Assistive technology evolves


There are many stories about how technology is improving lives of people with disabilities. Assistive technology is becoming the norm and not the exception in community services. Below, find stories about how some are using assistive technology:

Long-distance relationships

Nancy Disbrow, chief people officer at Koinonia in Independence, Ohio, tells how her organization users assistive technology:
“At one of our group homes, recently, they used an iPad to FaceTime an individual with her mother, who was going to England for several weeks. This kept our individual on an even keel during her mother’s absence. In the past, the individual would have had behaviors when she did not see her mother after a few days. In addition to that, she was able to FaceTime with her grandmother — who she has not seen for several years! It was an emotional time for all of them and one to cherish forever.”

Assistive technology and support plans

Sean Henderson is the person-centered technology manager at Hammer Residences, Wayzata, Minn.

His title reflects what’s happening in the industry. Many agencies now have technology managers like Sean tasked with incorporating technology into support plans. Sean says:

“Hammer opened quite a few supported apartment complexes for people who prefer independence and their own living space. One individual did not like having to hike across the building to take medications, which resulted in some behaviors. The individual didn’t take her medications,” Sean said. “To better serve her, staff bought a couple of iPads. This person now uses FaceTime and a Medi-set, so we can visually verify that she takes her medications.”

Recycled hardware

assistive technology ANCOR

From left Mike Kivitz, Adelante CEO; Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico congresswoman; Ryan Shoemaker (seated) and Neil Haagensen, computer techs who work for Back in Use. Photo courtesy Adelante Development Center.

Then there is Adelante in Albuquerque, N.M. Adelante has a unique technology-related program known as Back in Use that recycles assistive technology devices and computers. The program addresses the rising costs of health care, the technology gap for low-income people and living in a sustainable, earth-friendly way that benefits seniors and people with disabilities.

“In the last few years, Adelante’s program began to refurbish and recycle computers, helping to eliminate e-waste and getting technology to less fortunate people in our community,” Jill Beets, vice president of marketing & communications, said.

“Technology is always changing and many people throw away their computers, believing they are no longer usable or outdated. Many computers are still workable for general use, like answering email and using Word or other writing programs. Computers, tablets, and e-readers four-years-old or newer can be refurbished by Back in Use.”

At Adelante, a direct support professoinal supervises five men with autism who refurbish the computers.

“It’s a win-win-win situation, better for the environment to refurbish and reuse these items; it provides jobs to people with disabilities; and we donate the refurbished computers to people with disabilities and other nonprofit agencies,” Jill added.

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