4-year-old Olivia sits at a table and plays with a toy.

Easterseals Receives $200,000 in Assistive Technology Grants from The Comcast Foundation

Chicago, IL

Since 2011, The Comcast NBCUniversal Assistive Technology Grant Fund has empowered an estimated 30,000 Americans living with disabilities by providing expanded assistive technology training and services. The grants have helped people like 4-year-old Olivia, pictured above, who was born with a rare neurological disorder that affects her movement and speech.

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 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 overcome 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.

"Comcast is proud to support Easterseals in its mission to help ensure that people with disabilities have every opportunity to be active participants in their lives and communities," said Dalila Wilson-Scott, Senior Vice President of Community Investment for Comcast Corporation and President of the Comcast Foundation. "We are confident that together we can help children and adults to gain more independence, unlock new opportunities and achieve great things."

"We thank the Comcast Foundation for its continued investment in assistive technology solutions," said Randall R. Rutta, President and Chief Executive Officer of Easterseals. "This grant fund makes it possible for Easterseals to build on our long history of providing expertise and technology support for children and adults with disabilities who want to be more actively involved in school, in the workplace and with their families."

Easterseals’ has allocated $80,000 in grant funds to 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 Metropolitan Chicago will invest in innovative educational applications for its team of Head Start Paraprofessionals throughout the greater Chicagoland area to enhance outcomes for young students with autism and development delays. Infiniteach apps, developed for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), will be leveraged to address delays in speech, cognitive and social-emotional development, and high and gross motor skills. The applications have also proven to benefit early learners, enhancing outcomes in language, literacy, social skills and math.

  • Easterseals Colorado will establish the Comcast NBCUniversal Employment Training and Technology Lab at its main facility in Lakewood, Colo., providing the community with much-needed digital literacy training, and other valuable skills, tools and support for individuals with physical and/or cognitive disabilities. The Lab is expected to serve 150 individuals annually including people with disabilities, veterans, and young adults transitioning out of high school.

  • Easterseals Goodwill Minnesota will provide additional computers and software, at its six centers throughout the state to enhance the organization’s intensive employment, education and support services for people with disabilities and young adults transitioning out of high school. With heightened access to technology realized through the grant, the program participants will be able to research academic and employment opportunities, create resumes, prepare college and job applications, and participate in unlimited forms of online learning so they can realize their potential to live, learn, work and succeed in their communities. Nearly 10,000 consumers are expected to benefit from the grant annually in communities where Easterseals Goodwill Minnesota has a presence, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, Woodbury, Maplewood and Rochester.

  • Easterseals Serving DC MD VA will advance the use of assistive technology at its four inclusive Child Development Centers to enhance the communications skills of young children with autism and other disabilities, many of whom are nonverbal or have varying degrees of communications delays. The grant will support the availability of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices, which Easterseals’ speech therapists will use with the children, primarily aged 3-4 years old, and their families to help them communicate more effectively with their parents, teachers and siblings.

  • Easterseals North Georgia will invest in state-of-the-art technology to assure that the early childhood and autism experts at its 12 Child Development Centers throughout metropolitan Atlanta and Northeast Georgia can effectively identify children with autism and other disabilities as early as possible in life to assure they get the interventions needed to meet their full potential. Among the technologies to be leveraged is an online screening tool, which can identify concerns as early as 9 months in a child, allowing effective treatments early in a child’s life to achieve optimum outcomes.

  • Easterseals Massachusetts will enhance services for youth in transition and young adults through its After School Leadership Program at its Assistive Technology Regional Center in Boston. With more than 72 participants expected in 2016, the program will provide assistive technology solutions to meet the educational, recreational and employment needs of Easterseals clients in Boston while improving the digital literacy skills they need to secure and retain a job.

Since 2011, The Comcast NBCUniversal Assistive Technology Grant Fund has empowered an estimated 30,000 Americans living with disabilities by providing expanded assistive technology training and services. The grants have helped people like 4-year-old Olivia, who was born with a rare neurological disorder that affects her movement and speech. She now uses a specialized iPad app to communicate with her family and play independently with fellow preschoolers at the Easterseals Child Development Center near her home in State College, Pa. The center used its assistive technology grant to create the Comcast Lending Library, which helps Olivia, and others, test devices and applications in order to make better-informed decisions before purchasing.