A long-time leader in assistive technology services, Advancing Opportunities has begun using technology to increase the independence and connectivity of the men and women who reside in its 17 group homes. A recent smart home initiative provided residents in all of the agency’s group homes with technology and training on how to use the devices.
“Tablets, smartphones, and other types of technology are everywhere today. We feel these devices should be in our group homes as well,” said Advancing Opportunities President and CEO Jack Mudge. “We’re introducing new ways for the men and women we serve to maintain contact with their families and communicate with their other natural supports.”
Using part of a $10,000 grant award from the Hyde Watson Foundation, the agency outfitted all its homes with iPads. One resident who has become an early adopter is Bill R., who lives in our Pennsville, NJ, group home. Bill’s sister Cindy moved to Texas when her husband relocated for work. He really missed his sister; today, Bill sees her regularly via FaceTime. Bill also uses the iPad to watch videos from his favorite musical artists, like Reba McEntire, on YouTube.
Many of the residents were users new to electronic tools, as were some of their family members; they had little or no experience using tablets. A recent grant from the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities will help cover the cost of having assistive technology specialists train the residents, the support specialists who work with them, and their family members to use apps like FaceTime or Skype.
Check out Bill catching up with his sister: