4th Tuesday Forum on Innovative Options Staying Connected Through Technology

4th Tuesday Forum on Innovative Options   Staying Connected Through Technology

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So without further ado, we'll get started. Our first presenter today is a Patricia Simbala. Patricia is our Director of Assistive Technology for DDS and wants to share a little bit about some AT initiatives that are going on right now. Welcome, Patricia. Thank you, Deputy Commissioner, How are you? Thank you very much. I can share my screen now.

Let's see, Okay, can everybody see my screen? We can Okay. Is that too small? That's not too small. I'll make it larger here. Whoops, that's a little too large. Okay. All right.

So we've got a lot going on. We've done a, we've done quite a few initiatives and we're starting up some initiatives. So why don't we get right into it? Respite homes, technology upgrades. So a couple years back we put a lot of assistive technology into the respite homes, the 12 respite homes throughout the state. So what we're doing now is we are improving or adding two different technologies.

Gino Stove, which is really, really cool, really high technology, really, really amazing. We're also gonna be training people on how to use those and and the other technology within the house, the shows we have, the more advanced Amazon shows in there. It's just really great assistive technology. Stop by, check it out. Anyone can go and see the technology that's there. Call ahead just to find out the hours so that somebody's there.

OK. We have 100 people in DDS going through the assistive technology application Certificate program. This is through the University of California and it is a great, great program. There are they are gonna learn so many different things about elderly, about augmentative and alternative communication, environmental controls. There's there's lots, there's too much to even mention. The important thing is that they will be able to do evaluations when they finish the course.

Even if the DDS staff goes into someone's home and can recognize that assistive technology is needed, that alone is extremely valuable. So I'm extremely happy that 100 people are going to become more knowledgeable about assistive technology within DDS. This is one of the notice of opportunities. As I mentioned, two of these have already gone out. It's exactly the same one families, individuals that are looking for assistive technology and who are receiving services from DDS and can benefit from a system technology and they have to independently or with about an inside an in homes, in home supports. So also if they're looking forward to moving into remote supports living a more independent life, Amy Bazoski is going to tell you more about that in a bit and that's a really cool thing remote support providers. So another notice of

opportunities for providers and it is providers for individuals that are living in these settings. Here community companion, home community, living arrangements, continuous residential supports and who are residing independently within home supports. So this is a great notice of opportunity.

A lot of providers have taken advantage of this and and use this and a lot of individuals have received a lot of assistive technology, needed assistive technology and help with assistive technology through these two notice of opportunities. These are some of the things that we've already. Sorry, that's kind of big.

Let me just, all right. So these are things that as I mentioned, we've done 2 rounds of each of the notice of opportunities that I just mentioned. We had a customized employment through the use of assistive technology, notice of opportunity that it has to pertain to assistive technology using assistive technology in a business situation. For instance, if you did a dog walking business doing an app, you know there's many ways to use assistive technology to do employment. And we just awarded a request for proposal to have numerous assistive technology evaluations done and that will be coming up. So say thank you.

Please contact me if you have any AT questions or you need a T There is a, there is a committee that reviews all of the applications and if you're a family member individual, call your case manager and the case manager will fill out the application on your behalf. We stop sharing. Deputy Commissioner, thank you very much for this opportunity.

Thank you, Patricia. And all these resources are available on our website and we can share the link and we'll share the links to the to the notice the assistive technology page on our website. Next I would like to turn it over to Enrico from Star who's going to talk a little bit about the assistive technology center and the the incredible work that's happening in that part of the state around assistive technology. So welcome Enrico.

You are muted here. If I am meet myself here, I can. Am I online? We can hear you. OK, great. Can you see me thought that that's as important? My name is Enrico Malkyori. I'm the Director of the City of Technology Lab here at STAR, Inc As many of you may know, STAR Inc has been in business for 70 years in the disability market of assisting and helping people become independent in our community.

We have 17 group homes and apartments with community limiting arrangements and specialized apartment setups for individuals. So my charge has been to come in and help develop this AT library, putting it together with the technologies needed to do multiple assessments and evaluations ranging from smart home technologies, communication technologies, organizational technologies, vocational support technologies. And we have basically turned all our group homes into smart homes by implementing multiple technologies including Alexa door openers, specialized stoves, emergency systems and such. I am prepared a small PowerPoint presentation describing what we do here and pardon me, that's my Alexa talking. Then as she hears her name, she'll pop into my office too. So I will be giving this short presentation discussing about what we are doing, what we've done so far and what we are looking to do, especially regards to that RFP that came out to do the evaluations for DDS.

So if you give me one moment, I'll reach out to my PowerPoint presentation. Yeah, this PowerPoint presentation also included a video in my third screen. If anyone is having troubles seeing that, please just speak up and then I'll skip forward because I don't want to hang up the presentation. So as you can see, we are the essential technology evaluation Center for Fairfield County. Here at *, we are helping children and adults engage, play and achieve in their community.

And when we say that, we mean that this is sort of a holistic approach looking how individuals in our community can achieve, thrive and become competent and capable members of the thriving community here in Fairfield County. This next slide includes the video that Katie Bonshaff, the director, explains a little bit about Star's mission, and there'll be a little bit about how I explained what the technology's been doing here at Star. Again, if there's any problems, please speak up and I'll skip forward to the next slide. So I think that went through. Thank you for that.

