ARRM Technology First Policy
Technology First means raising the expectation that all Minnesotans with disabilities have a right to access, consider and utilize supportive technology to improve the quality of life, increase self-dependence and realize the promise of the Olmsted decision. "Supportive technology" includes any product, device, equipment, and the related supports and services that may be used to maintain, increase, or improve the functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities and afford them maximum control over their daily life, activities, health and safety. The use of supportive technologies is expected to increase a person’s ability to safely and productively do more for one’s self and reduce (but not eliminate) the need for direct caregiver assistance.
ARRM is committed to all Minnesotans, including those with disabilities having access to all types of technology and opportunities to utilize that technology within their home, community and workplace. We hope the ARRM Technology First Policy will guide individuals and their support teams in planning, decision making, implementation, and evaluation of services and supports regarding utilization of supportive technology, reducing dependence on on-site caregivers/DSP. Supportive technologies, increasing individuals’ ability to control their environment, health, safety and access to the community should reduce the need for the physical presence of caregivers/DSPs to times when direct, personal intervention is required and the best option to meet a specific need. Reducing the physical presence of caregivers/DSPs when they are not needed to intervene or physically support individuals will free up caregivers/DSPs and resources for when and where they are needed most, and improve the self-dependence of individuals. Use of caregivers/DSPs should be considered and utilized to supplement, assist and support technology, and when there is a demonstrated need by the person being served. The ARRM Technology First Policy hopes to provide state and lead agencies, families and service providers with:
- A clear statewide vision supporting transformational change and a long-range goal of youth and adults with disabilities, to participate in the community and workforce at levels similar to their peers who do not have disabilities, and to live as self-dependent as possible in the home of their choice.
- A guiding vision to increase individual, family, case management, the public and service provider expectations about accessing and utilizing technology to enhance the abilities and capacities of all people with disabilities.
- A policy framework that guides present and future decisions related to people with disabilities who receive public services to consider technology solutions, in particular, at times when new, different and/or additional supports or services are being considered.
- Instruction to act to develop and implement plans to ensure the Technology First principles and informed choice are integrated into new and existing service, support and funding related policies for people with disabilities.
Vision, Values and Guiding Principles:
The Technology First Policy envisions a future where all people with disabilities achieve maximum self-dependence accessing the supportive technology and caregiver/DSP support they need, when they need it; thereby enabling each person to live a community integrated life in full compliance with the principles and expectations of Olmstead. A Technology First approach means, when individuals are preparing to make significant change in their services and supports, they and their team first identify and assess all technology supports and other options, which increase the individual’s self-dependence and reduce the use of and dependence on caregivers/DSPs. This includes:
- Individuals preparing to move out of a family home would first be assessed and educated on services including independent housing, Consumer Directed Community Supports, 24-hour emergency assistance and unit-based services combined with remote supports and assistive technologies. Only when those options are determined unacceptable or unsuccessfully attempted will a residential setting such as a Community Residential Services or Foster Care be considered as an option.
- Individuals deemed to need a higher level of support than they currently receive, including moving from own home to a 24/7 residential setting, would first be assessed and educated on any and all possible supportive technologies which could achieve the desired outcomes while continuing to live in his/her own home. Only when those options are determined unacceptable or tried will moving to a more restrictive, DSP dependent environment is considered an option.
- When all possible supportive technology and related services have been deemed inadequate to meet a person’s need and a residential setting is deemed to be the best option, supportive technologies that will maximize the person’s self-dependence and minimize his/her dependence on face to face caregivers/DSPs intervention will be assessed and utilized.
- When individuals are being assessed for and assisted in exploring employment opportunities, they will be assessed and educated on support technologies which may enhance their capabilities in the workplace and getting to and from work, providing for a broader range of employment possibilities and reducing the dependence on on-site job coaches and/or aides.
Core values ground the ARRM Technology First Policy. These core values reflect that people with disabilities, including people who have complex and significant disabilities:
- Should be fully integrated physically, functionally and socially within the community and workplace.
- Want to have as much control over their lives and do as much as possible for themselves whether living in their own home or a residential setting where a caregiver/DSP is always available.
- Have a right to access and utilize specialized and off-the-shelf assistive technologies, which equalize the playing field, enhancing ability to care for oneself, control the environment, access the community, and secure employment similar to that of their peers.
- Should be allowed to live and work with a reduced physical presence of caregivers/DSPs, enhancing a person’s ability to directly interact and integrate with others.
- Integrated, self-dependent, safe living and employment environments with the minimum use of caregiver/DSP presence is the first and expected service option.
- Where a person’s disability limits ability to care for her/himself, control the environment, access the community or secure competitive employment, supportive technologies should be looked to first to enhance abilities and achieve desired outcomes as independently as possible, supplementing with caregiver presence and intervention when necessary.
- Person-centered, integrated lives require:
- Provision of the necessary tools to enable each person to do as much as possible for him/herself;
- Acceptance of a reasonable level of risk, allowing individuals the opportunity to try, fail and learn as they grow in self-dependence; and
- A safety net that allows mistakes but works to prevent disasters.
- Individuals with disabilities must have increased control and direction over their daily lives, services and supports.
- Effective interagency coordination will be demonstrated in the delivery of innovative support services, education, improved person-centered outcomes and reduced dependence on on-site caregivers/DSPs.
- State and lead agencies should be accountable for monitoring and reporting progress on the reduced reliance on the physical presence of caregivers/DSPs, when the use of supportive technology and acceptance of reasonable risk is an option.