The Arc Announces $1.4 Million Investment in Tech Toolbox

Washington, DC – The Arc is thrilled to announce that it is a recipient of a $1.4 million grant from Made through the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities, the grant will support an online search, recommendation and coaching platform that will help people with cognitive disabilities find and adopt technology to live fuller lives.

With’s support, The Arc will expand the features and services around its Tech Toolbox, a place to find, share, rate and review technology for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD).  More than 20 million people in the United States have a cognitive disability. The number of apps and assistive technologies available to support this population is growing rapidly, but the outcomes they promise are rarely backed by evidence, and it is difficult to match the right tool to the unique and evolving needs of the individual.

“At Google, we know that good things happen when you help people find the right information. We’re thrilled to support The Arc’s efforts to make it as easy as possible for people with disabilities and their families to find the right technology to meet their needs. In the long run, we see the Tech Toolbox becoming a go-to resource for information about the ways that technology can change the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities by sharing information about solutions that really work,” said Jacquelline Fuller, Director,

The Arc will build a web platform that uses profile data and expert reviews to help people with cognitive disabilities and their caregivers easily identify the technologies that are most likely to produce positive outcomes based on evidence from people with similar profiles.

“People with disabilities, their family members, providers, and friends are seeking out technology to help them lead more independent and fulfilling lives.  Even though many of The Arc’s chapters have already started to address this demand, with great success, not enough is known about how this constantly evolving marketplace is meeting their needs, and how information from their experiences can be harnessed to make greater strides in the field.  We are excited to be working with Google, a company synonymous with innovation, to connect our network and individuals to their know-how in the technology space.  It’s going to be an exciting journey as we partner with them to build this capability,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The Arc will use its national service provider network to deliver more than 100,000 targeted and personalized technology recommendations over the next two and a half years. The platform will be open to the public and, at scale, will reach millions of individuals and their families.

In 2014, The Arc started building the Tech Toolbox because of the need for a service that helps people with I/DD access technology.  Through a national partnership with the Comcast Foundation, The Arc was able to launch a beta version of the platform in 2015. Staff from across The Arc’s chapter network came together to design a one-stop-shop, peer- reviewed directory of technology products that are effective for people with I/DD. Through this directory, chapter staff, people with I/DD, and the general public can find, review, and post examples of technology tools that work well for them. The Tech Toolbox currently contains nearly 500 apps and devices.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of more than 665 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.



Editor’s Notes

The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.

Cognitive disability includes intellectual disability, including those caused by congenital conditions such as Down syndrome, autism, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome as well as age-related conditions such as Dementia. The diagnosis may also include less severe conditions such as Dyslexia, Attention Deficit Disorder, and other learning disabilities.

Never too Young to Make an Impact

Wings for Autism has been expanding across the country since last year, and since national expansion began more than 500 families have benefited from this innovative program. While this program obviously appeals to individuals with I/DD and their families who want a test run of what travel on an airplane might be like, this year we were pleasantly surprised when 3 teenagers made it a mission to help fundraise for this exciting program in addition to serving as volunteers. Their actions show it doesn’t matter what your age, you can make a difference in the lives of people with I/DD, all it takes is a little passion.

wings blogAnthony (Chenghao) Cheng, Lily Zhu, & Xinyi Xie reached out to friends and family to raise hundreds of dollars for Wings for Autism. We had a chance to catch up with them during our event at Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia earlier this year to learn about what sparked their interest in this program. Their answers were inspiring.

Why did you all decide to go out of your way to help raise money for The Arc’s Wings for Autism Program?

Xinyi – Firstly because I enjoy to spend time with children. It is my understanding that it is important for people with disabilities to be part of society and make friends. I am passionate about that.

Anthony – Everyone deserves to be independent, and I should help.

Lily – I love children also and interacting with people with I/DD. And it gives me joy to see them being independent and being happy.

Why is it important for people with I/DD to have someone to count on?
Xinyi – We all need support in everything. We needs support in what we do so we should give support to others too.

Lily – It is important for kids to count on people other than their family. That will help them become more confident.

Anthony – It is exciting to see kids grow and be stronger.

Why is volunteering important?

Lily – Important for people to be aware. It is hard to empathize if you don’t interact with other people. But events like this help you realize the needs of others and help them be independent. Volunteering is an important step to raising awareness.

Xinyi – Leading by what we do. If people do it, others will follow in their steps.

A big thank you to three amazing volunteers, donors and advocates! We are so thankful for your support of The Arc and the example you are setting for your peers.

Holiday Shopping in Entrepreneur Alley

DSCN1746Last minute holiday shopping got you down? We have the solution for you! Each year The Arc invites self-advocates who own their own micro-businesses to participate in Entrepreneur Alley during The Arc’s national convention. These entrepreneurs have a variety of amazing products available for purchase.

IMG_9723Whatever wish list you are working to fulfill, these businesses have what you are looking for including custom artwork, greeting cards, delicious confections, jewelry, collectibles, hand crafted wood work, books, and beautiful paintings.  We encourage you to skip the department stores and visit some of our talented entrepreneur’s websites to fill your stockings this holiday season!

