[December 2020] Access to technology is not a luxury, especially for people with disabilities. This is especially true now, due to COVID-19, as the people we support are not as readily able to see their families, connect with friends, or enjoy classes like art, music and dance.
Thanks to two grants, one from the South Dakota Council on Developmental Disabilities (DD Council) and the other from Black Hills by Choice Giving Circle, Black Hills Works is now better positioned to help people make these virtual connections. Both organizations offered grants for the purchase of tablets.
The DD Council grant will result in 30 tablets – a mix of iPad Air and Amazon Fire HD – to be placed in homes to allow for safe and meaningful connections with family and friends, especially now, while also providing access to virtual art, dance and music therapy lessons. The Black Hills by Choice grant will provide for the purchase of 8 iPad Air tablets to be used for a lending library, to be borrowed by individuals or homes as needs arise.
“The impact of technology, even in normal times, cannot be overstated,” said Tammy Murner, Director of Innovation & Assistive Technology. “We support people who, because of technology, are creating art, writing books, cooking meals, working, and living independently. These gifts of tablets – to go into the home and to create a lending library – will literally open up a whole new world for so many more people. The impact is enormous.”
Shad Bebout, a person supported by Black Hills Works, has embraced technology, using his tablet to turn on lights, start a slow cooker, adjust blinds, use the thermostat, and communicate. He is a valued employee at Caramel Creations, a job that has allowed him the resources needed to invest in technology. The new tablets for our homes and lending library will make this possible for others, many of whom do not have the resources.
“Shad is a great self-advocate,” said Tammy. “He researches new applications and proves to us all what is possible. Thanks to the DD Council and Black Hills by Choice, other lives will be transformed in ways we can’t yet imagine.”