24 Days of Technology Recap

If you follow ARRM on Facebook, you may have caught some of our ‘24 Days of Technology’ post series. Each day, December 1–December 24, we featured a new piece of technology that is helping individuals with disabilities live more independently. In case you missed any of the tech, here is the list in its entirety — the Technology Resource Center’s 24 Days of Technology 2018.

Get more tech highlights throughout the year by following the ARRM Facebook page as well as the TRC Newsletter. Not on the list yet? Subscribe to the TRC Newsletter today!

Day 1 - Dose Flip

1 | Dose Flip Medication Dispenser



A smart pill box with available software that notifies individuals (and caregivers) when a medication should be taken, tracks access, and may send various alerts if desired. A rotating top makes the meds available (done by flipping the device over) at the prescribed time.


Individuals looking to take their medications independently who are physically capable.


Learn more about the Dose Health Flip Dispenser and Dose Anywhere at https://dosehealth.com/


Note: The use of this device may be covered by the waiver. The weekly set up may also be done by a home health care nurse, making it a fully funded and supported solution.  



Day 2 - Freedom Alert Emergency System

2 | Freedom Alert Emergency System



A single cost, two-way voice pendant communicator for personal security. This device hooks into a landline and works like a mini cordless phone. Individuals press a button to roll through a contact tree of friends and family, 911, or a mix of both.   


Anyone that may be in need of emergency assistance that does not reliably use a cell phone.   


Learn more at https://www.logicmark.com/ or purchase via Amazon.



Day 3 - BikeAround

3 | BikeAround



An experience bike—a stationary bike with a screen to make individuals feel like they are riding a bike down any road that Google street view has loaded.


Individuals with cognitive disabilities, physical disabilities, or memory difficulties.





Day 4 - Flic

4 | Flic



A Bluetooth connected button that you can apply ‘if-this-then-that’ logic to.    May be set up to control music, lights, and other connected devices. When used as a support indicator, individuals may press a button to discreetly text or call a staff cell phone.                                


Individuals looking to discreetly contact staff on a more basic level, or Individuals with limited mobility looking to control their environment more independently through connected devices.





Day 5 - App MyEar

5 | App MyEar



A real-time voice-to-text iOS app developed by a son for his deaf father. Users utilize an iPhone or iPad to transcribe conversations.


Individuals who are hearing impaired.





Day 6 - Xbox Adaptive Controller

6 | Xbox Adaptive Controller



A game controller and hub for devices like switches, buttons, and joysticks to make gaming more accessible.


Gamers with limited mobility.





Day 7 - Ablenet Hitch

7 | Ablenet Hitch



A plug-and-play USB computer switch interface that may be used with switch accessible software to control a computer.                                   


Individuals that are unable to use a traditional mouse but can use a single switch.   





Day 8 - Eyegaze Edge

8 | Eyegaze Edge®



An eye-driven tablet communication system that provides access to communication and language, computer access, and environmental controls. Software allows users to sync their Android phones to send texts or make phone calls, and it may be utilized with Amazon Echo to control their environment further. The system may also be used as a keyboard and mouse for any Mac, PC, or Linux computer system.


Non-verbal individuals who have difficulty operating a traditional mouse or keyboard.





Day 9 - Amazon Echo Show

9 | Amazon Echo Show



A voice activated personal home assistant with video capabilities. The Echo Show offers everything a standard Echo offers, including setting alarms, making lists, checking weather, turning on/off lights, playing music, and controlling TV (plus much more), with the addition of voice-activated video calling or viewing of smart video monitoring devices for interior or exterior security. Because of video capabilities, device is typically set in a kitchen or main living area.


Anyone who desires to control their environment hands-free.


Learn more about the Echo Show and other Echo devices at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077SXWSRP/ref=fs_ods_bp



Day 10 - Jiobit

10 | Jiobit



A GPS based location tracker with accompanying app (originally designed for child safety) that allows parents or caregivers to check on an individual’s location in real time.


Individuals (children and adults) who are prone to elopement.





Day 11 - IFTTT

11 | IFTTT



A free platform that connects apps and devices utilizing ‘if this then that’ functionality. For example, IF an individual goes outside a certain area, THEN send a text message to their caregiver, or IF my smoke alarm goes off, THEN flash all the lights in my house. There are numerous scenarios individuals may program to help with daily living and safety.


Anyone wanting to control their environment or send alerts automatically when an action occurs.