If you or someone you know has a microbusiness you would like to bring to The Arc’s 2016 Convention, please contact Sarah Kennedy at

Valuing the Humanity of All Members of a Family 

By Robin Shaffert, Senior Executive Officer, Individual & Family Support, The Arc


The story, “Four Bodies in Elmhurst: Why would an 82­year­old man kill his son, his daughter, his wife and himself?” appears in today’s New York Times magazine section.  Jeff Himmelman reports on the heartbreaking murder of two adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their mother, by the father who also committed suicide.

On Tuesday, the story appeared on the Times’s website, and The Arc shared it on social media.  Since then, I have been reading the comments from readers of the Times and The Arc’s Facebook page.  I find myself deeply troubled – yet not altogether surprised – that the most common sentiment is that we shouldn’t judge the father.

We must judge the father.  The father committed three murders.  He ended the lives of two of his children and his wife.  If we do not condemn that action, we do not value their humanity.  Our core values are clear: The Arc believes that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are entitled to the respect, dignity, equality, safety, and security accorded to other members of society, and are equal before the law.  When people with I/DD are murdered, we cannot suggest that their murder is understandable or justifiable.

After we condemn these murders, we can look at what we can learn from them.  In Mr. Himmelman’s portrayal of the Stack family, we can begin to see where we as a society fall short in supporting families that include a person with I/DD.  But limited, inadequate, or the complete absence of services and supports can never justify murder.  This fact, however, doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility to do a better job supporting families that include members with I/DD.  This support is critical throughout the lifespan but it is especially important as adults with I/DD transition from their family homes to other living situations in our communities.

Sometimes we hear that parents are driven to these horrific acts because there are no decent places for their children to live and receive the supports and services they need when they leave the family home.  That wasn’t the case for the Stack family.  The son and daughter were both in good living situations.  These situations may not have been perfect, and Mr. Stack, the story tells us, was vigilant in working with the providers to make sure his son and daughter got the supports he felt they needed.

The Stacks were able to do what many families struggle with.  They overcame barriers and created a future plan for their son and daughter.  They found housing options and daily activities – and they figured out how to finance them.  Yet, for some unknowable reason, Mr. Stack decided to take the lives of his wife, son, and daughter.

I find myself asking whether things would have been different had Mr. Stack received help in addressing the guilt he felt about the possibility that his exposure to toxins during the Korean War caused or contributed to their disabilities, or if his family had received more support during the decades that he and his wife cared so lovingly for their son or daughter.   We’ll never know.

I lead The Arc’s Center for Future Planning.  My colleagues and I recognize the complexity and the enormity of the issue we are addressing.  There are 600,000-700,000 adults with I/DD living with caregivers 60 and over that have no plan in place for what is going to happen when those caregivers can no longer provide support.  To create a good plan, the individual with I/DD and his or her family must take into account virtually every aspect of the person’s life.  This story teaches us that as important as it is to figure out benefits and housing, it is at least as important to ensure that families receive the emotional support they need to make these difficult transitions.  Many chapters of The Arc and other service providers are working to provide that support.  Yet I fear for the families that aren’t connected to get that help, and I know that the supports that are available in many areas are inadequate.

Like many of you, when I finished the story, I asked myself – what can I do to help prevent tragedies like this from happening again?  As we move forward, we should remember the Stack family by striving to support families in a way that values the humanity of all of their members.  We can do this in small ways like checking in on families that may be isolated.  We can also work together to advocate at the local, state, and federal level for the resources to enable us to support all of our families.


The Arc’s Statement on the Loss of Daniel Kaufman, Job Coach for People with Developmental Disabilities

Washington, DC – The Arc, the nation’s largest civil rights organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families, released the following statement on the news that Larry Daniel Kaufman (who went by Daniel), a job coach for people with disabilities, was among the victims in the mass shooting at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California:

“Earlier this week a senseless act of violence robbed 14 individuals of their lives and forever changed their families. The Arc and our community are shocked and saddened to learn that Larry Daniel Kaufman, a job coach for people with disabilities, was among the victims. Daniel worked at the coffee cart at the Inland Regional Center where he helped individuals with disabilities develop job skills.

“While Daniel wasn’t tied to The Arc, this loss is particularly painful for us knowing the invaluable work of support professionals like Daniel, and we cannot imagine how this tragedy is impacting those at the Inland Regional Center and his loved ones. Job coaches provide so much for individuals with disabilities, and more often than not they are friends and mentors to the people they work with. Daniel’s choice of profession shows that he was a kind, generous, and passionate individual who was dedicated to serving others. The Arc family extends our condolences to Daniel’s loved ones and all those served by him,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of more than 700 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.



Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.

The Arc’s Heart Breaks for Victims in San Bernardino

Washington, DC – The Arc, the nation’s largest civil rights organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families, released the following statement on the tragic shooting at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California:

“Our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this tragedy, the people suffering injuries, and the families impacted by this senseless act. The Arc’s collective heart is broken.

