Sharing ideas, improving access.
To serve as an educator, convener and resource that works collaboratively to ensure communications and information access in service of individuals who are Deaf or disabled.
To transform the field of communications and information access so that all individuals can realize their right and ability to receive information and express themselves.
Headquartered in Oakland, California, Ability Central is the philanthropic division of the California Communication Access Foundation, a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit founded in 2003. We are committed to improving communications and information access for individuals who are Deaf, disabled, and neurodiverse and their communities of support.
We’re a small but mighty team with decades of experience in grantmaking, tech, and community building, working from our HQ in Oakland’s bustling Uptown neighborhood.
Barry Saudan, President
Jesus M. Gonzalez, Interim Chair
Celia C.J. Solis, Vice Chair
Jimi Gilroy, Secretary
Sarah Slaughter, Treasurer
Sofia M Vergara Ed.D
Barry Saudan, Chief Executive Officer
Matt Cherry, Director of Philanthropy
David Kehn, Director of Systems and Technology
Jessie Galloway, Associate Program Officer
Geoff Butterfield, Web Program Manager
Grant Barringer, Communications Manager
Alyah Thomas, Philanthropy Program Associate
Stephen Prestwood, Cloud Consulting Practice Manager
Vernon Baas, Salesforce Consultant
Kamal Natarajan, Salesforce Administrator
Mary Owen, Project Manager
For more than a decade Ability Central has been funding communications access projects supporting Deaf and disabled communities.
Now, we’re expanding our philanthropic efforts with programs that offer technical assistance to other organizations working with these communities, and online resources for disability-related information and support.
We’re also expanding our philanthropy work in a variety of ways throughout the next years. Launching new initiatives and reenergizing existing programs keeps us engaged and partnered with our community, encouraging growth and innovation.
The Ability Central Portal is a comprehensive digital resource created by and for people who are Deaf, disabled, and neurodiverse. Across thousands of pages, it offers easy-to-find information on smart devices (including phones and tablets), a searchable database of organizations offering disability services, relevant articles and news updates, and opportunities for community and collaboration.
As we launch the Portal to a public audience in 2022, we look forward to the impact it will have on Deaf, disabled, and neurodiverse communities.
International database displaying smartphone and tablet accessibility features.
Thousands of support services listings nationally.
Community features including blogs, research, forums, reviews, and more.
Our Cloud Consulting initiative builds technology solutions for nonprofits serving Deaf and disabled communities. We provide nonprofit-focused CRM installation and maintenance, and offer grants for organizations that need a simpler QuickStart CRM implementation.
Ability Central is a registered Salesforce partner.
Reach for the Cloud grants are available to eligible organizations.
Full CRM installation plus staff support for a year.
$10,000+ value per QuickStart.
During COVID-19, our cloud-based Salesforce solutions helped organizations ease the transition to remote work, and enabled our clients to maintain continuity in their offerings to constituents. The Salesforce platform provides the stability and flexibility our clients need to expand their reach and consistently deliver services. Since Ability Central began implementing fundraising solutions, almost $11 million in donations have been received by our clients.
Additionally, we have helped our clients increase their grant opportunities year over year allowing them to offer the programs, workshops, and service offerings their clients need. As our clients evolve and innovate their programs, our team of consultants continues to grow along with them. We are constantly exploring new ways to leverage technology to support their efforts.
Throughout 2021, our Cloud Consulting clients continued to reach new milestones in their fundraising, education, and outreach efforts. Collectively, our clients saw significant growth in 2021 despite the challenges of operating programs and services during a pandemic.
Number of contacts tracked through 2021
Donations tracked through 2021
Grant opportunities tracked through 2021
Value of grants tracked through 2021
Project: Parent Training and Information Center
Team of Advocates for Special Kids (https://taskca.org/), or TASK, specializes in special education support for people with disabilities from birth to age 26 and their families. TASK supports all disabilities, including mental illness, chronic health and medical conditions, and emotional challenges due to abuse or environmental trauma. TASK offers multiple workshops throughout Southern California to help navigate the challenges that children with disabilities face.
Ability Central implemented a solution for TASK leveraging the Nonprofit Success Pack provided by Salesforce.org, and augmenting those features with a custom Parent Training and Information (PTI) application developed on the Salesforce platform. The solution was configured to improve constituent engagement and communications, resource management, and development efforts, as well as improve reporting and provide metrics to ensure delivery of quality services.
“Ability Central showed the highest levels of expertise and were a pleasure to work with. We can safely say that this is the most thorough, well-considered and well-executed project of its kind that we have ever been part of. We highly recommend their work and their approach to Salesforce to any agency interested in improving their data management and work processes.”
Mario Haug, Executive Director, TASK
Project: Fundraising, Program & Volunteer Management
The Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area (https://www.dscba.org/) is passionate and dedicated to encouraging the unlimited potential in children and adults with Down syndrome throughout the San Francisco Bay Area since 1998. DSCBA’s mission is to empower, inspire, and support people with Down syndrome, their families and the community that serves them, while fostering awareness and acceptance in all areas of life.
Ability Central developed a custom solution for DSCBA on the Salesforce platform to support their primary operating units, including programs, services, and education, as well as volunteer management, fundraising, and grant-making efforts.
