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ATU580 – Carepool with Josh Massey

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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:
Josh Massey – Founder and CEO – Carepool
Website: https://www.carepool.us
More info: ride@carepool.us

INDATA Full Day Trainings: https://www.eastersealstech.com/our-services/fulldaytraining/

Bridging Apps: www.bridgingapps.org

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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 —–

Josh Massey:
Hello, this is Josh Massey. I am the founder and CEO of Carepool, 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 Easter Seal’s Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis Indiana. Welcome to Episode 580 of Assistive Technology Update, it’s scheduled to be released on July 8, 2022.

Josh Anderson:
Today’s show we’re super excited to welcome Josh Massey, founder and CEO of Carepool on, to talk about how this service can help individuals with disabilities get where they’re going and where they need to be.

Josh Anderson:
We also have Amy Barry on from Bridging Apps with an app worth mentioning.

Josh Anderson:
We also have some information about some great upcoming events, including our next in data full day training and for those of you who are local here in Indianapolis and Indiana area how you can even be a part of our podcast at this year’s Indiana State Fair.

Josh Anderson:
As always listeners this isn’t a show without you so we’re always looking for your input. Do you have an idea of someone that would make a really great guest? Something maybe you want to know something more about? Or just a question, a comment, a compliment, a complaint, heck we’ll take them all. If you do you can reach us in a few different ways. You can drop us a line on Twitter at indataproject. Call our listener line at (317) 721-7124, or send us an email at tech@eastersealscrossroads.org.

Josh Anderson:
Also, if you’d like a transcript of today’s show it’s available at eastersealstech.com. Our transcripts are generously sponsored by INTRAC, and you can find out more about INTRAC at indianarelay.com. Now let’s go ahead and get on with the show.

Josh Anderson:
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 fix 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, Velva 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. So remember, if you’re looking for more assistive technology podcasts to check out you can check out our sister shows Accessibility Minute and ATFAQ wherever you get your podcast now, including Spotify and Amazon Music.

Josh Anderson:
Fourth of July here in Indiana and that means a couple of different things. A, it’s really hot, but also it means the State Fair is right around the corner. This year at the State Fair on Sunday, July 31st, they’re celebrating Ability Awareness Day sponsored by Easter Seal’s Crossroads. The Indiana State Fair is showcasing another year of iconic Hoosier tradition, and now celebrating the first ever Ability Awareness Day, a day to help everyone become more compassionate and understanding of the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and some of the tools to overcome those challenges.

Josh Anderson:
Easter Seal’s Crossroads, along with many community partners, will take over State Fair Boulevard on the 31st to recognize the accomplishments and challenges faced by individuals with disabilities. You can enjoy sensory friendly midway hours, visit a sensory garden, play an adaptive sport, grab a funnel cake or meet with yours truly who will be recording for the podcast right there on the midway. Whatever you choose to do there will be something fun for everyone of every ability this year at the fair.

Josh Anderson:
A few of our partners for this event are Bosma, Noble, RHI, Superior Mobility, BraunAbility, Special Needs Living Magazine, JP Morgan Chase, United Healthcare, SafeinHome, INTRAC, Indy Able, West Point Financial and many others. So if you are heading to the fair here at the end of July, especially on Sunday July 31st, come out and celebrate Ability Awareness Day with Easter Seals Crossroads and our partners. You can find us on State Fair Boulevard. And again, I will be there recording different things for the podcast, you’ll be hearing those recordings coming out sometime in August. So grab yourself a turkey leg, get yourself a funnel cake, loosen up those pants for all the great food and come on out and check us out on July 31st at the Indiana State Fair, the Indiana State Fairgrounds, can’t wait to see you there.