So we've been pretty busy over here at Star. I've been fishing with Star for about a year and a half, but have been in discussions with Star for the last three years. Obviously given most recent pandemic that slowed a few projects down. But I'm here as a director to help build this department and give it legacy.

So that is I move onwards and forward. I have people coming in building up the staff. So we're building mentor ships and internship programs around this department to keep this department going. We've also been very good at fundraising. That's one thing that Katie and the and the philosophy department do very well. We've access to grants from the Generation Impact, which is a group of young ladies here in Fairfield County who go and look at programs and decide which programs they decide to invest in.

They were very interested in our early childhood programs and in early childhood development. Along with this in technology, the Tuxis Fund which is a money management company also looked at us and partnered up with us in these funds. And the Suzanne McGraw Foundation has also been very instrumental in Star. But along with what the assistive technologies are regarding young children and children and childhood development and educational development, a lot of these monies are earmarked for people who don't have any other resource to funds because of their scenario or situation. And also here to continue to fund that department as a legacy going forward.

We've been very busy setting up the library. We've obviously purchased quite a bit of equipment with grants and ARPA funding and such, iPads, Microsoft Surfaces, Chromebooks, we're covering all the operating systems. We have a complement of enabling devices for both OT and AT evaluations.

We use multiple mounting devices for switches and devices themselves. We have tables that are reasonable height and tilt. So we can adjust all the workstations to be coming to us and we can work with those are also available for lending and or we can give suggestions where to purchase that equipment should it be needed in the assessment or the actual implementation of technology at home. Obviously a bunch of apps for communication, organizing, reading, safety, medicine, cabinet lock display we actually have here on site. What we're doing in our smart homes is we're actually installing Gale smart locks on the cabinets so that we can help monitor medicine, disbursement and taking of medicines using the Alexa to piggyback to that.

We also have Alexa and ring devices on display to be utilized that could be calling out throughout the offices as well as to our group balls to show them to do drop ins and Wellness meetings. We also have an onsite group home here at 182 Wolf Pit where we can actually show and display the safety in the kitchen and the smart home devices at at work in a real time environment and get real feedback from our house managers and participants. We also have, we're very lucky in receiving a $330,000 grant as I had said earlier and mentioned to make all our homes smart and that's been giving us quite a bit of a boost with our house managers as they're now better able to manage and monitor their homes and deal with safety issues and concerns that had cropped up in the past. They're using Alexa Ring, Gale Locks, residual climate controls as well as yielding sensors to keep a good hand on an eye on what's going on at the house as well as with these participants. We've increased safety and comfort obviously using some of these systems. We've also given the access to the Alexis to the participants, so they now are able to have schedules and run their own reminders, which has made them a lot more independent as they no longer really need to count on staff to remind them of what they're going on and doing that day.

So there's a behavior component there too, which is quite helpful because the staff doesn't feel like they've been asked the question 3600 times and the participant can ask the question 3600 times because Alexa will always answer and not get tired of doing that. One of the things that Katie has also mentioned quite a bit as a director who's been here 40 years is always watching people show up in the wrong clothes for the wrong weather. They'll show up in shorts or flip flops that might be snowing outside or vice versa. What we found out is the residents that are independently going out to the Alexis and actually asking the weather so they can appropriately set up and come in with reindeer or umbrellas. And a lot of our residents are quite involved with traveling and and taking trips to different places. They're asking the weather for where they're going, so they're not showing up in Florida and dressed up as in a snowsuit.

So it's been, it's been very, very, very helpful for a lot of folks and obviously the the the listening of music or watching shows has made these folks independent. They should be able to call it up and they likes it at their own time. We have used ARPA funds to upgrade all our homes.

One of the big upgrades was Wi-Fi access points. As you know all this technology is really Wi-Fi dependent and needs good quality Wi-Fi and good quality connectivity. And unfortunately before the homes were really just dealing with one computer and or cable TV. So the the Wi-Fi and the modems weren't as paramount as they are today.

So we've now done multiple access points throughout the homes. Depending on the size of the homes, they can up to three or four access points. The condos and the apartments have single access points. We've updated it with notebooks and given folks Chromebooks so they can also work independently and work on their projects, but also do their reporting for the people who are working in house.

All new printers for reports and special projects. A lot of the folks like to have their schedules printed out in color. So we've gone with all new HP card printers and kept everything up to stuff one GB Internet service in all the houses as it's rolling out. Even as we speak. We've had some aspect ready today because we, as we know, did we just lose my sharing? We did. We see you though.

Oh well, I'm not sure that's important. Let me see. Let me come back to it. I see some jumping around. Please excuse me while I jump to the to that screen. So again, using the arc of funding, we've installed some security camera systems and we've also set up some better office organization systems so that people are better kept on schedule and better kept on task. So what we've been up to in the lab with respect to our evaluations, we've been evaluating or trialing STAR participants.

And when I say startup participants, they can be people here within our game program, within our group homes and even on our RUBINO child center, which is sort of a center that deals with young children coming in who are doing OT and PT therapy, but are now also involved with such technology evaluations. We are currently here in our lab. We have one of our participants who's actually an employee who helps us out on a daily basis, several hours a day in our installation setup as well as managing some day-to-day operations here at the office. So in his supported employment role, we have set him up with schedules and reminders. We've done some reading support with some other folks who've done some text reading for eyewear who've come in and worked for us as well.

