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Comcast Launches Customer Service Program for the Deaf Community in American Sign Language

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Comcast Announces Partnership With Connect Direct, A Subsidiary of Communication Service for the Deaf, to Help Close the Digital Divide

Since 2011, Comcast’s Internet Essentials Program Has Connected More than 8 Million Low-Income Americans to the Internet

PHILADELPHIA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Comcast and Connect Direct, a subsidiary of Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD), today launched customer service support via American Sign Language (ASL) for Internet Essentials, Xfinity Internet, and general Xfinity billing questions, called ASL Now. With the combined expertise of both companies, Internet Essentials and Xfinity customers can now connect with customer service agents in their native language, ASL – the fourth most-used language in the United States. This is a first for the cable industry and it helps to further address the digital divide for Americans with disabilities by ensuring that members of the deaf community can get connected to the Internet at home without barriers.


The announcement was made at a digital inclusion rally at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD) to celebrate Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, which is the nation’s largest, most comprehensive, and most successful Internet adoption program for low-income households. The launch of ASL Comcast customer support is a continuation of Comcast’s commitment to the disability community. It follows on the heels of the largest eligibility expansion in the history of the Internet Essentials program, announced earlier this year, to include all qualified low-income households, including people with disabilities.

According to Pew Research Center, the need to address the digital divide for people with disabilities is clear. The study found that 23 percent of people with disabilities say they never go online, and 57 percent say they do not even have a home broadband subscription.

“The Internet is an incredible resource so long as you have the skills and the tools to use it,” said David L. Cohen, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Comcast Corporation. “By partnering with Connect Direct and working with the deaf community, we want to address and break down the barriers to broadband adoption that are unique to this population. That starts by being able to speak with customers in their native language.”

“We are especially happy to partner with Comcast on this initiative, which represents a significant leap forward in broadening the reach of services available in ASL and creating more avenues for fuller participation of deaf people in society,” said Christopher Soukup, Chief Executive Officer of CSD. “Comcast’s commitment to launching an ASL customer service center underlines a shift in attitude by major corporations in recognizing the value of deaf people and the benefit and ease in delivering exceptional customer service through their customers’ language of choice.”

In line with Comcast’s commitment to make products, services, and experiences accessible to the widest possible audience including people with disabilities, Comcast also announced today that it created an internetessentials.com/accessibility landing page, with direct links to the new ASL Now chat function, the ability to order collateral materials in Braille and large print, and an accessibility-specific FAQ. Additionally, the Learning Center on the Internet Essentials website now includes nearly 50 Internet safety and digital literacy videos with closed captions for the deaf. Topics include: online safety and security, basic uses of the Internet, and how to get various things done online. The website is also operable with assistive technologies, such as screen reader software, for the blind or visually impaired. Earlier this year, Comcast announced a partnership with the American Association of People with Disabilities and, working together, the two organizations will continue to add even more digital literacy training content to the Learning Portal that will be specifically designed for people with disabilities.

At PSD, Comcast also surprised 90 students by giving them free tablets and six months of complimentary Internet service at home through the Internet Essentials program. Additionally, in partnership with Dell Technologies, the Company announced it will donate new computer equipment to PSD for students to learn vital digital skills.

At a second event at the Nationalities Services Center (NSC), Comcast announced the grand opening of NSC’s new computer lab. Funded in part by a Comcast Foundation grant, the lab will become part of the City of Philadelphia’s KEYSPOT network of public, private, and nonprofit organizations that provide technology, training, and other opportunities through community-based public access centers computing labs. Additionally, a second accelerator grant was announced to fund increased instructor hours and provide for a wider range of classes, including basic word processing and office productivity. At that event, Comcast surprised 75 clients of NSC’s employment programs with free laptop computers and six months of complimentary Internet service at home.

“We in local government have a critical role to play in increasing opportunities and improving equitable outcomes for all Philadelphians,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Promoting digital inclusion and literacy, along with job readiness to support immigrants and refugees who are building their careers and foundations in our city, is key to realizing the goals outlined in our workforce development and inclusive growth strategies. I applaud Comcast Foundation and Nationalities Service Center for adding this new computer lab to our citywide KEYSPOT network.”

Since 2011, the Internet Essentials program has connected more than eight million low-income Americans to the Internet at home, 90 percent of whom were not connected to the Internet at home until they signed up through Internet Essentials. This number includes nearly 290,000 in the City of Philadelphia.

Internet Essentials has an integrated, wrap-around design that addresses each of the three major barriers to broadband adoption that research has identified.  These include: a lack of digital literacy skills, lack of awareness of the relevance of the Internet to everyday life needs, and fear of the Internet; the lack of a computer; and cost of internet service.  The program is structured as a partnership between Comcast and tens of thousands of school districts, libraries, elected officials, and nonprofit community partners.  For more information, or to apply for the program, please visit  www.internetessentials.com. The accessible website can be read in seven different languages and there is also a dedicated phone number 1-855-846-8376. Information about the new ASL website can be found at www.internetessentials.com/accessibility. Spanish-only speakers can call 1-855-765-6995.

