This installment of our Accessibility Activists column is an interview with Beth Rosenberg, founder of Tech Kids Unlimited, an educational organization for kids ages 8 to 18 with special needs.
When did you first get started in accessibility?
As I have a child with a disability, I become active in the world of accessibility around 2008. I saw that there weren’t any technology educational learning programs for my kid and, as an educator this upset me since through him I saw how much he loved tech. In 2009, I organically put together the idea of teaching technology to kids who learn differently and Tech Kids Unlimited was born.
What project are you most proud of from your work in accessibility?
I am most proud of the not-for-profit organization Tech Kids Unlimited (TKU) which I founded with my son. At TKU, we work with students ages 7 to 19 who have a love of consuming technology and who now want to learn how to produce and make with technology. All of our programs are only for kids with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 and who need additional support in the classroom. At TKU for every 3 students there is one counselor and we also have a social worker in all of our programs.
What is your current area of focus in the accessibility field?
At Tech Kids Unlimited we are teaching kids with disabilities how to become the techies of tomorrow. These kids are so talented and creative and they CAN produce amazing videos, gifs, websites, 3d objects, animations, games and more! With so many students these days challenged by learning, emotional and neurological challenges, TKU exists to help these kids learn viable 21st century skills so they can get internships and hopefully, employment in the near future.
What accessibility barrier would you like technology to solve?
TKU is working on an app and we were one of the 2015 AT&T Connectability Challenge Winners for www.LOLAapp.com which helps with daily living skills for youth on the spectrum and with other special needs. It has been proven that an important link in terms of getting employment is not only social skills but daily living skills—brushing your teeth, wearing deodorant, saying hi or please and thank you, etc. With this app, we hope that TKU can contribute to the conversation around how tech can help people with disabilities. Technology can level the playing field for individuals with disability — it’s now up to society to embrace neurodiversity.