These are technologies that are really well suited to how to manage someone's schedule, make sure they're not time for work, make sure that the technology is is there to be repeating and not stressing out the folks who are helping them with work. So you can pop in the Alexa does a visual recognition and says hello, this is your schedule for today. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And he's nice and and unable to understand what he's doing that day without being worried about asking too many times.

You're embarrassed that that's one big thing is we find that people get a little stressed out knowing they're asking so many questions. So we try to minimize that stress by giving it to a piece of technology. We've obviously done some communication AT as well using prolopo. We're assessing.

A young kid at Vino was using the talk to me using the eye gaze. We are also looking at some other tools from the switching technology, so he's not constantly stuck in his in his adaptive chair, sort of in a F16 fighter pilot position, keeping his head still. His mom was concerned that he'd be just totally tied up in that machine all day, so we're now looking at other devices and switch technologies and other communication boards and tools.

Next one, A lot of the trials are also heavily involved in the independent living environments these people are involved in, either in their group homes or their apartments or individual apartments or their other CLS. So we've had situations where we've had to monitor and evaluate tools to prevent eloping people walking off property, people walking out of their homes. So we've done some GPS monitoring devices and we've implemented them and had great success with reporting and feedback and making sure that people don't walk off. We're not supposed to egress technologies. We've we've evaluated and implemented for in many of our homes that have either a ramp system in on the House or or at ground level.

So we've installed door openers throughout all the houses and given the participants access remotes to get to it either via the van or a handheld remote or something off their wheelchair. They've also been set up so that the smart automation in the house can access them to and be and open the doors, motion sensor systems for safety. We've done quite a few of those so that lighting turns on, doors open up and systems are activated as the person is moving throughout the home door and window monitoring systems.

Again, that sort of walks back to the eloping function to make sure that people are walking out the house when we shouldn't be. So they get a yield link reminder saying that either door or window is open, unlike the original doorbell systems that were in some of these houses since the 70s, which is basically any door or any window that open which is ring a doorbell, you wouldn't really know where to respond. Now, with these particular systems, you can discreetly tell which door, which window, which whatever bedroom door is being opened, because it'll announce that particular door.

We looked at fire prevention and extinguishing, including some of those fire outs that that go under the oven ranges and under the microwave ranges, just in case someone should start a fire. It would then quickly extinguish. And then there's also systems that as we all know will turn off the ovens either gas or electric depending if a fire alarm has gone off of the house.

I I feel that this is a pretty strong tool as we as we all look forward to getting people out of their current living situations to be more independent. This would be something the landlords are going to find quite attractive because we've all heard the stories where someone moves in and and something happens in the kitchen. That's the biggest, scariest place for something to catch on fire using these very inexpensive technologies. The extinguishing systems are under $100 and the the system is actually shut off the stove and or the microwave are under $500. They react to the fire alarm and these are things that we can then say to our perspective landlords or our perspective participants moving forward.

This is the way we can keep you safe and make sure that the landlord feels good about this transition as well. We've also been looking at locking systems for medicine campus as I mentioned earlier, we're using the Lexus to monitor taking the of the medication. So we'll basically set up a reminder that a manager with with Med district, with Med rights could come in and was Med certified, that you Med certified will call in on the Alexa. Usually it's near the medicine cabinet or by that area. They'll open the medicine cabinet up via the Yale Lock app. The medicine cabinet will open, the person will take their meds, put the medicine cabinet away.

The person monitoring this knows the medicine cabinet has been shut, and that has really helped us out a lot with the loss of medicines, not taking medication on time, the wrong amount of medicine, etc etc. So that's been very, very helpful, especially when you're trying to keep staff in several different places at the same time. Everyone's taking meds at night time or in the morning.

You can spread it out a little bit easier. Now. We're using Alexa quite a bit to make announcements within the home. That's helped out quite a bit with some behavioral issues that come up with some of our folks who feel like they might be getting yelled at because someone is shouting down the hallway that dinner is ready. We can now have Alexa make those announcements or invoke those announcements so that people don't get stressed out saying, Oh my God, so and so is waiting for me.

Alexa just makes that quick dinner bell and people know where to go. That also works in both directions. If a participant needs help and they're in their room and they they are unable to leave their room or don't want to be shouting down the hallway, they can also make an announcement through the Alexis to call in for help to the people working at the house. One of the things we've also been doing quite a bit and and and the behaviorists and therapists have jumped on board including our our in house psychiatrist and psychologist is doing Wellness video checkups.

If someone doesn't come to the day program or doesn't come to the regular scheduled appointment they can be in serviced at home using a a call in feature the video call in feature for Alexa That's helped us out quite a bit especially in an ad hoc situation. Let's say someone's having a bad day or something arises in the home they've had a situation one of our staff can do a quick pop in and certain help tamp down the problem and or you know or even consult to the house staff as to how to handle the situation. So for us that's been very helpful because sometimes seeing is believing and not everybody has a cell phone at that time in their head but at least every Alexa in the common area and or the office to deal with that.