Day 12 - tecla-e

12 | tecla-e



A cloud-connected assistive device that allows users to control their smart devices through wheelchair driving controls and ability switches. May be paired with up to eight Bluetooth devices and allows individuals to send/receive email, browse the web, watch video, and send text messages. Users are also able to control various smart home technologies to turn on lights, control appliances, and control the TV. The tecla-e also provides remote monitoring features like location, temperature, motion, and ambient light sensors.


Those with limited upper-body mobility or those who cannot operate a smart device independently.





Day 13 - Philips Hue

13 | Philips Hue



A collection of smart lighting products that control lighting in a home. Hue lights operate through voice-activation via personal home assistants, by switches, or wireless motion.


Individuals with limited mobility.





Day 14 - Vitals App

14 | Vitals™ App



A free application that promotes greater independence and provides increased safety when individuals with disabilities and certain conditions are out in the community. The app allows for safer community interactions by sharing personalized digital profiles detailing critical information—like de-escalation techniques and behavior triggers—with authorized first responders.


Individuals with visible and invisible conditions and disabilities (mental health, developmental, behavioral, and intellectual), their families, and caregivers.


https://thevitalsapp.com/ PLUS, stay tuned for a more in-depth look at the Vitals app coming soon to the TRC.



Day 15 - WayFinder 3

15 | WayFinder 3



An iOS travel support application that utilizes GPS to help individuals travel independently by providing picture and audio instructions. Customized routes are able to be loaded onto the app by a caregiver/family member to display step-by-step audio and visual instructions. Images may be loaded along their routes to let them know they are on the right path and audio cues can let them know when to get off the bus.  


Individuals with cognitive support needs.


Additional information and product image: https://www.ablelinktech.com/index.php?id=33



Day 16 - OrCam MyEye 2

16 | Orcam MyEye 2



A small device consisting of a camera and text-to-speech engine worn on an individual’s glasses that can read text, recognize faces, and identify products.


Individuals who are blind or visually impaired.


Additional information and product image: https://www.orcam.com/en/myeye2/



Day 17 - SafeWander

17 | SafeWander



A wearable sensor that attaches to an individual’s pajamas to sense when they begin to get up and sends an audible alert to a caregiver’s smartphone via the app – compatible with iOS or Android.


Individuals prone to wandering or at risk of falling.


Additional information and product image: https://www.safewander.com/



Day 18 - HeadMouse Nano

18 | HeadMouse® Nano



A wireless head-controlled mouse that translates a person’s head movements into mouse pointer movements via a wireless optical sensor and “target” worn by the user.


Individuals who have difficulty operating a standard computer mouse.


Additional information and product image: http://www.orin.com/access/headmouse/



Day 19 - Jamboxx

19 | Jamboxx



A harmonica-like device that attaches to a computer to allow individuals to create music with their breath, hands-free. The device allows musicians to play multiple instruments in varying keys, scales, and octaves.


Music enthusiasts who have difficulty playing a traditional instrument.


Additional information and product image: https://www.jamboxx.com/


Day 20 - Tobii Dynavox I-15+

20 | Tobii Dynavox I-15+



A portable speech generating device, controlled through eye-gaze, touch, or switch, that facilitates computer access, environmental controls, speech, and long distance communication.


Individuals who rely on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technology in order to speak.


Additional information and product image: https://www.tobiidynavox.com/en-US/devices/eye-gaze-devices/i-15/



Day 21 - Freedom Guardian

21 | Freedom Guardian



A medical alert system. A watch device provides integrated mobile phone and two-way communication capabilities to receive reminders and alerts (read aloud through watch device), utilize text-to-speech functionality, and track location.


Designed with older adults in mind, the device could be used for seniors, individuals prone to elopement, or people with certain cognitive disabilities.


Additional information and product image: https://www.medicalguardian.com/products/freedom-guardian



Day 22 - CanPlan

22 | CanPlan



A free task manager app that helps break down tasks through photos, captions, speech, and video recordings. Tasks can be scheduled to prompt the user when to do them and are checked off when completed. For iOS devices.


People with brain injuries and other cognitive disabilities who need support with completing tasks.


Additional information and product image: https://www.canassist.ca/EN/main/programs/technologies-and-devices/at-home/canplan.html



Day 23 - OBI Eating Device

23 | OBI® Eating Device



A food delivery device that allows individuals to eat independently through the use of accessibility switches (including sip-and-puff attachment).


Individuals with limited or no upper limb mobility who can chew and swallow without assistance.


