Ability Central logo

2023 Impact Report

Our Mission

To serve as a resource, convener, and educator working collaboratively to ensure that people who are Deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent can communicate and access information.

Our Vision

A world where all people have equitable access to communication, empowering them to realize their fundamental right and ability to receive information and express themselves.

Aerial view of Oakland, California viewed from a tall vantage point above a city park with a pagoda in the middle. A green-blue lake sits in the middle of the photo, with thin clouds in a bright blue sky.

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 team with decades of experience in grantmaking, tech consulting, and community building within disability and philanthropy spaces. Our staff works in person from our HQ in uptown Oakland and remotely from all over the United States.

Barry Saudan, President

Celia J. Solis, Chair

Sofia M Vergara Ed.D, Vice Chair

Sarah Slaughter, Treasurer

Jean Galiana

Dr. Philip Prinz

Michelle Yook

Andreas Forsland

Griffen Stapp

Linda Drattell

Tim Jin

Cheryl Mitchell

Our Leadership

Barry Saudan, Chief Executive Officer

Tammy Polanco, Director of Human Resources and Administration

Ann Truong, Director of Finance and Accounting

Matt Cherry, Director of Philanthropy

Jessie Galloway, Program Officer

Grant Barringer, Communications Manager

David Kehn, Director of Systems and Technology

Geoff Butterfield, Web Program Manager

Stephen Prestwood, Cloud Consulting Practice Manager

Mary Owen, Project Manager

We’re On a Mission to Expand Inclusion and Access for People with Communication Disabilities

A young Black boy wearing hearing aids and a yellow jacket tackles his mother and grandmother on the couch in their nicely decorated living room as they all laugh hysterically.

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

For 13 years, 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 on coordinated innovation projects to maximize the impact and diversity of our work.

Whether we are expanding the services we offer through the Ability Central 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.

There is much work to be done before we can achieve our mission: to create an accessible, inclusive world for all. Until then, we celebrate the accomplishments of our staff and community in 2023.

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.

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Ability Central Portal

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

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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.


Two high school boys sit in a crowded classroom, laughing as they work on an experiment using magnets and ribbons to hold a pile of paperclips in the air between them.

Embracing Collaboration in 2023

Ability Central’s 2023 Impact Report showcases the transformative growth we’ve achieved over many years of philanthropic work, and highlights the dedication of our community. After changes made during COVID, our grantmaking program saw a dramatic expansion (from thousands to tens of thousands) in people served in California and around the world, ensuring that more people with disabilities receive the support and resources they deserve.

These numbers tell a compelling story. We continue to incorporate disability rights tenets and seek projects that are advised by the voices and experiences of those most impacted. From accessibility projects to leadership training, we have diversified our approach to address the multifaceted needs of the disability community, increasing our reach and impact.

The growth isn’t just numerical; it’s deeply rooted in community engagement. The collaborative spirit of our grantees has fostered a sense of belonging and empowerment. Our initiatives and gatherings have become catalysts for building supportive communities that extend beyond the duration of specific projects. For our 2023 projects, 100% of our grantees report collaboration with other organizations and the continuation of their projects into the coming years.

Together with our grantees, we are committed to creating lasting change in the disability community.

As her time with Ability Central comes to an end, Program Officer Jessie Galloway reflects on the growth and sustainability she was instrumental in developing:

“As I bid farewell to this incredible community after seven grant cycles, I am confident that the momentum we’ve built together will continue to blaze forward. The projects we have supported have not only improved lives but have also sparked a movement towards a more inclusive and accessible future.”
headshot of Jessie Galloway, a white woman with tousled red hair that shines in the sun as she looks into the camera smiling with bright blue eyes.
Jessie Galloway
Ability Central Program Officer

2023 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 9 rapid response mini-grants

Grantee Highlights

Noah Homes

Project: Noah Homes Training Institute for Excellence

A group of residents with disabilities pose for a photo at the Noah Homes Training Institute for Excellence, held in a conference room with black circular tables, green walls, and an American flag in one corner.
A group of residents with disabilities at the Noah Homes Training Institute for Excellence.