So what have we been up to now lately too, as you know we've all have been part of this RFP for this new DTS proposal for AG referrals and we've been named as the Fairfield County Evaluation Center. We're very proud of that. We're looking forward to working with all the other evaluation centers on working on similar projects in similar clientele and and giving the state good leg up when it comes to this initial. We're all really looking forward to working together using similar kind of data tracking tools and evaluation tools so the states can that can compare apples to apples across the board.

We're very excited about that we're very we're we are looking forward to doing it. What the lab will be doing and has been doing is we're conducting personal center evaluations that that's been Star's bottom since the word go. So it's nothing new to us and it's nothing new to all of us here in this meeting. We're all working here as a person centered service to make sure that these that people who come to us are well serviced and feel part of the community and all ways they can.

We're working with all parties involved with the individuals. This includes their parents, their friends, teachers, family and all support groups and and getting all their feedback and input. When we create these valuations, we sometimes really need to as we all know sort of help understanding the goals and developing goals.

People come to us with solutions or some problems or mix of all things and we sort of have to parse that out and help understanding and sort of putting a point on what the goals would be so that we can then try to come up with evaluations that are relative to a goal set. We evaluate and try on the appropriate technologies. And when I say trial, we also put the technologies in place because as as you mentioned earlier, we have our lending library to do so. So we do the evaluation and put it in the user's hand for a little while to see how it works out because as we all know, it works great in the lab. But when it gets to the real the real world, a lot of things can go wrong. Sometimes they don't, and life is great.

Sometimes when they do figure out what happened and then try to build solutions to not make that happen again again. But the real world is not always the as we know, the lab world, we do have the lending library, which again would be supported by our evaluations. We would then let people use the technology and try out it to make sure it works, works as thought out and then make corrections along the way and also connecting our participants and our evaluees to resources to acquire a system of technology. So what we're doing now as we speak is we're building out our evaluation request form tool.

We've just sat down with a couple of agencies or a couple of implementers. Now over the last two days we're meeting with a few more on how to create quality forms that people can then make quality referrals to indeed turn out quality evaluations. We have an in house tool we use ourselves and that's been working pretty well, but we're looking to standardize that across the board. We're looking to develop a DDS specific referral form so that there is no what IFS emails didn't show up or whatever. They'll be able to go to our website or we can e-mail them a link to a specific form that will drive their data and drop it into our customer management tool. So these forms will be delinked and are called bidirectional.

So there shouldn't be any duplication of data information, but we'll be able to get that grab that information for a specific. So I'm hoping that our DDS case managers will go directly to this link or we will send it out to them. We collect the pertinent relative data so we have actionable information to create a a a property evaluation and follow through. We'll also have other specific referral forms for our own in house participants and our own in house referrals as we are open to direct referrals to our community through obviously other agencies and or direct pay and or insurance. These will all be linked to our website and readily available to to folks throughout Fairfield County as well to be these evaluations. Everything in our data collection process will be HIPAA compliant.

That's one of the things we stress with all our vendors is that they are HIPAA compliant. So if someone comes on, all that data is gathered and collected in a HIPAA compliant fashion, data-driven evaluations from start to finish. The that data was going to be collected from referral all the way through the evaluation.

And the evaluation we built on a data-driven platform. So our forms and our internal forms will be related so that a report will come out based on specific questions designed for the specific request, smart home communications, work pleasure and other technologies. Evaluation tracking for the agencies will be through a referral portal. So as agencies are set up through through us, we will set them up with a referral portal that they can access anytime to track their referred participants. So in the case of DDS, we would give DDS the portal link and they would go in and they could track all the all the all the evaluation and given us throughout the process and where they stand. They could then come back to us and ask us any sort of relevant important questions.

But don't know when that person came in all the way through their funding process, all the way through their eval implementation and set up and keep them on track with that as well as any other agency that we were going to be working with. They'll have their specific portal. We'll be hosting quarterly 18 open houses starting in Q124. What that means is we're going to be asking our participants and our evalues what's important to them? What do they want to know more about? What do they need a little specific brushing up in? And we'll bring those people in and do those things. We'll be bringing vendors in.

We'll be bringing other folks in to make presentations and keep them on on track and keep them abreast of evaluate of the technology of the day. And again, thank you for taking part in our mission and we're looking forward to working with all of you and today and in the future. Thank you, Henrico. I just had to unshare this. I tried to unshare last time. Hopefully I'm I'm sharing now.

So if you hit you're still sharing, but if you hit the share button again, it should go away. Yep. And I just wanted to say, I just recently had the chance to visit the AT Lab at Star and it's really exciting to see the technology in action, to see demonstrations that are happening.

And so for those of you in Fairfield County, you have a really, really nice resource there. And if you're not in Fairfield County, I would love to introduce Nicole Feeney, who is with us from Oak Hill, who is going to talk a little bit about the neat center and assistive technology that's offered through Oak Hill. Welcome, Nicole. Thank you very much. I appreciate that. I am happy to talk about the Nate Center at Oak Hill. And I want to make sure because my computer's being a little funky that you can all see my PowerPoint.

We can, we can. Perfect. Thank you. Yeah. So good afternoon everyone. Thank you for having me.

