Technology Forward

Technology Forward
Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Task Force

The Innovation and Technology Task Force (Task Force) is a partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Massachusetts Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers (ADDP), and its 24 Task Force members represent diverse roles and perspectives from the intellectual and developmental disability community and service delivery system.

Report by the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Task Force

Technology Forward Report

Access to Supportive Technology

Persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), including autism, have not had the same access as our society has made revolutionary progress with the use of the internet, computers, iPads, iPhones and smart home devices. The average citizen finds educational and employment opportunities online. Social relationships are strengthened through various communications including social media and information is gathered through the internet whether reading newspapers, magazines or listening to podcasts. Our constituents who have faced physical segregation now face barriers of another type - access to technology.

Despite these barriers, many groundbreaking efforts have been made by individuals, family members, staff, and providers to advance access to technology for individuals with IDD in Massachusetts. These efforts gained attention in recent years through the advocacy of dedicated individuals with disabilities, family members, staff and other allies who championed the cause and need for a coordinated, statewide technology-focused initiative.

In October 2019, ADDP and DDS co-hosted the Talking Tech 2019 conference, featuring success stories from providers here in Massachusetts, vendors from other states, and a keynote speech by John Martin, former Director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities on Ohio’s Technology Story and the implementation of the Ohio Tech First Executive Order.

DDS Commissioner Jane F. Ryder soon launched the DDS Technology Forward Initiative, and this Task Force was formed to create a roadmap for the future. This report makes recommendations to Commissioner Ryder for the DDS system.

The Technology Task Force

The Innovation and Technology Task Force (Task Force) is a partnership between the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS), Massachusetts Association of Developmental Disabilities Providers (ADDP), and its 24 Task Force members represent diverse roles and perspectives from the intellectual and developmental disability community and service delivery system.

The Task Force established three programmatic subcommittees - Employment & Day Subcommittee, Residential Subcommittee, and Family Supports Subcommittee - to focus on specific guidance related to employment and day supports as well as residential and family supports.

The Task Force believes that innovation and technology can be instrumental in assisting individuals with IDD and autism attain the highest quality of life possible, utilizing a person and family centered approach. They have an equal right to technology and information access. In 2013, the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities released a Declaration of Rights, which has been endorsed by 645 organizations. The Declaration of Rights affirms that inclusion itself is limited by the lack of technological access. Today much of our learning and connecting is dependent upon the internet and the Declaration states, “The disruptive convergence of computing and communication technologies has substantially altered how people acquire, utilize, and disseminate knowledge and information.” Without accommodations, and tools such as text to speech, persons with IDD and cognitive disabilities are prevented from being included in mainstream society.

The Task Force’s mission includes addressing the following needs and objectives:

  • Use individually tailored technology to increase independence of people with IDD and autism.
  • Discover efficiencies and increase effectiveness of services.
  • Focus on human and civil rights regarding communication and preferences.
  • Expand the number of people with disabilities who receive services.
  • Address the role AT can play in remediating an uneven transition of persons with IDD & autism to adult life (e.g., approximately 1,250 persons graduating from high school annually request services from DDS).
  • Address shortage of qualified direct support professionals.
  • Evolve a system of supports based on person centered goals and needs.
  • Promote equity using technology.

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