The Noah Homes Training Institute for Excellence improves the quality of life for those with intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) by ensuring that care providers and vendors have enhanced communication, a stronger knowledge base of diseases and conditions, increased empathy, and more.

Finding and retaining qualified care providers for the special needs population is at a crisis level. The national intellectual and developmental disability (I/DD) community has an annual care provider turnover rate of 90%. Providing high-quality training programs reduces staff turnover and ensures that each individual receives the highest quality care.

Ability Central’s grant helped fund the Noah Homes Housing Summit, a two-day opportunity for nonprofit organizations to gather and discuss current challenges for adults with I/DD trying to find secure housing in San Diego, CA. This unique opportunity provided over 100 participants with a chance to discuss these challenges and to create new solutions for adults with I/DD moving forward. Participants also created a Disability Network which will continue in years to come, seeking solutions for better and more affordable housing options.

“This event has raised my awareness about the lack of housing across San Diego County for adults with disabilities. I now plan on reaching out to my local Supervisor to address this issue.”
Training Institute participant

Due to limited options, people often end up in a nursing home without adequately trained staff. By collaborating with other agencies to provide training and by making the Noah Homes Program design available, many more individuals with I/DD will have access to an appropriate level of care and be supported by highly trained professionals.

“This Summit allowed me the opportunity as a services provider to work directly with my San Diego colleagues to build solutions for the housing shortage. It raised my awareness regarding the housing shortage for those with intellectual disabilities in San Diego.”
Training Institute participant

Painted Brain

Project: Disability Cultural Competency Development Project

Participants in Painted Brain’s Disability Cultural Competency Development Project pair off for an exercise as they stand between long, brown tables in a brightly lit conference room.
Participants in Painted Brain’s Disability Cultural Competency Development Project pair off for an exercise.

Founded in 2005, the community-based project Painted Brain offers a variety of programs supporting the mental health of people in Los Angeles, Riverside, Santa Barbara, and Tri-City counties. Their peer-led and peer-driven service model incorporates program leadership, development, and feedback from people who self-identify as living with direct or indirect experiences of mental illness.

“Our project had a profound impact on the community we serve, particularly in enhancing understanding and support for individuals with disabilities… Using the funding from the grant, we were able to provide this essential training for free. Additionally, thanks to the grant, we have the opportunity to expand our reach even further by transforming this training into a paid program, ensuring sustainability and enabling us to spread awareness and foster inclusivity on a broader scale.”
Rayshell Chambers
Co-Executive Director/COO at Painted Brain

Through funding from Ability Central, Painted Brain’s Disability Cultural Competency Development Project trains mental health providers on culturally appropriate best practices when working with the disability community. By increasing the capacity of mental health service providers, Painted Brain increases the number of people with disabilities served in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, and Alameda counties.

The Train the Trainer program connects trainees with instructors who are disabled, as well as different assistive technologies and environments. The hybrid in-person and virtual program features thorough explanations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act in an inclusive environment. Development and facilitation of the program includes participation and input from hearing impaired, visually impaired, mobility impaired, neurodiverse, undisclosed, and intersectional peers in California’s disabled community.

“The trainers were wonderful and I loved being able to share stories of lived experience with one another. The space felt safe, judgment-free, and the energy of the room was great. Thank you all for helping me learn!”
Train the Trainers participant

Society for the Blind

Project: Braille Transcription and Production Training Project

A Black woman wearing a black tee shirt and smart watch and an Asian woman in a grey cardigan take a break from creating Braille materials at a long brown table to smile for the camera.
Jessica and Michelle, participants in the Braille Transcription and Production Training Project.

