Upon our return from Thanksgiving, I accompanied two of The McIntosh Group principals to The Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges, the nonprofit organization we’ve been volunteering with for the past few years. Because we have a mission to improve peoples’ lives through accessible design and innovation, serving the community at The Center just makes sense for us.
Let me tell you, delivering a check to a non-profit who is going to use it to improve lives is definitely a great way to start your Monday morning. In case I hadn’t gotten my fair share of the spirit of gratitude over the holiday, well I sure got it today, and it was humbling in the best way.
We were greeted enthusiastically by Lori Long, Executive Director for the Center, who shared with us how excited the staff was about the donation. The coolest thing, I think, is that they are using part of the donation for technology training. Their Access 101 class will teach visually impaired individuals how to get the most out of Apple products and how to use their accessibility features. Lori told us that when she told her staff that this class was now funded, as well as a trip to an Adaptive Sports Conference and a scholarship for athletes interested in Paralympic trials, she said “Christmas came early this year!” One staff member, Margie, even stayed home to maximize the donation by shopping Cyber Monday deals for iPads and iPods that will be used in the Access 101 class.
Having access to these tools and the knowledge of how to get the most out of them will increase the independence of and add convenience to the day-to-day lives of these individuals.
And while it’s definitely cool to know we are helping make a difference for members of The Center, our involvement is also very meaningful to us as a company. Our accessibility team at The McIntosh Group works with the ADA every day on the business side – opportunities like helping at The Center makes it real for us and reminds us why we do what we do.
We use technology every day when working with our accessibility clients. Our surveyors use iPads and a proprietary database software to conduct our clients’ ADA surveys in the field and send detailed information back to the office with the touch of a screen. Because we focus so heavily on both technology and accessibility, this particular class emphasizing how to harness technology to increase accessibility is just a perfect fit.
As I sat there talking with our principals and Lori, I realized that the mutual benefits of our partnership are potentially endless. While we are taking steps to help The Center provide valuable programming for its members, we are also benefiting as a company. We are gaining the opportunity to experience and learn more about how to get better at what we do through our relationship with those members of the Center with disabilities.
To be able to give back to the community in such a meaningful way feels great, but look what we are gaining. We are creating more than just an ADA team; we have a family of workers who are passionate about a common purpose: helping people create better experiences for everyone, through accessible design.
In fact, waiting in my Inbox today was an email from one of our accessibility surveyors; he had emailed all of us over Thanksgiving to express his appreciation for what we do:
“I am happy to say that I actually get to tell people when they ask me about my job that I love what I do and love who I work with. Above all else I get to say that I am making a difference working to make places more accessible.”
How often do you get this many warm fuzzy feelings on a Monday after a break? What an eye-opening experience for me and for our team to know we are making a difference. For this, I am thankful.