Ablefind.org helps connect people to housing, jobs, and more

A few years ago, Tel Woolsey needed to find the right services to help with his physical disability. He’s a graphic designer and Web Accessibility Specialist at the Center on Human Development (CHD) at the University of Oregon. He’s a tech-savvy person, yet he found it challenging to navigate the information online. His experience left him frustrated, but it inspired him to solve this problem: there had to be an easier way to access disability services.

“I spent so much time over the course of a year trying to understand who does what. The services are there—it’s just complicated when a person has to start from scratch. I wanted to find a way to make it easy,” said Woolsey.

In spring of 2017, Woolsey approached his supervisor with an idea for a project. He wanted to build a searchable database for disability related services across the state of Oregon. Why not bring it all together on one website, and make these services easy to find? The concept meshed well with the CHD’s mission to support individuals with disabilities and their families. Woolsey began working on developing the database, as a side project.

Two years later, Woolsey and the CDC launched Ablefind.org. The project first launched at the Oregon Transition Conference in March 2019, and continues to grow in Central Oregon and throughout the state.

 

How can Transition students use Ablefind.org?

Ablefind.org is meant for anyone who wants to know more about disability services, including students and their families. It’s especially helpful when moving to a new community, or when graduating out of a Transition Network and into independent living–whenever people need to find new networks of support.

For example, a Transition student may move from Bend to another town, leaving all their connections to local services behind. In their new town, they may need to find housing, employment, and transportation. The Ablefind.org database makes it easy to search for services by location and by clicking on the type of help that you need.

The site is not only for students, however. It’s an important resource for teachers and service providers too. Not only can they learn about services available in their region, but they also can teach their students how to use it as a tool for independent living, before they graduate out of the Transition Network.

In addition to housing and employment, Ablefind.org includes links to services that help people make new friends and lead full, enjoyable lives. The database includes links to recreation, education, health, and even dating opportunities. A person can also search by topic or keyword to find answers to questions about social security, legal issues, and financial help.

 

A work in progress

Woolsey plans to continue developing the Ablefind.org site. He encourages users to help improve the database by sending him suggestions and feedback.

“We’ve been learning as we go, and the response has been very positive. But we want to keep improving the user experience, and go deeper into regions across Oregon,” he explained.

To suggest new resources or send feedback for Ablefind.org, email Tel Woolsey at Ablefind@UOregon.edu

By Suzanne Johnson