Braille remains a critical resource today, despite all the advances in assistive technology. It is a vital means of communication, literacy, and education for people with vision loss. Braille is the primary way that children who are blind learn how to spell, construct sentences, and comprehend language. Braille makes it possible for people who are blind to live independently as they can label clothes, appliances, food packages, and more.

The two biggest challenges to bringing braille to classrooms, workplaces, and the public are a lack of braille production centers and a shortage of certified braille transcribers. The Braille Transcription and Production (BTP) Training Project addresses both issues through the acquisition of a large-scale braille production center in Sacramento and a 2-year certification program for new braille transcribers.

“Acquiring the braille program kept a vital resource for accessible materials in our community. The funding from Ability Central enabled us to purchase upgraded equipment and create a training curriculum for people who want to be braille transcribers. It was a transformational grant that enabled us to quickly get our program up and running and secure ongoing projects that will make the program sustainable.”
Shari Roeseler
Executive Director, Society for the Blind

Society for the Blind produces lesson plans for their braille classes, newsletters for the CA State Braille and Talking Book Library, playbills for Broadway Sacramento, disaster preparedness manuals in English and Spanish for the California Office of Emergency Services, braille resources for Disability Rights California (DRC), informational flyers for Sacramento Municipal Utility District, and other materials and resources in braille.

“Children need to learn braille early. Braille literacy teaches children how to compose sentences, read and comprehend, and communicate effectively. We are thrilled to know that our community partner, Society for the Blind, will be providing essential braille learning materials, because literacy is the key to improving academic outcomes and pointing these children towards college and careers.”
Dr. Nandini Gandhi
Chair of Pediatric Ophthalmology at the UC Davis Eye Center

Access Improvement Grantee Highlight

Three high school students sit at a wide tan table in a brightly-lit classroom, smiling while they work together on a hands-on science experiment involving magnets, paper clips, and brightly colored ribbons.
Ygnacio Valley High School students participate in the Science is Elementary pilot program.

Rapid Response Access Improvement Grants: Unlocking High School Special Education with Science is Elementary

In 2023, Ability Central partnered with California-based nonprofit Science is Elementary, an organization dedicated to improving science education in K12 schools. With funding from a 2023 rapid response Access Improvement grant, Science is Elementary created a pilot program for more than 80 students with disabilities working toward their science graduation requirements at Ygnacio Valley High School.  

YVHS, located in Contra Costa County, California, boasts an 86.8% graduation rate for their 1,100+ students, including a 72.7% graduation rate for students enrolled in special education programs. Science is Elementary sought to improve graduation rates for students with disabilities through hands-on science experiments, “Science is for Me” education kits, and classroom experiences tailored to meet students’ learning styles and abilities.  

“One of the most rewarding aspects of this program has been witnessing its effectiveness in teaching science concepts to our special education students. The hands-on approach truly resonated with them, leading to remarkable progress and enthusiasm for learning. What’s even more remarkable is that the engaging nature of the program has attracted interest from many [neurotypical] students who were eager to join in. It’s been a testament to the program’s ability to make science accessible and enjoyable for all learners.”
Clifford Simmons
YVHS pilot program teacher

Ability Central’s Access Improvement grants offer short-term funding ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 with a turnaround of one month or less from application submission. With Science is Elementary’s grant from Ability Central, the pilot program was a massive success.  

  • 98% of participating teachers said the Science is Elementary kits helped them teach science more effectively.  
  • A further 81.4% of teachers noted that students were so engaged with the Science is Elementary program that they continued having science conversations outside of lessons.  

Based on the successes at Ygnacio Valley High School, Ability Central created a case study with statistics from the Science is Elementary pilot program.

Click here to read the full case study.  

Learn more about Ability Central’s grantmaking.

The Ability Central Portal

An elderly white woman with short, thin white hair and a red tee shirt sits in a red patterned armchair at home, reading articles on her laptop with white earbuds in.

