Gary James doesn’t write software. He doesn’t develop apps, or publish interactive app books, or create improved, updated firmware. So why does the founder of A4CWSN.com care so much about the world of downloadable applications?
James stores a vast video library of arguably hours of footage of him “using” apps. The purpose for his nowhere-near comprehensive catalog of videos is to make real demonstrations of apps, almost all of them with some aspect of educational merit, available to consumers prior to the purchase of the apps.
“There are so many apps out there ranging in price from free all the way up to hundreds of dollars, depending on what they do,” says James. “The parents who look through our site for videos of apps are looking for the best tool for their children and can’t afford to spend a lot of money on apps that won’t meet their needs.”
Those needs that James speaks of are what educational institutions classify as “special needs.” A4CWSN, or Apps for Children with Special Needs, maintains its videos for parents to browse through demonstrations in order to find the educational needle in the haystack, the best possible iPad applications that will help their children’s specific issues, without having to spend a lot of money trying them out.
“Parents of these children are already stretched so thin paying for medical care or special therapies. The last thing they need to do is pay for tools that won’t really do much for their children.”
A4CWSN.com has another mission: to give away as many iPads as it can to children with a variety of mental, physical, and developmental disabilities. The site founder, a father of two special needs children himself, is currently in the process of attempting to provide an iPad for one child in every state, hand-delivering each one personally.
“The greatest tool we have right now is our Facebook community. Parents connect with us on Facebook and they are instantly immersed in a group of people with similar goals, even if the diagnoses are somewhat different. By finding out who these parents and children are and discovering what their specific educational needs are, we can try to help them address those needs.”
Currently, the apps that James downloads in order to video and the iPads that A4CWSN is able to distribute come donations by developers and other parents of children with special needs; although this covers some of the costs associated with running a site like this, the majority of expenses come from his own pocket. While donations to further the reach of the items are appreciated, the site is not set up as a charity at this time. A4CWSN is currently exploring options for people to donate their credit card rewards points and points from specific retailers like Best Buy in order to help cover the cost of the devices.