Pathfinder site for finding disability services gets major upgrade

An overhaul of Tennessee Disability Pathfinder’s website makes it easier for people with disabilities to find needed services. The statewide portal can now be found more easily at TNPathfinder.org. Updated interactive features match users anywhere in Tennessee with disability resources, service providers and community events.

The website is a project of the Vanderbilt Kennedy University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, part of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. It has been primarily funded by the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, which also led funding for the upgrade.

How to Register for an Account from FINDER on Vimeo.

The site helps people with disabilities, family members, caregivers, educators, and other professionals find and access community resources, support, and services to meet their needs. Users can get help through a toll-free helpline, online directory, and regularly scheduled community workshops across Tennessee. The site's diverse staff can help people of all ages, types of disabilities, and languages spoken.

Council on Developmental Disabilities Executive Director Wanda Willis said, “This upgrade is a huge jump forward. It just got easier to find the support people with disabilities in Tennessee need to live great lives. I am especially proud of how many public and private partners came together to make this happen.”

New features of the Pathfinder website

Photo by Marcus Aurelius from Pexels

More than 3,500 disability resources across Tennessee are accessible on the new website. Searching for information has been made more customized. Users can search based on:

  • Stage of Life: Choose from Prenatal/Infancy, Early Childhood, School Age, Transition/Young Adult, Adulthood, or Aging
  • Topic of Interest: Twenty service categories to select, with a text box to type keywords
  • Diagnosis: Type of disability or health condition
  • Benefit/Payment Options: Forms of payment accepted by the agency provider, such as health insurance, government program, private pay, or no cost
  • Service Area: Select counties where services are provided

The website will still be open for anyone to use without creating an account, but there will be new features for users who choose to create a profile, like:

  • the ability to bookmark resources,
  • save past searches,
  • submit new agency resources and website links to be added to the site,
  • and post events on the Events Calendar. 

The new website also includes new accessibility features. An accessibility menu provides tools to adjust color contrast, magnification, and font styles. Users are also able to translate the website into one of eight different languages.

A cross-state partnership

The new website is a collaboration with the AWS Foundation. The AWS Foundation saw the need for a central website of disability-related information in its home state of Indiana. After a nationwide search, Pathfinder’s online directory was the model they chose to use. They created the Indiana Disability Resource Finder (FINDER).

The AWS Foundation now provides the new platform for Tennessee Disability Pathfinder. The platform was designed by Aptera. A project team worked together to develop the updated website and its new system.

“It has been a great experience working with Vicki Johnson, AWS Director of System Navigation & Marketing, the AWS Foundation, and Aptera,” said Pathfinder program director Megan Hart. “This upgrade has allowed us to keep the important parts of Pathfinder’s website while adding new features that allow users to better access and save information.”

“Individuals with disabilities, their families, community providers and others need quick and easy access to information about supports and services across Tennessee. We’re proud of the entire Pathfinder team and the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s partnership with so many state agencies and the AWS Foundation and Aptera to make this new website a reality,” said Elise McMillan, JD, Co-Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy University Center for Excellence in Disabilities and the Faculty Director of Pathfinder.

Pathfinder will celebrate the new website with an online launch celebration starting at 9:00 a.m. CT on Sept. 1 across its social media pages, complete with special guests, entertainment, and giveaways. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to join in on the celebration.

New Pathfinder funding partnerships

The new website was also made possible through expanded funding partners through the State of Tennessee. New partners include:

  • Tennessee Commission on Aging & Disability
  • Tennessee Department of Education
  • Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services
  • Tennessee Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation Services

These join existing funding partners:

  • Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities
  • Tennessee Department of Health
  • Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

For more information or to check out the new website, visit TNPathfinder.org.

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