Join Our Weekly Online Technology Training Series

Being included in the Internet is more important than ever for people with disabilities.
Don’t be left behind.

Starting now

For people without disabilities, technology makes things easier.
For people with disabilities, technology makes things possible.

 IBM Training Manual, 1991

Most of us could not imagine not having our smartphones to use daily for multiple purposes from talking to our family to immediate text messages to reminders of important meetings and dates and even face timing with our family or video conferencing for work.

Weekly Online Technology Training Series

Accessibility Features of Devices

1/9/2024

Voice Assistants: Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant

1/16/2024

Assistive Technology

1/23/2024

Social Media Apps (YouTube, Instagram)

1/30/2024

Coming in Future Round of Training Events

Pennsylvania Training

1:00 – 2:30 PM ET

Learn from past attendees

Watch Janet, self-advocates and family members talk about using technology in their daily lives.

Watch the recent Webinar by Tom Keating, on using internet apps to support independence and self-determination for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Navigating the virtual seas of online technologies can sometimes be challenging, especially for individuals with disabilities. However, the rise of new technology has opened up new opportunities for accessible learning and communication, ensuring that everyone can dive into the digital realm with confidence.

Come to the training to:

Training by

A photo of Dr. Mark Friedman

Mark Friedman

Professor,
City University of New York

A photo of Dr. Ruthie-Marie Beckwith

Ruthie-Marie Beckwith

Professor,
City University of New York

A photo of David Taylor

David Taylor

Self-Advocate and
fellowship Harvard University

A photo of David Wetherow

David Wetherow

Founder StarRaft,
Microboards and
Cooperative Housing

Join our exclusive learning community to engage with colleagues and experts, dive deeper into topics, and collaborate on innovative solutions.

Webinars by Esteemed Experts

Time: 10-11:30am Eastern Time
9-10:30am Central Time

01/17/2024

Alexa and Kathy Brill

Session Topic: Alexa's Smart Home and Independence

A photo of Alexa and Kathy Brill
More about the webinar

Speaker Bio: Alexa Brill graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 2013. She has worked for The Arc of Pennsylvania since 2014 as their Social Media Manager. Alexa serves as the President on the Board of Self Advocates United As 1 (SAU1). She also serves on the Smart Home Advisory Committee through the Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF), as well as the Wireless RERC Advisory Committee through the University of Pittsburgh. Most recently, she is a participant in the Assistive Technology Champions Program through Temple University (starting November 2023). Alexa is very passionate about advocating for the rights of people with disabilities, as well as helping to make sure they have access to the right technology. She wants to help as many people learn about, and access the technology they need to be as independent as possible.

POSTPONED

We will reschedule shortly

02/14/2024

Tony Gentry, Ph.D.

Session Topic: Smart Homes for Functional Independence

A photo of Tony Gentry
More about the webinar

Speaker Bio: Tony Gentry, PhD OTR/L FAOTA is professor emeritus in the occupational therapy department at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia. He founded the Assistive Technology for Cognition laboratory at VCU, conducting research into the development and utilization of personal health technologies, including smart homes, mobile devices, wearables, and computer games to support people with cognitive-behavioral challenges, and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in this field.

03/13/2024

Constance Harrington

Session Topic: Around the Curve: Circumventing Roadblocks & Detours

A photo of Constance Harrington
More about the webinar

Speaker Bio: Constance Harrington is the Education and Accreditation Manager for SHIFT. She is a nationally recognized subject matter expert on enabling technology. From speaking at trainings and events across the country to advising decision-makers on best practices and policy development to serving as an all-around champion for the implementation of enabling technology – Constance has spent the past 20 years helping people learn about and experience how technology can make the seemingly impossible possible. Constance has earned her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and is a graduate of the National Leadership Consortium on Developmental Disabilities. She lives in Wisconsin and enjoys exploring the state’s beautiful parks with her husband and daughter.

