Introduce yourself!

Hello Everyone :wave:

Welcome to youBelong Community! We’re so excited to have everyone here, so feel free to start the conversation and introduce yourself.

  • Who are you and where are you from?
  • Who do you know with special needs?
  • What’s a fun fact about yourself?
  • What’s one thing you hope to get out of being here?

I’ll start us off:

I’m John Ciocca, the Founder of youBelong! My brother Christian has Down syndrome and I built youBelong as a way for him to connect with friends after my family moved from New Jersey to Florida. What started as a side project has grown into a social network where everyone can feel included. youBelong Community is another initiative we’re working on as we continue towards our mission of making the internet more inclusive for everyone.

Since my family and I live in beautiful Southwest Florida, when I’m not working on youBelong you can find me enjoying the sun either poolside or at the beach! :sunny::palm_tree:

Hello Everyone!

I’m John Ciocca - father to 2 awesome young men who started youBelong. You’ll see me around often as I post new content and moderate the community.

We’re a tight knit family that loves all things Disney. There is a good chance you find us spending time in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

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Hello!

My name is Christian Ciocca and I started youBelong with my Brother @john

I’m 20 years old and have Down syndrome. I love dancing, listening to music and watching Disney channel.

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Hi! I’m Scott. I’ve been involved in digital accessibility since 2002. I recently retired at the end of a 3-year stint with the US Forest Service as a Section 508 Subject Matter Expert. Now I get to play! I’ve been a tinkerer for years and am guardian of my special needs granddaughter. Hanging out with her and her friends gives me ideas. I bounce those ideas off her and her friends (and other friends we have in the community) to see if something is worth following and what we can put together to test with. I tend to be working at the edge of technology: some of it is about the built-world, some of it about various physical handicaps and some of it about various cognitive abilities. Lots of digital possibilities are included. It’s an interesting journey and I never know what we’ll come up with next. I started with a dancing character on a monitor that reacted to the input of a proximity sensor. It got the attention of everyone who “saw” it. I added audio inputs and outputs with speech-to-text, text-to-speech and interaction with Braille. That led to guided conversations, multiple screen characters and the possibility of a whole other-world educational paradigm (which is where my little one has most need). It also led to folks seeing pieces of that digital and built-world production that might be usable in other ways… and here I am. I have a vision of an accessible, animated-and-live, interactive digital world and am constructing little hardware and software pieces needed to create it along the way. As one of my startup mentors once said, “Live in the future and build something interesting.” I’m trying to do that: she was so right! The possibilities are mind-boggling, now that the tech is getting close!

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Scott, it’s great to have you here!