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.

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.

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.

Remote Supports : 10 common questions every family should ask

Remote support technology comes in many forms. From medication dispensers that remind individuals to take their medication (and alert staff if access hasn’t occurred) to more high-tech options such as remote monitoring where external staff monitor a series of sensors and/or video  to alert internal staff to a need, options exist to help increase an individual’s privacy and independence while maintaining their needed level of care.

The first step in learning more about the remote supports that may work for you/your family member is knowing which initial questions to ask. We’ve captured the top 10 questions many family members and self-advocates have about using remote technology supports and received general answers from providers, vendors, and case managers. Keep these questions in mind when working with your team as you explore available options.

Without a physical body in the residence, how will the safety of the person be ensured?

Providers will work with the individual’s team to assess existing safety concerns, develop an appropriate monitoring and response plan, and then install the correct remote support technology to meet safety requirements as well as independence goals. The safety needs of each individual will be unique, and this planning process serves to outline the necessary staff coverage. It is important to remember that modifications may always be made to the plan to provide the best support possible for the individual receiving care.

Who determines what alerts and technology will be used? Who can change it?

The individual served and their team determines what monitoring technology will be needed to assure the individual’s needs and safety concerns are being met. Additional safeguards, such as specific alerts or tracking activity, may be set up to cover any “what if” scenarios the team may have, even if there isn’t a foreseen vulnerability or risk. At any time, the individual and team may make modifications to the technology in use. In fact, changes are common to either better account for things not originally considered or to decrease the level of alerts which the team may not find as necessary/useful as originally thought.

How does remote support technology increase independence?

Remote support technology allows a person to function throughout their day without staff having to be constantly present providing direction or reminders. For example, increased independence may be found by staff only entering the residence when the individual needs them vs having a staff member check in every thirty minutes to see if there is a need. In lieu of a staff member administering medication, a medication dispenser may be used to alert an individual to take their medication and signal staff when the day’s medication container has been opened (or has yet to be opened). Many individuals enjoy, and thrive, with the increased privacy and independence the technology offers them.

What happens if there is a power outage?

Prior to implementing the technology, providers walk team members through their response plans for emergency situations. Most remote support technology has a battery back-up, both for the systems installed at the home and at the remote site. In the event the system goes out completely, additional back-up plans would be put into action.These redundancies ensure individuals are not without assistance if needed, regardless of power supply.

What happens if there is a problem with the equipment?

During implementation, this would be a conversation to discuss with the team and provider. Many, if not all monitoring agencies will have a process available to notify of any issues with the functioning of the system or loss of contact. Back-up plans would be put in place to address what will happen when these instances take place. Also Identified and discussed in that plan would include items such as what to do when the system is down and the process and responsible parties for replacing components.

When should changes be made to the plan using technology?

The plan for using monitoring technology will be continuously evaluated to assess its effectiveness in supporting the person’s needs. Monitoring technology should change when the individual’s needs or goals change.

What about staff training regarding the use of technology?

The vendor will assure that staff, and all individuals involved, are educated on the equipment installed in the residence and how it works. The provider will be responsible for ongoing training on changes in alerts as the individuals needs change and address performance issues if staff aren’t meeting the needs of the individual as indicated by the data provided.

What happens when I/my family member needs assistance, but there is not staff in the home/apartment?

If an individual is in need of assistance when staff is not present in the residence, staff may be alerted in one of two ways. If a sensor has been tripped, staff will be notified according to the response plan. If staff isn’t present, but an individual needs/wants assistance outside of what their sensors are programmed for, they may “call” staff using the method chosen in their technology plan, such as by pushing a button, using a voice activated phone, or initiating a video call. Each alert has a “calling tree” that can include several phone numbers. The phone numbers and the order in which the system calls the numbers is able to be changed at any time.

I am curious about the use of the sensors and the data that is collected. Am I able to receive the data as well?

Yes. At any time, members of the team are able to request a data summary from their provider for the sensors in the residence.

What is the response time of the office staff?

