Wednesday, June 22, 2016


As the seemingly endless election season drags on, one theme comes up again and again: “change.” We hear how voters want change, how enthusiastic they are to vote for someone or something different and new.

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This isn’t a new phenomenon, of course. There always seems to be a significant portion of voters claiming to want change. And maybe they really do want change from their elected officials. But I can tell you where most people struggle with change: in their day-to-day work life. The enthusiasm for change there is far less apparent.

An entire industry has grown around the resistance to change at work. Dozens and dozens of books have been written on change management, and careers have been made for professionals who are able to guide organizations that are undergoing shifts in what they do, or how they do what they do, or why they do what they do.

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) field seems to be especially impervious to change. This is very noticeable when it comes to incorporating technology into services. At Imagine!, we’ve been advocating for a technology first approach to services for years. The response we’ve gotten is lukewarm at best.

This baffles me, because we know that technology can and does offer opportunities to allow people with a variety of disabilities to live lives of meaning and purpose. We know that technology can and does offer opportunities for people with disabilities to live safely and independently in their own homes, or find and keep employment, or make music and art.

So why are we so slow to the table when it comes to embracing technology? At what point does the movement to incorporate technology into I/DD services reach a tipping point where it can’t be stopped?

People are willing to throw money at and support for politicians who preach change. Maybe it is time for those in our field to spend a little money and provide a little support to bring about positive change in the lives of those we serve.

Then again, what do I know?

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