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Ability Central Awards Grants to 17 Organizations Working with Deaf and Disabled Communities

Illustration of a diverse group of people with disabilities.

More than a million dollars awarded for communications access

Oakland, California – January 5, 2022 – Ability Central has awarded grants totaling nearly $1.2 million to 17 nonprofit organizations in California working to expand communications access for Deaf and disabled communities. The recipient organizations offer a wide range of support and services for these communities, including development of new assistive technologies, speech therapy for children in low-income areas, disabled leadership development initiatives, and more.

“People with communication disabilities have an urgent unmet need for support communicating and accessing information,” says Matt Cherry, director of philanthropy at Ability Central. “As the only foundation exclusively funding communications access for people with disabilities, Ability Central has a strong sense of the growing needs for this often-overlooked population. Entering the third year of COVID, we were blown away by the surge in grant applications, receiving fifty percent more applications than any year since we started in 2010. We are delighted to partner with these organizations as they empower people to access their fundamental right to communicate, while recognizing that much more needs to be done.”

To be eligible for a grant from Ability Central, an organization must operate within California, and work to expand communication access for those who are Deaf or disabled. Funded projects work on communication access either through direct services or with programs supporting technology or research for Deaf and disabled communities. Grants range from $10,000 to $100,000 with more than $1M awarded annually. Applications for the next round of grants open in the summer of 2022.

The following organizations received grant funding from Ability Central for 2022:

SFSU PI: Gloria Soto | $90,000
To systematically validate a tool to assess the expressive language skills of bilingual children with significant disabilities who use AAC

Center for Innovation and Resources | $75,000
To provide training to abuse victim service providers in CA on communication with people with disabilities

Autism Society Inland Empire | $30,000
To create communication passports for people with autism to be used with law enforcement and first responders

Benetech | $80,000
To publicly release Bookshare Reader Skill app on Alexa to provide another way for people with disabilities to read and connect with community

Disability Voices United | $75,000
Strategic Planning for DVU to become a model of leadership inclusion of people with communication disabilities and a resource to other organizations

SFSU PI: Ilmi Yoon | $90,000
To continue partnering with B/LV people in the design and development of YDX tools to enhance the existing YouDescribe platform

The Bridge School | $100,000
To impact educational/clinical practice on CVI and AAC use through research, training and capacity building

Cal Lutheran | $90,000
To create and implement a training program for Communication Partners (CPs) who work with non-speaking autistic students using text-based multi-modal AAC devices in educational settings

DREDF/Communication First | $75,000
Research to Quantify and Characterize People Who use AAC to communicate to better understand and meet their needs

IGNITE | $35,000
To sustain and expand in-house leadership workshops with stakeholders and external learning opportunities in the Eastern Sierra region of California

Kidpower | $65,000
To expand the Safety Powers Project for the Online Learning Center

Exceptional Parents Unlimited | $80,000
To expand group speech therapy services for underserved children in Fresno

UCLA | $100,000
This is a research and training development project which aims to study the prevalence of accessibility awareness and utilization on social media platforms

Leonardo, International Society for Arts, Science, and Technology | $70,000
To create a platform for artists with disabilities to engage and remake creative technologies through the lens of accessibility

Society for the Blind | $40,000
To cultivate more leaders who are blind to better serve the growing number of people seeking our services

Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area | $43,000
Address the gap in Mental Health services for people with I/DD

TASK | $28,491
Let’s Talk AAC will include four trainings for 175 professionals serving persons with communication needs

To learn more about Ability Central’s grantmaking in California, visit our philanthropy site.

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. Ability Central is committed to serving as an educator, convener, and resource working to expand communication and information access for individuals who are Deaf or disabled and their families and caregivers. Ability Central also offers technical support to other nonprofits working to help people who are Deaf or disabled, and provides online information and resources for people with questions about disabilities and communication access.

Contact: Grant Barringer, Communications Manager | (510) 302-1183