Philadelphia Tech Week features RHD’s IDEATE presentation on using technology in human services

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RHD’s IDEATE was at Philadelphia Tech Week 2018 to present a session on The Biggest Obstacle to Using Technology to Achieving Human Service Outcomes.” The event included conversation among providers and gizmo demonstration including micro-controllers, job accommodations, off-the-shelf solutions, cloud poling and one robotic assistant.

Now in its eighth year, Philly Tech Week is a week-long celebration of technology and innovation happening throughout the Greater Philadelphia region.

See photos from the presentation

Human services providers are constantly asked to meet outcomes that both increase the quality of care as well as create independence in their program participants. Given the state of shrinking subsidies and fierce competition for funding, we’ve called for an increase in the technology used on the client side for therapeutic gain rather than strictly managerial efficiencies, provider branding or e-advocacy. This session is a conversation for human service workers who do the hands-on support of vulnerable individuals, individuals who want to use their technology to empower others, families of individuals with disabilities, individuals with disabilities and human service managers. We want to explore what our devices and systems do for the individuals we serve, brainstorm things we haven’t thought of for our clients and celebrate the way these devices change lives for the better. This session also allows attendees to try a number of devices that are actually used to increase client independence that accelerate meeting human service outcomes. We will be exploring micro-controlled adaptive interfaces, a robotic component and some little known out-of-the-box solutions.

IDEATE is an inclusive employment program dedicated to providing trauma-informed support to individuals with barriers to getting and sustaining earning opportunities. Our mission is to support our clients to identify and retain person-tailored occupations. We want to redefine “work,” one person at a time while leveling the playing field using technology. In order to support our clients in person-tailored work, our fundamental approach focuses on empowerment, choice, safety, trustworthiness, and collaboration. We seek to identify any barriers and overcome them by building inclusive employment solutions. Our practice is designed to support self-actualization and inclusion. We do this by offering support in community-based employment, including customized employment, alternative staffing, a deep-dive into technology-based accommodations and the development of formalized innovative practices wherein the individuals can cultivate natural supports especially in careers where our participants are under-represented.

In March, David Markowitz, Technology Director with RHD’s IDEATE, earned the Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) certification by the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, (RESNA). An assistive technology professional analyzes the needs of individuals with disabilities, assists in the selection of the appropriate equipment and trains the consumer on how to properly use the specific equipment. The Assistive Technology Professional (ATP) certification recognizes those who have reached an internationally accepted standard of knowledge in assistive technology and who demonstrate a commitment to provide only the highest ethical standards of practice.

To become certified, one has to establish eligibility (through work and education), and then successfully pass a rigorous exam that tests competency in the field of assistive technology. The exam covers main principles of assistive technology including psychology and sociology; human anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and biomechanics; basic etiologies and pathologies; learning and teaching; assessment procedures; service delivery systems and funding for assistive technology; design and product development; product knowledge of assistive technology devices; integration of person, technology and the environment and professional conduct.

David has been with RHD for 15 years in a number of programs. In addition to his most recent accomplishment, David is a Certified Employment Support Professional (CESP™) and a co-founder of IDEATE. IDEATE is a program within RHD dedicated to providing trauma-informed inclusive employment support to individuals with barriers to getting and sustaining earning opportunities. IDEATE’s mission is to support our clients to break the cycle of poverty by providing highly vulnerable and underserved individuals person-tailored pathways to careers using technology and community engagement.

David will be focusing on solutions to allow individuals with disabilities the opportunities to work, play, live and learn as independently as possible. Through customizing job accommodations, as well as providing adaptive computer access this service will allow clients gainful participation in meaningful activities and open up worlds of access for interacting and controlling  their environment.

There are almost 4,000 rehabilitation engineers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech and language pathologists, suppliers, educators and other professionals who have successfully received their certification.