The Arc of South Florida Teaming Up with Comcast to Expand Tech Training and Advocacy for People with Disabilities

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Local Partnership is Part of National Expansion Providing Grants to The Arc Coaching Centers

Comcast announced today that it is partnering with The Arc of South Florida to foster digital and advocacy skills in people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families. The local partnership is a part of the newly expanded national partnership between Comcast and The Arc of the United States.

As a part of the national expansion, Comcast is providing two new grants which will allow The Arc to establish more Tech Coaching Centers at chapters across the country and offer The Arc@School special education advocacy curriculum to Spanish-speaking families. These programs have already helped more than 3,500 people with IDD develop more independence, equity, and opportunities for their future.

The first grant will support The Arc’s Tech Coaching Centers at 10 locations across the country, including the one at The Arc of South Florida. It will also expand the training model to include caregivers and family members of people with IDD to ensure they can support in the implementation of technology across all environments, including assistive technology.

“Empowering individuals with disabilities through technology is not just about providing support, it’s about giving them the tools to unlock their full potential and break down barriers to success,” said Gabriel Parra, CEO and Executive Director of The Arc of South Florida. “The Arc of South Florida wants to express our gratitude to The Arc and Comcast for the generous grant towards setting up a Tech Support Center for people with disabilities, their families, and their peers. This support means a lot to us and will go a long way toward empowering individuals with disabilities to access and utilize technology effectively.”

With technology being an increasingly vital part of navigating and participating in today’s plugged-in world, including transportation, employment, recreation and social interaction, people with IDD face unique barriers to understanding and adopting digital tools, which are exacerbated by a higher rate of poverty and lower overall income.

Since 2014, Comcast has supported The Arc’s Tech Coaching Center, reaching nearly 2,500 people with IDD through 19 chapters and giving them access to devices, services, and training that advance measured outcomes in employment, health, independent living, education, and interpersonal connections.

A second grant will go towards advancing efforts to help marginalized communities better advocate for their education. This investment will allow The Arc to fully translate the curriculum into Spanish to better meet this population’s needs and increase access to the content. The Arc of South Florida will receive $22,000 in funding from these grants.

“We already know that digital skills training can open new doors of opportunity and help people living with disabilities gain independence,” said Michelle Oyola McGovern, Vice President of Government Affairs for the Comcast Florida Region. “Removing the language barrier and adding materials in Spanish will have a huge positive impact here in South Florida. Now even more people with IDD as well as their caregivers and families will have the opportunity to utilize these resources and to create pathways that can help enrich their lives.”

Academic achievement and graduation rates for students with disabilities lag far behind their peers, trends marked by inordinate discrimination, suspensions, and isolation within school settings across the country. In 2016, The Arc created The Arc@School, an evidence-based, self-paced online training program designed to help families, educators, and advocates navigate the special education system.

Since 2021, Comcast has partnered with The Arc to connect underserved communities to these educational advocacy resources. To date, more than 500 families of color and low-income households have been given free access to The Arc@School, in addition to a facilitation guide, Spanish language overview of the special education process, and cultural competency resources and sections.

These grants were distributed through Project UP, Comcast’s $1 billion commitment to reach tens of millions of people in order to advance digital equity and help create a future of unlimited possibilities.

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