Josh Anderson:
Folks I’m very excited to announce that our next full day training will be coming up on Thursday, July 21st from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM Eastern time. This training is called Tools, Devices and Apps For Everyday Living, and it’s put on by none other than our clinical assistive technology team, so those wonderful people that I get to work with on a daily basis. You’ll learn some things about speech keyboarding and skills building apps, accessible gardening, lighting and other considerations, improving executive functioning and how I use Alexa. And again, this will all be presented by our wonderful clinical assistive technology staff. Craig Burns, Jim Reinhardt, Anna Leon, Lisa Becker, and Velva Smith will all be presenting throughout the day.

Josh Anderson:
So if you really want to learn more about these different things and take a deep dive into some different assistive technologies and how it can help folks with everyday needs, check out our next full day training Tools, Devices and Apps For Everyday Living coming up on Thursday, July 21st from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM Eastern. We’ll put a link down in the show notes so that you can go and register for this event.

Josh Anderson:
And while you’re on the website, go ahead and check out our archives. That’s right, you can check out all of our other full day trainings. Now I will say they haven’t always been fully online, many of these, at least pre 2020 were done in person and we did have an online component, but you notice a big difference between videotaping somebody up presenting as opposed to having someone fully present online. But when you go there you can always check out all of our archives for our old full day trainings, as well as register for Tools, Devices and Apps For Everyday Living coming up on Thursday, July 21st from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM Eastern.

Josh Anderson:
Speaking of our clinical AT team, I have to take a moment to give them a huge shout out. This isn’t the kind of job that you do to get accolades, this isn’t the kind of work you do to get pats on the back or anything like that. When you get to see someone succeed and maybe you have a little hand in that, that feeling is something that really is immeasurable and you really can’t say.

Josh Anderson:
But here just a few weeks ago we found out that at the National APSE Conference, and for those of you who don’t know APSE is the Association of People Supporting Employment First, but we found out at their national conference in Colorado here just a few weeks ago that we were actually awarded the Best Practice Award for an organization, for the Easter Seals Crossroads AT Centers. This award is given out to recognize a provider organization that has successfully implemented strategies to support those with disabilities to work and further their career path in an inclusive workforce.

Josh Anderson:
So we’re very, very excited, humbled and just kind of overjoyed to be not just nominated but to actually be able to get this national award for our program, and it’s all because of the amazing hard work that this team does day in and day out to help individuals with disabilities find jobs, maintain employment, and really to just try to make employers as well as the world as a whole more inclusive for people of all different needs and abilities. So again, a huge shout out to the AT Center here at Easter Seal’s Crossroads for winning the Best Practice Award for an organization at the National APSE Conference. Way to go, you all rock.

Josh Anderson:
Next up on the show please join me in welcoming Amy Barry from Bridging Apps with an app worth mentioning. Take it away, Amy.

Amy Barry:
This is Amy Barry with Bridging Apps, and this is an app worth mentioning. This week’s featured app is the Google Home App. This app allows you to configure and manage many devices from Google, including Google home speakers, Chrome cast devices, Nest speakers, thermostats, and Google wifi. It also allows you to link and manage many types of smart home devices that work with these products. You can also talk to the Google Assistant from your phone if using iOS and configure many settings.

Amy Barry:
The Google Home App is a controller and central hub for all your devices. It has all sorts of uses for everyone, but they are especially useful for people with a range of disabilities. Google is king when it comes to information, ask the Google Assistant almost anything, no matter how obscure and you are guaranteed to get some sort of answer 95% of the time.

Amy Barry:
Connect smart home devices such as lights, thermostats, blinds, or kitchen appliances and it becomes obvious how these could impact people with a range of disabilities. If you are a paraplegic or have other motor issues you can configure smart blinds and gain independent control, either manually via voice app or automatically via assistant routines. If you are blind you can quickly identify if lights are on or off, toggle them, independently adjust the thermostat or control kitchen appliances.

Amy Barry:
At the end of the day the goal is all about access to more information and making it easier to do daily tasks. The only limit is your imagination and the available products, but this is constantly changing so who knows where we will be in the next 10 or 20 years.

