Ability Central logo

2022 Impact Report

Our Mission

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.

Our Vision

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.

Who We Are

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 the only foundation working exclusively on improving communication and information access for individuals who are Deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent and their communities of support.

We’re a small (and growing!) team with decades of experience in grantmaking, tech consulting, and community building within the disability and philanthropy space. Our staff works in person from our HQ in uptown Oakland and remotely from all over the United States.

An aerial view of the city of Oakland as the sun sets.

Barry Saudan, President

Jesus M. Gonzalez, Chair

Celia C.J. Solis, Vice Chair

Sarah Slaughter, Treasurer

Jean Galiana

Dr. Philip Prinz

Michelle Yook

Andreas Forsland

Griffen Stapp

Sofia M Vergara Ed.D

Linda Drattell

Tim Jin

Cheryl Mitchell

Our Leadership

Barry Saudan, Chief Executive Officer

Matt Cherry, Director of Philanthropy

David Kehn, Director of Systems and Technology

Jessie Galloway, Program Officer

Geoff Butterfield, Web Program Manager

Grant Barringer, Communications Manager

Stephen Prestwood, Cloud Consulting Practice Manager

We’re Working to Create a More Equitable Future

Across three multi-faceted programs, we award funds to organizations that serve and support people with disabilities, provide digital disability education and information tools, and offer CRM implementation and maintenance services to organizations that serve the disability community.

For more than a decade, Ability Central has been funding communication access projects supporting Deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent communities and their families and caregivers. Supporting primarily organizations in the state of California, we focus our efforts in a variety of fields to maximize the impact and diversity of our work.

Whether we are expanding the services we offer through our Web Portal by leveraging partnerships with our community allies, convening disability leaders locally and nationally to identify future funding priorities, or working to build business tools that create inclusion for disabled nonprofit staff, we are committed to our mission.

We have our work cut out for us; there’s a long way to go to create an accessible, inclusive world for all. Until then, we celebrate the accomplishments of our staff, partners, and grantees in 2022.

Our Programs

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Since 2010, our Philanthropy program has been awarding funding to community-based nonprofit or educational organizations in California that establish projects and programs designed to benefit the communication needs of Californians of all ages with disabilities.

icon of a website homepage


Our Portal project is a comprehensive digital resource that offers disability information across a variety of functions, including mobile device accessibility data, disability service organizations, and events for the disability community.

icon of a cloud with arrows signifying upload/download

Cloud Consulting

Our Cloud Consulting program helps nonprofits identify, implement, and learn to use cloud-based CRM solutions (like Salesforce) to achieve their missions more effectively and efficiently.

2022 Impact: Philanthropy

Latin mother drinking coffee in the kitchen with her disabled son.

Above and Beyond in 2022

Throughout 2022, our Grantmaking program adapted to the needs of our community, with funding allocated to an exciting variety of fields, including machine learning, education, mental health, and more. The stage is set for the organizations we fund to continue making an impact into 2023 and beyond. Ability Central’s program officer Jessie Galloway shares her perspective:

Jessie Galloway

As the program officer at Ability Central, I am thrilled to share the incredible impact of our 2022 grantee partners. They dedicated themselves to improving access and services for people with disabilities in California and beyond, and their commitment is bringing remarkable work to fruition. As in 2021, the grantees exceeded their goals, serving thousands more people than anticipated.

In 2022, our grantees produced:

  • Ground-breaking data
  • Life-changing research and innovation
  • Significant strides in healthcare and education
  • Enhancement of the disability rights movement
  • Delivery of multi-modal communication partner trainings
  • Creation of well-paid career and leadership opportunities for those with communication disabilities

Thanks to their efforts, more people with disabilities have been able to access vital services and resources that were previously out of reach. Judy Heumann’s wise words remind us that change takes persistence and partnership:

It happens over years of people joining together, strategizing, sharing, and pulling all the levers they possibly can.
Judy Heumann
1947 – 2023

Rest in power, Judy!

Our grantee partners demonstrate that they have what it takes to make lasting impact. I am incredibly proud of their accomplishments and look forward to their future work. Thank you, grantees, for your incredible work and partnership. Ability Central is proud to be a partner with these organizations that work tirelessly to create necessary change. 

By the Numbers


People with disabilities served by funded projects


Professionals served


Family members served


Awarded to fund project grants


Organizations received funding


Allocated to 7 rapid response mini-grants

Grantee Spotlight

We count the things we care about in society.
We must begin to count people who cannot rely on speech alone to be heard and understood.
AAC Counts logo

In 2022, Ability Central funded a joint research project that has the potential to impact more than 5 million people.