04/03/2024

George Myers

Session Topic: Ohio Technology Ambassadors

A photo of George Myers
More about the webinar

Speaker Bios: Three Tech Ambassadors will present along with George Myers, IT Director for the Ross County Board of DD in Chillicothe, OH. He is a career IT Professional who taught technology for nine years and then owned and operated a small IT Services business for 12 more. In the area of Assistive Technology and has had the opportunity to lead two unique grant efforts. The first involved building a Mobile Smart Home and driving it to counties throughout Ohio to demonstrate how Remote Support and Assistive Technology can help individuals with IDD live more independently. The second involved the creation of the Ohio Tech Ambassadors, a group of adults with IDD who are passionate users of technology. The program’s goal was to put these Tech Ambassadors in positions to educate and mentor their peers in Ohio on how technology improves their own lives.

05/01/2024

Toni Johnson and Alli Beth Freeman

Session Topic: Enabling Technology: Support for the Employment Pathway

A photo of Toni Johnson and Alli Beth Freeman
More about the webinar

Technology for All webinar on May 1st, 2024, 9:00-10:30am CT (10:00-11:30am ET).

 

Speaker Bio:
Toni Johnson is an Enabling Technology Coordinator (Tech Champion). She is the recipient of the Governor’s Excellence in Service Award in 2019. She is a graduate of MTSU, with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Toni is also a Certified Person-Centered Thinking Trainer, Advocates in Motion mentor, and a Person-Centered meeting facilitator.

 

Speaker Bio: Alli Beth Freeman is an Employment Innovation and Community Inclusion Coordinator.

Virtual Summit : Keynote Speaker

6/11/2024

Jennifer White

CEO, Able Opportunities

A photo of Jennifer White
More about the webinar

Coming soon!

Completed Webinars

11/1/2023

Shea Tanis, Ph. D

Session Topic: Technology solutions for a complex world

A photo of Dr. Shea Tanis
More about the webinar

PowerPoints from the presentation available soon.

11/29/2023

Tom Keating, Ph.D.

Session Topic: Let’s Get Serious About Self-Determination! Innovative Tools to Make It Happen

A photo of Tom Keating
More about the webinar

Speaker Bio: Tom Keating, Ph.D. is founder and CEO of Cognitopia, home of the Cognitopia Platform for Self-Determination, emphasizing self-management and training tools for employment, independent living, and education. He is also a Courtesy Research Associate in the Computer and Information Sciences Department of the University of Oregon. Keating’s perspective in all of his work has been strongly influenced by his experience of 31 years as a caregiver for a brother who experienced autism.

Our Partners

A photo of Dr. Shea Tanis

Shea Tanis

Professor,
University of Kansas

A photo of Christina Lawley

Christina Lawley

PA District Manager,
SafeInHome

A photo of Jessica Daiger

Jessica Daiger

SafeInHome

A photo of Constance Harrington

Constance Harrington

Director of Education
TechFirst Shift

A photo of Tom Keating

Tom Keating

Cognitopia

A photo of Alexa Brill

Alexa Brill

Smart House

A photo of Kathy Brill

Kathy Brill

Smart House

A photo of Tony Gentry

Tony Gentry

Director
Virginia University

A photo of George Myers

George Myers

Grant Manager
Ohio Tech Ambassadors

A photo of Nathan Gerhard

Nathan Gerhard

Keystone Human Services

A photo of Jason Ray

Jason Ray

Simply Home

A photo of Gregg Kelinson

Gregg Kelinson

KenCrest

A photo of Sheryl Burgstahler

Sheryl Burgstahler

Professor
University of Washington

Toni Johnson

Toni Johnson

Tennessee Department
of Developmental Disabilities
(DIDD)

A photo of Alli Beth Freeman

Alli Beth Freeman

Tennessee Department
of Developmental Disabilities
(DIDD)

A photo of Jennifer White

Jennifer White

CEO
Able Opps

Tech Host Agencies

Many thanks to the Tech Host Agencies. Each agency is supporting at least five people with disabilities to fully participate in the training.
  • Achieva (Steve Suroviec)
  • Center at the Hampton House (Karen Velocci)
  • Values into Action (Marian Frattarola-Saulino)
  • Families CCAN (Sara Crimm)
  • KenCrest Services (Gregg Kelinson)
  • Keystone Human Services(Nathan Gerhard)

The Digital Divide is Generally Defined As a Lack of...

