A subtle, somewhat discreet gathering on a mountain top may have struck gold in “them thar’ hills”. Families, providers, policy makers and innovators forged ahead unlocking the power of ideas and community to improves the lives of people with disabilities. Like the gold rush of another time, people came from all over the country, representing the rolling hills of Alabama, the bustling city of Chicago, the royal blue waters of Puget Sound in Seattle, and the rural corners of western Colorado at the beautiful Snowmass Village Viceroy Hotel.
The cozy burning fire glowed reflecting the warmth of conversation among, technology innovators, policymakers, legislators and providers. Such meetings held in a grand hotel is an uncommon experience for individuals and families who experience special needs. This conference weekend offered a free environment in which parents could learn how access to universal technology can ensure that loved ones enjoy the simple pleasantries of everyday life in the 21st Century.
After hosting two such conferences, definite themes have emerged:
- Our communities care about people with disabilities. Funding for this conference was solely provided by our generous sponsors allowing for numerous families to attend with their registration fees waived.
- Human Services systems are interested in what we are doing. We were fortunate to have representation from several Community Centered Boards, the Division for Vocational Rehabilitation and the Division for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Additionally, we had support from State Representative Millie Hamner, the new co-chair of the Colorado Joint Budget Committee. All those attending were interested in rebooting supports and services to reflect life for people with disabilities living in the 21st Century.
- High-tech companies are eager to work alongside individuals and families with special needs sharing resources, strategies and ideas.
As we continue to reach out to various communities, we continue to realize access to technology spans generations and cultures as evidenced by the demographic representation of our participants.
Another emerging theme was the rich and robust dialogue around safeguarding access to technology as a civil right for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Colorado is the first state in the country to have a legislative resolution to that effect.
Our work continues. We have the lofty goal of 21st Century inclusion and technology-supported self-determination for citizens with disabilities. Good thing we are a determined lot!
If our substantial efforts have a weak link, it can be found in our complex and fragmented systems and our own capacity to reach out to all families and individuals. We know we are not reaching all those who could benefit from the advancing technology in education strategies, employment, smart homes and independent living.
Please share our site with your network. We are determined to make a difference! Join us. Together we can do this!