Voice assistant on a tablet

The goal of assistive technology is to enhance people’s independence through the use of supportive technology. Though the use of these remote support services, individuals are able to live more independently.

This new technology is making it easier for individuals with developmental disabilities to accomplish everyday tasks. This ranges from turning on lights, receiving reminders to take medication, opening/closing doors or deciding what to have for lunch.

Enhancing Independence:

Supportive technology-based services encompass both assistive technology and remote support, offering innovative solutions for individuals with developmental disabilities. Assistive Technology includes tools that provide personalized assistance for daily activities. For instance, a mobile app can remind someone to stay focused at work, or household appliances can have automatic shut-off features to ensure safety.

Remote support, on the other hand, involves real-time, two-way communication similar to Skype or FaceTime. This service enables individuals to connect with their providers whenever needed, promoting greater independence by allowing them to live more autonomously in their homes without requiring a provider’s physical presence.

What is Assistive Technology:

Assistive technology is already well-used as a necessary service in the field of elder care. This “aging in place” technology is extremely beneficial for older Americans. Now individuals with developmental disabilities are using this well-established technology.

Yet, some observers may feel that this technology is intrusive and a potential invasion of privacy. For example, in the field of elder care, some senior citizens may resist using assistive technology. They may see the use of these devices in their homes as a sign of declining health and old age.

However, Individuals with developmental disabilities view assistive technology as way to gain more freedom and autonomy. This new technology actually empowers these individuals and allows them to live a richer, more independent life.

Assistive technology offers innovative solutions to enhance the health and safety of individuals with developmental disabilities, empowering them to live more independently at home, in the community, or at work. This service allows people to utilize smart or electronic devices to boost their independence and lessen their dependence on paid caregivers.

Assistive technology can support a variety of needs, including:

  • Ensuring cooking safety and advice
  • Provide overnight support
  • Promoting medication adherence
  • Detect if an individual falls
  • Monitor visitors
  • Help to Navigate the community

The services include a consultation in order to ensure that individuals are paired with the right technology to suit their needs. This includes the necessary equipment and training for both the individual and their caregiver(s) or direct support professional.

When to Utilize Assistive Technology Services:

In the state of Ohio, the Service and Support Administrator (SSA) will evaluate each individual in order to determine if Assistive Technology can benefit them. If a need is identified, it will be included in their Individual Service Plan (ISP).

The individual’s SSA will:

  • Identify areas where the individual is at risk concerning health and safety, or where they desire more independence or privacy.
  • Check if the individual already has technology that meets their needs.
  • Collaborate with assistive technology providers to find suitable solutions.

As Ohio is a Technology First state, they have prioritized exploring Assistive Technology options before considering traditional staffing models when planning services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

To integrate assistive technology into an individual’s plan, an SSA should engage in a thoughtful discussion about the person’s needs and explore various technological solutions. Each potential solution should be evaluated on how it might:

  • Enhance personal freedom,
  • Improve the individual’s ability to communicate effectively with others,
  • Broaden opportunities for engaging in activities and forming meaningful relationships,
  • Support the person’s efforts to obtain or maintain employment, and
  • Increase or sustain independence in daily tasks and activities.

When assessing existing technology that may meet a person’s needs, consider devices such as tablets, smartwatches, and smartphone applications. For example, a smartphone app can remind someone to take their medication, or a smartwatch can send alerts to help them stay on task.

While smart technology often represents convenience or the thrill of new gadgets for many, it holds transformative potential for individuals with developmental disabilities. Smart tech significantly enhances accessibility, fosters independence, and ensures safety and security in their daily lives.

Some examples of assistive technology include:

  • Remote sensors: these are programed for a variety of tasks. Anything from detecting an open door or window, sensing motion or even sensing if a person falls.
  • Two-way video/audio cameras: these allow an individual to quickly reach out to a remote support professional if they have a question or need help.
  • Automated smart devices: a variety of objects in a home can become “smart” devices. Some examples include lighting, TVs, window treatments, thermostats, etc.
  • Voice assistant applications: these include well-known applications like Alexa and Siri. Good for asking for weather updates or playing favorite songs and podcasts.

These examples merely scratch the surface of how technology can empower people with disabilities, offering endless opportunities for them to thrive.

About Team RMS:

At Team RMS, our programs combine personal choice and community integration, while ensuring professional oversight, family involvement and stability. Our services and programs are provided in a wide variety of community settings. We offer the individuals that we serve experienced clinical, medical, behavioral and personal supportive services.

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