Additional information and product image: https://www.kinovarobotics.com/en/products/assistive-technologies/eating-devices



Day 24 - Seeing AI

24 | Seeing AI


A free “talking camera” app for iOS devices that provides individuals with information in real-time about the world around them. Helps read short or long text, identifies products and currency, detects colors and light, reads faces (recognizes people, describes faces, and emotions) and scenes.


Individuals with low vision.


Additional information and product image via: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/seeing-ai


• • •

Have a technology support product to share? Let us know about it!


Don’t miss the next article!


Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

Connecting Through Technology

Connecting through technology banner with background of abstract expressionist painting in pink, blue, and white

Assistive Technology for communication and community integration

Not everyone communicates the same way. For some individuals, expressing thoughts, feelings, and emotions is made more challenging by certain disabilities. For non-verbal individuals, assistive technology supports offer additional ways to make connections, be heard, and join in. This is especially true for Dan.

Dan is a highly energetic and personable 67 year old man with cerebral palsy. He enjoys good company, good jokes, and a good beer. Throughout his lifetime, Dan has seen his fair share of technology advances—in his memoir, written with the assistance of his communication device, he recalls a time before he got his first wheelchair when he was pulled around in a red wagon. Now utilizing a power wheelchair to get around on his own, he has since added additional technology supports to further his independence.

Though he is able to communicate by vocalizing a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (which he prefers in direct conversations) or by motioning when a choice is involved, he utilizes technology supports to express himself in greater detail. For the past several years, Dan has used the Essence Language System communication device, acquired using waiver funding. Resembling a large tablet, the device helps him to communicate via text-to-speech or through email using tab-based navigation and head mouse technology. The built in software, which includes spelling and word prediction for quicker and more efficient thought expression, also provides Internet access for Dan to perform Google searches or get to YouTube to listen to his favorite music—country.

“He expresses himself very well even though he’s not verbal, but through his communication device he gets the words out.”

Sam Subah, Assistant Program Manager at Living Well Disability Services


Communicating isn’t done through words alone. Art can be a powerful outlet for individuals of all abilities to capture their emotions and express themselves. After the passing of his wife, Sally, in May 2017, art became a great outlet for him to express his grief.Through the Creative Arts program at his day program (Midwest Special Services, Inc), Dan showed interest and skill in painting. To help him paint independently, staff members worked with him to create assistive technology tools made from basic objects. An adaptive head apparatus was created using the inside framing of a construction hat and a metal rod to hold his paint brushes directly in front of his eye, which is his preferred placement while working. Using this device, along with an adapted easel and palette, Dan is able to spend his time creating large paintings that have been displayed in local galleries and exhibitions—like his recent live painting installation at a Minnesota Wild Game.

Because of his patience and motivation for increased independence, Dan and his support team were able to explore different technologies that worked for him and met his goals. He is not only able to connect further with individuals through his communication device, but engage the broader community as well through his art—showing others what is possible.

• • •

In addition to taking advantage of assistive technology to express himself, Dan also utilizes various assistive devices around his home, supported by Living Well Disability Services, to maintain his independence which will be documented in an upcoming TRC case study—stay tuned!

Banner Image Credit: Dan Stallsworth

View more of Dan’s artwork on his website

Don’t miss the next article!


Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

Creating Organizational Buy-In Part 3 | Becoming a Champion for Technology

Being a part of an organization that utilizes all available resources to assist not only those you help support, but the staff and overall operations of the company sounds like a win win for all involved. But how is your organization able to get to that point? It could all start with YOU!

If you’ve missed the first two posts in the series, read up on creating organizational buy-in with The Basics, which covers the main steps to follow to help gain buy-in, and Breaking Barriers, which walks through common sticking points and offers solutions to get everyone on board.

The experts:

sean henderson headshot Sean Henderson, Information Systems Analytics Manager Hammer Residences
kathy larson headshot Kathy Larson, Director of Brain Injury and Specialty Support Services REM Minnesota
kit piltingsrud headshot Kit Piltingsrud, Program Manager and Assistive Technology Professional Living Well Disability Services

Put Yourself out There

To become the go-to-tech-person in your organization, you have to first let people know what you’re trying to accomplish and why it’s important—for them and for the organization.

  • Be everywhere. Literally. Attend all staff meetings, workshops, and team huddles to discuss the benefits of technology and share examples. Five minutes at the beginning of each meeting for a few months running is a great way to provide valuable information in a quick and digestible format to get individuals comfortable with the addition of technology in care plans.
  • Create opportunities to get in front of people by thinking outside the box. You could host tech talks like Sean or even create tech experience nights. The main point is to utilize your resources and creativity to meet individuals where they are—both physically and by interest level.

