Bridging Digital Applications in Houston: Training ‘Through the Lens of Disabilities’

with Amy Fuchs of Easter Seals Greater Houston

Digital education is key to breaking down technology barriers for disabled people. Amy Fuchs of Easter Seals Greater Houston talks with Dara Brown at Net Inclusion 2024 in Philadelphia about Bridging Apps — a program where disabled people and caregivers can gain digital skills and learn about accessible apps.

Of the program, Fuchs shares, “We review apps through the lens of disabilities so we can help caregivers and disabled people find apps easier that work for them.”

Posted on:

March 29, 2024

Produced by: National Newsmakers Team

Brown: The digital divide in America can be even more difficult to navigate for people with disabilities. But digital education can help this community reach their highest levels of physical, social, and cognitive development. Hello, I'm Dara Brown, and this is "Getting Connected," powered by Comcast Newsmakers. We're on location at the Net Inclusion 2024 Conference in Philadelphia. Joining me is Amy Fuchs. She is Program Manager of BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston. Amy, thank you so much for being here.

Fuchs: Thank you.

Brown: Amy, how do you break down the barriers for people with disabilities in using technology?

Fuchs: So, with BridgingApps, we have a website -- we have a lot of web-based services and resources for people. So we manage an app database where we review apps through the lens of disability so we can help caregivers and people with disabilities find apps easier that work for them. We also do in-person services where we provide digital skills training to help the caregivers and the people with the disabilities use technology to better their lives, to make their day easier.

Brown: What barriers do people with disabilities face when using technology?

Fuchs: People with disabilities often do not have the skills to learn about digital technology on their own. So if we buy an iPhone and the average person opens it up and figures out how to use it, where a person with a disability may need more instruction on how to do that. So that is one of the biggest barriers is that they just don't know what the device can do for them and how to use it.

Brown: And how is your organization breaking down those barriers?

Fuchs: So we provide in-person digital skills training for people with disabilities and their caregivers, as well as the people who work with them -- professionals, occupational therapists, physical therapists, anyone who might be in that person's life. And we teach them how to use certain apps, how to adjust the settings on the smartphone. Maybe they don't know that they can enlarge the font on a smartphone or that they can use Siri to read their text to them or to read aloud a website article. So we teach them how to do those things, and that ends up affecting their daily lives and how they're able to go about getting a job and doing other things that are important to them.

Brown: Can you talk about the impact your organization is having on this community?

Fuchs: Yes, it's really amazing. We see caregivers who come in very stressed out, very worried about maybe how their person is going to manage their daily schedule. And then we might teach them how to use a certain scheduling app or even just how to use the built-in calendar on their device, you know, how they can help their person with being more independent while being safely monitored in a safe space, you know, under their care. So we see every day just little things that a lot of people take for granted about technology that make a huge impact and are really life-changing for them.

Brown: Amy Fuchs, Easter Seals Greater Houston. Thank you so much for your time today.

Fuchs: Thank you for having me.

Brown: And thanks to you as well for watching. For more conversations about digital equity and broadband expansion, visit I'm Dara Brown.

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