AT Update Logo

ATU531 – Remote Supports with Dustin Wright

Play

AT Update Logo

Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.

Special Guest:
Dustin Wright – Founder of Disability Cocoon
Link to INDATA Full Day Training: https://bit.ly/3472bK7
VA Grant Story: https://bit.ly/3eDFMte
ALS New Jersey Story: https://bit.ly/3BQCay2
31 years of ADA: https://bit.ly/3f57Aqr
Captions and Transcripts brought to you by:
INTRAC – www.relayindiana.com
——————————
If you have an AT question, leave us a voice mail at: 317-721-7124 or email tech@eastersealscrossroads.org
Check out our web site: http://www.eastersealstech.com
Follow us on Twitter: @INDATAproject
Like us on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/INDATA
——– Transcript Starts Here ——-
Dustin Wright:
Hi, this is Dustin Wright and I’m the founder of Disability Cocoon. And this is your assistive technology update.

Josh Anderson:
Hello, and welcome to your Assistive Technology Update a weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs. I’m your host, Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. Welcome to episode 531 of Assistive Technology Update, it’s scheduled to be released on July 30th, 2021. On today’s show, we’re super excited to have Dustin Wright, the founder of Disability Cocoon on, and he’s going to talk about his upcoming full day INDATA training on remote supports. We have a story about a new VA grant program. A story about a program offering free eye gaze systems to ALS patients in New Jersey and a big celebration of the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Don’t forget if you ever grab a question, a comment or someone who would make a great guest on our show, please reach out to us at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org, call our listener line at (317) 721-7124 or shoot us a line on Twitter at INDATA Project.

Josh Anderson:
We’re always happy to get your feedback. It really helps us make a good show because without you listening, I’m sitting in a room talking to myself and it’s just not quite as fun as that might sound. Also be sure to check out our show notes where there’ll be a link where you can sign up for the full day training that we’ll be talking about here in just a few moments as well as you can also visit InTRAC, who is our gracious sponsor of our captions and transcripts. Now let’s go ahead and get on with the show.

Josh Anderson:
After all these months of lockdown, maybe you’re looking for some new podcast to listen to. Well, make sure to check out our sister podcast, Accessibility Minute and ATFAQ or Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions. If you’re super busy and don’t have time to listen to a full podcast, be sure to check out Accessibility Minute, our one minute long podcast that gives you just a little taste of something assistive technology based so that you’re able to get your assistive technology fixed without taking up the whole day. Hosted by Tracy Castillo. This show comes out weekly. Our other show is Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions or ATFAQ on Assistive Technology Frequently Asked Questions, Brian Norton leads our panel of experts, including myself, Belvin Smith and our own Tracy Castillo as we try to answer your assistive technology questions. This show does rely on you so we’re always looking for new questions, comments, or even your answers on assistive technology questions.

Josh Anderson:
So remember if you’re for more assistive technology podcast to check out, you can check out our sister shows Accessibility Minute and ATFAQ wherever you get your podcasts, now including Spotify and Amazon music. Our first story comes to us out of the VA. And this is VA funds specially adapted housing assistive technology to help veterans and service members modify their homes. This story talks about nearly $800,000 in specially adapted housing assistive technology, or S-A-H-A-T (SAHAT) Grants eligible to individuals, researchers, and organizations to develop new technology that may enhance veterans and service members ability to live in specially adapted homes. Now he’s living a very CD’s grant programs that really can get money in the hands of the folks that have the ideas and want to build these things to make life just a whole lot more accessible.

Josh Anderson:
And although here in America, we do a decent job, I suppose, of really taking care of our veterans. We really need to make sure that we take great care of our veterans. We’re lucky enough here in our clinical program to be involved with a couple of different programs that help blind and low vision veterans and other combat wounded veterans or other veterans with disabilities to be more independent and be able to live on their own. But it’s great to see that this money is going to these different places so that they can help develop some different things. So some of the grant award is/are Livogis, LLC. They have an innovative custom fit ramp technology for improved fit and installation time, prehensile technologies, and the robo table 2.0. The robotic table gantry system to enhance independence. We have the University of Pittsburgh and the Mobius stair assistant, development and evaluation of a flexible rail system to anchor interchangeable home modification and the virtual collaboration research incorporated the home twin, digital twins for accessible homes.