“The Inland Regional Center is one of thousands of service systems across the country for people with I/DD and their families. It’s a place where people with disabilities, their families, caregivers, and dedicated staff gather to access services, learn how to navigate the service delivery system, and enjoy functions like the holiday party that took place the day before the shooting. It’s not a place you would ever expect such violence.

“Today, and every day after, people with disabilities, parents, siblings, caregivers, and staff will walk into the Inland Regional Center. When will they feel safe again? They will live with this trauma, feel the pain like anyone else, and they must have access to services to support them to overcome it. Far too often in our society, the abilities of people with I/DD are underestimated. Appropriate supports must be available to them to process and heal after this tragedy, otherwise it will be an open wound. We owe all of those touched by this tragedy the dignity of healing,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Read The Arc of California’s statement.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of more than 665 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Only a day? We celebrate International Day of People with Disabilities all year!

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 10.02.05 AMEvery year the International Day of People with Disabilities takes place on December 3rd. However, when you are an organization that has been around for as long as we have, you celebrate it every day, all year long!

This year the theme is “Inclusion matters: access and empowerment for people of all abilities.” There are an estimated one billion people with disabilities living in the world, all of which still face obstacles and barriers to inclusion, health care, and justice. Did you know that people with disabilities around the world also have less access to health care than the general population?

The CDC indicates that people with disabilities have poorer overall health and have less access to good health care. So how can we help decrease the barriers that face people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities (I/DD)?

In our webinar, “Identifying and Improving Barriers to Healthcare for Individuals with I/DD,” Dr. Meg Traci, Ph.D., discusses the barriers that confront the I/DD community when accessing adequate health care. She not only addresses the barriers but offers techniques to resolve them. For further information, check out our other webinar on barriers in health promotion, “Barriers to Health Promotion for Persons with Disabilities.”

While there are plenty of barriers to health care, there are always ways that we can improve access for all people. Take a look at this video highlighting Mark and his work with 4th year medical students.

What about you? How are you helping to improve access and empowerment of people with IDD? Although you can’t solve every issue in at one time, the important thing is to get involved!

Get involved by:

Here are some great steps to see your event come to life in your own community:

Good luck celebrating and organizing your community to promote inclusion of people with disabilities!

Donald Trump Did What?

Over the holiday weekend, social media and the airwaves were full of appropriate outrage over Donald Trump’s mocking of the appearance of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski’s, a person with a disability.

The disparaging treatment of people with disabilities by celebrities and other public figures is sadly not all that uncommon. The list of celebrities that The Arc has called out in recent years is long – comedian Tracy Morgan, football star Joe Flacco, to name a few.

Now we have a candidate for President of the United States to add to that list.

These recent events remind us that we need to hear from all candidates on where they stand on the issues facing people with disabilities as these voters prepare to vote for their next President in less than a year.

Where do all of the candidates stand on:

  • Ensuring Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security Disability Insurance, and Supplemental Security Income are there for qualified people with disabilities who need support?
  • Expanding opportunity for jobs in the community for people with disabilities?
  • Creating more affordable, accessible, inclusive housing in the community for people with disabilities?
  • Ensuring that the civil rights of people with disabilities are respected in the classroom, the criminal justice system, our health care system, and so on?

Roughly one in five Americans has a disability – and there are millions of Americans who are related to, friends with, or support a person with a disability in their lives. Their votes are up for grabs. And they are listening for substance from the entire field.

And to the media covering these candidates – start asking the tough questions on how those running to be the next President will improve the lives of people with disabilities. You are in a position to change this conversation. Use your power – just as people with disabilities will use theirs come November 2016.

Thank you! The Arc Family is Thankful for YOU!

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we here at The Arc have a lot to be thankful for and one of the main things is YOU!

The Arc is incomplete without you and your dedication to our mission to ensure that those with intellectual and developmental disabilities live a fully inclusive life. You breathe life into our mission and together we will be successful.

From the board and staff of the National office of The Arc, please accept our sincere and deep appreciation of YOU and your ongoing support of our cause nationally, statewide and locally.

We could not have accomplished all that we did this year without you, so this holiday season we wanted to THANK YOU for your commitment, support and generosity to The Arc.

From all of us here at The Arc, we wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

The Arc Joins #GivingTuesday

#GivingTuesday_Shareable_ImageThe Arc is joining the national #GivingTuesday movement again this year and we need your help!

As part of The Arc’s family, please help us kick off the holiday season by joining millions in taking collaborative action to improve their local communities and give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they support to help create a better world.

Join us in harnessing the power of social media to demonstrate and expand the vibrant community that makes up The Arc’s Family. Please show your support on social media to inspire and encourage your family, friends and network to take action as well this #GivingTuesday.

Millions of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families are depending on The Arc. This #GivingTuesday, show that they can count on you by participating in one of the following ways:


  • Share your support by posting our “I Support The Arc” Button on Facebook or Twitter and tag The Arc and #GivingTuesday


Twitter logo Twitter logo
  • Encourage your friends and family to do the same.

The Arc recognizes that all the work we do would not be possible without our family and that not all support comes in the same way. Thank you!

Help The Arc kick off the holiday season today and Achieve with Us!