For people with intellectual and
developmental disabilities (IDD), a fully integrated life in the community
often depends on not only people-powered supports like direct support
professionals and job coaches, but on the technology to facilitate skill
building, social connection, and much more.

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept
across the world and shut down entire communities, people with disabilities saw
many of those connections and daily routines come screeching to a halt.

Seeing the desperate need for solutions, Comcast NBCUniversal stepped up to quickly provide support where it was needed most. Comcast generously provided grants with flexibility so chapters of The Arc could make the most impact in their fight to safely prevent isolation and support overburdened families. This allowed our chapters to explore new and innovative ways to engage families in the community, at times reaching more people than in the past.

In Larimer County, Colorado, Sam and his mother found themselves stuck at home together and sharing her work laptop. Sam was able to use the laptop for high school classes and his social life—but because his mom also needed it for work, his usage was limited. On top of that, he was not able to download everything he needed for school. The other devices in the house were either no longer able to connect to the internet, out of storage, or not exclusively his. The lack of access prevented him from participating in Zoom calls with his fellow high school classmates and put him behind not only socially but academically. Sam and his mom felt frustrated and left behind, as so many others have during this pandemic.

Through
the support of Comcast NBCUniversal, The Arc of Larimer County was able to help
Sam and his mother by providing Sam his own new laptop to use however and
whenever he wanted. He was finally able to reconnect with his friends virtually
and have a sense of independence with having something of his own, giving him
something positive as he toughs out the continued isolation wrought by
COVID-19.

And Sam’s not the only one thrilled with his new computer! His mom says, “This will be a great stress relief, an answer to prayers. We have been actively looking and trying to make do with my work computer and the one we have to return. Thank you so much for helping our family in this tough time.”          

On the East
Coast in Philadelphia, Eloisa Maglaya found herself facing the same challenges
. Prior to COVID-19, she was very
active in the community and enjoyed attending a variety of events. But once she
was home with few options to safely socialize and stay active, she found
herself feeling isolated and frustrated. This all changed with the tablet given
to her by The Arc of Philadelphia. With her new tablet, she is able to:

  • Maintain
    a daily routine
  • Stream
    virtual Zumba classes (her favorite pre-pandemic activity) and stay active
  • Watch
    movies in her native Tagalog Philippine language
  • Learn
    how to navigate app usage directions, stream her favorite videos, and better
    use the device features with the help of her direct support professional
  • Stay
    updated on COVID-19 safety procedures 

The positive
effects of Eloisa’s tablet have been immeasurable. Her family and The Arc’s staff
have reported seeing her more joyous and happier!

Comcast NBCUniversal’s support extends far beyond chapter funding. They are leveraging their media platforms to raise public awareness of the impacts of the pandemic on people with IDD—including through multiple segments on the TODAY Show, expanding internet access to low-income families and school districts through Internet Essentials, and advancing accessibility with technology like the voice-activated remote control, X1 eye control, and a dedicated service center for customers with disabilities.

In our
hyper-connected world, technology was already what kept us connected from day
to day. But as we limit physical contact to stay safe, digital access has
become more vital than ever. For people with IDD—who have had to fight for
decades for the chance to be included in their communities—access to the
digital world ensures that progress is not lost and they can remain connected
and engaged with the people and activities they love most.

These grants and more are made possible by:

Comcast logo featuring rainbow icon above the text

The post Click Here for Inclusion: Staying Connected During COVID-19 appeared first on The Arc.

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