Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Technology Tuesday

For today’s Technology Tuesday, we have a guest blogger! Jessica Gaylord works for Imagine!'s CORE/Labor Source department and is a member of Imagine!’s 2016/2017 Leadership Development Group (LDG). On behalf of her fellow LDG members, she wrote the following account about their experiences attending the 16th Annual Coleman Institute Conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology and the ANCOR Technology Summit and Showcase in early October. Thanks for sharing, Jessica! 

Imagine!’s 2016/2017 Leadership Development Group (LDG) is officially underway! As a group, we launched our experience by attending the 16th Annual Coleman Institute Conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology, and the ANCOR Technology Summit and Showcase in early October. These conferences host attendees from all over the US, and even outside of the US, but conveniently takes place at the Omni Hotel in Broomfield. Both conferences promoted the use of technology within our field. There was a lot of information to soak up, but between the two technology-filled days there are a handful of highlights we each took away from the seminars.

One of the speakers at the Coleman Conference was Richard Ellenson, CEO of the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the father of a son living with Cerebral Palsy (CP). Ellenson and the Cerebral Palsy Foundation have created the “Just Say Hi!” campaign. This campaign focuses upon common misunderstandings associated with community interactions for people with disabilities and educates folks to “Just Say Hi!” when encountering someone with a disability. In fact, if you ask Siri how to talk to someone with a disability, she’ll tell you just how easy it is.

Most of the Coleman Conference focused on adaptive technology that people with disabilities use and what the future of technology might look like in the coming years. As many of you know, some of the challenges we face with technology implementation in our field are limited funding, limits in our knowledge of what’s available, and more often than we may want to admit, our limited vision to experiment and learn. One speaker pointed out that, “if you automatically think the person you care for is not capable of something, you will not look for ways to make them capable.”

It was very exciting for all of us to see that many of the technological advances that were being promoted at these conferences were technology tools Imagine! has been working with for many years. The conferences were excellent example of Imagine!’s leadership associated with technology that can be so easily experienced in our SmartHomes and other services. Here are some key takeaways that we’d like to share:
  1. Technology has to be connected to natural supports. 
  2. Collaboration is key – technology should evolve with input from all team members who will help support the person and their technology. 
  3. Don’t design the technology first and then work to find someone to fit the function of the technology. Work towards fitting the technology to the person and their support needs. 
  4. Technology can be a valuable tool for independence. Therefore, the use of technology should always be assistive so that it is used to help someone achieve greater independence to achieve his/her goals. 
One presenter living with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD), who hosts her own podcast "Tuesdays with Liz," said that, “although I was allowed to think about what I wanted to be when I was 15 years old, just like everybody else, I was the only one that wasn’t allowed to pursue their dream. People told me that I couldn’t be a doctor or a politician because I wouldn’t be capable.” It is so important, as Imagine! team members, that we continuously consider how we can advocate for the immediate and future needs of the individuals and families we support to promote access to information and technologies that promote leisure, social, vocational, and educational opportunities.

The world of technology is exciting, constantly evolving, and vast in its capabilities. The impact this can have on all people has been and will continue to be life changing. It doesn’t require an employee with Apple or Microsoft to make an impact. Technology derives from collaboration, innovation, and cultural influences that spark from a simple idea or dream. And everyone dreams!

Finally, we invite you to take a minute by clicking here to learn more about the Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access. You can read the document and add your name as a supporter of the Declaration.

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