Amy Barry:
Google Home is currently available for iOS and Android devices and is free to download. For more information on this app and others like it visit bridgingapps.org.

Josh Anderson:
Transportation is one of the biggest issues when it comes to inclusion and access for individuals with disabilities. Some communities have great para transit programs, some have none at all, and most fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Well our guest today is Josh Massey, and he’s here to talk about a new service called Carepool and how it can help to bridge the transportation gap for individuals with disabilities. Josh, welcome to the show.

Josh Massey:
Yeah, thanks Josh for having me.

Josh Anderson:
I am super excited to get into talking about Carepool. Transportation’s always been something at least in all the time that I’ve been doing this, that has been just a big challenge so I’m excited to talk about that. But before we do that could you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?

Josh Massey:
Yeah, sure. I guess I come from rural Wisconsin so when you’re from kind of farmland you got to figure out how to get places if you want to see the world. And now find myself into technology kind of after a stint in Chicago and kind of got into tech recruiting and led me into building products and then really passionate about transportation and kind of solving the issues that I was seeing up in Wisconsin, my grandmother taking different Medicaid rides and now here we are today about five, six years later and talking about Carepool. Been an interesting pivot I guess, but it’s been really good.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, definitely. And yeah, I know rural communities probably when I was talking about the para transit programs, a lot of times they don’t exist out there and if they do it’s, oh, it’s a bit hit or miss, but that kind of brings me to why we have you here today, let’s talk about what is Carepool?

Josh Massey:
Yeah, sure. So Carepool was created around the new laws from Uber and Lyft, and kind of that scenario changed a lot for how I got around being in a big city in Chicago when it was first there. Figured out there was some good experiences some not good experiences and wanted to figure out how to make that more of a secure, safe, kind of matching different profiles of drivers with riders, and kind of making it more consistent, so that’s where’s the idea kind of stemmed from. And Wisconsin passed laws around Uber and Lyft early on and so I moved back to Madison, Wisconsin, my hometown, and built the first ride share in the Midwest. At the same time I was trying to figure out how to integrate it kind of with healthcare and Madison got ahold of me, they had a grant around disability transport and said they had a model that would fit within my software and so they called me up and brought me in. And so that was kind of where it all started in 2017.

Josh Anderson:
That’s awesome. And it almost never seems to work out that way so that’s how perfect is it that kind of… They actually got a hold of you to be able to kind of help them. So let’s talk about kind of how does Carepool work? I mean, we know how kind of Uber and Lyft, I have an app, I schedule a ride and things, tell me how Carepool is kind of the same and different, or how it would work for me to get a ride. I know that’s a lot of questions all at once, but.

Josh Massey:
No, yeah, it’s similar. No, it’s okay. It’s similar, it’s more of a login that’s created for each individual by our admins, so we kind of control both on the driver’s side and the rider’s side. So we’re recruiting drivers that have caring profiles, that are wanting to help others at the end of the day, so we do extensive background checks and go through their vehicle records and make sure that they qualify, and then they can use their own vehicle just like Uber and Lyft. We provide insurance on top of that.

Josh Massey:
Really the tech is connecting the appointment for that ride, so it’s connecting to that driver’s schedule, it’s connecting in the software as well as their calendar. And then whoever puts the ride in the system can see that it’s been accepted, that a driver’s been attached. And then when the ride comes up they can get real time text messages. So we’re saying, Hey, your driver, here’s the name, vehicle, license plate, here’s how many minutes until they arrive, and then the next one is hey, the drivers arrived. And then they can communicate through there kind of over through the app or they can put notes in for the driver ahead just saying please come to the door, ring the doorbell, I need a little bit of help getting into the car, that sort of thing.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, very nice. And you kind of said the drivers, you recruit ones who have kind of more of a caring spirit and definitely want to help folks, do they get extra training or anything on disability, or is that just kind of something that the folks you recruit sort of have?