Share the Technology

Seeing is believing. Putting technology support options and devices in front of people is key to getting them on board.

  • Bring the technology to them. Demonstrations are a great way to show individuals what tech is available, and may also help get them comfortable with the idea of technology use by being able to see it (and test it out) themselves. Starting with lower tech/lower cost options is a great first step to get people comfortable with utilizing tech supports.
  • Share success stories and resources to get the latest and greatest technology in front of them. Seeing what others are doing helps get people thinking about possible uses, and about other individuals that could benefit from like technology. Subscribing/forwarding on the TRC monthly newsletter is a great start to share success stories and technology news from around the web.

Continue Training

Training. Training. Training. If you’ve read through The Basics and Breaking Barriers, you may have noticed a theme. Without proper training and check-ins to ensure the technology is always meeting the current needs of the individual, technology implementations may stall out, and frustration levels may rise.

  • Cultivate shared learning experiences and model behavior. Being present during implementations and having staff, individuals, and family members be a part of setting up the technology supports (no matter how simple) helps create a “learning together” atmosphere and gets everyone familiar with the technology and on the same page.
  • Create training documents for the team and for future hires. Include notes about the initial implementation, why you chose the tech you chose, and any tweaks you made along the way to give new staff background and get them up to speed.
  • Build on the momentum. Once people begin to realize the benefits of technology use, take the training a step further by spreading the word through experienced staff.

Ready to bring technology supports to your organization but have a few follow-up questions before you get started? Ask the Mentors! TRC Mentors are available to help answer any remaining questions you have and to help you get started. Learn more about the TRC Mentors.

Don’t miss the next article!


Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

Basic Home Network Security: What You Need to Know

home network security basics

Jamie Wolbeck, VP of Operations, SUCCESS Computer Consulting

Imagine you sit down to dinner at a restaurant, and your server comes by to tell you about the specials. “Oh, the steak—tell me more about that!” you say. Your server shrugs. “It’s fine,” they reply.

Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it? And it shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, when most people think about their home network’s security, they’ll probably describe it with the same lackluster adjective: “fine.”

Assistive technologies like voice-generated searches, hover recognition, and refreshable braille displays have made notable strides in recent years, and significantly contributed to promoting independence for those living with physical or cognitive disabilities—all the more reason, then, to make sure your home network is adequately protected. Keeping assistive technology secure is a positive step towards reinforcing independence and privacy.

So, where do you start?

The most basic items related to security are often overlooked,  but there are some simple things you can do to bump your home security from “just fine” to phenomenal. Let’s start with some of the most common ways you can protect your technology at home and terms you should be aware of.

  1. Don’t use the default password: Most devices—think modems, firewalls, printers, scanners, etc.—come preloaded with a default username and password. Change them. Defaults may be easily guessed to allow access.
  2. Use anti-virus and anti-malware software: All of your devices with an operating system can be impacted by a viral infection, or malware, which at best can reduce the performance of the system, or at worse allow it to be actively used against you. While anti-virus software only covers known infections, it still offers protection.
  3. Use wireless internet encryption: Your wireless network needs to be protected from outside intruders, and one of the best ways to do this is to use encryption. Encryption is, quite simply,  a means of scrambling or “coding” electronic messages while they’re in transit, so unintended recipients can’t glean them for sensitive information.

    When it comes to your wireless network, there are several levels of security: WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy), WPA (WiFi Protected Access), and WPA2, which is currently considered the standard level of protection.

    The best way to apply this protection to your home network is to research your router on the manufacturer’s site and make sure you’ve downloaded and applied the manufacturer’s specific firmware, with all settings enabled for the highest possible level of encryption. 

  4. Use a firewall, not just an ISP-supplied modem: Internet Service Providers supply a modem for most home connections, but common vendors like Comcast or CenturyLink don’t supply a device that allows for external protection. ISP vendors or outside devices should be purchased to provide firewall capabilities. Firewalls can take the form of hardware or software, but the important thing is that a firewall filters the data flowing to and from your home network, and determines rules for what type of traffic is allowed to reach your computer from an outside network, such as the Internet.
  5. Update your software and firmware: Patch your devices. Windows software patches, Apple software patches, and hardware patches (firmware) are a requirement to fix vulnerabilities. Like your favorite well-worn shirt, computing software or devices need repair from time to time, and these are offered in the form of a set of updates, improvements, and fixes. Often these bugs are worked out in later versions or new releases of the software, but the patches provide protection from known exploits in the meantime.
  6. Have an encrypted, regular backup: If your data is accidentally deleted or hit with an infection, you need a line of defense that allows you to bring back your data. This information should be stored and encrypted in a safe location, like an external hard drive, a device that can store all of your data in a location physically separate from your computer, for example. Using your systems frequently? Make it a practice to run your backups nightly.

These are first steps, and while they won’t make your network completely invulnerable, it is a great start to keeping your data, and the assistive technology devices you utilize, secure. It’s important to stay up-to-date by reading news articles about vulnerabilities, staying current on attacks, talking to your friends in tech and keeping apprised of email or phishing attacks, so you know what to watch out for.

Professional Security Options

If you are a provider looking for solutions to secure your client and organizational data, or are looking for increased security for your home, hiring a professional computer consulting company may be an option for you. Below are a few good questions to ask when looking to hire a professional service provider.

  1. Will I have a dedicated account manager and on-site technician?
  2. What level of service can I expect?
  3. What is expected of me, as a client?
  4. What do you offer in terms of security services? How are you making sure my devices are updated and patched?
  5. In what ways will your managed services encourage a partnership with our organization instead of a simple business transaction?

SUCCESS provides managed network support, cloud services, project services, security solutions, CIO services, HIPAA consulting and Microsoft Office 365 migrations. We work with business leaders to ensure technology delivers the best value and is utilized in the most effective way for the success of their business today and in the future.

Don’t miss the next article!


Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

Creating Organizational Buy-In Part 2 | Breaking Barriers

Breaking barriers to organizational buy-in

You believe in the power of technology and the benefits it creates for everyday living—for everyone. Now how do you share and spread your enthusiasm with others in your organization? How do you get co-workers, family members, and self-advocates on board with adding technology supports into existing care plans to increase independence and privacy? In part two of our three-part post series on creating organizational buy-in, three experts walk you through what they did within their own organizations to break down common barriers and gain buy-in from all members of the care team.

Miss the first series post? Read more about ‘The Basics’ of creating organizational buy-in here.

The experts:

sean henderson headshot Sean Henderson, Information Systems Analytics Manager Hammer Residences
kathy larson headshot Kathy Larson, Director of Brain Injury and Specialty Support Services REM Minnesota
kit piltingsrud headshot Kit Piltingsrud, Program Manager and Assistive Technology Professional Living Well Disability Services

Help Combat Fears

Knowing what common fears exist for all members of the care team is essential to gaining buy-in. Being prepared with educational resources and responses for uncertainty may aid in moving the implementation forward.

  • Find out what concerns individuals have regarding technology usage. If you don’t know what their fears/concerns are, you won’t be able to properly navigate them.
  • Share resources you collected during your research phase to help get them up to speed with offerings and possibilities.Hear from the experts and utilize the resources below:

Bring in the Tech

  • Share examples of technology supports you think will benefit the individual with members of the care team. Live demos allow for increased excitement and questions.
  • Start small. Beginning introductions with low-cost or low-tech options may help ease the transition and offer limited risk to get individuals used to the idea of technology.
  • Create a shared learning experience by getting as many people involved with the setup of the technology as possible. Shared learning often leads to better questions, understanding, and increased buy-in support.

Maintain Open Communication

When assessing and offering person-centered technology solutions, open communication lines are a must. Not only will it help keep everyone on the same page, but will also help prepare individuals for any changes that may occur.

  • Offer choices to include all members of the care team in the planning.
  • Discuss the cyclical nature of person-centered solutions. Being prepared for change and expressing that reality to members of the care team is paramount to lessen frustrations and maintain buy-in.
  • Check in often with the individual and other support team members to ensure technology solutions are meeting current needs. Taking stock through scheduled assessments is a great way to ensure the individual’s current needs are met.

In part three of the series, experts discuss how they became the champions for technology use within their organizations and offer ideas on how you too can lead the way in your organization. Stay tuned!

Don’t miss the next article!


Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

Creating Organizational Buy-In Part 1 | The Basics

Organizational Buy-in basics

Gaining organizational buy-in for change can be difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. We’ve broken down our most recent training webinar into a three-part post series where three experts who have gone through the technology implementation process share how they helped bring and spread the use of technology supports within their own organizations. In part one of the series, The Basics, experts cover the basic steps needed to bring forward technology supports as a valid option for your organization and the individuals you help support based on their experiences.


