Categories: Agency News

People supported at ADAPT monthly attend free classes at a Manhattan Apple store to help gain
equal access to technology.

These days it seems everyone has the latest technology right at their fingertips. But what about folks who have dexterity issues or those who are hearing impaired? To help close the gap on unequal access to technology for people with disabilities, Yvette Churchill, a Communication Specialist at ADAPT Community Network, recently reached out to a Manhattan Apple store to arrange for them to accommodate persons served at ADAPT in the monthly free classes that were already being held at their store. They were holding classes, but not specifically tailored to people with disabilities.

Apple invited people supported at ADAPT to attend. So in May, ADAPT began participating in the free workshop series, held once a month for 1.5 hours at the Apple store located in Manhattan’s Grand Central Station. Those who attend programs at ADAPT’s 154th Street location participated in the May class, where they learned how to send e‐mails. This lesson gave the attendees—all of whom are either deaf or hearing impaired—another means of communication.

In June, people supported at ADAPT’s 5030 location, who have limited dexterity, attended the Apple class and learned how to use the voice to text application on their devices. “More time will be spent on this subject, due to the high number of individuals that have limited dexterity issues within the agency as well as their need to have equal access to technology,” says Shaniece Frank, Program Coordinator, Community Outreach, at ADAPT.

Attendees have already experienced many positive results from the workshops. Shaniece says a June class on how to listen to books through a phone audio application has “opened up a whole new world” for Cheryl L. from 5030 Broadway, who used to say she found reading to be a challenge. Isabel D., from 154th St., in her spare time often uses an art application she learned how to use at Apple. And, in the case of Sunny L. from ADAPT’s 154th Street location, the student has been a teacher! Having attended regularly since May, “Sunny came as a student but now, he comes to the Apple store to assist others with locating different apps on their Apple devices,” says Shaniece.

Staff at ADAPT encourage people they support to use the skills they learn at Apple. Shaniece created an email address for those who attended the first Apple class and asked them to practice creating and sending e‐mails. She and other ADAPT staff have been planning meetings with Apple representatives. Shaniece says that persons supported from 5030 Broadway location have been instrumental in devising ways to improve aspects of the voice to text class. Apple has been most receptive. Says Shaniece: “I am pleased that Apple has agreed to adjust their voice to text curriculum to match the specific needs and wishes of those that we serve.”