Photo courtesy of PATF Partnership
Members of the JEVS Philadelphia Independence Network (PIN) often use technology to support their independence. Over the last year, JEVS Human Services has invested in developing Assistive Technology (AT) services with the help of community partners such as Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation and the internal expertise of Madeline Laquer, a certified Assistive Technology Professional (ATP).
Madeline begins by performing AT assessments. She found that some members could benefit from the use of smart home technology like Amazon Echo devices. “They’re great because they are commercially available and low cost. One member is using her Echo device to develop a morning and nighttime routine to improve her health and wellness.”
“It has changed my life,” said Philadelphia Independence Network member Chrissy A. “The Echo device reminds me to leave for work on time. Now I am trying new recipes for dinner. The Echo Show makes it easy to look up new recipes.”
Fellow PIN member David M. agrees: “I think it has changed my life because it is helping me to stay organized. The device reminds me of things like what time to take the train to work and what time to leave for work. I think the Echo devices are amazing and cool. I wish I had it years ago.”
Philadelphia Independence Network member Josh S. uses his Echo mostly for emergency calls in case he doesn’t have his phone and has a medical emergency. And since Echo Show has a camera that can be covered with a slide, his parents or staff members can drop in on him via video.
“I think the Echo devices are fun and helpful,” said Josh. “It’s going to change my life by making things easier and helping me to remember things. The devices help me to be more independent.”
The newly established AT work and access to try out devices to support independence is enhanced through a state program run by Temple University called TechOWL. It functions as a free AT lending library where it is possible to borrow equipment for short term use.
“TechOWL is very helpful,” said Laquer. “We are starting to build our own library within JEVS. Right now we have some Echo devices, some switches, and a Tile for losing keys – yes, that’s assistive technology! We are also hoping to get a 3D printer to make simple devices like prescription pill bottle openers, zipper pulls, key holders — the possibilities are endless.”
Assistive Technology Services allow individuals to work around their challenges and perform functions that might otherwise be difficult or impossible. Along with specific devices, software or equipment, Assistive Technology (AT) also includes direct training and instruction to the user and supporters. AT often means increased independence, safety, and autonomy.
For more information please contact us at 267-350-8611 or email AT@jevs.org.