Uniting the special needs world

by Jen Lee Reeves on March 20, 2012 · 4 comments

in 2012, SXSW

As a member of the special needs community, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned there are SO many different types. I’ve learned there are so many different support resources. I’ve also learned there are so many different sectors of the special needs world that many of us do not connect or share our intel.

I want to change that.

During the SXSW Interactive Festival, my friends Kate Canterbury and Robert Rummel-Hudson joined me to speak on a panel where we laid it all on the table. We want to break down the silos of special needs and find ways technology can help bring us all together. We can help each other. I’m passionate about that. I give a damn because I’ve found tremendous support from friends across different special needs communities. I want everyone to feel those connections.

Take a look at our presentation:

(There will be a podcast of the session and I promise to share a link when it is made public.)

During the session Kate and I launched a simple website to work towards some really wonderful things. Special Need Tech will focus on technology that is helpful across the special needs worlds. There are two other awesome ideas that came out of it. One is to distribute used tech tools to families who cannot afford consumer grade tools while they pay for the those expensive medical devices that insurance kind of covers. (Wouldn’t it be awesome if health care paid for consumer tools like iPads that help our kids’ development?) Another is one I would LOVE to make happen, but it would take a tremendous amount of time and money.

That’s why I applied for a Knight Foundation News Challenge grant over the weekend. My vision is to create a database of resources that you can use from any place. All you need to do is answer a set of questions and the system would give you resources on a local, county, state and national level. A database like this would reach any and all types of special needs communities from physical to mental to medical conditions. If you are interested please visit my proposal and take the time to like or reblog or share or tweet (using the #newschallenge hashtag). Your support means the world to me. Each and every one of you who have clicked like, donated money and shared details of my efforts are incredible. I’m honored. I think this weekend I called this community mighty but small. I think that’s awesome. We are committed to our children and to helping them live healthy and happy lives. It’s a goal every parent has. I feel like we are making that really happen as a team.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie Precourt March 23, 2012 at 8:20 am

This sounds fabulous. I admit that most of my support with my son comes through ancient yahoo webgroups! You’d think with all the blog connections that I’d have found someone else to relate with but it just hasn’t happened. I could use help when it comes to IEP time and I can also offer a tremendous bit of advice when it comes to parenting a toddler on up to older child with epilepsy/learning delays/treatments and all sorts of other quirks that come along with it. So, beyond the tech part of it, it would be so awesome just to connect other parents on this journey, too! Keep me posted!!

Steph

Steph

Lisa March 23, 2012 at 8:55 am

I’m with Steph. My son has an IEP and if it wasn’t for my cousin who does special ed, I would have missed out on services that the school was required to do. When you are new to the special ed world, you can’t oftentimes tell the ceiling from the floor.

Jen Lee Reeves March 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Stephanie and Lisa – there are so many things we can share with each other. I relay on a Yahoo webgroup as well! If I can start with using tech to unify, maybe we can all have an easier time reaching out to each other. Who knows!

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