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Letter from the Director Ask Emerson Best Buddies Spotlight e-Buddies of the Month The State of e-Buddies Update from the Field

contents

The State of e-Buddies

By Bill Maurer

In March 2000, the ebuddies.org website was officially launched. Back then, our website was pretty basic - there was an ABOUT US section, and the ONLINE APPLICATION - and that was all that we really needed at the time.

The Internet sure has changed in the last ten years, hasn't it? Nowadays, people are accessing e-mail and the web from their cell phones. With the rise of social media websites, such as Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter, people are engaging one another in ways that we wouldn't have imagined when e-Buddies began. We know from experience that e-mail can be a powerful tool for connecting people and building friendships, but we've also made an effort to embrace new media so our participants can benefit from it.


The original ebuddies.org (click to enlarge).

The e-Buddies Community allows participants to not only e-mail their e-Buddy, but also provides an opportunity to interact with other approved e-Buddies participants on the e-Buddies Message Boards. The activity on the message boards has consistently been rising from year to year. In 2009, the number of messages posted on the Community forums was more than triple the number of messages posted in 2008. In 2010, we're already on track to exceed 2009's number of postings. That is the sign of a thriving, growing Community!

We've also developed the e-Buddies E-mail Trainer, a free online tool designed to help provide support to new e-mail users with intellectual disabilities to help them use e-mail more independently. The Trainer uses audio and video prompts to help walk new computer users through the process of sending an e-mail, step by step.

We hope that these types of interactive features will keep participants returning to ebuddies.org. Still, we also realize that we have a long way to go to make the e-Buddies experience more interactive. Our goal is to add more social media functions to the e-Buddies Community - features like picture album sharing, among others. Quite honestly, if we had the resources, these things probably would have been added years ago. Hopefully, perhaps once the economy turns around, we will be able to add even more layers to an already rich e-Buddies experience. Only time will tell.


Letter from the Director | Ask Emerson | Best Buddies Spotlight
e-Buddies of the Month | The State of e-Buddies | Update from the Field
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