People in the United States who cannot rely alone on speech to be heard and understood are not counted in any systematic manner by federal or state governments. Failing to accurately track our characteristics, access to services and supports, and unmet needs makes it impossible for policymakers and advocates to appreciate and address the challenges, barriers, and intersectional discrimination we grapple with each day.

Project Goals

  • Research and catalogue known prevalence and demographic data on Californians and others in the United States with significant speech-related disabilities who require AAC
  • Analyze how existing data can be used and improved to better understand and meet their needs
  • Produce a high-level demographic profile of this cohort
  • Produce recommendations and options for improving the quality of such data so that it can help inform and enhance policies and programs affecting people who need AAC and their families.
Hopefully, this report will highlight our diversity and begin to change how we are represented. Accurate information will allow decision-makers to create better policies, fund innovative projects, and truly understand the people in my community.
Melissa Crisp-Cooper
Independent health policy consultant, AAC Counts Thought Leader Panel

The information gathered over the course of this project is organized into two reports and a set of policy recommendations.

This first report, The Urgent Need for Better Data, examines current federal and state-level data collection on people who need augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

The second, What Existing Data Can and Cannot Tell Us, assesses how the questions identified by the AAC Counts project as vital for effective policymaking are, or are not, answered by existing research. Taken together, these reports reveal both data inequities as well as inequity in the everyday experience of people who need AAC and provide paths forward for addressing these issues.

The absence of data on marginalized populations and groups erases opportunities to address the injustices they face. This important project not only focuses on closing data gaps for people who use AAC, but doing so in ways that gives power back to this community.
Bonnie Swenor, Ph.D., MPH
Johns Hopkins University, AAC Counts Thought Leader Panel

More Highlights from Our Grantees

Autism Society Inland Empire logo
Project: Developing Emergency Communication Passports

The mission of the Autism Society Inland Empire is to improve the lives of ALL affected by autism in the Inland Empire. They provide critical programs and services for children and adults with autism and their family members across the lifespan in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. As many as 30 percent of Autistic children/adults have nonspeaking Autism (nonverbal autism) or are minimally verbal.  Imagine being lost or in a disaster and not being able to communicate with a First Responder. Surprisingly, there was no standard AAC/visual support resources for health, medical, and emergency situations in the community.

In an emergency, people, all people, are frightened and they need to communicate their fears and their needs in that moment as clearly as possible. Communication brings people and communities together.
Syndney Edmond
AAC User

In partnership with Ability Central, Autism Society Inland Empire developed a workgroup of AAC users, family members, professionals, and First Responders to create a printed resource that can be included in a Sensory Toolkit for First Responders and coupled that with hands-on trainings to communicate and de-escalate situations with individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities without using force.

An Asian man presents a low-tech communication device at an event

276 First Responders attended the trainings. 490 families were served, and over 1500 people with disabilities benefitted from these trainings. The success of the trainings created a high demand, and the Autism Society Inland Empire plans to expand the trainings locally and nationally.

The PECS boards are extremely valuable tools and resources for Mass Care and Sheltering efforts. The PECS boards will be utilized to facilitate communication for individuals with Access and Functional Needs (AFN) who are impacted by disasters and evacuations. We will also distribute them to our field staff for their field bags and put them in our trailers statewide that hold emergency supplies used in evacuations and sheltering.
Tamica Foots-Rachal
Program Manager I, Disaster Services Branch, Southern Region (Region I)
a communication toolkit
In partnership with Ability Central, the Autism Society Inland Empire has developed a new Emergency Communication Board. This AAC Communication is a visual tool with pictures, letters, numbers, and the words yes and no that is being distributed to First Responders and families in the Inland Empire. Download for free here.   
DSCBA logo
Project: Mental Health & Wellness Alliance

One-third of all persons with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DDs) have a psychiatric disorder, affecting their daily functioning (National Association of Developmental Disabilities (NADD) 2018). The COVID-19 pandemic has added stressors for people with I/DDs due to further isolation and lack of routine.

Lack of training in alternative communication tools and working with people with I/DDs creates a gap in access to traditional talk therapy and can lead to mental health crises.