Josh Massey:
We try to find people that have some exposure or they might have come from the medical world kind of as our lead drivers, and those are where we start off. So we do have kind of qualified individuals coming in to start, but we also do offer additional trainings that they can participate in, and especially if they haven’t had any exposure we definitely encourage that. They are independent contractors, but yeah, we are very careful on who’s going to be driving with us. And yeah, at the end of the day they’ve got to have that will to want to help others and kind of to learn more about how to service a special needs.

Josh Anderson:
Oh, definitely. And Josh, you mentioned medical services, so being able to go to the doctor and stuff like that. If I’m an individual with a disability can I also use this service to go shopping, make it to work and back, things like that also?

Josh Massey:
Yeah, yeah. It’s definitely used quite a bit for just overall integration in society, wherever they might need to go, that they couldn’t get there by taking public transit. And a lot of it might be employment right, so partnering with Faulk Rehab or different programs that they have for going to work. A lot of times that’s kind of one of the biggest changes is going from someone having to take a taxi or kind of more of an uncertain ride versus kind of a Carepool making sure they’re getting there same time, kind of same drivers, more consistency, that sort of thing.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. And we talked kind of a little bit about how the service is better for riders than maybe using a different kind of service. What about from a driver’s perspective? So let’s say I’m someone that wants to be a ride share driver, what would be the benefits of me driving for Carepool as opposed to maybe one of the other ride shares?

Josh Massey:
Yeah, sure. So they’re going to have more of a predicted kind of earnings and predicted passenger list, so they’ll know their day before they start, so it’s a lot less kind of last minute trying to find out who your passenger is going to be and more about kind of planning ahead and having a consistent rider. And they do get paid more for their time being that it is a little bit more of a higher level of care, so they might need to be doing something like door through door instead of just kind of curb to curb. So they might need to help someone in, leave them attended, so we do take that into account so that they’re getting paid for not just kind of the ride to and fro but then actually the time that we know is going to be involved. So we definitely getting paid a bit more, probably about double that they normally do if they were just driving Uber or Lyft.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent, so it’s not just a feeling of doing something good but actually the compensation for it’s always a great thing as well. Josh, you mentioned Wisconsin, where all is this service available?

Josh Massey:
We are all across Wisconsin now, everywhere from Southern Wisconsin, Madison where we started, through Milwaukee and then up all through Green Bay, Appleton, and Lacrosse. Yeah, we do have services all the way up in the very tip of Wisconsin now in Ryan Lander Eagle River, so pretty well spread across the entire state. Not a hundred percent coverage yet but kind of moving in that direction.

Josh Anderson:
Perfect. Are there any plans to kind of expand to other states kind of close? I’m just down here in Indiana so I’m getting antsy, it sounds great to, it’s a great service and it would be wonderful to have down here. So just wondering, do you have any plans to kind of expand a little bit to other places in the Midwest or even further?

Josh Massey:
Yeah, yeah. We have an office in Nashville, Tennessee now, so really that’s kind of been focusing on a lot of the medical procedural type of work. But yeah, we’re definitely working on expansion, and we kind of started to expand west, we’re now in Kansas and Colorado, and then the plans are to really try to fill in the rest of the Midwest states in the next couple years on the roadmap.

Josh Anderson:
Excellent. I know that can definitely help, and really with just thinking about the Midwest, it’s all the rural areas, the cities may have something available, this would still be a great option for folks, but sometimes in those rural areas there’s just, man, there’s nothing, nothing at all to really help. So it would be great to see you guys be able to expand to some more territories and areas. Josh, I’m sure you got plenty of them, but can you tell me a story about someone, a driver or a rider, and kind of how Carepool made a big difference in their life?

Josh Massey:
Yeah, sure. I think I know Gavin doesn’t mind if we share his situation, because yeah, he was on the autism spectrum and he takes rides with us in Madison, but we had kind of done a presentation together at the Self Determination Conference discussing this. How originally he was taking taxis and the inconsistency made him really nervous and kind of the inconsistency there, but then also just sometimes taxi, the window was pretty big when they would show up and sometimes they might not show up, so kind of just the amount of nerves that gave him when he was trying to get to work on time, he obviously doesn’t want to be late to work. And so he had two different jobs and a lot of moving around with that.

