If you have a friend, relative or child with a disability you probably had initial doubts about their access to certain technologies, but not about that person’s ability to perform in life.
“That’s why The Simon Technology Center is here,” says Simon Technology Center (STC) Director Bridget Gilormini. “We’re here to bridge the gap between disabilities and the latest technologies.” STC receives dozens of phone calls every day from people who don’t want their child, friend or family member left behind in the classroom, or the real world. And STC offers a long list of ways they can help.
One example is their technology consultations. Educated staff members offer free, informal technology consultations for children and adults with disabilities in Minnesota. “Most of our staff has children with disabilities,” Gilormini says. “It makes our ability to understand that much better.” Over 250 consultations have been performed in 2010 alone.
STC was the brainchild of the nationally operating nonprofit PACER (Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights) Center. In 1977, PACER Center was created by five parents of children with disabilities to help other parents and families facing similar challenges. 10 years later STC was organized to cope with the flourishing medical and adaptive technology scene.
In looking at future issues, Gilormini says this, “We stay away from categories and ask, ‘What are the needs today?’ We’re always looking to reach out in new ways.” Webinars and mobile apps will be a main part of future disability initiatives.