportunity, and to improve quality of life for all blind and visually impaired people.

Innovations like the software updates to the 8800 Series will help disabled workers to more easily connect and collaborate with their teams. It’s a powerful example of how we can use technology to drive inclusion so that we can achieve more together.

Come by the Cisco booth at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference to see a live demo.


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  1. I am trying to activate the speech option on the 8865 phone. I upgraded the phone but it still does not have the text to speech when the phone has incoming calls. Any suggestions?

  2. I think it is great that Cisco is creating solutions to assist people with disabilities.

  3. Is there an online demo somewhere? It would be great to understand the new features.

    • We don't have one yet but I will see if we can get a demo recorded soon.

  4. Great enhancement!
    We'll this also be available on Cisco HCS based deployments?

  5. We downloaded this update and have updated one of the 8845 phones with it, and it works great! The phone announces who is calling, and when you navigate the phone menus, a voice tells you where you are and what options you have. You pick up the phone, it says "new call", and when you dial, it tells you what numbers you are pressing. This is really a great feature for those with visual impairments, nice work Cisco!

  6. Is there a URL where I can go to see how this feature works on the 8800 phones?

    Thank you

  7. Just amazing !!! This feature will be available only for CUCM version 12.1(1) and later ?

    • Marcelo/Mukesh/Anthony – Thank you for your questions. Since the firmware on the 8800 Series phones is backward-compatible, the phone software release 12.1(1) can be used on any CUCM that supports the device. You do not have to upgrade the CUCM to get the feature, you only need to upgrade the phone software which is downloaded from Download the latest firmware: 12-1-1-12 .

  8. Awesome

  9. this is great work done by cisco. it will increase the proposing the solution to many organization. Can we some details like which version of CUCM supports or any other documentation ?

  10. What is software update required. What is the required firmware version on the phone ?

  11. Is there a release version specified for this feature?

  12. When will this be available in the UK I have lost many jobs because of this actual lack of this type of equipment Des Bryan

    • Hi Des Bryan – the software update will be available worldwide by the end of this month, March 2018, on the Cisco website.

      Hi Druu Voskuil – the release version is 12.1(1).

    • Yes Des, it is available globally. Just a SW update that a company needs to do if they are using Cisco 8800 Series IP Phones.