Breaking Ground 111 - Have you seen it yet? Tennessee website for finding disability services gets major upgrade
Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, the state’s central source for free disability information and resources, went through some exciting changes last year. An overhaul of Pathfinder’s website makes it easier for people with disabilities to find needed services. The statewide portal can be found more easily at TNPathfinder.org. Updated, interactive features match users anywhere in Tennessee with disability resources, service providers, and community events.
Tennessee Disability Pathfinder is a project of the Vanderbilt Kennedy University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, part of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. It has been mainly funded by the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities, which also led funding for the upgrade.
Pathfinder 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.
Pathfinder’s diverse staff can help people of all ages, types of disabilities, and languages spoken. Many staff members have disabilities or family members with disabilities.
New features of the Pathfinder website
Visitors can access more than 3,500 disability providers and resources from across Tennessee on the new website. Searching for information is 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
Pathfinder’s website is still open for anyone to use without creating an account, but there are new features for users who create a profile:
- bookmark resources
- save past searches
- submit new agency resources and website links to be added to the site
- post events on the Pathfinder Events Calendar
The updated Pathfinder website also includes added accessibility features. An accessibility menu offers tools to adjust color contrast, magnification, and font styles. Users are also able to translate the website into one of eight different languages.
The updates to Pathfinder’s website have been a big success. In the past year, more than 8,000 users have visited the site, resulting in more than 105,000 page views.
The most frequented topics of interest include:
- financial assistance
- basic needs
- social inclusion
- education, and
Here is what some users had to say after visiting Pathfinder’s website:
“I am so happy that I found this website because I was able to get my daughter the services she needed.” – Sent anonymously via June 2022 website feedback survey
“Love the new organization and layout of the site so much! Pathfinder is improving all the time.” – Family member via June 2022 website feedback survey
“To have a site with these resources listed is very helpful. I appreciate that it is available.” – Person with disabilities via June 2022 website feedback survey
“I highly recommend Pathfinder’s free online portal. It’s basically a search engine for health-related needs in Tennessee. I have used it both personally and professionally – it’s quite comprehensive.” – Jack Read, Respite Voucher Program Manager, Tennessee Respite Coalition
According to Pathfinder’s June 2022 website feedback survey, 73% of users have registered for an account with Tennessee Disability Pathfinder, 68% have searched for a program using the website, and 49% were able to connect to a resource in the community after using the website.
“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,” said Pathfinder program director Megan Hart. “We could not be happier that it has been received with such enthusiasm and positivity.”
Pathfinder is also now available through the State of Tennessee’s app, “MyTN.” MyTN provides a single point of access to a growing list of government services. You can download the MyTN mobile app from any app store.
New Pathfinder funding partnerships
The new Tennessee Disability Pathfinder website was also made possible through expanded State of Tennessee funding partners. The Council has worked for many years to increase partnerships to support Pathfinder in serving more Tennesseans. New partners include:
- TN Department of Education
- TN Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services
- TN Department of Human Services, Division of Rehabilitation Services
- TN Department of Transportation
These join existing funding partners:
- TN Council on Developmental Disabilities
- TN Department of Health
- TN Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
For more information about Tennessee Disability Pathfinder or to check out the new website, visit TNPathfinder.org.