IndianaPop.org is additional resource for those with disabilities

Fifth Freedom formally launched its IndianaPop.org website June 2. Taking part were (from left): Nate Reusser, president, Reusser Design; Christine Dahlberg, executive director, Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities; Sheri Caveda, executive director, Fifth Freedom; Douglas Schmidt, director of communications, Fifth Freedom; Betty Beck, assistant director, Fifth Freedom; Josh Zeimet, executive assistant, Fifth Freedom; and Alan Spaulding, board member, Fifth Freedom, with leader dog Cerci.

Fifth Freedom hopes its new IndianaPop.org website will provide a more convenient resource for those living with disabilities.

Fifth Freedom is a disability advocacy organization, Executive Director Sheri Caveda explained.

“We work to remove the barriers, physical or social, so people can participate in every level of life,” she said.

Fifth Freedom’s work includes hosting candidate forums, conducting Americans with Disability Act projects and acting as the “largest information network in the state for people with disabilities and seniors,” Caveda said.

“The work we’ve done led us to determine there was a need for IndianaPop,” she said.

IndianaPop.org is a single website designed to funnel resources and information regarding a wide range of disabilities in a way that is useful and easy to use.

It covers organizations throughout the state of Indiana, Caveda said, including local support groups.

“Our goal is to use the thousands of wonderful organizations around the state and navigate people to those,” she said.

While about 88 percent of people with disabilities are more likely to turn to the internet first for information on their disability, 66 percent can’t find the information they need, Fifth Freedom Communications Director Douglas Schmidt said.

“IndianaPop is disability specific, so you can search and are much more likely to come up with something relevant,” he said, comparing using the site to asking a librarian for help rather than searching through a library on one’s own.

IndianaPop is not only designed to help find information about disabilities but also to be easy to navigate by those with disabilities.

The site’s contrast and text size can be adjusted and can function with screen readers or chin switches, according to a news release.

“Our passion is that we continue to stay up on that latest technology that’s accessible and cognizant and make it usable with our site,” Caveda said. “We look at all kinds of extra things to make certain everybody can use it.”

There is also a page on the site to help other organizations make their sites more accessible, Schmidt said.

Though the official launch of the page occurred only recently, the website had a “soft release” starting two years ago, Caveda said.

Thousands of people found the site without advertising, she said. In addition, many organizations that provide services to people with disabilities wanted to make sure their information was available on the site, Schmidt said.

“A lot of organizations are really excited and want to make sure they’re available to everybody, they want to make sure they can be found,” he said.

The website is updated by Fifth Freedom staff, so the organization encourages people who may see information that needs added or updated to contact them.

“People get it. They see that this is a really big deal,” Caveda said. “Everybody knows someone with a disability. … It is something that hits all of us.”

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