About the Project

The Aging & Disability Skills Gateway will be an online searchable database of user contributed videos where people with limitations, their families and professionals can see people just like them accomplishing the dozens of daily tasks necessary to participate in their home and community.

Learning by Imitation

Most of us learn what we know by watching others. Walking, eating with a fork, speaking. Driving, and countless other tasks are learned by imitation. Most people with disabilities have never met anyone with their specific set of disabilities, so cannot learn through this fundamental process.

People often do not believe they can accomplish the tasks of daily life because they have seen few, if any, other people do them. Even if they've seen some examples, the lesson they come away with is, "that person is amazing, brave, smarter than I am or just more talented than I." In other words, they never get to the, "If he or she can do it, so can I." Not getting to that "ah ha" moment leaves people isolated in the belief that their disability is an overwhelming problem rather than a manageable reality. We need examples to see how something is done — and many examples to believe we can do it. This is a fundamental of how we learn.

When someone becomes disabled by birth, accident, stroke, aging or heredity, there is no resource they and their family members or professionals can access to determine what success in managing their disability looks like. Typically, disability sends messages of "can't" and "limitation." Often, the short time spent in a rehabilitation hospital only scratches the surface of possibilities. Then the person goes home to isolation and depression. The Aging & Disability Skills site will fundamentally change the equation by providing a multitude of videos showing people "just like me" accomplishing daily tasks.

Knowledge Transmission

There is no knowledge transmission network for the techniques, skills and tools of how to overcome limitation. There is no organized method of knowledge transmission. Things learned by one person are not passed on.

Most people with disabilities know few, if any, others with similar disabilities from whom they can learn. This isolation results in the perpetuation of beliefs that disability is defined by "can't." The "disability message" is: "Now that I have this limitation I must accept that I can do less in my family, in my community, at a job." And, the counter-messages are few and far between. The Aging & Disability Skills Gateway will allow users to submit videos of the creative solutions they find as they overcome limitations.

Learning by Numbers

Teachers know that showing a student something one time isn't usually enough. People need to see something several times in order to believe they can do it. They need to see the task accomplished by their peers as well. If only the "smartest" kids in the room can do it, many children figure they probably can't. But, if people "just like me" can do it, the student most likely will accomplish the task. The Aging & Disability Skills Gateway will allow people to see many people from diverse backgrounds performing the task, in order that the user can believe it for him or herself.