Putting Technology to Work for People with Disabilities

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Putting Technology to Work for People with Disabilities

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How @TheArcUS + @ComcastImpact are putting technology to work for people with disabilities #TheArc15 #a11y #NDEAM http://3bl.me/7xa2nf
Friday, October 2, 2015 - 6:00pm

By Fred Maahs, Senior Director of National Partnerships, Comcast Corporation

Over the years, technology has made all of our jobs easier, but for those of us in the disability community, technology has made many of our jobs possible.

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, and as I think about the collective progress we’ve made, it strikes me that much of that progress can be credited to advances in technology.

At Comcast NBCUniversal, we believe in the power and possibility of technology to transform lives, including those with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities. That’s why we are excited to partner with The Arc – an advocate for the rights of the disability community – to develop the Tech ToolBox, a first-of-its-kind database to connect people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) to a breadth of apps and devices that can help them live more independently.

The Tech ToolBox features nearly 500 products and applications geared toward and rated and reviewed by the I/DD community, and catalogued according to ability and function. Users who lack fine motor control can search for apps that can be operated by their mouths, or devices that can be easily mounted to their wheelchairs. Over time, as the Tech ToolBox reaches more people, its results will continue to expand and improve.

The Tech ToolBox is the cornerstone of Comcast NBCUniversal’s $3.7 million, three-year commitment to help The Arc expand technology resources for people with disabilities. In addition to the Tech ToolBox, we are launching six Digital Literacy Learning Labs across the country this year – in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Denver, Colo.; Frankfurt, Ill.; Middletown, Conn.; Spokane, Wash.; and Springfield, N.J. – with an additional six to come in 2016. Each of the labs will provide technology access and digital literacy training for people with I/DD to help them live better, more independent lives.

This month, I am thrilled to join more than 800 advocates, service providers, and family members at The Arc’s national convention in Indianapolis, Ind. I look forward to demonstrating the Tech ToolBox and how it can expand the digital lives of people with disabilities.  I am equally excited that my colleague, Tom Wlodkowski, Vice President of Accessibility here at Comcast, will also be at the Convention to describe and demonstrate Comcast’s innovative technology that is being developed for people of all abilities.  Tom will highlight his impressive work on the Talking Guide for the X1 platform.

Together, we will celebrate the changing face of the American workforce and the ever-expanding inclusiveness of today’s workplace.

This article first appeared on Comcast Voices, a place for conversations with Comcast. Read more blogs about our impact in the community here.

Keywords: Technology | Accessibility | Disabilities | National Disability Employment Awareness Month | Technology | comcast | digital literacy | diversity