December 2018, Vol. 4, No. 8
RAISE The Standard Newsletter
Raising the Standard for Young Adults with Disabilities
Technical Assistance and Resources for RSA-funded
Parent Training and Information Centers

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
~ Arthur C. Clarke
In this issue of RAISE The Standard, we take a look at the role of technology in opening doors to jobs, mobility, communication and independent living.
We love this NBC news story about how smart homes have ‘opened doors’ for Todd Stabelfeldt. 'Smart home' is the term commonly used to define a residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment audio & video systems, security, and camera systems that are capable of communicating with one another and can be controlled remotely by a time schedule, from any room in the home, as well as remotely from any location in the world by phone or internet.

Installation of smart products give the home and its occupants convenience and savings of time, money and energy. For those with a disability, it can also mean increased independence.

Using his iPhone, Siri, garage door opener, voice texts, switch controls and other household technology, Todd’s life as a husband and business owner is independent and rich.

Circle icon with wrench and screwdriver graphic
A new study out of Clemson University found that a smartphone app produced big results for employees with intellectual disabilities. The ClemsonLIFE Task Analysis app aids individuals in the completion of everyday tasks for home and work.

The app can be used in both home and work settings, and it allows people to be less dependent upon caregivers or job coaches. The steps of any task can be modified to include as many steps as needed to accommodate the needs of the individual.

The task analysis app needs to be set up – its does not come preloaded with step-by-step instructions for generic tasks since this will vary with each person’s needs. The app provides tremendous flexibility to the user and allows them to tailor instructions to the individual. This is critical since instructions for operating a dishwasher or microwave can differ across multiple brands with hundreds of models. A parent or guardian can load audio, video and photos for each step of a task, with all the information saved directly to the individual’s smartphone.

The app also supports “geo-fencing,” which allows it to pinpoint the individual’s location. This limits the type and number of tasks the user will see based on their location. When the user is at work, home-related tasks are hidden from view and vice versa, thus preventing the app’s screen from becoming cluttered and confusing.

Computers are ubiquitous in the work place, and keyboard skills – once reserved for administrative support staff – are now vital in office environments.

But what if keyboards just are not your thing? What if your skills are slow, your spelling poor, or your manual dexterity are such that keyboarding will not happen?

Take a look at speech to text or speech recognition technology.

  • Dictation technology can be a great tool for people who struggle with handwriting or spelling, and for those who think faster than they can write.
  • For dictation technology to work properly, an individual must speak clearly and use various commands.
  • Several types of dictation tools are available on computers, mobile devices and Chrome devices.

It is already on most smartphones when we ask Siri to send a text. 

This article from lays out the ways in which dictation technology can help students and workers succeed: also offers a two-minute video tutorial geared for parents that lays it all out for you:

Yellow warning sign with picture of legs walking.
WANDERING AND ELOPEMENT are a common problem among people with developmental disabilities, particularly those with autism. Wandering refers to the tendency to leave a safe, supervised space or caregiver, and subsequently expose oneself to potential danger.

It can be enough to make you want to just lock all the doors and stay home.

But fear of wandering or fear of getting lost does not need to preclude opportunities for independence or mobility. In addition to basic safety training, a growing number of families and school programs are turning to GPS tracking tools.

Devices like smartphones, watches, pendants, and key fobs, and even shoelaces and shoe insoles, can track someone’s whereabouts. The benefits of a GPS tracking device are many.

  • May increase independence, autonomy, and freedom.
  • May help caregivers and emergency responders to quickly locate an individual if they do wander.
  • May help the person with disabilities feel more secure and allow them to be more independent.
  • May help families and caregivers have increased peace of mind.

This article from Pathfinders for Autism focuses on those with autism but the advice and list of safety solutions can apply to anyone whose independence is limited by wandering.

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RAISE Webinar on smart homes

The year was 1926 when C.G. Johnson invented the first electric garage door opener. Fast forward 80 years and we find our homes keep getting smarter.

Today’s smart homes do not have to be complicated or expensive. An ever-growing array of generic and commonplace smart home technology is simple and affordable. These technologies offer far more than Jetson-like convenience for people with disabilities. They literally open doors to independence.

RAISE recently hosted a webinar on smart homes to increase awareness of ways in which generic smart home technology devices are helping individuals with disabilities live more independently and safely in their own home.
Collaboration • Empowerment • Capacity-building

RAISE The Standard enewsletter identifies and shares resources that the Rehabilitation Services Administration Parent Training and Information Centers (RSA-PTI) can use and share with families.
Executive Editor:
Peg Kinsell
Visit our Website:
RAISE, the National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-Advocacy and Employment is a user-centered technical assistance center that understands the needs and assets of the RSA-PTIs, coordinates efforts with the Technical Assistance provided by PTI centers and involves RSA-PTIs as key advisors and partners in all product and service development and delivery.
US Department of Education official seal
RAISE is funded by the US Department of Education to provide technical assistance to, and coordination of, the 7 PTI centers (RSA-PTIs). It represents collaboration between the nation's two Parent Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) and the seven Regional PTACs.