Celebrating a Year of Growth and Opportunity

In 2022, Ability Central unveiled a new online offering: the Ability Central Portal, a collection of resources where people with disabilities, their loved ones, and anyone interested in learning more about communication disabilities can find critical information.  

Now, in the first full calendar year of its release, the Ability Central Portal saw tremendous engagement. Throughout 2023, the Ability Central team provided information and support for communication disabilities to just under 90,000 people.  

The Ability Central Portal is a collection of unique databases and custom-built resources designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities and anyone interested in learning more about a communication disability:  

  • The Device Finder provides comprehensive accessibility information for every smartphone and tablet currently on the market. 
  • The Service Locator supplies detailed information and links to local support services anywhere in the United States, from community organizations to care facilities. 
  • The Event Database lists in-person and virtual events created by and for the disability community. 
  • The Article Library offers a regularly updated hub for informational articles, news stories, case studies, and more covering a variety of disability categories, technological innovation, and cultural insights for communication disabilities. 

Visitors from 155 countries sought critical information by turning to the Portal, which was designed not only to serve the needs of people with disabilities, but a wide range of demographics including caregivers, families, medical professionals, journalists, and people in nonprofit support fields. Collectively, the resources in the Portal bridged the gap between information about communication disabilities and the people who need this information the most.  

“Ability Central believes that accessibility isn’t a privilege, it’s a fundamental right. The Portal empowers people with communication disabilities to navigate a world that too often overlooks their needs. By providing a platform where resources, support, and community converge, we not only amplify the voices of marginalized groups, but we also foster a culture of understanding and empathy for all.”
Headshot of Matt Cherry, a white man with a grey goatee looking off into the distance with a slight smile.
Matt Cherry
Director of Philanthropy, Ability Central

In our role as an educator, convener, and resource for people with disabilities, Ability Central continues to expand the Portal to help all individuals realize their right to receive information and express themselves. 2023 proved to be an exciting time of growth for the Portal, and 2024 is poised to be the same. 

2023 by the numbers


Visitors to the Portal


Countries represented in visitors


Impressions of the Ability Central brand across the web


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 30+ disability categories

Visit the Ability Central Portal today!


A young white man with cerebral palsy sites in a wheelchair in his workshop. He has brown hair and wears glasses, a white sweater, and a blue handkerchief around his neck.

An Accessible Education Solution

The success of the Portal inspired us to pursue creating more in-depth, focused information about accessibility and disabilities. LearnAbility is the result of another effort to make the world a place where everyone can communicate and access information and care.

What is LearnAbility?

LearnAbility offers online education that empowers you to create accessible, inclusive environments for your foundation, practice, or organization. Developed for professionals in a variety of industries, it’s an invaluable addition to your professional development toolbox.

What can I expect from LearnAbility?

Over the next year, we’ll be developing disability and accessibility trainings and courses, connecting nonprofit organizations developing this material with healthcare professionals.

In the meantime, we’re adding resources and articles for nonprofit and philanthropy professionals, helping them to create accessible and inclusive environments for people with disabilities in their programs and processes.

Learn more about LearnAbility.

Cloud Consulting

A Black man with a visual disability in a blue patterned button-down shirt works on his desktop computer in a busy office with a serious expression.

Success in California and Beyond

In 2023, Cloud Consulting continued to expand our capacity to deliver and support top-tier fundraising, program management, and service delivery solutions for our nonprofit clients. We more than doubled the number of clients we support, expanded our fee-based services to include Salesforce implementations, and expanded our customer support plan offerings for our clients that require additional services, higher levels of support, and increased flexibility.

In the past year, we’ve experienced exciting growth outside of California by contracting with three new organizations serving constituents in the Northeast, including nonprofits located in New York City, Philadelphia, and Hartford. Each of these organizations provides invaluable programs and services for disability communities in their respective regions.