I'm going to talk a little bit about our assistive technology program and actually did a really nice job of covering some of the things we do as well. So I I will bridge the connection and and then talk a little bit more. We'll deep dive into the AT evaluation process a little bit too.

But just so you know who I am, my name is Nicole Feeney. I'm the Senior Director of Oak Health Centers. The NEAT center at Oak Hill is one of those programs that I oversee. I have a long relationship with the NEAT center.

So I can be here talking about the program and the services provided because I was an assistive technology specialist for that program for many, many years. And so I I always get excited when I get to come and join and and talk about the services that we're still providing today. We'll cover a little bit about what, what and who NEAT is and what our services are. We'll we're gonna deep dive into the evaluation process and the consideration a little bit of assistive technology and all of the things you would think about as a specialist.

We're gonna get to some case studies. We'll see how many I can get through in my allotted time, but I've come with more than I probably should have. And then I will also kind of talk a little bit about our relationship with DDS in the partnership we have moving forward. So I'm here to talk about the NEAT center.

So let me let me like some of the exciting things they've got going on there. The Need Center at Oak Hill is located in Hartford. We are a program that serves all of Connecticut. We even provide some services out of state.

And so we really, we come to people, we do a lot of traveling while we have assistive technology in house at our center in Hartford. And people can come, you know, demonstrate, see some demonstrations of technology and play with our lending library items. A lot of times we're on the road meeting people in their schools, in their homes, in their workplaces, we're doing that.

Our, our, our goal in this program is really to help people find success and independence through the use of technology, to eliminate the barriers that they are coming up against and to achieve their personal goals. We always want to make sure that we're looking at that person and what they're trying to achieve in their life because it is absolutely different for every person that we come across. And even people who are surrounded by their caregivers will have a different opinion of what tools and supports they're looking for in their life versus maybe what, you know, mom or staff are looking for them to be able to do.

So it's important to kind of hear all of those perspectives. Our focus is really assistive technology. We are working with people across the lifespan, so we do a lot of work in the birth to Three program and in the aging population and everyone in between.

So we really kind of see people who, you know, are born into disabilities or have acquired them later on in life. And sometimes people revisit us as as they age and as their needs differ. We also focus on augmentative alternative communication, otherwise known as a A/C or communication. We have a team of speech and language pathologists who are also certified in assistive technology and they they do an indepth evaluation of someone's communication needs and then feature matching them with the technology that can support their ability to communicate with their communicative partners. We also can provide remote monitoring assessments to help people determine what kinds of technology they could use to help them be more independent in their own homes and access life around them, or that social connectedness of people in their families.

We do have something called a smart home on wheels, which is essentially let me bring up some pictures here, but it's essentially a tiny home that is put on wheels and it's outfitted with smart technology and we are able to bring that, We call it the show. We are able to bring that all over Connecticut. It's also been to Maine, New Hampshire, Washington, DC and it's going to Maryland in a couple of weeks.

So it's been to a lot of places along the Eastern coast. But essentially people come in and we give them a tour of the different kinds of smart technology that can help them be a little bit more independent and live home longer. Or if they have disabilities, what kinds of technologies can support that for them as well? Something very exciting that we do and we love is our gaming accessibility. We can.

We work with individuals who of all ages who want to be able to access video games but can't because of a barrier that they have from a disability, whether it's vision or hearing or physical disability that allows them not to be able to participate in video games like everyone else would. Because the the video game systems are limited. They're limited with the controller that the the system comes with or the features that that that are built in and kind of hidden behind the scenes. So our assistive technology specialists spend time with people to try to figure out what peripherals and what assistive technology tools can help modify those devices so that anyone and everyone can participate. We find quality of life to be incredibly important, just like access to work, access to reading, things like that. We also conduct digital accessibility services so we help agencies and groups and individuals learn how to create accessible documentation or or websites so our AT specialists can help individuals figure out how to make their website more accessible How to make documents accessible to people who use screen readers or have physical disabilities.

We we also I won't go too much into it. Enrico did a really beautiful job of identifying some of the technology that he has in his lending library. We do a lot of similar things and there's so many people out there who need access to this technology that it's really exciting to hear that Connecticut has more and more, you know, options for people to borrow from. The idea of a lending library is really to borrow the technology and identify whether that is something that is going to be beneficial to your life. Because we know that people with disabilities who need access to technology may have to spend money to get that equipment. And sometimes it doesn't always work out and that price can really add up.

And so this gives you some time to kind of learn before you buy. We also do a lot of webinars and professional development throughout the year. So we do a lot of. Different kinds of webinars on education and technology, smart home technology, independent living. So those are something to look out for, too. Those can be found on our website, just a quote I'd like to kind of start with before we dive into evaluations of what that means for people.

But quality involves creative uses of technology. Technology should not only be embraced for the sake of improving services and supports, but also utilize to reduce unmet needs. So we wanna we wanna eliminate those barriers for people and provide technology solutions that can provide them with a better quality of life.

Three important things to think about when assistive technology is being considered evidence based So making sure that the tools that are being used have been vetted and that they're tools that are appropriate that fit the AT guidelines that services are being conducted by credentials professionals. And I'll talk a little bit about how you can do things on your own. It doesn't always have to be an AT specialist, but if you really need guidance and a deep dive, being guided by someone who knows the assistive technology tools is important and then best practice making sure that you're following, you know the the guidelines. Connecticut has assistive techno, assistive technology guidelines that can be kind of viewed and it'll help you, it'll provide some guidance. So if we're talking about best practice and assistive technology evaluations, what we're looking to do is identify specific technologies that can improve in performance, access, participation and independence, right.