Equipment
and Devices
Broadband
internet

Affordability

Tech
Support
Computer
skills

And Self- Confidence

The Purpose of The Technology For All Project

For people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to have and use the same amount of technology the average American does to enhance their independence and self-determination.

The Pa Developmental Disabilities Council Technology Principles

Over the past two and a half years of the COVID Pandemic we have trained 5,000 people

People With Disabilities
0
Family Members
500
Support Coordinators
0
Professionals
500

Listen to Their Experience

Like Janet, and 100 Other Philadelphia self-advocates and family members during the PhilaZoom training funded by the Visions for Equality and Philadelphia Intellectual Disability Services

Or the 3,000 people and advocates trained at the Nebraska Person Centered Planning Initiative, funded by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Nebraska Council on Developmental Disabilities

Their experiences are just a few of the thousands we have trained.

And with a world increasingly reliant on digital means, the divide will keep growing… Unless we stop it.

Who Are We?

Blue Fire, Inc. is a small consulting company co-owned by Dr. Mark Friedman and Dr. Ruthie-Marie Beckwith. Both have 40 years’ experience teaching and training people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in advocacy and technology. Dr. Beckwith is the former ED of TASH and State Advisor to People First of Tennessee. Dr. Friedman is the former State Advisor to Speaking For Ourselves, Vice Chairperson of the Pennsylvania DD Council, technology researcher at Temple University. Both are currently Adjunct Professors at the City University of New York.

Over the past two and a half years of the COVID Pandemic we have trained 5,000 people with disabilities, family members, Service Coordinators, educators and professionals online through projects with the DD Councils in Nebraska, Michigan, Vermont and the City of Philadelphia using a virtual video conferencing platform.

Based on our experience in social change and advocacy, we have found training to be a critical element to create systemic change.

In order to address it, we will...

Train a critical mass of people to create a tipping point.

Conduct the training over multiple times to allow deep learning to occur.

How Our Training Works:

A total of 25 Weekly online training sessions targeted to people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, family members, Service Coordinators, educators and professionals on topics such as: Using Zoom, Staying Safe on the Internet, How to obtain Low cost Internet services through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and the LifeLine program, Using an Internet Browser, and more.

Weekly training sessions will focus on the known best practices and methods to most effectively teach and support people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to use technology to enhance their independence and lives. The training will focus on off the shelf technology that is widely available, used by the general public and less expensive than specialized technology. Two self-advocates will serve as co-trainers in all the sessions.

Tech Supporters will be recruited, nurtured and trained to help people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities use tech to enhance their independence and self-directions.

A Community of Practice will meet monthly to share stories, collaborate together and learn how to overcome issues and problems.

People identified from the Tech Supporters group will serve as paid presenters to tell their stories of success and challenges at conferences and disability gatherings.

Ten Webinars by national experts in the field of Technology First and Enabling Technology from other states successfully implementing technology for people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Virtual Technology Summit will promote the use of tech for independence and self-direction. It will feature experts in the field, share success stories in Pennsylvania and nationally including providers, families and people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Project Advisory Committee (PAC) – 25 people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, family members, Service Coordinators, AT experts, educators and professionals will serve on the PAC.

Tech Host Agencies will support people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to participate fully in the training sessions.

Get A Sneak Peak At What It's Like. Join an Upcoming LIVE Webinar Training

Constance Harrington, SHIFT
Shea Tanis, Professor, U. Kansas
Jordan Allen, Assoc. Comm TN Dept of DD
Gerald Bernard, Charles Lea Center
Jason Ray, Simply Home
Doug Meeker, Life Sherpa
Sheryl Burgstahler, Professor, U. Washington
Jessica Daiger, Safe In Home
Ken Smith, AbilityTech
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