The Down Syndrome Connection of the Bay Area (DSCBA) seeks to address the gap in mental health services for people with Down syndrome and other I/DDs and their families through a new program, the Mental Health and Wellness Alliance (MHWA). The MHWA is a collaborative approach between agencies that serve those with I/DDs and the mental health community. It offers access to training, tools, materials, communication systems, and ongoing support. As a result, people with Down syndrome and other I/DD will be able to access and navigate high-quality mental health services. They will also be in a better position to communicate their needs to mental health providers. The MHWA consists of several integrated components:

  1. Training to mental health clinicians regarding the unique needs of individuals with Down syndrome and other I/DDs and their families (developed by DSCBA and already in use)
  2. Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) support and access to training and materials for therapists working with individuals with complex communication needs
  3. Referral to licensed family and individual therapy for people with Down syndrome and/or their caregivers and families
  4. Expert-led workshops and classes for families of a child or adult with I/DD on self-care, wellness, and navigating mental healthcare options

DSCBA has solicited input on the development of this program from youth and adults with Down syndrome. Many shared about their struggles with loneliness and difficulty adapting to changes brought on by the pandemic as well as their own transitions into adulthood, which were leading to anxiety, depression, and other issues.

Therapy helped someone like me, with an extra chromosome – people with Down Syndrome aren’t always happy, and that’s a myth. Therapy is a lifesaver, and everyone should have it, it helped my life to come back.
Client testimonial

More people with Down syndrome received therapy than projected. DSCBA succeeded in providing communication-supported therapy for 36 individuals with Down syndrome and 20 family members. They trained 15 mental health clinicians in working with people with Down syndrome and other I/DDs and who have varying communication needs by developing systems and protocols, creating or adapting communication and storyboards, therapy modalities, and outcomes measurement tools. DSCBA’s primary partner in this project was Grateful Heart Holistic Therapy Center. They will expand the program in 2023 with continued funding from Ability Central.

moodboard showing a range of emotions
Example of a mooodboard resource.

DSCBA has developed an online resource filled will samples of low-tech boards, visual supports, and social stories to complement therapy sessions. Customized boards are available by contacting Marianne@dscba.org

This training covers the unique needs of individuals with Down syndrome and other I/DDs and their families as it pertains to communication in psychotherapy sessions. Various visual supports and augmentative alternative communication (AAC) systems will be introduced along with strategies for implementation.

Access Improvement Grantee Highlight

Conference logo graphic reading "Breaking Through Barriers - Advancing Self-Determination"

In 2022, Ability Central offered rapid response Access Improvement Grants. These mini-grants provide short-term funding ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 that aims to help smaller nonprofits increase the participation of people with disabilities in their events and programs.

With an Access Improvement Grant, Disability Voices United was able to ensure accessibility at their conference, Breaking Through Barriers: Advancing Self-Determination – A Statewide Virtual Conference, that included people with communication disabilities from diverse communities, not only as attendees, but as speakers and experts on their lived experience, the systems that serve them, and the solutions to barriers that those systems frequently present.

A total of 829 people registered for the conference. All sessions holistically incorporated the needs of people with communication disabilities. Ability Central’s funding ensured the participation of Deaf and hard-of-hearing self-advocates who needed ASL interpretation.

Learn more about Ability Central’s grantmaking.

2022 Impact: Portal

Happy Black senior couple researching information on a mobile device

The Ability Central Portal is Making a Mark

2022 was an exciting year for the Portal program. After years of tireless work, multiple iterations, and a beta testing period, we were proud to launch the Ability Central Portal to the public. Offering a suite of ultra-accessible features, the Portal is a first-of-its-kind web experience. With disability and accessibility information on mobile devices, a nationwide database of organizations offering services to people who are Deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent, an event calendar, and a comprehensive digital library with articles, fact sheets, and more, the Portal is poised to make a substantial impact for our disability community.

We are excited about the upgrades we’re already making to the Portal in 2023. Our vision for this website is huge, and we look forward to sharing the Portal with more of our stakeholders, community members, and the general public in the coming year.

By the Numbers


Devices with comprehensive accessibility information


Organizations nationwide offering services to people with disabilities


Online and in-person events by and for the disability community


Articles and resources across 13 disability categories

Visit the Ability Central Portal today!

2022 Impact: Cloud Consulting

A blind Asian woman works at a computer, with her two female Asian colleagues smiling behind her

Designing, Building, and Delivering

In 2022, our Cloud Consulting program experienced tremendous growth in capacity to deliver custom solutions through the Reach for the Cloud grant program. We awarded grants totaling more than $100,000 for in-kind Salesforce consulting services.