About Connect Direct & CSD

Connect Direct, a division of CSD, is leading business and technology solutions for contact center programs, specifically geared for deaf and hard of hearing consumers, while creating employment opportunities for the deaf community. Connect Direct benefits include: custom technology solutions developed by and for the deaf community; overall improved customer service and efficiencies for existing and potential deaf and hard of hearing customers; the elimination of third-party services creating increased and more accurate brand representation; the recruitment, hiring and training of deaf talent to provide direct ASL service; and increased productivity with the decrease of call times by as much as 42 percent.

Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD) is the largest deaf-led social impact organization in the world. For more than four decades, CSD has been a leader in creating and providing accessible technology solutions for the deaf community. Today, CSD continues its work to create opportunities for personal and economic growth within the deaf community, specifically addressing leadership and employment. CSD’s Social Venture Fund is one of the first angel funds and incubators in the world supporting deaf entrepreneurs and deaf-owned and operated businesses. For more information about CSD and Connect Direct please visit www.csd.org and www.csd.org/whatwedo/connect-direct/

About Comcast Corporation

Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with three primary businesses:  Comcast Cable, NBCUniversal, and Sky. Comcast Cable is one of the United States’ largest video, high-speed Internet, and phone providers to residential customers under the Xfinity brand, and also provides these services to businesses. It also provides wireless and security and automation services to residential customers under the Xfinity brand. NBCUniversal is global and operates news, entertainment and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks and Resorts. Sky is one of Europe’s leading media and entertainment companies, connecting customers to a broad range of video content through its pay television services. It also provides communications services, including residential high-speed Internet, phone, and wireless services. Sky operates the Sky News broadcast network and sports and entertainment networks, produces original content, and has exclusive content rights. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.

Contacts

Charlie Douglas

charlie_douglas@comcast.com
(215) 264-8020

Jennifer Bilotta

jennifer_bilotta@comcast.com
(267) 443-0427

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Shortages of Low-Skill, Middle-Skill, and High-Skill Workers Causing Revenue Declines and Other Headaches for Employers, TrueBlue’s Latest Study Finds

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TACOMA, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–While there has been a lot of discourse around the shortage of high-skill workers in the U.S., a new study by staffing giant TrueBlue shows a significant percentage of employers are also struggling with deficits in low-skill and middle-skill workers – and dealing with a host of business challenges as a result.

According to TrueBlue’s nationwide survey, which included nearly 1,500 managers (HR, operational, and business), skills shortages are widening across skills categories:

  • 32% of managers can’t find workers to fill low-skill positions (generally classified as those that may or may not require a high school diploma and require little to no experience)
  • 46% can’t find workers for middle-skill jobs (typically require some experience and continuing education such as college courses, an apprenticeship or certification, but don’t necessarily require a four-year college degree)
  • 35% can’t find workers for high-skill jobs (typically require a four-year degree or higher and specialized experience)

Low unemployment coupled with globalization, accelerated technology advancement, and evolving work models are creating talent deficits across all skill levels within organizations,” said Patrick Beharelle, CEO of TrueBlue. “The skills supply is not keeping up with demand, which is fueling a greater intensity in an already competitive labor market and adversely impacting productivity, service quality, and revenue growth for businesses.”

Impact of Talent Shortages on Businesses

The top three business challenges managers are experiencing due to prolonged job vacancies within their organizations include:

  • Quality – More than a third of managers (35%) reported that extended job vacancies have caused lower product or service quality.
  • Turnover – 25% have seen higher employee turnover.
  • Revenue – 23% said their companies experienced a decline in revenue.

To address talent shortages and minimize associated business impact, 2 in 5 companies (41 percent) reported that they plan to raise compensation for entry-level workers and nearly half (46 percent) plan to train and hire the long-term unemployed in the coming year.

Survey Methodology

This SurveyMonkey survey was conducted online in the U.S. by TrueBlue between September 23 and October 15, 2019. It included 1,499 managers (HR, operations and general). The survey was across regions, industries, and company sizes.

About TrueBlue

TrueBlue (NYSE: TBI) is a global leader in specialized workforce solutions that help clients achieve business growth and improve productivity. In 2018, the company connected approximately 730,000 people with work. TrueBlue’s PeopleReady segment offers on-demand industrial staffing services, PeopleManagement offers contingent and productivity-based, on-site industrial staffing and driver staffing services, and PeopleScout offers recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) and managed service provider (MSP) solutions to a wide variety of industries. Learn more at www.trueblue.com.

