This week the Developmental Disabilities Association learned of the passing of a champion for those with cognitive disabilities.

Bill Coleman, the founder of Colorado University’s Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, died this week at age 73 after battling cancer for some time. The Coleman Institute is known for developing and integrating technology that promotes the quality of life of people with cognitive disabilities and their families.

DDA’s Executive Director Alanna Hendren says it’s a big loss for the community, however, his impact will be felt for generations to come.

“I am grateful for the opportunities Bill Coleman offered the cognitive disability community by hosting the University of Colorado’s Coleman Conferences. The Assistive and Information Technology services development that allowed DDA to transition so quickly from in-person to online services during the pandemic were informed by what we learned at those conferences. We will continue our work adapting cutting-edge technology to better support cognitive development and business processes.”

Bill and his wife Claudia started the clinic over 20 years ago after watching their niece, who had a developmental disability, navigate her way around a computer. Seeing the potential for people with cognitive disabilities to lead normal lives, it led the Colemans to invest time and money into the university and the Coleman Institute was born.

It was no fluke that technology was key for Coleman in the drive to better the lives of others. Prior to putting his energy into the Institute, he made his fortune in software development and data protection. He co-founded Veritas with Ed Scott and Alfred Chuang before he left in 2018 to return to the venture capital business with The Carlyle Group and Alsop Louie Partners.

The Coleman Institute was also instrumental in issuing a Declaration of the Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access where DDA and other organizations from around the world were initial signatories.



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