TV Time: Self-Direction on Television!

What are you watching on TV?  We here at MySupport have been watching Speechless and loving it! ABC’s new sitcom is an important landmark for the disability community. Speechless features a disabled main character played by a disabled actor—one of the only shows on TV right now to do so. But it’s not just representation that the sitcom provides. Through comedy, Speechless has discussed issues that are critical for people with disabilities.

In the first two episodes, personal aids have taken center stage. The Dimeo family has moved to a new house so that JJ (Micah Fowler) can attend school in an inclusive setting with an aid. But when the aid assigned by the school district proves dissatisfying to JJ—she talks like a fairy godmother—he starts looking other people for the role. He finds school gardener Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough) more to his liking and asks Kenneth to be his aid at the end of the first episode.

JJ’s mother Maya Dimeo (Minnie Driver) is initially skeptical of JJ’s choice. Paternalistically, she assumes that no one can do as good a job fulfilling JJ’s needs as she can. Maya plots to get Kenneth dismissed from his position so that someone else can be hired. But when she sees the strong repartee between JJ and Kenneth, Maya changes her mind.

For both JJ and Maya, these events provide opportunities for character growth. At long last, JJ gets to make a decision for himself, while Maya is learning to respect his decisions. This situation shows the importance of autonomous decision-making for people with disabilities. By being able to select his own aid, JJ is happier and gets to have his needs met in a way that works for him.

Too often, this basic right has been denied to disabled people. Aids are commonly assigned through processes that leave disabled people with little choice about who is going to assist them with cooking, cleaning, bathroom needs, and other highly intimate tasks.

Fortunately, this is changing thanks to Self-Determination. States like California, Iowa, and New Jersey are moving towards Self-Determination policies that allow people with disabilities and their families to choose where and how they receive services. With Self-Determination, more and more disabled people will get choose their own support workers.

MySupport helps people make informed choices about their aids, using the power of technology. Its approach is similar to some online dating or social media platforms . When individuals sign up, they answer questions about their personal needs and preferences. MySupport then shows them local support workers that they are compatible with.

Before agreeing to anything, individuals seeking support and support workers can communicate and test the waters. MySupport is designed to help individuals and workers find the right partnership—just like JJ and Kenneth.

If you live in Northern California or Iowa, come check out MySupport and create a profile. If not, e-mail us at to find out how you can bring MySupport to your community!

More Good News at MySupport

We have good news to report. MySupport recently won the Best Practices Collaboration Award at the AT&T-NYU ConnectAbility Challenge.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The ConnectAbility Challenge celebrates this milestone. But we also know that we still have a ways to go to achieve full equality for people with disabilities.

In the years since the ADA was first passed, everyday technologies have revolutionized the world. For many people with disabilities, technology has been particularly impactful. People with visual impairments listen to audiobooks via phone. Many people with communication disabilities communicate better through an iPad app. And the list goes on.

There’s little doubt that with some energy and ingenuity, new technologies could do even more to improve the lives of people with disabilities. That’s where the Connect Ability Challenge comes in. The Challenge, sponsored by AT&T and the ABILITY lab at NYU, challenged innovators to develop software and technology to assist people with disabilities.

At MySupport, we’re bringing technology to a new and important trend in disability services. Over the last several decades, more people with disabilities have been living in the community. Everyone deserves the benefits of community living - no one should be relegated to an institution or nursing home.

But many people with disabilities still lack choices when it comes to their services. Too often, government agencies dictate which services people with disabilities receive. Details about the provision of these services is also determined by the government.

For many people, this isn’t good enough. In a world full of choices, why should such an important part of everyday life be left to bureaucrats? That’s where MySupport comes in. Our platform allows people with disabilities and their families to find and hire support workers directly. It's like online dating for support workers.

As with online dating, users begin by making a profile. They fill out a questionnaire that asks about their preferences in receiving services. Then, users will be “matched” with support workers who could be a good fit for them. People with disabilities and support workers can talk to each other via MySupport. They can arrange a work schedule. The system even supports billing Medicaid.

MySupport benefits people with disabilities, allowing individuals to choose their own service providers. It also benefits support workers. Instead of working through an agency, support workers can find clients directly. This provides them with greater flexibility in scheduling.

Right now, people with disabilities in the San Francisco Bay area are using MySupport. In the upcoming months, MySupport will also be expanding to other places in California. Thanks to California’s new Self-Determination Program, California residents with developmental disabilities will be able to enjoy greater choice in services. All Californians who receive services from DDS (Department of Developmental Service) will have the option to join the program within the next three years. MySupport is working with Regional Centers across the state to make the program available to people with developmental disabilities as the Self-Determination program goes live. Our partners in the independent living movement are also helping us bring MySupport to seniors and people with physical disabilities as well, because choice should know no boundaries.

MySupport is now live in California and New Jersey, and preparing to launch in January in Iowa. If you are interested in bringing MySupport to your area, contact us at We can’t wait to hear from you!

Everyone deserves to choose their own support workers. Let’s work together to make that a reality.

Introducing MySupport.

Introducing MySupport.

MySupport is an online platform that makes it easy for consumers and workers to find each other, manage their schedules and give and receive support that matches their personalities and lifestyles. The platform offers a wide range of features to ensure people with disabilities, seniors, and families have informed choice regarding their support and receive the best care possible to fit their needs.