ConnectWC is an initiative/network composed of individuals active in the development of an inclusive community for people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) starting in Washington County and the St. Croix Valley Area. We are eager to broaden to metro and Minnesota. The need is there!
IDD covers a wide variety of conditions, including: attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), traumatic brain injury, Down syndrome and other chromosomal disorders, learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, and physical conditions including vision and hearing impairments.
ConnectWC (Connect Washington County, Minnesota) is our roots (but see the need for expansion) is a place for self-advocates (people with disabilities), families, friends and community members. We connect self-advocates, parents, guardians, caregivers, family and other interested community members to create inclusive and meaningful civic and daytime activities, employment opportunities, and community experiences with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) through partnerships with existing service providers and nonprofit organizations and the community at large.
What new functionality we are looking for
We need to step-up our website game!
Our website is full of extremely valuable information, however it can be overwhelming and hard to navigate. Life is busy for the parent/caregiver of those caring for people living with I/DD, therefore easy is needed! And of course, we are in need of a donation button!
We would like our website to have more simplicity and guidance for our users. We'd love to see something mobile friendly, events shown in calendar format, automatic notification when frequently referenced information changes, easy to read for everyone, and searchable information. In addition, the site needs to be straightforward enough for our all-volunteer-run organization to make updates!
How the new functionality will help
CONNECTIONS - More people will find it easier to connect to disability resources. They'll tell their friends/family/co-workers/neighbors, which will lead to more users and ultimately, improving the lives of people living with disabilities.
INDEPENDENCE - More independence for people living with disabilities. For example, we'd love it if someone living with disabilities could see if there's an upcoming event they want to attend without having to ask a parent or caregiver to search on his/her behalf. It is so simple, but that little bit of independence means the world to people.
OUTREACH/ADVOCACY - More disability awareness. A searchable, user-friendly, appealing site will showcase the need promote resources/jobs/programs for those with I/DD. A link from our site to social media will enhance the awareness and have a greater outreach.
The lives of those either caring for or living with I/DD is so complicated anything we can help to make lives easier is our ultimate goal.
How our organization will use the technology
Our all volunteer-based organization has limited time and resources. New technology would allow us to:
- Automatically update re-occurring events
- Present events in calendar format (maybe something that connects to common calendars such as Outlook or Google?)
- Simplify usability do updates and find information
- Bring us into the mobile friendly generation
A new website will streamline our website work and volunteer time, and allow us to concentrate more on growing our organization. Currently there are two volunteers that manually seek events and new information to add to our website. We are in desperate need of automation. Not to mention, we will reach more people on a day-to-day basis with a mobile friendly tool and calendar format.
Who will use the technology
ConnectWC Members: We will gain time by automating the calendar updates and other resource updates. An easy to use website will hopefully lead to more users and reach our goals to connecting the community.
Families: Quick & easy access to information which will lead to more users.
People with Disabilities: Independence to seek information on their own.
School Districts: Currently one school district has our website linked with their website. These improvements will lead to more districts linking to our site, and to again achieve our goal to connect the community.
Community Organizations: Easy to use = more users = more connections (possibly employment opportunities)!
TBD: This seems like a great model for other communities! Maybe others will want to create something similar.
We want to create a community of belonging for all people of all abilities!
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