People with disabilities stay connected in quarantine thanks to Temple's "Connect with Tech" program

Friday, May 29, 2020
People with disabilities stay connected thanks to community donations
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"Just imagine what this pandemic would be like without technology." Community Journalist Matteo shows how you can make a difference for a person with disabilities.

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. -- "You're welcome, girlfriend!"

That's the sound of Jenna Willig connecting with her friends via the internet.

The era of social distancing has kept the community of people with disabilities physically removed from friends, family, and especially vital resources they depend on such as healthcare providers and peer specialists.

Now, these interactions happen online. But some individuals do not have the proper devices to make those connections.

Thankfully, the community at Temple University's Institute on Disabilities stepped right into the role of changing that.

They have been well-established as a pivotal resource for the entire state, housing Pennsylvania's Assistive Technology Act Program. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they created another program called "Connect with Tech" under the umbrella of TechOWL.

It's no surprise, given their eponymous mission is to provide "Technology For Our Whole Lives."

Given the added element of physical distance, they are asking community members to mail in their used devices such as iPads and androids. Once received, Outreach and Training Coordinator Thomas DiAgostino wipes them clean literally and figuratively.

So far, they have distributed over 30 tablets.

"And we have a lot more people who need devices than we have devices to give," said Kim Singleton, the Director for Assistive Technology Programs with Temple's Institute on Disabilities.

With these devices, individuals like Jenna Willig can not only connect with friends, but also continue to work as a valued employee from home.

"Through the devices and technology, we're able to be there with them inside of where they reside," said Lynnae Herdman, a certified peer specialist who walks alongside those with PTSD among other needs.

To learn how you can help, visit their website.

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