As a part of the alternative adult foster care licensing process, your caregiver must develop and provide you with policies, procedures, and response protocols.  You must give your consent before use of technology is implemented. The statute requires that a caregiver respond within 10 minutes unless certain other provisions are met and approved by the Department of Human Services, Division of Licensing.  The alternative adult foster care license allows for a longer response if you consent to it, if the caregiver assures that certain conditions are met including the provision where the remote care provider can maintain interactive communications with you to assure you are safe and your needs are met.

If you live in your own home or another licensed or non-licensed home, you should ask your caregiver for the same procedures and protocols to ensure you are comfortable with the level of risk present with whatever response time is decided upon.

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.

A Trip to PACER’s Simon Technology Center

Tablets and keyboards and toys, oh my!


For people looking for assistive technology resources to help them, or those they care for, live more independently, Pacer Simon Technology Center (STC)  is one great place to start.

The STC houses 2,000+ pieces of low to high tech items for people of all ages and disabilities and provides individuals, families, and organizations service options including free technology consultations, hands-on training, and in-services or workshops. This allows individuals to experiment with devices/resources to get a feel for which options might be best for them, and families and professionals the option to see what might benefit those they care for.

Devices can be expensive, trying out several to see what works is not always feasible—that’s where the STC and their staff members come in.

How it works


To set up a consultation, free to those living in Minnesota, a consultation application is filled out and a meeting date is set. There is a $50 refundable deposit that will be held and returned to individuals at their appointment to discourage no-shows.

For the consultation, individuals are paired with a staff member whose knowledge and background best matches their needs. The individual’s new guide will walk them through options they believe could benefit them/their family member based on responses in the application and give a demonstration on each. Individuals are then given the opportunity to try the items themselves.

Lending Library

If you are interested in becoming a member of the STC Lending Library, you can decide which devices/resources make the most sense to borrow. Members may check-out items for 30 days, including apps that may be sent directly to individual devices. This “trial period” allows individuals and organizations time to utilize the resource in all aspects of a person’s daily life (school, work, or home) and have time to make an informed decision before making a purchase.

Trainings and Workshops

For organizations looking to expand their knowledge on current available technology, the STC offers free workshops and for fee customized in-service trainings to help navigate options and explore solutions.

The Resources

There are a number of awesome “gadgets” located in the STC such as modified keyboards, tablets, and text-to-speech technology. One piece of technology opens up a world of options for assistive technology devices—a 3D printer. The printer can print items like pencil grips, playing card holders, raised book pages, braille cards, customized wheelchair joysticks, and even prosthetic hands! With the right instructions, this machine can be used to create an unimaginable array of assistive devices.

A backroom in the STC housed several “toy” cars—some propped up like you might find in an auto shop. And, just like at an auto shop, these special vehicles were being fixed-up and modified for their owners.

There was a bright pink off-roading giant and a green jeep just waiting to be customized. Parents are able to purchase vehicles for their children and bring them in to the STC to have them modified by a staff member to fit their needs—for free. Modifications may include creating higher seat backs, adjusting seats, moving the controls from foot pedals to buttons that hands can reach, etc. And, because children will be children, all cars are equipped with a “kill” switch that parents can use if their child gets a little too adventurous.

With the customization help of the staff at STC, a child with Spina Bifida is now able to cruise around her yard independently—go when she wants to go and stop when she wants to stop.  This is just one example of how easy it is to customize readily available technology to increase independence for people with disabilities (young and old).

Check out the PACER’s Simon Technology Center website to learn more about the Pacer STC and their array of services.

Getting to Know Assistive Technology

Resources for no-, low-, mid-, and high-tech options

Expert Contributor: Kit Piltingsrud, Program Manager and Assistive Technology Professional, Living Well Disability Services


Assistive technology devices can either be created at home, purchased and used off the shelf, modified, and/or customized to meet individual goals and needs. From low-tech options such as toy or game modification to high-tech devices that include voice recognition or elopement monitors, assistive technology is empowering those with disabilities to live, work, and play in the most independent way possible.

What’s the difference between no-, low-, mid-, and high-tech?

No-Tech:  No-Tech solutions make use of procedures, services, and existing conditions in the environment and don’t involve the use of special devices or equipment. Examples include pencil grips, colored paper, extra time for testing, and the use of a scribe, reader, or interpreter.

Low-Tech: Low-Tech devices are simple devices that have few mechanical parts and don’t require a power source. They include adapted spoon handles, adapted pens, canes, non-tipping drink cups, magnifying glasses, eyeglasses, and Velcro fasteners.  At most, only limited training would be necessary to use these devices.

Mid-Tech: Mid-Tech devices are relatively complicated mechanical devices that may require a power source but don’t contain sophisticated electronic systems. These devices include manual wheelchairs, talking calculators, adapted computer keyboards and mice. The operation of mid-tech devices requires some training and technical knowledge.

High-Tech: High-Tech devices are often computer-based systems that incorporate sophisticated electronics. These devices are complicated to use and require extensive training, technical knowledge, and access to technical support.  Due to their sophisticated electronics, high-tech devices are often much more expensive than other technologies.  Examples include speech recognition software, eye gaze-controlled computers, closed caption televisions (CCTV), power wheelchairs, and environmental control units.

What types of Assistive Technology are out there?

There are several common categories in which assistive technology devices may be grouped, including (but not limited to):

Aids for Daily Living – Aids for use with daily tasks such as dressing, eating, cooking, bathing, etc

Environmental Controls – Electronic and non-electronic aids that help control items like lights, appliances, TV, air/heat

Mobility – Aids to assist individuals with limited to no mobility such as wheelchairs, automatic page turners, chair lifts, or hand controls

Seating and Positioning – Aids to assist with comfort and positioning including seat cushions, wheelchairs, adaptable work stations, vertical standers

Communication Aids – Verbal and non-verbal communication aids such as pointers, picture boards, type-to-talk or text-to-speech devices

Computer Access – Computer operation aids such as word prediction, keyguard, programmable keyboards, modified mice, screen readers, or voice recognition software

Blindness and Visual Impairment – Aids assisting those with vision loss or low-vision such as screen readers, video magnifiers, and braille watches

Deafness and Hearing Impairment – Assistive devices for all levels of hearing loss such as amplifiers, listening devices, or alert systems

Cognition and Learning Disabilities – Materials, devices, or programs that make an education curriculum accessible to students with disabilities such as raised line paper, talking calculators, scan and read programs, text-to-audio systems, and symbol based adaptive keyboards

Recreation and Leisure – Assistive technology providing opportunities for individuals to benefit from play, sports, and the arts, such as adaptive sporting equipment and games, or arm supports for drawing/painting

Vehicle Modification – Aids to help in vehicle operation such as modified hand controls, wheelchair lifts, power seats, and adjusted pedals

Finding the Right Device

When assessing possible AT solutions, providers will perform an initial evaluation and begin exploring options beginning with no-tech, low-tech, and mid-tech before recommending high-tech solutions. This will help achieve an ideal person/technology match and helps ensure the most cost-effective solution is being utilized.

Below are a few Minnesota resources that showcase and/or loan out assistive technology tools and devices to help individuals achieve a more independent lifestyle.

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute on Pinterest

Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute has put together Pinterest Boards showcasing many assistive technology options.  From medication reminders to home assistants, and even DIY assistive technology devices including homemade styluses, playing card holders, or grips to make holding a pen or pencil easier, the Boards showcase numerous items and devices to help increase self-sufficiency for those living with disabilities.

View Courage Kenny Assistive Technology on Pinterest

PACER Simon Technology Center Lending Library

The Simon Technology Center Lending Library houses more than 1700 assistive technology items and devices that are available for individuals and families to borrow and try out before making a purchase. This allows individuals to find the right fit for them without having to purchase each piece of equipment they may be interested in.

Learn more about the Lending Library and membership options

Minnesota STAR Program

The Minnesota STAR program is federally funded by the Department of Health and Human Services. The STAR program offers device demonstrations, exchanges, loans, re-utilization, and more.

Learn more about the Minnesota STAR program