Some highlights from 2022:

  • Our total client base increased by 100 percent
  • The number of clients we supported with remote Salesforce administration and managed services increased by two-thirds (67%)
  • The total amount of new grants received by clients of Ability Central in 2022 was more than $1 million

As our clients evolve and innovate their programs serving Deaf and disabled communities, our team of consultants continues to grow along with them. We are always discovering new ways to leverage technology to support their efforts. The Salesforce platform provides the stability and flexibility our clients need to expand their reach and consistently deliver services that impact communities of people with disabilities.

Since Ability Central began implementing fundraising solutions, almost $12 million in donations have been received by our clients, more than $500,000 in donations in 2022 alone.

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.

By the Numbers


Hours spent delivering custom solutions


Market value of Salesforce solutions delivered


Support cases resolved


Contacts tracked


Donations tracked


Grant opportunities tracked


Value of grants tracked

Client Spotlight

CCBVI Logo, showing a gray and blue lighthouse

Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CCBVI)

Project: Project: Salesforce Restart and Roadmap
A blind Asian-American woman sits at a desk and interacts with Salesforce on her computer

The Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CCBVI) provides people who are blind or visually impaired the ability to re-establish purpose and self-esteem in their lives and in society, while leading independent lives. CCBVI accomplishes this by administering workshops for young adults who are graduating and advancing, summer camps for kids, and free-of-charge classes for individuals pursuing educational or vocational goals.

They also provide programs that offer assistive devices that allow older individuals who are visually impaired to maintain their independence, empowerment, and full inclusion.

CCBVI had an existing Salesforce implementation that was not being leveraged to help CCBVI meet their goals. CCBVI reached out to Ability Central, and proposed the following:

A Salesforce Restart 

  • Ability Central helped CCBVI refine aspects of their initial Salesforce implementation and extended the solution to integrate with CCBVI’s email marketing tool. New reports and dashboards were also created to deliver key data and metrics to staff and executive management. Training was provided for Salesforce fundamentals as well as for all new features and other selected topics of interest.

A Salesforce Roadmap 

  • Ability Central developed a Salesforce Roadmap to help CCBVI align the organization’s strategic initiatives with the capabilities of the Salesforce platform. The roadmap creates a clear path forward for CCBVI as they seek to maximize the return on their investment in the platform and extend the data and business processes managed through Salesforce.

Ability Central showed CCBVI how to streamline CCBVI’s capabilities in marketing and resource development while reducing costs associated with staff members having to perform repetitive manual data entry tasks. Their centralized Salesforce environment was then able to provide them with a clearer and more accurate picture of their data allowing them to maximize their fundraising efforts, broaden their donor base, and execute marketing strategies that will increase awareness of the agency’s mission.

The Salesforce Roadmap and Mailchimp integration will help CCBVI increase fundraising, track and analyze data, and most importantly, grow the important work CCBVI does. CCBVI is grateful to the Ability Central Cloud Consulting Service and Support team members for their time, expertise, flexibility, patience, and dedication to ensuring project success.”
Social Media Announcement
Words cannot begin to convey CCBVI’s appreciation to each of you, the amazingly awesome Ability Central Cloud Consulting team, for your time and dedication to helping CCBVI improve its organizational capacity. The board, staff, and clients are grateful for your commitment to making our lives easier. We look forward to achieving the agency’s mission much more efficiently. THANK YOU!
Joni D. Bauer, M.A., M.P.A., COMS
Orientation and Mobility Specialist
Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Learn more about Ability Central’s Cloud Consulting program.

Raising Awareness


Getting the Word Out

In 2022, we took on the mission of creating awareness and visibility of communication access issues, highlighting the exclusion of people with disabilities and the opportunities that the shift to inclusion brings. Over the course of the year, we presented at international conferences, penned an op-ed, and created a short film for a funder’s film festival.

Check out some of our highlights from a year of creating awareness! 

We presented at conferences in a variety of industries, from human rights to technology, all over the world. 



Digital Strategy Summit

Nonprofit Technology Conference 

We hosted or co-hosted webinars for membership groups and internal teams. 

PEAK Grantmaking NorCal

Northern California Grantmakers 

Exponent Philanthropy Annual Conference

Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau 

We launched a disability info campaigns on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, bringing awareness of signs, symptoms, diagnoses, and support options for many disabilities. 

We penned an op-ed.

It’s Time for Philanthropy to Include People with Disabilities

And, we created a short film for the Outsize Impact Film Festival at Exponent Philanthropy’s Annual Conference.

Watch the film below!

Get Involved

Young white man with Down syndrome and Black man wrap their arms around each other's shoulder

Help us increase impact!

We’re on a mission to expand information and communications access for people who are Deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent. 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 create a more inclusive and equitable future for all.


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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