2003 Conference Proceedings

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INCREASING ACCESS TO ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY: EARLY FINDINGS FROM THE "ACCESSIBILITY CONNECTIONS" PROJECT

Presenter
Stuart P. Hanson
Center for Applied Local Research
5200 Huntington Avenue, Suite 200
Richmond, CA 94804
Tel: 510/558-7939
Email: shanson@cal-research.org

Julia Petchey
Center for Accessible Technology
2547 Eighth Street, Suite 12A
Berkeley, CA 94710
Tel: 510/841-3224
Email: jpetchey@CforAT.org

Accessibility Connections, a demonstration project commissioned by The California Endowment, aims to build networks of assistive technology providers and community organizations around five community-based human service organizations in the Bay Area. These "anchor" organizations include a senior center, two low-income job-training programs, a faith-based skills center for homeless people, and a family resource and information center for families of children with disabilities. Accessibility Connections is coordinated by the Alliance for Technology Access (ATA), and supported by training and technical assistance from the ATA and the Center for Assistive Technology (C for AT).

The Accessibility Connections project grew from a statewide needs assessment conducted by the Alliance for Technology Access for The California Endowment in 1999. The study, Assistive Technology Connections: Meeting the Needs of California with Disabilities (March 1999), provided a comprehensive look at the prevalence of disability and current use and need for assistive technology across the state, especially among underrepresented groups. The study also examined issues and needs related to funding for assistive technology, services, training, public awareness and marketing, current organizations resources, and the strengths and weakness of efforts to make systems-level change.

The study concluded with the recommendation to establish a statewide network or system "California TechNetů composed of all the stakeholders - consumers, families, public and private service providers, community leaders, advocates, equipment providers, collaborating to provide timely and convenient access to critical technologies for all people with disabilities." Accessibility Connections aims to reduce fragmentation of services and increase access to assistive technology for persons with disabilities in these communities.

The independent evaluation focuses on outcomes directly linked to the Accessibility Connections project, not on functional capabilities and related performance outcomes of individual persons with disabilities in either the short or long term. The evaluation is designed to measure changes in the organizations and service communities resulting from the capacity-building and collaborative strategies and activities of the ATA, C for AT, and five anchor organizations.

Key outcome questions include:

Key implementation issues include:

The results of this study will have important implications for the development and expansion of regional technology networks throughout California and in other states, especially in underserved communities. Lessons learned from this pilot project will apply to regional technology networks involving:

To ensure that the lessons learned from the TCE-funded pilot project become available to the assistive technology community, the major products of this evaluation will be:

Accessibility Connections is funded through April 2003. The Final Report for the evaluation will be completed in the summer of 2003. For the conference presentation, we will describe preliminary results covering the five anchor organizations. We will also present a case study of the goals, objectives, activities, and achievements of one anchor organization.


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