H.E.A.R.T. trainee Eraca Bailey (left) with H.E.A.R.T. executive director Jane Cummins (center) and app developer Reva Verma.
During Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston, H.E.A.R.T. Program trainees were busy working in the kitchens of six different Papa John’s booths. The trainees, many of whom have intellectual and other developmental disabilities (IDD), performed typical tasks associated with a Papa John’s booth – prepare, cook, cut, and box pizzas. However, what made the Super Bowl unique was that the trainees were now in complete control of the kitchen.
When working in the kitchens of the Papa John’s booths, H.E.A.R.T. trainees have always done everything related to making the pizzas, but they didn’t perform the other business tasks such as identifying products, sorting, counting supplies like pizza boxes, recording quantities, and tracking inventories. Since some people with IDD had difficulty counting and keeping track of items, other staff members assisted with these tasks.
Now, with the implementation of a new app — i4me — H.E.A.R.T trainees can upload photographs of products, listen to and read product names, and make entries. These modifications empower adults with IDD to overcome challenges with spelling, reading, and writing, which allows workers to perform necessary business tasks and be in control. After months of development and testing, i4me made its official debut during Super Bowl LI and H.E.A.R.T. trainees performed all of the tasks required to operate a pizza kitchen.
The i4me app is a visual and easy to use inventory tracking app. The app allows users to easily upload photos of items, update inventory counts, and export reports — all from their iPad. The new app is an extension of an inventory tracking app developed in collaboration by H.E.A.R.T. and Blue Lance, see “Technology with HEART” for details, but what makes i4me unique is that it is completely customizable and can be used to track inventories for any service—not just pizza. The app could be used in other employment settings, whether someone monitors supplies in an office or tracks products on the shelf of a retail store.
“There are countless work settings where i4me could be utilized,” said Jane Cummins, H.E.A.R.T. executive director. “We designed this app to be customizable so anyone could use it. The applications are endless.”
Currently, H.E.A.R.T. is exploring options for making i4me available to the public, especially to other employees with IDD. In the meantime, H.E.A.R.T. trainees will expand their successful Super Bowl LI experience with the i4me app. No longer reliant on assistance from H.E.A.R.T. staff members, trainees will be able to perform every task a kitchen requires.
“The i4me app has the potential to remove a significant barrier people with IDD face when seeking employment,” said Cummins. “When people with IDD have the same opportunities as everyone else, the sky is the limit.”
The i4me app was developed with grant funding from the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities.