In October 2019, The Arc of Massachusetts initiated an Innovation & Assistive Technology Task Force in partnership with the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) and the Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers (ADDP).
The Task Force was established to quicken the pace of positive change and responsiveness toward technology accessibility for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, and their families who are served by DDS and providers throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We ultimately envision expanding to MassHealth and other state agencies.
Our Task Force consists of DDS staff, The Arc staff, provider agency representatives, technology experts, service providers, disability group representatives, people with disabilities, and their families.
Massachusetts currently faces:
- expanding population for services for people with disabilities
- uneven preparation in school years
- uneven transition to adult life
- lack of adequate adult supports
- qualified workforce shortage
We believe setting Innovation goals in general and better utilization of assistive technology is essential for the future of our states’ supports and services for people with disabilities.
For example, limitations in communication not only deprive people with disabilities of their civil rights, but may lead to difficulties in daily-living and safety concerns. Improvements in access to augmentative communication technology would directly impact all the domains of peoples’ lives – education, employment, transportation, socialization, etc.
In some cases, innovation means cost savings as well as supporting people with disabilities more effectively and increasing opportunities and self-direction. This is particularly important since we are facing a human services workforce shortage crisis.
Further, since many families are the main support providers, we also seek improvements in their care taker supports as well. The Task Force consists of three subcommittees focusing on residential, day/employment and family support.
We will be identifying short and long-term goals and recommendations to present to DDS and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services by the Spring of 2020.