In Phase 1, Project Touch donated 50 iPod Touch devices to financially needy families that had children with autism. Project Touch teamed up with Autism Speaks, the biggest autism advocacy organization in the United States. Mrs. Ann Gibbons, Executive Director of Autism Speaks, DC greatly supported this initiative and launched a national blog on the Autism Speaks national web site, announcing Project Touch.
As partners, Project Touch and Autism Speaks solicited write-ups from financially needy families in VA. Close to 150 essays poured in, and Project Touch considered the extent of hardship and financial situation as primary factors when selecting these families.
Though Project Touch could not give an iPod Touch to all the children, we negotiated a special discount from Apple dealers and passed it along to the remaining families, providing savings close to $1540 in total.
Project Touch gifted these units to the selected 50 families in April 2011, Autism Awareness Month. Dr. Tony Gentry, Director of Assistive Technology for Cognition at VCU, kindly agreed to be the speaker for the event. Dr. Gentry also brought 30 of his graduate students to the event who were instrumental in setting up the iTouch units for the autistic children. It was an event to remember with lots tears, joy, hugs and gratitude.
When Autism Speaks announced Project Touch on their national Facebook page, there were hundreds of positive comments from families from all over the USA within the first hour. Many families were requesting a Project Touch in their own state as well.
The Executive Director of Autism Speaks appointed Priya Krishnan as to their National Technology Grant Review Board. Working with the other board officers, Priya has successfully approved many technology grants across the U.S. to help financially deserving autistic individuals. Through their initiative Autism Cares, they have many plans to make technology grants available to financially needy families with autistic children across the U.S.
Now, Project Touch wants to provide brand new iPads to children with autism across the U.S.