Josh Anderson:
This little story does not go into a whole lot of information on what these programs actually are, but we will do our best to try and get some of these on the show so that we can find out a little bit more about what is going on. But again, it’s always great to see these different programs coming out and hopefully some great new home accommodations and assistive technologies will come out of this collaboration as well as those funds, helping these different organizations be able to develop technology to, again, just help our veterans live a little bit more independently once they come home. We’ll put a link to this story over in our show notes. Our next story comes to us from ALS News Today, it’s written by Mary Chapman and it’s called Every ALS Patient in New Jersey to Get Free Eye Gaze Technology. And the story talks about a new partnership, which allows every individual in New Jersey who suffers from ALS, which is about 400 folks in total to have free access to Eye Gaze Technology.

Josh Anderson:
Now, what does that actually mean? Well, it means is that a $1.1 million effort that is being underwritten by a new philanthropic organization called ReNew Jersey in collaboration with a nonprofit Bridging Voice are working together in order to bring Eye Gaze technology, technical support, computer support, and other supports to all 400 ALS patients in New Jersey in order to help them communicate. Now, of course it says that COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the isolation that many ALS patients feel as it has for really everyone. This is a very cool partnership. It does use some different pandemic relief funds that went to New Jersey and a great program to get this assistive technology in the hands of individuals who can actually use it. The story goes on to talk about some of the players in this project and everything, but it does look like all you had to have to do to qualify as live in New Jersey and have ALS.

Josh Anderson:
Those are the only two things that it looks like you actually have to have in order to qualify. And it was like they’re doing all that they can to reach out and get in touch with all 400 patients who suffer from ALS in the State of New Jersey. We will put a link to this story over in the show notes and within that link or within that story is a link that you can go to to learn more about Bridging Voice and to sign up for the program if you happen to be in New Jersey. Of course, it does talk in the story that they’re hoping such provisions can move to other states, which would be just plain awesome. Because we all know that really speech and communication and these kinds of things are extremely important. And as ALS progresses, that is one thing that usually goes by the wayside.

Josh Anderson:
Not all individuals qualify for devices, not all individuals maybe have access to this kind of technology. So really opening the door for folks is amazing. So kudos to them. That is an awesome project and very cool to hear that folks in New Jersey who have ALS now have full access to Eye Gaze Technology to help them with communication. Our next story comes out of the White House, but it’s actually much more of an anniversary celebration if you will. This last week on July 26th, we celebrated 31 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act, this act was signed into law by George H.W. Bush on July 26th, 1990. The law affirmed and protects the fundamental rights of people with disabilities. The right to equal opportunity, economic self-sufficiency, independent living and equitable participation in every aspect of American life. If you really and truly do think while the ADA did a lot, there’s still a whole lot of space for growth.

Josh Anderson:
And I say there are story comes to us from the White House, because this is actually from the White House briefing room. It’s President Biden’s proclamation on the day of the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Now you all know we try our best not to get into politics on this show as much. If you want politics listened to pretty much every other show or turned to any other station that you possibly can. But I do think it’s important when it’s something as big as the ADA that here in America really affects not only individuals with disabilities, but all of us that work in the field to really help individuals with disabilities, at least other parts that I usually do find meaningful employment or have access to well, just every place that they may possibly want to go. One thing that I’ve always stood by here in America is that, while we have had our problems, we have made our mistakes.

Josh Anderson:
It seems as Americans and really as people in general, we do always have the desire to become better, to better ourselves, to look at the things that we’ve done wrong and perhaps make them not so wrong. I don’t know if I want to say better or perfect, because perfection is definitely a goal that I know I’ve never achieved and I’m sure many others have not as well. But anyway, I respect the ADA. As we all know, again, this was signed into law 31 years ago this last week, which is always a good thing that it has been around 30 years. It also took until the 1990s until there was that Americans with Disabilities Act. So that’s always a little bit of a worry also, but this does go down and it does talk a little bit about something that we’ve talked about in other stories today and probably for about a year and a half of how the COVID-19 pandemic has really exacerbated some of the issues faced by not just everyone, but especially folks with disabilities.

Josh Anderson:
So the read down in this press briefing, there’s a part, and this is actually a quote here from President Biden. “As we worked to finish the job of defeating COVID-19, my administration is committed to building on the legacy of the ADA. The American Rescue Plan is providing funding to expand access to home and community-based services under Medicaid, which will allow more people with disabilities to live safely and independently in their homes. The Build Back Better agenda would build on this by making significant investments in home and community-based services for individuals with disabilities and older Americans. We’ll also spurred the creation of quality jobs with good pay, good benefits, and the ability to organize and collectively bargain for caregivers.” So something that’s always been a little bit of an issue has been pay for direct service professionals. And in fact, we’ll even get into that a little bit here as we talk about remote supports later on the show. But also for those folks who become caregivers for family members, or stay home with a family member with a disability, there’s not a whole lot of reprieve for them.