Get to know the experts:

sean henderson headshot Sean Henderson, Information Systems Analytics Manager Hammer Residences
kathy larson headshot Kathy Larson, Director of Brain Injury and Specialty Support Services REM Minnesota
kit piltingsrud headshot Kit Piltingsrud, Program Manager and Assistive Technology Professional Living Well Disability Services


Get Educated

The first step to gaining buy-in from others is being able to articulate why you believe in something, and why it’s a good choice.

  • Identify what you are trying to solve for, keeping the individual at the center. Assessment guides are great options to get you started.
  • Research possible solutions or next steps. A great place to start is the Technology Resource Center Library, which includes success stories, specially designed resources, and helpful links from around the web.
  • Find out what costs might be involved. Research possible solutions online and/or request information from tech vendors or peers. TRC Mentors are great resources to reach out to—they’ve been through this process before, and are ready to help.

Hear from the experts and utilize the resources below:

Bring it Forward

Now that you have identified the need, a potential solution, and rough costs associated, you can bring your plan forward to your supervisor or key stakeholders further explaining why you believe this to be a great solution for the individual, and for your organization.

  • Highlight the benefits of technology use (autonomy, decrease in staff hours, increase in staff efficiency, etc)
  • Share examples. Show examples of supports actually helping people to gain buy-in and excitement.

Hear more from the experts:

Spread the Knowledge

Now that you’ve got the attention of your boss and/or key stakeholders, further develop your case for technology and begin sharing concepts with others in your organization and the people you help support.

  • Bring in the experts for a “show-and-tell” experience. Many vendors offer free demos.
  • Use tech-solve language or terms around co-workers, individuals, and families to familiarize them.
  • Have open discussions with primary care staff to determine real needs/wants and promote innovation.


In part two and three of the series, experts will dive deeper into ways to spread the knowledge throughout your organization to create buy-in. Concepts include ways to educate all members of the care team, maintaining support, and how to become the champion for technology use within your organization. Stay tuned!

Don’t miss the next article!


Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

“It’s Been Good for Me”: Angie’s Story

Angie talks about her choice to live independently

Interview reprinted with permission from Impact, a newsletter published by the Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD), and the Research and Training Center on Community Living and Employment (RTC-CL), University of Minnesota.

Originally published on the TRC blog, “Putting a Plan Together for Independent Living” walks readers through Angie’s experience with technology use to maintain her independence and continue to live on her own, even though she was experiencing health issues. In a recent Impact article by Sandy Henry, published by the Institute on Community Integration (ICI), and the Research and Training Center on Community Living and Employment (RTC), University of Minnesota, Beth Dykema, a Direct Support Professional with CCRI’s Independent by Design program, interviewed Angie about her home and life.

Beth: Tell me about what your life was like before you started with Independent by Design?
Angie: I lived on my own. I was mostly on my own. I set up my medications, someone called me [in the] morning when it was time to go to work. Someone came to help me with house work.

Beth: Where were you living then?
Angie: Different apartment in Moorhead.

Beth: I understand you had some health issues at the time. Can you tell me about that and what your biggest concern was then?
Angie: I didn’t always take my medications. My diabetes was up and the shower bothered me. Now I have help.

Beth: When you first heard about Independent by Design and CCRI, what did you think?
Angie: I thought it sounded like a good idea. I was scared to move.

Beth: What types of technology are you using with the Independent by Design team?
Angie: I used to have more. I have sensors for my medications box. I have a button for emergencies.

Beth: How does the technology and the Independent by Design team help you to be more independent?
Angie: I know there is always someone here. Daily staff visits or I get lonesome. I get out more.

Beth: Would you recommend using technology and the Independent by Design program to others?
Angie: I would, yeah. It is a good system for people to be in the community and not to stay home.

Beth: Anything else you would like to add that you feel is important?
Angie: If people really want to live on their own and be independent I think it is a good idea. It’s been good for me.

Learn more about Angie’s story and how, through initial conversations, she and her team were able to put together a support and response plan that met her needs while maintaining her desired level of independence.

Looking to begin conversations of your own surrounding technology use for increased independence and privacy? Begin the FREE 30 minute online training course “Technology 101: The Conversation” to get started today.

Don’t miss the next article!


Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

New Technology Means New Options for People Needing Supports: A Minnesota Story

Technology options for people needing supports

Sandy Henry, Technology Advocate and former community residential services provider
Reprinted with permission from Impact, a newsletter published by the Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD), and the Research and Training Center on Community Living and Employment (RTC-CL), University of Minnesota.