It's whatever people want to be able to do. We want to be able to get them the technology so that they can do it. The consideration framework is designed to match the individual with a T, right? We're looking at the person first in the AT tools second, as well as how we're going to implement and measure those effective solutions. That Personcentered piece, assessing individual needs, strengths, abilities and challenges is going to increase the likelihood of of finding solutions that will improve performance. Really looking at Personcentered, what is it that they want to be able to do? What if they want as opposed to what is everybody around them want them to be able to do what are their strengths and then identifying what's getting in their way is going to help us find solutions for them. Studies show that 80% of individuals stop using assistive technology that was given to them because it was not a good match.

So Enrico had mentioned before, it's really important to take that home in real life and apply it and see if it's a good fit because often times people will just abandon it. So really taking the time to provide training and working with the device to make sure it's a good fit for your life to be successful with this process, it really should be collaborative. The AT specialist is actually just the lead, they're guiding the process, but everyone who's involved or or surrounding that or loving that individual who's being served, their perspective is important. They might highlight something that they don't, they don't think is important but is critical to the decision making piece of the AT device. So it's it is a really a collaborative effort and the person in the middle of that is the individual whose opinion matters most. It should be an ongoing process.

Things change, diagnosis change, mobility changes, vision changes And so it's always coming back to is this still working or do we have to make some changes. Just talking about the the AT evaluation process a little bit, this is kind of what we do as an assistive technology specialist. We're looking at if this is the set framework, this is really the framework for with which all AT specialists use in some fashion. You're looking at the individual and you're looking at all of the the strengths and their weaknesses and their desires for and you know, empowering themselves and being more independent. You're looking at the task that they're trying to conduct and what is then getting in their way.

What's the issue with the task at hand. Then we're looking at assistive technology tools. It might be 5 different things that were coming to the plate with saying, hey, let's try these five different things to try to solve this this issue with the task. And so you're going to spend some time exploring these options and collecting data to determine whether that's the right tool or not.

You're also considering the environment. A really big factor is that not everyone remembers to consider is the environment around people. It's the heat, it's the the glare from the windows. If there's a vision impairment involved, it's really, there's so many factors that have to be looked at when we're talking about successful use of assistive technology and the implementation of that. So I have a couple of case studies. I think I'm making good time here, but please, you can you can cut me off if I'm going to too far.

You are doing great. And actually the case studies, this is what this is what people are interested in. OK, good, Good. All right.

So I'll run through a couple of them. I want you to meet Pierce. We're just going to talk about Pierce a little bit. Pierce is part of a competitive employment program.

He's working for a maintenance company where he goes and he has lots of different tasks throughout the day. He works very independently. He has a very structured day, things he likes to get done. He shows up on time, it's very dependable and consistent. He likes to go to the iPad and clock in and clock out in the time card system that the agency uses. But his struggle is that he has vision issues and fine motor issues.

So when he goes to log into the iPad screen that the space on the screen is really small for him to see. And when he goes to log in his number, he can't visually see if he's making an error or if the iPad hasn't picked up on his fine motor issue or if he's hit a number twice. It's really hard for him. And he gets incredibly frustrated because the iPad doesn't tell him and he can't see it. So he goes about his day thinking he has clocked in or clocked out and then someone has to come to him and say, hey, did you work today or you know what was the issue? And he gets really down on himself.

This is something that assistive technology solutions can actually really help empower people to feel more independent. He doesn't really require someone to stand next to him and watch him do this, which is what had happened SO2 Quick AT solutions. Simple solutions that worked for peers were that in the software. If you look at the left hand side of the screen, the picture is the actual picture of his of his login, and you can see that the password comes up in dots. So when he's logging in his number, he can't see that.

He can't see that the numbers are incorrect because they're dots. And So what we were able to do is just simply look at the eyeball on the right hand side. That comes with a setting that no one noticed. No one knew what that was for, but if you click on it, it changes it to numbers.

So now he can pinch to zoom on the iPad screen, which is another accessibility setting. Make the screen a little bit bigger and then be able to visually see the numbers he's entering. And it it was an easy and quick solution for him. Assistive technology doesn't always have to be about all the things, all the bells and whistles. These can be quick solutions and people can go on their way. It did require an AT specialist to commit and be able to help with this, but that was only because the people in the room weren't knowledgeable about assistive technology and they were, they were very in the forefront about that.

But if you are, and if you train teams or staff or caregivers with a little bit of knowledge, then these are the kinds of things that they can do on their own. They can explore on their own. I'm going to move quickly to Ben. Ben is a gentleman who has been diagnosed with autism. He has verbal speech, but he does not speak. It is significantly compromised in high stress situations which are constant for him.

He's always in a state of high stress. Sensory overstimulation, unfamiliar people, unfamiliar places, sends him into a place where he can't reach his verbal abilities. Social. He then just stays in his room and he socially isolates.

