facing disability logo

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new partner site that will be an important addition to the medical community. Over the past eighteen months we’ve been working with Facing Disability, a Chicago-based nonprofit, to design and build a web resource that serves paraplegics, quadriplegics, and their families.

Facing Disability is the brainchild of Robert Hill and public television veteran Thea Flaum. When Robert’s daughter Vicki suffered a debilitating neck injury in 1986, the couple discovered that, while Vicki was thankfully able to find guidance and comfort through peer counseling, the same kind of programs were not available to family members. Seeing a need, they wanted to launch an online hub that could feature video interviews with people living with spinal cord injuries, information from the medical community, and access to community support groups.

When Thea first explained her personal connection to spinal cord injuries and her vision for Facing Disability, we were excited to get involved. We worked closely with the group to build a framework that could most effectively present its greatest assets, including its library of more than 1,000 video interviews. The end result is a clean, navigable site that allows users to search through and view this extensive video collection, as well as connect with a peer counseling program. Additionally, a community-driven forum gives members the opportunity to ask questions or publish their own tips or advice.

screenshot of websiteViewer responses to the site have been overwhelmingly positive. "This is a wonderful resource for both spinal cord injury patients and their families, as well as post-injury SCI people and their loved ones," says education specialist Becky Rossum. "I have been especially fortunate in my recovery from SCI, but I will find this website useful as I continue to need support in various aspects and stages of my life." In fact, Facing Disability is now the only place on the web where you can watch medical experts, family members, and paraplegics and quadriplegics respond to commonly asked questions about living with spinal cord injuries.

"This is a first-of-its-kind website," says Thea. "There was no road map for it. That made it a real challenge to develop and involved a true creative partnership. It was hard—and it was fun."

We couldn't agree more. Over the course of this partnership, we came to see how much impact this project could have, and how capable Thea and her people are of making things happen. We decided to add $50,000 of pro bono services on top of their budget so we could make this site the resource it deserves to be, and we will continue to meaningfully support it in the coming years.

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