A woman drives her power wheelchair up a ramp into a van.
Community Impact

Comcast Foundation Grant Helps Easterseals Promote Independence Through Assistive Technology

Chicago, IL

Today, Easterseals, a national leading provider of services for people with disabilities, announced it has received $230,000 in grants from the Comcast Foundation as part of the Comcast NBCUniversal Assistive Technology Grant Fund, established in 2011.

This fund supports technology programs and services that benefit children and adults, including veterans, living with disabilities. These technologies can vary from braille-equipped handheld computer systems to augmentative communication devices and everything in between.

We believe in the power of technology and are proud to support Easterseals in its mission to use assistive technology to help ensure that people with disabilities have every opportunity to be active participants in their lives and communities
Fred Maahs
Vice President of the Comcast Foundation and 1st Vice Chairman of the Board at Easterseals

Ten Easterseals affiliates, along with the Easterseals national office, are among the recipients selected through a competitive process. The chosen affiliates excel in programs that provide support and services for people with disabilities.

“For their continued support of Easterseals and people with disabilities, we thank Comcast for their investment in assistive technology solutions,” said Angela F. Williams, President and CEO, Easterseals. “These grants give Easterseals the ability to offer additional creative and innovative solutions to individuals and families living with disabilities so they can live, learn, work and play in their communities.”

“We believe in the power of technology and are proud to support Easterseals in its mission to use assistive technology to help ensure that people with disabilities have every opportunity to be active participants in their lives and communities,” said Fred Maahs, Vice President of the Comcast Foundation and 1st Vice Chairman of the Board at Easterseals. “We are confident that together we can help children and adults gain more independence, unlock new opportunities, and achieve great things.”

A young child with Down syndrome plays a drum with help of his aide.

Comcast has awarded $50,000 to the Easterseals national office for the development of a PSA for use during Easterseals’ 100th Anniversary in 2019, as well as for other support delivered by the national office to its network of 73 affiliates. The remaining $180,000 in grant funds will be split across 10 Easterseals affiliates to support assistive technology programs as outlined below:

  • Easterseals Serving DC, Maryland, and Virginia will provide support to a wide range of clients with disabilities in order to improve their functional capabilities, ability to fully participate in their communities, and ultimately their quality of life. They are expanding to form a partnership with the State of Maryland to open a state-of-the art Assistive Technology Demonstration Center that will offer individuals with a range of disabilities the opportunity to try devices that will help improve their quality of life and increase their independence and ability to participate in daily activities.
  • Easterseals Massachusetts will continue its Assistive Technology Vocational Rehabilitation program, which provides assistive technology and training from specialists to help disabled individuals successfully obtain and maintain education, increase career opportunities and maximize their ability to perform essential skills.
  • Easterseals Southeastern Pennsylvania will expand access to assistive technology solutions that increase an individual’s independence, empower staff and individuals/families to create and utilize assistive technology, and increase functional skills of people with disabilities through the use of “maker spaces” – collaborative work spaces utilizing 3D printers for learning, exploring and making and sharing this high tech tool to solve everyday challenges.  
  • Easterseals South Florida will partner with University Of Miami’s Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) on the design and delivery of a best-practice elementary school classroom for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Through this collaboration, university faculty members, researchers, and professionals within the University of Miami’s School of Psychology and CARD will design, guide, and assess the delivery of best-practice, evidence-based strategies for the use of technology to prompt elementary-aged students with Autism Spectrum Disorder to initiate and complete academic and daily life skills that are essential for their ongoing growth and development.
  • Easterseals serving Chicagoland and Rockford and The Catalyst Data Collection and Assessment System Project will leverage the documented efficacy of Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) in the autism classroom by empowering teachers to continuously collect data on targeted, socially-significant behaviors (academics, social skills, communication, adaptive living skills, etc.) in order to identify and employ specific interventions that are working best for each student.
  • Easterseals North Georgia will develop and pilot STEM curriculum through research within 24 of their classrooms. This assistive technology grant will supply the iStartSmart supplements for five classrooms, impacting a total of 100 children.
  • Easterseals Washington will expand its Technology Achievement Center (TAC) initiatives for adults and older adults with disabilities, including autism and Alzheimer’s Disease. They will open two new TAC’s in King and Kitsap counties, which will provide hundreds of adults and seniors with limited mobility, memory challenges and intellectual disabilities with support and services.
  • Easterseals Colorado will expand the Comcast Employment and Technology Center, which provides training and support to address participants’ short- and long-term technology needs and their efforts to be more self-reliant and to integrate into society and the workforce.
  • Easterseals Oregon will expand their Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) in 18 counties in Oregon. SCSEP is the nation’s oldest program to help employ low-income adults aged 55+. With this grant, they will provide additional assistive technology support to build their digital literacy skills by giving them the opportunity to improve their computer skills and ultimately secure permanent employment.
  • Easterseals Greater Houston and BridgingApps will expand the available equipment used in its community technology labs. BridgingApps provides a bridge between low-cost, readily available technology and people with disabilities. In addition, the program provides training for teachers, doctors, therapists, family members, and caregivers of the person with a disability.

Since 2011, the Comcast NBCUniversal Assistive Technology Grant Fund has empowered an estimated 50,000 Americans living with disabilities by providing expanded assistive technology training and services. For example, in Indianapolis the grant fund led to the launch of BITES (Brain Injury Technology Education and Support), which meets every month at Easterseals Crossroads to explore a variety of assistive technology devices and coping strategies for individuals with brain injuries. BITES introduces its members to an ever-expanding world of assistive technology, including everything from voice recorders and vibrating alarms to mobile apps featuring memory games, meditation methods, mood tracking and more. Although BITES focuses largely on technology, it also provides social and emotional support — not only for people with brain injuries but for their families and caregivers as well.

To date, Comcast NBCUniversal has provided nearly $35 million in cash and in-kind support to help Easterseals and to advance assistive technology solutions nationwide.