With the arrival of the iPad almost eight years ago, disability providers began to notice the affinity that individuals with developmental disabilities had for this new technology. We found that they were quite adept at the navigation and use of these devices and were able to understand, learn, and communicate in new ways. Parents, teachers and other professionals working with these individuals began to see how much their child, student or client was able to comprehend about the world around them now that they could express what they knew more effectively with this new technology. Capitalizing on the availability of smart devices is key for supporting and building independence and overcoming functional challenges at all levels for individuals in their schools, jobs and communities.
We created TravelMATE, with our software partner, ONEder, as an innovative online curriculum utilizing this technology to change the landscape of the “disability world” by leveling the playing field for all involved. TravelMate walks both trainer and individual, step-by-step, through a trip, or daily commute, using customizable formats, real-life images, text and other supports. By the end of the second year, 96% of users with developmental disabilities had increased their ability to travel without assistance, and nearly half were able to travel completely independently.
Our curriculums won several innovative technology awards and recognition in the metropolitan area including mention in the 2015 and 2016 Report for The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities and the 2015 501cTech Technology Innovation Award in the Skills to Succeed and Workforce Development category for our successful TravelMATE software app and to support the development of our new EmployMATE curriculum. Our MATEs also won one of the seven coveted opportunities to present at the Northeast Arc’s premier Arc Tank in November 2017.
All disability service providers are short on time and funds. Individuals with disabilities and their families are longing to be more independent, but are fearful of the unknown. With our TransitionMATE lessons and activities on ONEder, we have found a solution to complement the current service provision model, making it much more effective as well. TransitionMATE can be seen as virtual supports such as a travel trainer or job coach that can be customized to each individual’s functional needs. TransitionMATE comes with templates that are easily customizable using images, videos, and sounds from the person’s surroundings. No need to learn symbols to represent real-life objects because you can take a picture of exactly what you need.
Join us in this exciting presentation to learn how to use technology that bolsters an individual’s self-esteem and self-determination and gives them the ability to live as independently as they are able.