The Arc Of Massachusetts Launches Innovation And Assistive Technology Task Force, Partnered With DDS And ADDP

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.

2 Comments:

  1. Thank you!!!
    This is so vital! Challenges with communication piggyback with higher safety concerns and risk as well as trauma for those without a functional voice to speak out. This can’t happen fast enough for our most vulnerable.
    My son, Brett, was not afforded the opportunity for evaluating his communication needs until last week even though he showed no progress over the last three years. I have advocated for his rights and have lost precious time for him. I am the one burdened with finding an evaluator and more time is lost without the education system backing his need to locate one now. I hope we can illuminate the need for better policies for accountability with communication— along with other vital needs for safety and progress for our disabilities community so we don’t further disable them.
    With gratitude,
    Linda Cox

  2. I believe the focus in this area is largely limited to children. Adults with intellectual disability can benefit from technology too. Voice recognition and speech synthesis applications have been largely perfected but DDS is not supporting education for adults in any observable way. Adults with Intellectual disability can now research issues of interest easily, yet the department is resistant to even teaching people applications on the Cell Phones they already own. Voice searches on videos that are of interest would dramatically improve access to information for adults with intellectual disability but the department refuses to even discuss this as an issue. The Department has stubbornly resisted these efforts for many years. Years ago an obscure and debunked belief was promoted that technology might be detrimental to people with Intellectual disability. Technology was also seen as a substitute for paid staff by some clinical disciplines. Better to pay a state employee than to purchase equipment that might better serve the same need. We should abandon these outmoded ideas and join the rest of the disability community in embracing the independence technology can bring.

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