Until recently “supervision,” as used in regulatory language, had often been synonymous with having a caregiver physically present, whether the caregiver is family or Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). This fact has been one of the greatest barriers to individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) living more independent lives. But, what if there was a way for caregivers to know when they are needed and when the person is doing fine on his or her own? What if a caregiver could be assured a vulnerable person got home from work on time, didn’t let anyone else in the apartment, never left the stove on unattended, took medications on time, and could check-in for a chat or a question even with the caregiver miles away? And, what if the tools it took to do all these things were affordable? Remote supervision and support offers those possibilities.


Remote support and the technology it requires is not new, but spreading the word and adapting regulatory and funding rules to take advantage of it has been a slow process. Because “supervision” required the presence of a DSP, funders felt safe tying payment to DSP physical presence, and regulatory language often used “supervision” and “staff ” interchangeably. It all worked, for better or worse, until supervision no longer required the physical presence of a DSP. Minnesota has found a way to adapt funding and regulation to use the new technology tools, and it is starting to catch on.

Minnesota identified two ways of funding remote support through the HCBS Waiver:

  1. Individuals living in their own home (non-provider controlled) where services are offered via a menu of options. In this situation, remote support technology and services are covered under Environmental Accessibility Adaptations. Since the technology is of no use without DSPs or natural supports receiving and responding to information from the technology, DSP 24-hour remote supervision and response is covered under 24-Hour Emergency Assistance in a daily rate.
  2. Individuals living in licensed provider-controlled housing with services paid for via an inclusive daily rate. In this case a rate calculation system called the Rate Management System (RMS) is used to determine the daily rate. The RMS calculation is based on the person’s needs, including on-site awake staff, on-site overnight sleep staff, and remote monitoring hours of supervision.
    Two organizations using remote support technology in Minnesota are Dungarvin and CCRI.

Dungarvin: Alternative Overnight Supervision

Dungarvin is a national organization of privately-owned companies that are dedicated to providing high quality, community-based supports to people with varying support needs. In Minnesota, it first piloted the use of technology for remote support in 2006, and now uses remote monitoring technology in a number of locations. It took a few years of work with regulators and other stakeholders to receive approval for remote supervision as an alternative to on-site overnight staff, as required by regulation. Dungarvin now uses two active staff overnight to provide scheduled cares and respond to call devices in five homes in Minnesota. Staff can get to each house from another within the times specified in each person’s support plan.

Dungarvin currently uses bed, motion, and contact sensors, and a variety of call devices to match each person’s physical abilities. If a person can’t use a traditional call pendant, a button activated by the light touch of a knee, elbow or head will do. Adapted call devices are mounted to beds, wheelchairs, and walls in bathrooms and anywhere else a person might want to let DSPs know they want help. Dungarvin also uses sensors on individuals’ medication cabinets and sensors to prompt DSPs when critical cares are due, helping the busy staff stay on top of things.

The sensors and call devices are connected to robust software managed by Sengistix, a national remote support vendor. Each person’s support team decides the areas of vulnerabilities for which a DSP needs to be notified and respond in person. Individuals at risk of falls or wandering might require a DSP to respond as soon as a person is out of bed, or out of bed and not moving around in his or her room. Each person served decides how and when to use the call device to request DSP attention. All notifications to staff are private, going to a phone DSPs carry to receive and accept responsibility for responding to notifications. The various sensors also track the care actions of DSPs to help verify how quickly notifications are responded to and timing of critical cares, such as medication administration and repositioning.

CCRI: Independent Housing Options

CCRI, in Clay County of western Minnesota, developed the Independent by Design (IBD) program partnering with Sengistix as the technology vendor. For CCRI and Clay County this program is an alternative to traditional 3-4 person homes. By using the same type of technology Dungarvin uses, CCRI staff support a variety of people with a range of needs, each living in his or her own community apartment/home. Each person, with help from the support team, identifies what situations indicate a need for IBD staff to respond and what the expected response is. It might be a phone call to discuss an issue and offer direction, or a DSP going to the person’s home to provide face-to-face support. When appropriate, the technology keeps staff informed of when individuals come and go, take medications, are in or out of bed, have an activated smoke detector, and so forth. The technology is also used to provide reminders and prompts directly to the person, only involving staff if the matter isn’t resolved. For example, if a vulnerability for one person is getting up and off to work on time, a bed sensor can prompt a phone call to the person if not out of bed by 6:30, again at 6:35 and again at 6:40, if not out of bed. If by 6:45 the person is still not out of bed, the system will call the assigned DSP to intervene per the person’s plan. The same can apply to taking medications, leaving for work on time, or any number of activities and behaviors. When someone needs more intense support and education in certain areas, additional hourly supports can be added and adjusted as the need indicates.

