Dennis Theede, Executive Director
Home and Community Options, Inc.
Home and Community Options, Inc. is participating in a statewide discussion with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, advocates, consumers and providers to discuss the uses of technology to support persons who have disabilities. Through discussions about service innovation, sponsored in our State, there has been excitement about using technology to support persons who are elderly or disabled and in need of support. But with the excitement come obstacles to progressing with technology applications. There are licensing barriers interpreted to require direct on site supervision. Others in the field site their concerns about the reliability of technology and the fail safe measures required to insure people are kept safe when they use technology as a means of support. Others express concerns about this technology misused to violate privacy.
These barriers cannot be ignored and must be carefully discussed with all stakeholders. Careful measures need to be incorporated into any applications of technology to support others. With that said, our society must be responsive to the looming demographic and resource crisis in human services. The system must be flexible in allowing opportunities for technology to be tried and tested. Research and data must be attained to validate appropriate applications and prevent uses that put persons in danger. There must be reasonable allowances to try technology so that along with others in society, technology can be a means of becoming more efficient and enhancing quality of life for those who choose to use it. Our fear of change and failure to balance dignity of risk with safety should not detour us from using technology to help others.
The Blandin Foundation is supporting four standout broadband programs through the Light Speed program. The program’s purpose is to stimulate the deployment of bandwidth intensive applications that connect local institutions to area resident’s home. This post comes from a Light Speed community leader.