Ensuring Choice and Control using Assistive Technology

Choice & Control ForumOn behalf of the Emerging Technology Group the ILC recently hosted a forum showcasing projects currently occurring throughout the disability sector which demonstrate how the uptake of technology can support people with disability to have greater independence; live with more dignity; be safer; enjoy greater social opportunities; and communicate when speaking isn’t an option. The technology featured included telecare, environmental controls and communication technologies.

Established in February 2013 by the Independent Living Centre WA (ILC) and the Disability Services Commission (DSC), the Emerging Technology Group was formed following a round table event which assisted the disability sector to collectively recognise that there were areas of technology that were not well accessed, utilised and supported by the sector; and there was a role to champion the uptake of some existing but also some new technology.

Chaired by ILC Executive Director Gerri Clay the Group aims to develop a coordinated direction on how assistive technology (AT) uptake and usage can be further improved primarily in the disability sector, with consideration for the aged sector, in Western Australia.

In an increasingly consumer directed sphere, the Group endeavours to ensure that the people who support planning and development of services for people with disability are aware of the opportunities that the right technology well supported can provide to people.

The Choice and Control through Technology Forum, held in May with the support of Microsoft in their beautiful seminar room in the Enex 100 building in Perth, was a great opportunity for service providers and planners to hear about a range of project work currently happening in the sector.

Attracting over 60 delegates, the series of presentations were delivered by the ILC, Rocky Bay, Bentech, Brightwater Care Group, Mosaic Community Centre and McKenzie House.

The presentations demonstrated how a range of technology projects have assisted people with disability to work towards achieving their goals. They included:

  • The Telecare Implementation Project, which is a joint project currently underway by the ILC and Perth Home Care Services. This project is enabling both services to implement and trial the use of Telecare Technology and related assistive technology with a number of supported individuals receiving services through Perth Home Care.
  • The Rocky Bay Achieving Personal Goals in Home Independence Project, which supported 10 individuals with physical disabilities to achieve their personal goals for home independence through the use of environmental controls. Through the collection of qualitative and quantitative data, comprehensive case studies have been developed to support therapists in understanding assessment and implementation processes.
  • The Bentech Bens House Project  where a team of mostly volunteer engineers and other experts have designed and developed innovative bespoke systems in collaboration with My Place foundation. The vision of the Ben’s House Project is that people with disability who are having difficulty living in their home and those who are frail-aged who are at risk of having to move out of their homes, will have a viable alternative to the total reliance on expensive personal care and support.  
  • The Brightwater Care Group Improving Social Opportunities for People with Acquired Brain Injury living in a group setting through Social Media Project. This ICT grant funded project has given residents access to social media and Skype, with the major outcome of providing ongoing dedicated IT support to consumers.
  • The Planning for Outcomes Now and in the Future with Assistive Communication Devices presentation by Mosaic outlined their recent experience in implementing communication strategies for a person being supported by their service and its role in helping them make choices and control their life.

Positive feedback about the forum was received, with many comments pointing to further need for this type of forum to be repeated to give others access to the information. As such, another forum is planned for later in the year. People who are interested in attending are encouraged to email an ‘Expression of Interest for the Choice & Control through Technology Forum’ to events@ilc.com.au

The Emerging Technology Group membership is representative of the sector, with a focus on both disability and ageing, and comprises nominated representatives from the following organisations:

If you would like to contribute to the Emerging Technology Group or would like any further information about the work undertaken to date, please contact Sally Hunter, ILC Assistive Equipment Services Manager on (08) 9381 0600 or sally.hunter@ilc.com.au

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