He started college, couldn't finish, started jobs, couldn't finish, and was really, really eager to use a A/C but didn't know where to start. And those tools are very expensive to just go try. Lending libraries can be incredibly helpful for that. That's actually what happened here. So we kind of guided him, gave him a few apps to explore and watched him empower himself and choose an app that will work for him in communication.

What that app ended up being was a text based app he could type himself. He was a very articulate gentleman. When you gave him something to write he really could speak very articulately.

And so this app provided some word prediction where he would start typing and then it would give him options of word. So he could quickly select the whole word and have it entered into his text box at the top. And then he would be able to use the play button and have that message speak to his communicative partner. So it speed up the process and it eliminated the high stress of having to communicate with someone.

His response it got cut off for some reason but his his response to this in the end was Oh my God. Now I can tell my employer what I need at work, and so it makes a world of difference for people when they can just have access to one app on an iPad that could change a whole world. Oh, there it is. Sorry. There it is.

Right. But he did require a little bit of training and time spent with it. He had to determine if this is something he was going to use in his own life and make good use of that.

Okay. I have two more, so I'll, I'll go through that. So we have Jack. Jack has Down syndrome. He's currently working in competitive employment in any university in the area.

He loves helping people. That is his life's goal. He's very happy when you smile and you say thank you to him for helping him, for for helping you. He has a job coach who supports him and helps him around the office, but the trouble is the job coach is getting involved in things that they probably shouldn't. There should be more independence in some of these tasks, but Jack's not able to take those things on quite yet. If someone interrupts him when he is doing a task, it throws him off and he's not able to rally.

He really can't handle those interruptions and he has a really difficult time initiating. When he's stuck, he will just sit. They will just sit for quite some time until someone comes to ask him if he needs help. So Jack didn't. Jack needed low tech assistive technology, but he also just needed some some different strategies. And so when you have specialists who have experience with individuals and in different areas, they're able to bring those strategies with them as well.

It's about the technology, but it's also about how do we use it, What are the strategies for this specific person and making their life and more independent and more productive. So I won't go through some of the strategies here. I'm happy to send out the the PowerPoint to you guys later, but some of the tech based solutions are low tech. So it was literally about building a vision board of what steps he needed to take in some of his activities, going from one activity to the next.

What happens if you're stuck? What do you do next? So being able to write some of those things down and provide visual supports was a really good treat. A really good support for Jack and allowing him to move through his day a little bit more. This app right here is called Pictillo. It's an app that you can create visual books or visual stories, step by step solutions.

Essentially what we did is we created it all table have when our hope is that in the end we're weaning away from those and he can do those entirely independently. But the supports in between are what's really important for him. This timer he would kind of stuck in like spending too much time on something. And so this is just a visual timer with how much time he should be spending on that task. He was able to gauge how much time he needed, how much time was left and and when the timer went off that he needed to move on to the next thing just quickly.

Harold is a gentleman we worked with. This is an incredible story. He has ******* quadriplegic, cerebral palsy. He's in a power wheelchair, so that impacts his mobility and his communication. He is incredibly social, but has a lot of difficulty being understood by unfamiliar people. And so we were actually able to come in as a whole team.

There was an entire team of neat specialists. We had a speech language pathologist. We had a smart tech specialist and an assistive technology specialist looking at Harold, his home, his communication abilities, his mobility, his reading skills, all of the things that were coming into play for Harold. And so we were able to get him an A A/C device with eye gaze and a switch, an iPad Pro with switch access for reading and writing.

And we outfitted his entire home with smart technology. So that one of the big things for Harold was he said to me, my mom goes to bed at 8:00 and so because she goes to bed on the, you know, the top floor, she shuts all my stuff off, shuts the light off, she shuts the TV off. And we're talking about a 20 year old guy who wants to stay up late and watch TV and doesn't have that freedom. And so he was really excited that his AAC device was connected to the smart home technology so he could do as he pleased at night. So that these are just some quick synopsis of case studies.

I'm sorry that I had to, I moved through them so quickly. I hope that gave you an idea of the AET evaluation process and the people that we serve. I will say I, I won't have to speak too much about it, but Enrico had kind of alluded to some of the partnership with DDS in terms of referrals for those personcentered evaluations doing smart home technology, assistive technology, OK. And remote support monitoring sounds good, sounds good. So we'll be able to kind of dive into that over the next couple of weeks.

No, I'm just listening and somebody, somebody thank you. I love a partner. I love a good partner. And so we'll be able to do some of those same things as Star.

And we're really excited to have some partners in the state to kind of collaborate with and move forward in that process. So more to come on that for sure. Thank you. Thank you very much. Yeah, of course. And thank you for sharing those stories.

I think I could sit and listen to, you know, Herald story all day. And that's so cool. And that's what this is all about. This is, This is why we're really trying to share and spread the word because those success stories are, they're happening across the state.

And it's really, really exciting to see how it's making an impact. Thank you. Thank you. All right. Next, I would like to introduce Kevin Rsay.

Kevin is gonna talk a little bit about at and me how individuals may be able to access assistive technology and receive some training on how that technology can be used. And so I will turn it over to Kevin. Welcome. Hello. I just wanna make sure you want me to.

Do you want me to share the PowerPoint or discount? Yes, please. OK. You can share it. One minute. Good. Yep. All right. Do you see this? We do. Good. So, hello, everyone. I'd like to thank you all for coming to this meeting.