Josh Massey:
And I guess once we had matched him with different Carepool driver he was telling us how it just made his day a lot easier. He didn’t have to worry. He knew that certain driver even by name, maybe he had two different ones that rotated, but he knew they were going to be there early, on time, and get him to work on time and just took a lot of stress off his shoulders.

Josh Massey:
And kind of at first they wanted to test it out first to see how it went and they were going to do a couple months, but it really only took the first week and they just said this is night and day, he’s coming home with more time to himself before dinner, really just kind of even changed how his personality was post work and just more of a positive light, and kind of opened up his personality a bit, and I guess that was probably the moment when I realized that this was going to really change lives for people that are needing this to go to work. So yeah, it was a pretty big moment.

Josh Anderson:
Oh yeah. And you brought up a great point there of that anxiety in I mean not just folks with autism but really a lot of different disabilities and just all of us at large, that anxiety of did I forget my keys? Did I remember this? Did I remember this? And oh gosh, is my ride going to show up? And is it going to be that one guy who just is terrible or all the different things that can kind of come into that, so that’s great that you can help alleviate some of that while also getting folks to where they need to be on time. So you brought up a great, great point there. Well Josh, what’s next? What’s next for Carpool? What are you guys working on?

Josh Massey:
Yeah, we’ve got new technology that’s in the testing phase and we’re about to pilot some new technology and really about more creating back to shared rides kind of as we are hopefully pulling out of the pandemic towards kind of endemic phase, let’s hope, but really trying to create more efficiencies around the different rides. Of course gas prices and inflation being a big toll on a lot of things but we feel like with the technology so that people can still get places on time and share rides, kind of share the costs, is a big deal. And so we’re really focusing on this new tech, and we’re going to be kind of rolling that out.

Josh Massey:
And I guess in the next phase is… We were starting to work on this pre pandemic but we want to see more payers, I guess more organizations working together so that they can have more efficient pricing and overall transportation, and kind of finding a way that these organizations can split rides, have shared rides, and then split the cost I guess is going to be a big thing in the next phases here as costs are a huge concern. So I’d say yeah, there’s new tech coming out that we’ll be testing here in early July. It’s real exciting.

Josh Anderson:
Very cool. And yeah, lowering the price for folks with disabilities is always makes everything more accessible so that is really, really great. Well Josh, if our listeners want to find out more about Carepool what’s the best way for them to do that?

Josh Massey:
Yeah. You can check out our website, it’s www.carepool.us, and that’s got some good info there. And you can also kind of reach out at the ridecarepool.us for more info about potential rides in your area or needs you might have.

Josh Anderson:
Awesome. We will put all that down in the show notes. Well Josh Massey, thank you so much for coming on the show today and telling us all about Carepool and how it can really just help individuals with disabilities get places on time and really just be able to get rides. And as you said take away some of that anxiety around taxis and other ride share services.

Josh Massey:
Yeah, you’re welcome. Thank you, Josh Anderson, I appreciate the time.

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@easterseals crossroads.org, or shoot us a note on Twitter @INDATAproject.

Josh Anderson:
Our captions and transcripts for the show are sponsored by the Indiana Telephone Relay Access Corporation, or INTRAC. You can find out more about INTRAC at relayindiana.com.

Josh Anderson:
A special thanks to Nicole Prietto for scheduling our amazing guests and making a mess of my schedule.

Josh Anderson:
Today’s show was produced, edited, hosted, and fraught over by yours truly.

Josh Anderson:
The opinions expressed by our guests are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easter Seals Crossroads, our supporting partners or this host.

Josh Anderson:
This was your Assistive Technology Update and I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easter Seals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. We look forward to seeing you next time. Bye-bye.

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