Chicago, IL, July 10, 2017
Easterseals today announced it has received $200,000 in grants from the Comcast Foundation as part of the Comcast NBCUniversal Assistive Technology Grant Fund. Established in 2011, the fund supports technology programs and services that benefit children and adults, including veterans and people living with developmental disabilities. Assistive technologies can vary from braille-equipped handheld computer systems and voice command telephones, to height adjusted tables and augmentative communication systems – all helping individuals with disabilities to lead independent, productive lives by overcoming barriers in the home, on the job, at school or on the go.
Six Easterseals affiliates, and Easterseals’ headquarters, are among the recipients selected by the Comcast Foundation through a competitive process. The chosen affiliates excel in programs that help with assessment, training and ongoing support for individuals with a disability. Services are designed to meet an individual’s assistive technology needs throughout his or her lifetime.
“We thank Comcast NBCUniversal for its continued investment in assistive technology solutions that support children and adults with disabilities who want to be more actively involved in school, in the workplace and with their families,” said former Easterseals Executive Vice President Katy Beh Neas. “With its commitment to designing products that are accessible for everyone, Comcast NBCUniversal is a natural partner in helping Easterseals advance its support of people with disabilities.”
“Technology can be a great equalizer and significantly improve the lives of people with disabilities,” said Fred Maahs, Vice President of the Comcast Foundation. “We are proud to support Easterseals and its mission to help children and adults to gain more independence to live, learn, work and play in their communities."
Easterseals has allocated $80,000 in grant funds to develop a Public Service Announcement and support Make the First Five Count, a free online developmental screening tool for parents and caregivers of children aged newborn to 5 years old designed to help ensure they are meeting developmental milestones. In addition, the remaining $120,000 in grant funds will be split equally across six Easterseals affiliates to support assistive technology programs as outlined below:
· Easterseals Colorado will soon celebrate the ribbon-cutting for its newly acquired two-story technology service center in Lakewood. There, Easterseals clients will be able to use hands-on assistive technology and access support services to build independence, self-reliance, and life skills with the goal of reducing barriers to employment. Additionally, Easterseals Colorado will advance its job coaching program with veterans – a one-on-one mentorship designed to not only secure employment, but work alongside clients to provide “on the job” coaching.
· Easterseals Crossroads in Indianapolis is collaborating with the Rehabilitation Center of Indiana on its Brain Injury Technology Education and Support Program to run a support group for people with traumatic brain injuries. Members of the group have access to state-of-the-art equipment and assistive technology, along with expert guidance to help them navigate the cognitive challenges they experience.
· Easterseals DuPage & Fox Valley in Illinois will expand its Augmentative and Alternative Communication Connections Peer Mentoring Program for children and teens who have verbal communication challenges and use augmentative devices to make their voices heard. Group members are mentored by those who use the same devices to communicate with the goal of building skills and self-confidence.
· Easterseals serving Washington, D.C., Maryland and the Virginia area will offer assistive technology to at least a dozen young children who go to Easterseals child development centers to grow their communication and mobility skills with the goal of participating more fully in class, at home and in their communities.
· Easterseals Massachusetts will launch an Assistive Technology On Demand pilot program for people with disabilities who do not otherwise qualify for assistive technology services. Through the program, people can get a variety of assistive technology products on loan. Equipment will also be available to skilled nursing facilities and acute care hospitals on loan. These facilities are responsible for providing all assistive technology to in-house patients and often face difficult financial decisions between client care costs and technology costs
· Easterseals Washington will build a new Technology Achievement Center for people with disabilities in its Adult Day Center in Bellevue. The center will serve young adults with autism, seniors with dementia and other disabilities related to aging, and adults of any age with mobility or sensory issues. With heightened expectations of adult day centers to develop educational and vocational goals that help individuals achieve greater independence, the new Technology Achievement Center will impact the lives of nearly 100 people with disabilities at its Bellevue center. The ultimate goal is to replicate the program in other adult day programs throughout the state, specifically in Des Moines and Bremerton, to more than double the number of people with disabilities impacted.
Since 2011, the Comcast NBCUniversal Assistive Technology Grant Fund has empowered nearly 50,000 Americans living with disabilities by providing expanded assistive technology training and services. The grants have helped people like Tanya, an unemployed veteran who became homeless when she was evicted from her rented room. With the help of Easterseals Colorado and its Employment Training Center for People with Disabilities and Veterans funded by Comcast, Tanya built a resume, improved her interviewing skills and got a job as an HVAC Tech at the local VA hospital. Easterseals also helped her transition from temporary shelter into her own apartment -- setting up a kitchen item drive to fill her cupboards. Now, Tanya can simply enjoy her new apartment and focus on her new job – knowing she has the skills and support she needs to continue to move forward.
To date, Comcast NBCUniversal has provided more than $25 million in cash and in-kind support to help with Easterseals’ assistive technology efforts.
For nearly 100 years, Easterseals has been the indispensable resource for people and families facing disability. Through the work we do in communities across America, Easterseals is changing the way the world defines and views disability by making positive, profound differences in people’s lives every day. For more information visit www.easterseals.com