First and foremost, as you know, we're gonna be talking about the AT and Me Technology training and opportunity program. And before we begin, I'd just like to just give a heads up that I'm gonna for the first few slides, I'm gonna play the recordings on them and then afterwards I'll show everyone what technologies they'll be using in these classes. So if there aren't any questions, let's get into it. Let me know if you can hear this recording just in case. Hello everyone. This is Kevin RSA. So if I'll be a coordinator for DDS today, we're gonna be talking about AT and me as well as the technology training and opportunities that assist the technology present.

Now before we begin, I just like to tell you all that after we're done teaching this class, we would like to ask you, the audience, to teach two more people about this class. Basically what we talk to you, you teach to two other people and if you're successful in this, you get your own backpack filled with all the technologies that we're going to present here today. So let's get into it.

What is the ATM program? ATM is an opportunity for people supported by DDS to learn how to use technology to live more independently and improve their everyday lives. People who participate in AT and me will learn how to use the equipment provided to them. Dds's goal is to accept an initial 202 hundred participants who will learn the use in application of technology. After completing the training, each participant will have the responsibility of teaching two more individuals who receive services from DDS on how to use the equipment.

GDS will provide the names of these individuals to the participant. This training and support will be provided to participants to a program known as peer-to-peer training. An online application needs to be submitted by the individual's case manager.

So now we're gonna be talking about what the purpose of the ATMU program is. Well, the program is to give the ability to use digital media safely and independently. It has become an important and necessary skill. Many tasks today can only be completed by using technology, including applying for a job, scheduling A COVID test, paying bills or ordering a revenue bur lift, etcetera. Individuals in the program will benefit from knowing how to use the everyday communication tools provided in the ATM program, enabling them to integrate more fully into the digital society who is eligible for the ATM program. Eligibility to participate in the Acme program is based on factors including assessment of the individual's communication, challenges, available resources they anticipate, the benefit of the technology, and alignment with program goals and priorities.

The Assisted Technology Backpack includes Frankenweiler, JE Extreme Wi-Fi Hotspot, the Solo Urban Hybrid Briefcase, the iPhone SE and a SIM card and wall charger. The Lenovo 3003 Yoga Chromebook with charger cable. The Gen. 4 J Lab Studio Pro on here headphones and the OtterBox USB A USB C wall charge. It's important to note that the distribution of the the Assisted technology backpack will be determined based on the number of applicants.

Sometimes prioritization may occur based on urgency of the individual. Specific needs with weight given to the case managers recommended recommendation of candidates from their caseloads. Individuals will need to participate in a pre and post learning survey and will be notified by DDS when training will begin. We'll be talking more about the survey in the next slide. Online applications need to be submitted, forms must be completed and participants must bring information to take to the class.

The forms that need to be filled out, and not only an application needs to be completed and submitted by the individual's case manager. Participants must complete and send in the consent form to take to the class. Pre surveys must be completed before starting class and post survey. Hard copies will be placed in the back with an online link if the individual chooses to fill out the survey. Online forms to collect information prior to and during class. Participants will bring a form to class with them that will have their e-mail address, username and password on it.

They would use the same document or the whole class to keep track of the new usernames and passwords, for example, Apple ID, iCloud address, etc. OK, so now we're gonna get to me using my voice, so any approve participants will receive free. As to the technology equipment, such as when just show you my camera this the Solo Urban Hybrid backpack and briefcase. You can see this through my camera. Yes, thank you.

Yes, thank you. The Franklin Wireless JE Extreme Wi-Fi Hotspot Lenova 2 three 3003 Yoga Chrome but with charger cable and the charge of people is right here. It's that I show you just in case. And the iPhone SD with SIM card with the width of months of service until July 28th, 2024.

And this is still going. So if anyone is interested any individuals you know, just just make sure that you tell them that if they're going to be in this class that the months of service they get from the both the Wi-Fi hotspot and the phone will last until July 28th 2024. OK the other the other excuse me excuse me the assisted the assisted technology that will get they'll they'll get also excuse me sorry or the Gen.

4 Jlab Studio pro on here headphones. The extra high speed honor box USB a USBC wall charger and the iPhone SE Honor box is basically the little shell that keeps your phone safe from you know crashes or falling on the floor. This is how this these are the instructions to work the GE Extreme high Wi-Fi hotspot. I'm not gonna get to all this, like, you know, every single detail. But just so we have a good grasp on it, this this basically provides Wi-Fi Internet access for you and on the go see for your home. And on the excuse me, the on button is on the the top right.

You can see this in my camera, right? I I just can't see anyone else's. You know we can't. OK. Thank you. Thank you all Melissa. The USBC charging port is located on the right side, basically where you where you charge it. Sorry, left side, right here, excuse me, right side, right side and display power indicator light.

That way the light that gets off from the top right lets you know that it's on. And in order to turn on the device, hold the button on the top right and then you see the device is already set up. And note that on the top right of the screen there will be a Wi-Fi name and a passport.

As soon when when people are, oh excuse me, individuals are in class, they need to put this Wi-Fi name and the password onto their Chromebook. When they turn both on and when they do everything that's in the information that'

2023-09-07 02:20

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