“We are fortunate knowing that we are well supported into the future with Ability Central and that we can work together to understand strategies we may want to implement with your team along the way.”
Nancy LaBelle, Executive Director, DSCBA
Our Philanthropy program awards grants totaling more than one million dollars each year for organizations working to expand communications and information access for Deaf and disabled communities. For more than a decade, we have been a convener and resource for the California disability community.
We value our grantees as partners and provide practical support in addition to our direct financial grants. We encourage our partners’ input through regular communication and grantee meetings in helping us achieve our mission.
Ability Central works to ensure that more people have the opportunity to exercise their right to communicate.
We award grants to nonprofit organizations in California that establish projects and programs designed to meet the communication needs of Californians with disabilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic created challenges and required necessary adaptation worldwide. Due to the effect of COVID-19 on many organizations and their projects, in 2021 we elected to award 2020 grantees continuation grants. These grantees were awarded the same amount as their original award to complete their projects. Our community impressed us as they not only adapted to a constantly shifting public health crisis, but expanded their projects and exceeded their initial goals.
Most grantees in 2020-21 adapted smoothly to shelter-in-place guidelines to serve their beneficiaries virtually. The increased access afforded by virtual programming and trainings helped grantees offer flexible, safe programs to those they serve. During this grant cycle, 93% of grantees exceeded their goals. The programs we funded served more than 56,000 people, nearly twice as many as the 30,000 people they originally planned to serve.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, Ability Central granted $1,864,300 to 15 organizations. The projects we funded directly served 56,139 people with disabilities, 5,823 professionals, and 14,476 family members.
Total grants amount awarded this cycle.
Average grant amount in 2020-21.
Percent of grantees that exceeded goals.
Percent increase of people with disabilities served from previous cycle.
People with disabilities served.
Disability professionals served.
Family members of people with disabilities served.
Project: Communication Disabilities Access Network
As part of our grant we were able to bring on two interns to assist with the development and implementation of our goals. William, one of these interns, is an augmentative and alternative communicator (AAC) who is currently not in school because of unresolved needs in his IEP. He has lived with the barriers to communication as an AAC user for all his education. He is now in his final year as a transition student. This is his story.
As part of his Individual Transition Plan, William expressed his desire to attend college and go on to advocate for himself and others with complex communication needs.
We approached William this past year with the request to fill one of our intern positions. The internship with us has provided him with an opportunity to learn to participate in a team, express his ideas and opinions, and present. William has now presented at multiple trainings and is an active group leader in the Communication Access Connect. His insight and contributions are highly valued. William is a model of how access to communication makes all the difference in how we view individuals with communication differences.
Like William, we hear from many self-advocates the desire to show people who they are and what they have to say about their right to communication and support for communication. Self-advocates like William and others are stepping forward and ready to tell the world who they are and what they expect.
Project: Cerebellar Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to Treat Post-Stroke Aphasia
A stroke survivor participating in the study reported very low confidence in his ability to communicate with unfamiliar people. He rarely participated in social events and group gatherings due to his aphasia. He slowly opened up more as the study progressed, and he was able to confide with the staff about personal matters by the end of the study. When he was contacted again for the three-month follow-up, he was able to actively participate in group conversations and even made jokes in social settings. The confidence boost in his ability to communicate decreased dependence on his wife (also his caregiver) and allowed him to feel more like his former self.
Project: Machine-Learning-Enhanced Video Accessibility for Visually Impaired and Blind Users
YouDescribe (a video sharing site with user-generated audio descriptions) has expanded online educational opportunities for distance learners during COVID. SoCal California Science Center used the YouDescribe application to create and augment their online science tours, Fun Lab TV, and online science camps in multiple languages. With a computer, a microphone, and the YouDescribe online tutorial they became familiar with the tool and created hundreds of hours of learning content with accessible audio descriptions in two languages (English and Spanish).
Project: Improving Outcomes for Children with Cortical Visual Impairment Who Rely on AAC
Aba came to The Bridge School when she was 3 years old. She could not use her natural speech as her primary means of communication, and she could not walk without an assistive device. We soon learned that she could not use her vision functionally and were told to treat her as if she were blind. After several years of intervention, Aba is now a conventional reader. She is currently making significant progress in high school and her use of vision continues to improve.
We’re on a mission to expand information and communications access for people who are Deaf, disabled, and neurodiverse. What does that mean? We want all people, regardless of disability, to have equitable access to all that life has to offer. Employment, income, support, entertainment, digital communication, and much more. Ability Central is working to empower disabled communities, but we can’t do this alone.
There are a few ways you can help us advance our mission. Your support allows us to create more programs, offer more funding, and provide more resources that support Deaf, disabled, and neurodiverse communities.
The important thing to remember is that any change, no matter what size, has an impact. We appreciate any way you choose to get involved!
Your fully tax-deductible gift allows us to continue the work we do, empowering those who are Deaf and disabled and the organizations that support them.
We are looking for content from diverse contributors to increase the impact of our collective resources, create educational opportunities, and spark community engagement.
Get the word out! Tell your friends, family, and professional network about Ability Central, and expand information and communications access for those who need it most.
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