Cloud Consulting continues to add to our project pipeline through word-of-mouth recommendations, which clearly demonstrates the quality of our work and the demand for our services. As the costs for market-rate Salesforce consulting services remain outside the reach of most community-based organizations, we at Ability Central feel fortunate that we can offer our clients affordable solutions. For small nonprofits, we are often able to subsidize the work that we perform through a combination of grants, below-market-rate fees, and, in special cases, pro bono work. We are committed to helping our clients realize their vision however we can.

2023 by the numbers


Contacts tracked


Donations tracked


Value of grant opportunities tracked


Support cases resolved


Hours spent delivering custom solutions


Market value of Salesforce solutions delivered


Service delivery hours

Client Spotlight


Project: Salesforce Org Health Check & Customer Success Support

A Black mother and son are outside in the sunshine. The mother crouches to hug her son, their faces touching as they look at the camera, smiling.

INCLUDEnyc is a New York-based nonprofit serving children and youth with disabilities and their families. Through workshops, community support, and one-on-one direct assistance on their helpline, INCLUDEnyc empowers families of children and youth with disabilities with the knowledge, confidence, and skills to make informed decisions, effectively access and navigate systems and services, and advocate for themselves and other young people with disabilities and their families.

INCLUDEnyc supports educators, youth workers, and other professionals to partner with families for successful, person-centered services, and to support and promote a family voice in the policy process. The team at INCLUDEnyc envisions a world where there is love, equity, and access for all young people with disabilities.

“For quite some time we had been searching for and at last found a partner that understands the challenges we face in managing a robust data system. Ability Central has helped us identify and begin to address critical updates to our data management system. Their technical expertise is absolutely essential for a small nonprofit like us.”
Robert Carabay
Manager, Data and Information Systems

Project Overview

Salesforce Org Health Check

Ability Central performed a health check of INCLUDEnyc’s Salesforce org, which has been maintained for well over a decade by numerous administrators and consultants.

We performed tests, gathered metrics, and analyzed reports to help INCLUDEnyc assess the overall health and stability of their Salesforce org. We also helped develop a list of prioritized actions to bring the org into compliance with current standards, update settings and basic configuration, restore data integrity, and make the best use of available features.

Additionally, we aligned our recommended actions with existing user requests for enhancements to make sure INCLUDEnyc could see meaningful improvements right away.

Silver Tier Customer Success Support

Ability Central continues to support INCLUDEnyc through our Silver Tier level Customer Success Support plan, which entitles INCLUDEnyc to over 100 hours of annual support. This includes maintenance, administration, and enhancements to their Salesforce org.

The flexibility and features of the support plan allow us to respond to immediate needs as well as partner with INCLUDEnyc to make incremental and sustainable improvements to their Salesforce solution.

Learn more about Ability Central’s Cloud Consulting program.

How We’re Raising Awareness

A smiling young Black woman with long braids and bright pink lipstick raises her hand to ask a question in the middle of a conference audience.

Getting the Word Out

In 2023, we continued to create 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, offered trainings to HR professionals, and more.

Check out some highlights from a year of creating awareness! 


RightsCon | Stop Scrolling: Start Making Social Media Accessible for All!

MozFest | Inclusion Drives Innovation – The Value of “By and For” Product Design

Exponent Annual Conference | Lunch Plenary Session  


Webinars and Trainings 

PEAK Grantmaking NorCal | Disability Inclusion for Grantmakers: How to Make Your Processes More Accessible

Empower HR | The Big IDEA: Boost Retention by Adding Accessibility to DEI Initiatives 

How You Can Get Involved

A diverse group of wheelchair users wearing white baseball caps gather for an outdoor charity event. Most are older adults, and there is a young boy in the foreground seated in his wheelchair with a determined expression.

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, disabled, and neurodivergent and the organizations that support them.


We’re always on the lookout for recommendations from our community on articles, services, events, and more. Have something you want to see on the Portal? Let us know!


Get the word out! Tell your friends, family, and professional network about Ability Central, and expand information and communication access for those who need it most.

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