Cristen Reat
Cristen Reat and her son Vincent

Bridging the gap between technology and people with disabilities.

BridgingApps is a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston that provides access to educational and therapeutic tools—anywhere, anytime—allowing parents, teachers, and therapists to effectively use mobile devices and apps to target and improve individual skill development to help children and adults with disabilities reach their highest levels of physical and cognitive development.

 

Purpose

The available research and the success stories we have captured reflect the potential power of using touch-based technology and proper training to significantly impact the lives of people with disabilities. These devices can also provide accessibility for people who may have been previously disengaged from the world as a result of challenging language, motor, or other developmental delays. BridgingApps is a community of parents, teachers, therapists, and doctors who share information on how they are using touch-based, mobile devices such as the iPad®, iPhone®, iPod Touch® and Android® devices and apps with people who have special needs. We created this community to discuss technology in respectful, creative ways focusing on people who have disabilities.

Given the rising number of apps on the market and the diverse skills of children and adults with special needs, our goal is to provide caregivers and professionals with the best resources for choosing apps to enhance everyday life for people with disabilities and sharing their successes with others. In collaboration with speech language pathologists and occupational therapists, we have created an app review system that focuses on skills—rather than age, diagnosis or developmental level to help improve outcomes for a person with a disability.

Sami Rahman
Sami Rahman and his son Noah

Origins

BridgingApps was created by parents and therapists who began using the iPad with children who have special needs. Sami Rahman sought to help his 2 year old son with Cerebral Palsy communicate. Cristen Reat was looking for a computer mouse her 6 year old son with Down syndrome could control. After a few months of using the iPad with their children, both parents observed amazing gains in speech, fine motor skills and realized the power of this device as a motivation for learning. They began to meet regularly to compare notes on their favorite apps. The first meeting evolved into a website to share information with others. In addition to the website, BridgingApps hosts local meetings for parents, therapists and teachers working with people of all ages and abilities.