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.



Angie Mistretta

Chief Marketing Officer, AppDynamics