We’re living in uncertain times. With the spread of COVID19 and the measures taken by governments around the world to keep people safe, many businesses are finding it difficult to keep going. My small business is no exception. With the government ordering schools to close and severe restrictions placed on travel both in this country and abroad, all of my work at least until September has either been cancelled or postponed to an unspecified date in the future. I’m not alone in this. Almost all of my friends and colleagues who work in this field have similar difficulties.
Many of us are having to look for new ways to continue providing the services we offer. My priority right now is to secure enough income to be able to keep my website online. Each day 1000s of young people use the free activities on my website to help them build important access and communication skills. In the first week since the schools closed, I’ve seen a three-fold weekday increase in the amount of traffic to the website, ten-fold during the weekends, which clearly demonstrates that young people are continuing to use the website at home with their parents and carers. All of this comes at a cost. Keeping the activities online and advert free costs around £90.00 per month. That’s around £20.00 per week. So I have to look for other ways to fund them.
In recent days, I’ve started a Patreon. For those unfamiliar with Patreon, it’s a service which allows individuals to offer ongoing financial support to projects like mine. By pledging a small amount each month, patrons help keep projects going through difficult times by providing some financial certainty. In return, they receive rewards. These rewards may be access to exclusive content, additional features or functionality on a website, sneak peeks of new programs or sometimes, the genuine, heartfelt thanks of the project owner. Patreon offers tiers of support. I’ve chosen two tiers.
Patrons who pledge £2.00 per month gain access to new features on my website which enable them to download whole groups of accessible activities with a single click. For example they can download all of the ‘music’ themed activities in one single file. This can save a huge amount of time over downloading them one at a time especially considering there are now over 500 activities on the site. Each month I’ll create a ‘patch’ which you can download to keep your collection of activities up to date.
There will be other benefits for this tier too, but importantly, you will be helping me to keep the activities I make for children with additional needs freely available to the many 1000s of young people in countries around the world who use them in their homes and classrooms each day.
Patrons who join Tier Two and pledge £5.00 per month get all of the same benefits of tier one supporters but they also have access to my growing library of training and support videos. These include sessions on switch, touch, pointing device and eye gaze assessment and progression plus many other topics useful to those involved in the education or therapy of those young people with severe and complex additional support needs. Currently these are hosted on my Patreon Page but I do have plans to move them to this website in the near future. To find them quickly and easily, use the drop down page filter.
You will be able to find and watch each of the videos as you scroll down the page. I am also making some of my other software for children with complex needs available for free my Tier Two patrons.
This free software is for Windows PC and can be downloaded from the Patron Activities page. I’ll be adding more exclusive free downloads to this list in the coming weeks and months.
The next few months are going to be difficult for all us. In the last few weeks, we’ve resourceful educators, therapists, parents and carers embracing new teaching methods to help overcome the challenges we all face in these uncertain times. My business too needs to change at least in the short term if it is to survive and I have plans both for the website, where I plan to rewrite all of the activities in a format compatible with iPads and mobile devices and with my training and consultancy, providing more online workshops, webinars and support to schools through tools like Zoom. By becoming a patron you’ll be helping to make all of that possible. If you’re not able to support me, please be reassured that I will continue to provide free activities for as long as I am able. Thank you.