Josh Anderson:
There’s not a whole lot of money out there to really help. As we go on this press briefing, it talks about a Fair Labor Standards Act. And this essentially gets rid of what would be known as sheltered workshops for the longest time. It also includes funding this transition with $2 billion to expand access to competitive integrative employment opportunities for workers with disabilities, and also making the federal government a model employer and being the gold standard for how to best and support inclusion and provide appropriate accommodations. So there’s a lot of stuff to really unpack there. And, as we look through it, there’s always what politicians say and what ends up happening are not always hand in hand. And we all know that, and I’m not sitting here saying that anything that’s President says is any better than what any other President says.

Josh Anderson:
And again, not getting into politics or anything like that. Also, it’s very easy to talk about the ADA and about equality and inclusion for individuals with disabilities on the anniversary of the ADA, and then forget about it for 364 other days out of the year. But the fact that it’s here and something I’d like to see and something that I think all of us would love to see is if the federal government is going to make these mandates is going to try to help other employers hire more individuals with disabilities, be fully inclusive, provide accommodations and do these things to be the gold standard to be, well, when an employer looks and says, “How in the world am I going to be able to do this?” And the federal government go, “We did.” Then I really feel that, it does help drive that home.

Josh Anderson:
So again, today is really just celebrating this last week 31 years since the ADA was signed into law. Perhaps looking back, taking a little bit of time and looking back, how far have we come in those 31 years and even better? How much further can we go in the next 31? I’ll put a link over to this press briefing so that you’re more than free to read it in your spare time if you like. Again, not endorsing any political candidate, political person, a president, or anything like that. Trying to stay out of politics, but just really wanting to commemorate the day and celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Josh Anderson:
As you all may know, we do full day trainings here at INDATA. With the pandemic, we’ve shifted those trainings to an online format so that all can attend. I try to highlight these on the show so that anyone interested can attend. Well, our next training will be coming up on Thursday, August 12th, and it will be over remote supports. But today I’m lucky enough to have our presenter for the training, Dustin Wright, founder of Disability Cocoon on the show. Dustin’s been a guest on the show before and is here to tell us about himself, Disability Cocoon, and remote supports to get us all excited about the upcoming training. Dustin, welcome to the show.

Dustin Wright:
Hi. Thanks Josh. Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. Thanks for taking time out of your schedule. I know we’re already taking up quite a bit of it by having you do the training, but could you start us off today by telling us just a little bit about yourself?

Dustin Wright:
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been involved in disability services since my entire professional career. I actually started while attending Purdue University. I was a DSP, didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I just needed a job and actually saw an ad in the newspaper, believe it or not. And went over to a group home, had an interview in a basement and one thing led to another. I ended up loving that position. After graduating, I ran that provider agency for three or four years as the director. Was lucky enough that in 2006 to be one of the people that was one of the founders of Rest Assured which is a remote supports company based here in, in Indiana. As the executive director there for about 13 years, my role was to go out and educate the disability community across the US about the benefits and the risks and do that, the ins and the outs of remote supports, but also to help policy makers through, say Medicaid waiver programs.

Dustin Wright:
To understand how to fund and regulate this brand new service back in 2006. So, after doing that for 13 years, I realized that I was interested in all things tech. And so that’s why I started Disability Cocoon was just to compliment what the ATF programs do across the US and create a resource where people come to find new tech, discover things, to learn about it. And just to act as a catalyst within the disability system for the appropriate use of technology.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. You already started talking a little bit about Disability Cocoon, but what all does Disability Cocoon offer to folks?

Dustin Wright:
Yeah. Well, we actually started the business hosting conferences, believe it or not. That was in 2018.

Josh Anderson:
I remember those.

Dustin Wright:
Yeah, that was the… We did one with you guys. Yes. And obviously those stopped, but we do a variety of different things. We put out a newsletter every week with just new things that we’re seeing. We have guest writers come on our blog to share their perceptions of technology and supporting people with disabilities. We always try to share other people’s content on social media. We do these things that we call Tech:Huddles. They’re weekly, almost like a podcast but on Zoom where we invite a new tech company on to talk about their tech, how it benefits the person with disability, how the tech works. It’s just a way to expose people to the various different forms of technology that we’re seeing out there.