The individuals supported by IBD are not restricted to living in group settings to share staff support. They get the interactive support they need when they need it, while living in the place of their choice. When they don’t need direct staff interaction, they are independent and on their own, knowing support is available at the push of a button. The IBD staff are mobile and can be anywhere in a 20 minute radius, helping someone prepare a meal, talking a person through a tough day at work, checking on a person with diabetes whose refrigerator hasn’t opened all day, being where they’re needed when they’re needed instead of sitting around a group living setting waiting to be needed.


Both uses of technology profiled here:

  • Allow individuals greater privacy, dignity, independence, and control.
  • Extend the reach of DSPs by helping them know when, where, and how to be of greatest assistance.
  • Maximize the efficiency of taxpayer resources by reducing wasted DSP time when they are not needed.
  • Improve accountability of the services, as a collateral benefit.

To enable these uses of technology the Minnesota Department of Human Services allowed innovation to occur, then worked with providers and advocates to find ways to responsibly adapt funding and regulation to support it (see the department’s policy page titled Monitoring Technology Usage). Regulations that don’t overly restrict providers or teams enable ongoing innovation, and funding that allows flexibility and adequate resources while still incurring overall savings sets up the system for success.


Learn more about Dungarvin’s remote support implementation
Learn more about CCRI’s remote support implementation

Impact is a newsletter published by the Institute on Community Integration (UCEDD), and the Research and Training Center on Community Living and Employment (RTC-CL), University of Minnesota. Articles cover useful and practical information, research, and case studies related to persons with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities.

Learn more about Impact


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Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

Technology 101: The Conversation


On the road to technology implementation

If there was a step you could take which could lead to greater independence and privacy for people with disabilities and make direct support staff more efficient and effective, would you take it? How about if that step only took 30 minutes of your time?


[Enroll in Technology 101: The Conversation]

Launching Technology 101

One main goal of the Technology Resource Center (TRC) is to promote and spread the use of technology in supporting people with disabilities. One way the TRC aims to do this is through a series of online training courses to get individuals up to speed on the process and familiar with the technology options available today.
Dubbed ‘Technology 101”, these video courses walk support teams through each phase of the technology implementation process, complementing the information and resources already found within the TRC.

The Process


The first video training course, “Technology 101: The Conversation,” may be completed in roughly 30 minutes and guides providers, support staff, case managers, and families through the steps necessary to have thoughtful, shared conversations regarding the addition and use of technology in care plans.

Covered in Technology 101: The Conversation


[Enroll in Technology 101: The Conversation]


Don’t miss the next article!


Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.

With a Little Help from Your Friends

TRC Mentor Network Launch

Technology sounds like a great addition to care plans. You’ve heard it can help increase independence for individuals with disabilities, and assist with staff management and how staff do their jobs. But where do you start? How do you turn conversations into actionable strategies? How do you find the specific technology supports that will work for the individual?


Step 1: Know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution

Step 2: Review the resources available in the Technology Resource Center.


But then what? If only there was a way to connect with other individuals and organizations who have gone through the implementation process before that you could talk to and get answers to your remaining questions. Well, you’re in luck. The recently launched TRC Mentor Network provides just that.  

Who are the Mentors?

TRC Mentors act as guides for those looking to implement technology supports for individuals they serve, their family members, or for themselves.  Mentors are ARRM members from provider and technology vendor organizations (and soon, self-advocates), who have gone through the technology implementation process before and are available to provide guidance for those looking to get started or at any stage during implementation.

Provider Mentors offer their time and expertise to help answer questions individuals or organizations might have regarding the technology implementation process. They are available to help share their experiences, provide general information, and offer recommendations.

Vendor Mentors offer free, no-obligation consultations to provide answers to questions and offer solutions. Vendor Mentors are available to discuss what to expect during implementation, how certain items work, or what costs might be involved.

While there may come a point when the nature of your interactions with a Mentor changes from ‘mentorship’ to ‘business consultant’, the initial contact is a sales-free environment and a great way to figure out options and next steps.

How to get connected with a Mentor:

Visit the mentor page to view Mentor areas of expertise along with their availability to help guide you to the correct person for your particular question(s).


Visit the ARRM Technology Resource Center to learn about more success stories and case studies showing how technology is changing the lives of those living with disabilities or learn more about how to start the conversation.