- At a glance:
- Technology is increasingly seen as part of a viable safety net
- Technology can be low tech or high tech
- At a glance:
- At a glance:
- A webinar on assistive technology and independent living was held on August 30th, from 12:30-1:30. The slides are available here. The webinar is archived below.
- At a glance:
- At a glance:
- Scheduling/to do lists/cueing
- Daily tasks
- Coaching/decision making
- Secure social networking
- Alert systems
- Comprehensive systems
- Finding apps and other technology
- At a glance:
In 2013, David Braddock reported that only 1% of Medicaid waiver dollars were spent on recipient technology (“State of the States in Disability Services”, cited in “Housing and Support Options for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities”, 2014). (Yet increasingly organizations are springing up to harness the ability of technology to assist individuals to be more independent, while providing them with a safety net). Two out of three winners in the recent Autism Speaks House-to-Home prize included technology as part of their entry.
Technology can be either low tech (printed picture-based directions, or color-coded measuring cups, for example), or high tech (dedicated voice output devices, apps for a variety of purposes, and home alert systems that reduce the need for overnight paid staff in the home). High tech systems can be comprehensive solutions, or apps that can be used for a discrete purpose, such as grocery shopping, bill paying, or mindful stress relief. As with an exercise program, the right technology is the one the person is willing and able to use (or learn to use).
On this page we will present a few examples of technology for a range of uses, as well as link to some tools and resources for finding technology. Examples are taken from all over the country, and may not be currently available in Massachusetts. Presence on this page does not constitute endorsement by any of the organizations sponsoring this website, or by their members, officers or directors.
On August 30th, the organizers of the MA Housing Think-Tank hosted a webinar on the use of technology. Kelly Charlebois, Executive Director of TechACCESS of Rhode Island, discussed the use of both low- and high-tech options to increase independence, and Catherine Boyle, President of Autism Housing Pathways, discussed smart home technology. The slides are available here. The webinar is archived here:
Functional Planning System
Functional Planning System (FPS) is an app that combines a schedule with step-by-step instructions. Instructions can be verbal directions, pictures, or videos. Steps can be checked off as they are completed. Despite the statement in the video below, this app is available for both iPhone and iPad, and sells for $4.99. Directions may either be created by the user, or downloaded via an in-app purchase for 99 cents each.
AHP’s visual supports
Visual supports AHP has developed low-tech visual supports for 11 basic self-care and household activities. These supports include both step-by-step written directions and picture directions.
8 Great Apps for Daily Living
This blog post from AT Program News provides links to 8 apps, for tasks including dressing for the weather, making a shopping list, and taking meds.
Frequently, cooking proves to be a real stumbling block to independent living. The reason varies from person-to-person, but common issues are fear of the stove, difficulty with measuring, and fear of knives. Some options to address these are induction cooktops, color-coded measuring implements, nylon knives, and palm-held peelers.
House cleaning apps
Six helpful apps for cleaning your disgusting house This blog post provides links to apps that allow you to schedule and organize household chores, and send helpful reminders. One even functions as a role playing game, with avatars, quests, and loot.
How do I?
How do I is simply a list of useful internet links, showing techniques for performing basic living skills. Some are descriptions with pictures, others are videos.
Abby is a smart-phone based life-coach, which can answer questions, set reminders, provider grocery lists, and generally walk the user through an activity. It is not yet available, but looks to be very powerful.
Smart Steps This app supports decision making by walking users through decision trees. There is a free version, and a $14.99/mo version that allows you to create, save, and share your own decision trees, plus store emergency contacts in the app (essentially a panic button).
Secure social networking
Community Tyze is a secure network that can facilitate both social interaction and information sharing among an individual, his friends, family, and supporters. Individual networks are secure and cannot be found by searching. It has a wall, calendar, messaging capability, and a files section.
Back to examples
Safety Connection is a program of Howard Center in Burlington Vermont. With support from a host of local and state partners, Safety Connection uses home security technology, such as window and door alarm sensors, supervised smoke detection, and call button technology, to help individuals to feel secure overnight in their homes. Safety Connection support is person-centered and tailored to meet the needs of the individual. Typically, an individual activates their security system and checks in with the Safety Connection operator after settling in for the evening. Safety Connection operators and responders are available anytime between the hours of 8:00 pm and 7:00 am, 365 days a year. All staff are clinically trained and stand by to help participants feel safe and work through a number of issues related to independent living that may come up throughout the evening, such as a fixing a faucet that won’t shut off, asking a loud neighbor to turn down the music, or problem solving a potential crisis situation. The operator may dispatch a responder if necessary, as well as facilitate passing information to a case manager or crisis team. Safety Connection staff are there to listen if someone wants to share something important. The Safety Connection program has helped over 100 individuals with developmental disabilities transition into independent living from a variety of settings, including homelessness, residential treatment, shared living, college-based transition programs and high school. If you have questions about Howard Center’s Safety Connection program, please contact Kevin Hutt, Safety Connection Coordinator at (802)488-6578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Night Owl Support Systems
Night Owl Support Systems uses non-camera technology to allow individuals to call for help, or to allow a monitoring system to sense when help may be needed. Examples of the technology used include personal pagers, door/window security sensors, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, flood/moisture sensors, motion/pressure sensors, and micro sensors. If a central monitoring station receives an alarm, the individual’s support team is contacted.
TouchStream Solutions is a dedicated tablet that is customized to the user. It combines attributes of both scheduling/cueing systems, and alert systems. It can be used to create a schedule for the user, with written and verbal prompts. The user checks off each item as it is completed. Tasks can be structured to provide step-by-step written and verbal prompts. If the task is safety critical, such as checking blood sugar, a text alert will be sent to a support provider. A web portal allows the support provider to add and remove items, and to check on the arrival of direct support staff. The system can be used for individuals living independently or in group homes or shared living. TouchStream is being piloted by The Arc of Monroe County in NY for several of its group homes. By using technology to prompt individuals, the individuals in the group homes are becoming more independent, and staff are able to spend more quality time with those they support.
AbleLink Smart Living Technology Pilot Project
AbleLink’s Smart Living Technology Pilot Project is meant to be a comprehensive technology solution for agencies. It includes a bundle of hardware and software for multiple users, including scheduling, prompting, and community navigation tools.
Finding apps and other technology
There are literally thousands of apps available for assistive technology users. Finding apps can be overwhelming. Georgia Tech Tools for Life’s App Finder allows the user to search categories of apps.
To search for other types of technology, consider Abledata. The product search feature can turn up items from bathroom flood sensors to safety knives.