Contacts

Jennifer Grasz

Vice President, Corporate Communications

jgrasz@trueblue.com
(312) 840-6327

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Law Firm of Estey & Bomberger Reports: Uber Says Nearly 6,000 Rapes, Sexual Assaults Occurred in Two-year Period

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SAN DIEGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The law firm of Estey & Bomberger reported today that Uber’s long-awaited sexual assault report was released Dec. 5, with the ride-hailing company admitting that 5,981* passengers and drivers were raped or sexually assaulted between 2017-2018.

“I applaud Uber for releasing the data that acknowledges there is a problem with sexual assaults occurring in rideshare. While we believe these assaults were preventable, Uber’s report represents a tremendous step for ride-hailing safety,” said Estey & Bomberger attorney Mike Bomberger. “I think there are many positive measures Uber is taking. However, Uber still has an obligation to help the victims who have been raped and assaulted and facing a lifetime of emotional pain. They will need ongoing therapy.”

Estey & Bomberger represents more than 100 ride-hailing sexual assault victims.

“It’s important to remember when reading this report that only one in three women report their sexual assault,” Bomberger said. “Therefore, the number of women who have been sexually assaulted is certainly much higher than reported here.”

Bomberger reiterated his call for all ride-hailing trips to be digitally recorded.

“We’re pleased that Uber is now testing cameras in Texas. That’s the real solution to this problem – if drivers know they’re being recorded they won’t rape and assault,” Bomberger said.

Estey & Bomberger is asking Lyft and Uber sexual assault victims, along with former employees of the ride-sharing firms, to contact its office by calling 866-964-1708 or emailing info@lyftsexualassaultlawyers.com.

*statistic courtesy NPR “Uber Received Nearly 6,000 U.S. Sexual Assault Claims in Past 2 Years,” Dec. 5, 2019.

Contacts

for Estey & Bomberger

Ed Vasquez, 408-420-6558

ed@ejvcommunications.com

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Best’s Market Segment Report: AM Best Maintains Global Reinsurance Market Outlook at Stable

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OLDWICK, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AM Best has maintained a market segment outlook of stable on the global reinsurance industry for 2020, citing a stabilized pricing environment — albeit at levels below long-term adequacy — the continuing alignment between traditional and third-party capital and ongoing stability in the global life reinsurance segment.

A new Best’s Market Segment Report, titled, “Market Segment Outlook: Global Reinsurance,” states that although rates in the non-life reinsurance market have improved modestly, pricing has not kept adequate pace with the changing risk dynamics, as illustrated by loss development from events such as hurricanes Irma and Maria and Typhoon Jebi, and potential losses from more-recent events (e.g., Hurricane Dorian). Property catastrophe pricing still is being driven by the availability of third-party capital; however, the increasing interdependence between traditional capacity and third-party capital through joint ventures, retrocession and direct ownership should serve to more closely align return objectives for the market overall. Third-party capital also represents a benefit in the form of stabilized earnings of rated balance sheets, due to tail risk being assumed by this capital.

Overall market conditions are improving, but AM Best remains concerned about insufficient rate adequacy relating to certain U.S. casualty lines, a steady decline in the benefit of favorable reserve releases and the pervasive low interest rate environment. The collective effect of these factors requires underwriting discipline, and failure to react to these pressures could adversely affect the segment.

The report outlines other factors that are driving the stable market segment outlook, including:

  • AM Best believes alternative third-party capital will hold the line on future return expectations following the recent heavy catastrophe loss years;
  • A decline in capital consumption and earnings volatility, due in part to the increased utilization of third-party capital in retrocessionaire programs;
  • Greater emphasis on underwriting discipline due to pressure on interest rates and potential slower economic growth globally;
  • Improving pricing momentum driven by higher loss costs, coupled with lower loss reserve redundancies;
  • Increased demand for non-life reinsurance due to primary companies’ recent loss experience, as well as new risk transfer opportunities and mergers and acquisitions;
  • Stable operating performance among life reinsurers, which continue to maintain defensible market positions and offer services beyond risk transfer that create hurdles for new entrants.

To access the full copy of the overall global reinsurance briefing, please visit http://www3.ambest.com/bestweek/purchase.asp?record_code=292334.

Separate briefings on the non-life and life reinsurance segments can be viewed at:

To view a video with AM Best Associate Director Scott Mangan about the global reinsurance market segment outlook, please visit http://www.ambest.com/v.asp?v=globalreoutlook1219.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data provider specializing in the insurance industry. The company does business in more than 100 countries. Headquartered in Oldwick, NJ, AM Best has offices in cities around the world, including London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright © 2019 by A.M. Best Company, Inc. and/or its affiliates.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Contacts

Robert DeRose
Senior Director
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5435
robert.derose@ambest.com

Greg Carter
Managing Director
+44 20 7397 0288
greg.carter@ambest.com

Michael Porcelli, FSA
Director
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5548
michael.porcelli@ambest.com

Christopher Sharkey
Manager, Public Relations
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5159
christopher.sharkey@ambest.com

Jim Peavy
Director, Public Relations
+1 908 439 2200, ext. 5644
james.peavy@ambest.com

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