Declaration Implementation Grants (DIGS) – 2018

Declaration Implementation Grants (DIGS) Declaration Information

Technology is found everywhere in our world today and is used by billions of people worldwide for many different activities.  Yet, for many people with cognitive disabilities, there is still  limited access to these tools for everyday living.   To address this lack of universal access, The Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities facilitated a series of discussions with leaders from national disability organizations, self-advocates and family members, and experts across disciplines to draft,  ” The Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access”.

This document commonly referred to as the “Declaration,” is a statement of principles that clearly outlines a course of action to ensure the estimated 32 million Americans with cognitive disabilities are meaningfully included in our technology-driven society.   To date, over 1,900  individuals and organizations have endorsed the Declaration.  Colorado, Maine, California, and Pennsylvania have also enacted legislative initiatives supporting the principles summarized in the Declaration.

The purpose of the DIGS is to create widespread awareness of technology innovations and supports to expand and enhance opportunities for people with cognitive disabilities.  Through this awareness and promotion of the Declaration and DIGS projects we intend to continue to influence both state and federal policies and practices to allow for equitable access and community inclusion.

Below are the 2018-2019 DIGS recipients. Their proposals demonstrated creative and effective approaches to increase awareness and promote implementation of the principles outlined in the Declaration.

ABLE New Hampshire  

The Right to Communicate:  Proposal to Develop a National Resource Center on Augmented and Alternative Communication (AAC)

The right to communicate is both a basic human right and the means by which all other rights are realized. 

For many individuals with disabilities such as labels of cognitive disabilities including intellectual, developmental, autism, rett syndrome, apraxia, angelman syndrome, Lou Gehrig disease (ALS) and other disabilities that prevent individuals from being able to effectively express themselves, the right to communicate is denied. The complexities of this issue are wide ranging and include: 1) a lack of comprehensive supports, services, and technology; 2) the absence of well-organized self-advocates and family members to promote positive change in policy and practice; 3) personnel preparation programs for speech language pathologists, special educators, occupational therapists, and others that do not emphasize or prioritize AAC; 4) low expectations regarding the ability to communicate based on widespread assumptions of intellectual capacity implying that “not being able to speak means not being able to think;” and 5) for the previously stated reasons, advances in communication technology have not reached the individuals who might benefit the most.

Increased national attention and resources related to AAC will likely lead to improved education, employment, relationship, and civic outcomes for individuals with cognitive and other related disabilities who have traditionally been denied access to opportunities because of low expectations, the inability to communicate, and lack of access to technology supports. Therefore, a national Resource Center on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) led by self-advocates including individuals with labels of cognitive and related disabilities, families, professionals, and policy makers is needed to address the challenges that exist for individuals with complex communication disabilities, their families, and the professionals who are engaged in providing support.

Purpose statement excerpts from 2018 proposal.


The Arc of the Capital Area in Austin, TX The Arc of the Capital Area logo

Digital Media Arts Education Lab

The Arc of the Capital Area is committed to building a world in which people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have the same opportunities as people without disabilities to live, learn, work, and thrive in the community.

In our digitally connected society, creating a world that is fully accessible to people with I/DD requires us to create opportunities for inclusion in digital spaces as well as in physical spaces. Our Digital Media Arts Education Lab is increasing the amount of education and access Central Texans with I/DD have to information and communication technology. We are working toward this goal through several simultaneous avenues that include providing a variety of forms of digital education, multiple opportunities for access, and advocacy for support of digital inclusion through local advocacy. We are building on the ongoing success of the Digital Media Arts Education Lab by adding two new components. To address the urgent need of providing people with I/DD pre-vocational technology training, we are piloting a programmatic component that focuses on developing computer-based job-readiness skills. In an effort to help family and caregivers feel more confident about online safety measures, we are partnering with Facebook to offer classes on social media safety to our students with I/DD and their families.

Purpose statement excerpts from 2018 proposal.

Declaration Informational Kiosk

Arc of the Capital Declaration Information Station Arc of the Capital Declaration Information Station


Self-Advocates Design Products

Integrated Circles Presentation  


The Arc of Philadelphia  

Advancing and Promoting The Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and
Information Access

The Arc of Philadelphia is seeking the support of The Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities in the amount of $10,000 to continue building on the momentum of the passing of Resolution No. 170913, and to put the Declaration into practice in and around the Philadelphia area. Our goals are to continue raising awareness of the Declaration at the state and local levels, to educate more local business leaders on the importance of access to technology, to implement our own learning lab to offer more opportunities to our community, and to invest in our surrounding communities by offering a “mini grant” opportunity to a local school to fund the development of innovative uses of existing technology.

Purpose statement excerpts from 2018 proposal.

Disability Cocoon  

Tech Bridges:  Inclusive by Design

Disability Cocoon, LLC was founded in May of 2018 with a mission to create a disability technology catalyst platform that fosters increased utilization of various forms of technology to enable people with disabilities and their communities to experience the benefits technology can bring to their lives. Disability Cocoon also intends to:

• Create awareness of the various forms of technology solutions available to increase the independence of people with cognitive and other disabilities.
• Reduce barriers in discovering, implementing, and funding technology
resources/solutions that allow people with disabilities define and create their own independent, inclusive, and quality lives.
• Form a platform where companies creating, designing, and providing technology solutions can more easily inform the disability community about their innovative solutions and collect feedback on design improvement.
• Build a repository of resources to allow easy access to technology support solutions for various disciplines involved in disability services.
• Create a place where regulatory entities, State disability agencies, State Medicaid agencies, and other foundations can discover resources/models and contribute solutions related to funding and regulating innovative technology support solutions.
• Form a place of collaboration where stakeholders from various disciplines can share, create, learn, contribute, and foster inclusion for all in the technology revolution.
• Build a conduit between and upon already established national advocacy networks, provider associations, universities, and other professional networks to exchange best practices related to disability technology.
• Disability Cocoon wants to become the technology “web” that ties existing resources together in a collective platform with one goal – technology to increase independence and autonomy as defined by the person with a disability..

Purpose statement excerpts from 2018 proposal.