Easter Seals Greater Houston’s BridgingApps Project Making Progress with Awarded CEA Foundation Funds to Help Seniors with Disabilities
HOUSTON, TX – (March 19, 2015) - BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, is making progress with support from the CEA Foundation to use technology to help seniors with disabilities. The funding allowed BridgingApps to expand its website content, create filters, develop self-directed online training and provide in-person trainings focused on seniors and other adults with disabilities in the use of mobile devices and apps.
The projects work was presented to a packed session at SXSW this past week. Following Easter Seals’ sessions, over 100,000 retweets were made, reflecting the power of this project. Mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular amongst seniors because of their simple user interface, accessibility features, and portability. However, there is a learning curve when a person is introduced to technology for the first time. With the support of the CEA Foundation, BridgingApps is helping span the gap between technology, applications and the training needed will enable adults and seniors with disabilities to communicate, connect with the world, and ultimately improve their levels of independence.
Relatively low-cost, touch based commercially available tools can augment, or in some cases, replace traditional therapies, expensive equipment and/or treatment protocols to result in improved physical, cognitive and social outcomes for the person with the disability. The touch-based interface is intuitive even for people with significant temporary or permanent cognitive impairment.
Current medical models, even if the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented, provide extremely limited post disease/injury assistance. The majority of insurance policies allow for 10-30 therapy sessions. For many of these adults and their caregivers, technology can become a powerful tool in recovery and maintaining independence. However, with hundreds of thousands of apps available, finding the right tool and app and understanding how to use these tools to improve daily life can be daunting. In the current app marketplaces, there is no effective way to search for apps with a level of granularity that is meaningful to seniors and their caregiving/health care teams. BridgingApps provides basic training on how to get started with a mobile device, app lists and app reviews to assist in finding the right apps, and support for any level of user.
This year’s grant allowed BridgingApps to work in collaboration with Memorial Hermann Health System’s University Place Retirement Community where they began to capture information on what training works/does not work, what aspects of technology are learnable depending on the medical condition of the client and how to help seniors define achievable goals using mobile devices. “Whether focusing on apps for accessible social media, brain training games, or ways to stay engaged and in touch with loved ones, the goal is to identify apps and best practices for using them that can enhance the lives of seniors and adults with disabilities,” said Cristen Reat, co-founder of BridgingApps.
For more information about BridgingApps services for seniors and caregivers, please visit http://bridgingapps.org/seniors/.
BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Houston, provides the access, education, and resources needed to effectively use mobile, touch-based devices to help people with disabilities communicate, exceed educational goals, and reach their fullest potential. BridgingApps includes a website, app reviews by therapists and special education teachers, a custom app search engine, assistive technology labs, monthly in person meetings in Houston, Fort Worth, Rio Grande Valley and Austin, training and certification options for parents, organizations and schools. For more information, visit www.bridgingapps.org.
About Easter Seals Greater Houston
Easter Seals Greater Houston, Inc., a United Way Agency, is a non-profit corporation established to provide comprehensive services to individuals of all ages with all types of disabilities and their families. As the only local organization providing a broad range of comprehensive services to individuals and families affected by disabilities, Easter Seals Greater Houston operates: Early Childhood Intervention; Respite Services; Toy/Tech & Play Groups including BridgingApps™; High School/High Tech; Home of Your Own; Therapy Services; The Caroline School, A Day Program; Camps and Case Management; Transition Services; Adult Services, and Veteran’s Services. For more information about Easter Seals Greater Houston, visit www.eastersealshouston.org or visit us on Facebookand Twitter(@eastersealshou).
About CEA Foundation
The CEA Foundation is a public, national foundation affiliated with the Consumer Electronics Association. It was established with the mission to link seniors and people with disabilities with technologies to enhance their lives. The Foundation is focused on strategic support of programs to impact these communities and has launched its first series of grants in 2012. It also serves to facilitate dialog between industry, consumers, government, advocacy groups and other key stakeholders around important issues. For more information on the CEA Foundation, please visit www.CEAFoundation.org.