Dustin Wright:
We host online workshops, which are a deeper dive into specific types of technology. One of those that we did in the past was remote supports and have done several on other apps and things of that nature. So all of that stuff that I just described is things that we offer for free, just to… Again, to be a resource to the disability community. About two years ago, partnered with a company called Simply Home out of North Carolina to create an enabling technology certification program and accreditation program for agencies. So Shift is an online learning community that teaches people, the fundamental principles of incorporating technology into a person’s life and a person centered way. So that shift has been spun off and is now its own organization that is offering that technology training through to provider agencies, to service coordinators, to individuals, themselves, to DSPs.

Dustin Wright:
So, that’s just one of the things that we’ve created a Disability Cocoon over the last few years. And when we’ve also have several state contracts where we’re assisting… We did assist in the State of Kansas, or I shouldn’t say the Sedgwick County in Kansas with their technology first initiative doing the same right now for the district of Columbia. They’re DDS, as well as assisting Maryland with their technology first initiative. So we tried to do a little bit of everything, both some grassroots stuff, but also big policy stuff to keep the industry moving towards tech in the appropriate way.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. We can definitely use all the advocates we can get out there to work with those policymakers and stuff because it’s always… You don’t know what you don’t know, so anytime you can educate folks. That’s a great thing. Well, Dustin the main reason we had you on today is because you’re leading our full day INDATA training on August 12th. And the topic is this is remote support. Can you give us just a brief overview of what is remote supports?

Dustin Wright:
It’s very simple. It’s a direct care at a distance. Meaning that the individual that’s receiving services, there’s a receiving support from a distant caregiver. The individuals connected to that distant caregiver through a variety of different technologies that are installed in their home, have a variety of different wireless sensors, everything for motion detectors, door sensors, smoke, carbon monoxide, bed sensors, water flow sensors, et cetera, et cetera. Sometimes cameras are used, which allow that remote caregiver to see certain areas of the home and then two-way audio video communication. So that that remote caregiver can actually give supportive prompts and cues and interact with the individual and the individual can interact with their remote caregiver.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. And you brought this up a little bit when you were telling us just about your background, but before remote supports were even available, what was really available to folks?

Dustin Wright:
If an individual needed some form of support in their home, it was the choice between provider A and provider B or provider C. There really were no other forms of in-home supports other than direct care.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. And I know that’s a big challenge for folks and I know, especially with staffing, sometimes that was just a huge challenge and remote supports. Made a big, big difference in what was available to individuals. So you’ve been in this a while. So what kind of changes have you seen in remote supports from the inception and maybe where we are right now?

Dustin Wright:
Yeah. Well, actually in part of the presentation that I’ll be doing as part of this full day training with you guys, I have some information on just the perception of remote supports. I think in people’s mind, we’ll frame that pretty well. So in 2006, when I would walk into a team meeting or walk into an agency and say, “Hey, here’s what remote support is. Here’s all what it can do for the people that you serve. Here’s what it can do for your agency.” I would get looks like, “This is nuts. You are crazy. We are not going to be doing cameras in somebody’s house and taking staff out.” So that was 2006, 2000 and, I don’t know, 12 to 16, we started to hear more of a, “Well, okay. I’ve heard about this. Let’s talk about it, but we’re not sure we’re going to do it. We might do it if this can happen.” Right? So the conversation had started to change because remote supports was becoming more of a mainstream service.

Dustin Wright:
And today some of the information that we’re getting from research studies that are being done, one example is Ohio University where the individuals that are receiving this service are calling it. It’s like having my own personal body guard. It’s given me the most independence that I ever thought I would have in my life. So the conversation over that period of time has changed. And I think that that was a big cultural thing that we had to overcome, which I don’t think it’s probably specific to remote supports will be a part of any form of new technologies that are introduced.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, sure. And I know, yeah. Especially at first, whenever you hear all cameras in the home and sensors and stuff. “Oh, it’s going to be so intrusive. It’s going to be so…” All these other things and it’s like, “Well, how’s that more intrusive than having an individual there with you all the time?” So I know that’s always something that I’ve heard. I’ve heard from folks in the past about something that was a big issue that as you said, did smooth over as we all get a little bit more comfortable with technology.

Dustin Wright:
Sure. Yes.

Josh Anderson:
So along those same things, where do you think remote supports will go in the future?

Dustin Wright:
Right now, there are approximately 16 different entities in the United States that are providing remote supports. Those being what we call remote support vendors. Those are the Rest Assured, the [Symgestics 00:21:57], the Night Owls, the companies that provide the technology and provide the remote supports. Typically that is done in a subcontract contract relationship with the local provider. So it’s the local provider that hires the remote support entity and they work together to provide the service to the individual. I think that the future will be, as tech becomes more ubiquitous and easier for people to set up and manage that you will start to see all of the current residential providers, not just providing residential support, they will have created their own forms of remote support technology that they will be using as opposed to subcontracting out with the vendor. And if there had to be a silver lining with COVID, I think that that was one of those, in our industry is that, it just forced us all to use technology much faster to stay connected during social distancing.

Josh Anderson:
Yeah. And I’ve heard that from many different folks, in many different fields that the forcing people to get used to not being right there, to actually be able to be more comfortable with these different technologies has been a huge, as you said, benefit of COVID if there is really such a thing.

Dustin Wright:
Yeah, exactly. If there is, yeah.

Josh Anderson:
Dustin what other things are going to be covered in the training on the 12th?

Dustin Wright:
Well, we’re going to hit pretty much everything that’s if somebody walks into the room, not knowing anything about remote supports, they’re going to basically get a blueprint to walk out and do remote supports in the right way. So we’re going to start today at nine o’clock with an introduction to remote supports, where we’re going to give an overview of the model, even do a demo of some example of a remote support system. We’re going to talk about some of the typical benefits and typical risks that people need to be aware of. And then we’re going to move on at 10 o’clock and talk. Have another presenter come in who going to be talking about some of the actual real success stories, giving some case studies on how this has actually benefited some very specific people, as examples of applying remote supports to someone’s life.

Dustin Wright:
Then at 10:30, we’re going to hit the history of remote supports to talk about some of that perception change as well as regulatory change as it’s moved across the US in the last almost 20 years, believe it or not. We’re going to have the Ohio State come in and do a presentation on their research study which I just kind of hinted at earlier and talking about some of the things that they’ve uncovered in their research. And then I believe we’re going to have Kathy Robinson come in and talk about some of the Indiana specific regulations and funding so that anybody that’s interested in doing a road sports in the State of Indiana will have the blueprint there. And then, we’ll really get into the last 45 minutes or an hour, we’ll get into implementation best practices where we’ll talk about how to make sure that this is done in a person centered way, avoiding all unnecessary risks if possible.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. I love that you were finishing up with that, because I know that’s something NAT that’s always just front of mind is. Let’s make sure that we are really keeping the person at the forefront, definitely person centered for everything that we do.

Dustin Wright:
Yeah.

Josh Anderson:
Well, Dustin, we’ll definitely put a link down in the show notes so that folks can sign up for the training and everything else. But if our listeners want to find out more about you or Disability Cocoon, what’s the best way for them to do that?

Dustin Wright:
They can email me dustin@disabilitycocoon.com, or you can just hit our website, which is disabilitycocoon.com. And you can find a contact us there, but happy to help people with any projects or tasks that you’re working on. It’s what we’re here for.

Josh Anderson:
Most definitely. And it is another good resource I will say. Well, don’t tell Dustin, but I do steal a few the ideas that I see on there as folks that might be good on the show. So, even those-

Dustin Wright:
That goes both ways, Josh. That goes both ways.

Josh Anderson:
I was going to say, all of us. It’s hard to keep up on all the stuff that’s out there all the time and technology is always changing. So it’s great to have as many resources as we can possibly get.

Dustin Wright:
Agree.

Josh Anderson:
Well, Dustin, we’re looking really forward to seeing you at that training out here, coming up here on August 12th, but thank you so much for taking time out of your day to come on the show and tell us all about it.

Dustin Wright:
Yeah. Thanks for having me, Josh.

Josh Anderson:
Yes. It’s always with pleasure.

Dustin Wright:
Thank you.

Josh Anderson:
Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on an assistive technology update? If so, call our listener line at (317) 721-7124. Send us an email at tech@wastersealscrossroads.org, or shoot us a note on Twitter at INDATA Project. Our captions and transcripts for the show or sponsored by the Indiana Telephone Relay Access Corporation or InTRAC. You can find out more about InTRAC @relayindiana.com. A special thanks to Nikol Prieto for scheduling our amazing guests and making a mess of my schedule. Today’s show was produced, edited, hosted, and fraught over by yours truly. The opinions expressed by our guests are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easterseals Crossroads, our supporting partners or this host. This was your Assistive Technology Update and I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. We look forward to seeing you next time. Bye-bye.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.