TechSummit 2020

Technology Project

The Technology Project aims to investigate technology solutions, including remote support, to promote independence for people with developmental disabilities and their families, create a vision for how the use of technology may be improved and expanded upon, and identify technological advances that might benefit people with developmental disabilities by increasing their independence.

This web-page provides general information about the Technology project; updates; resources for different technologies and technology related services, including remote support;  and is where results may be found, once the project is completed.


For more information contact:

Jordan B. Wagner
Coordinator, Technology Project
Tel: (614-688-3155)

University Support in Technology Evaluation and Development

This project is made possible with funding from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities.

Scope of Work


Fox and Boyles conducted a study in which they discovered only 54% of individuals with a disability use the internet compared with 81% of individuals who do not identify having a disability (Fox & Boyles, 2012). What this illustrates is that having a disability may be a contributing factor that prevents one from having access to technology. It reveals a need to involve those with disabilities in navigating technological advancement for their own advantage.

Technology has influenced the lives of nearly everyone in one manner or another. Most of us take it for granted, perhaps not even noticing the extent to which our everyday activities are either completely reliant upon technological advancement or have just been made significantly easier. Often, technology is developed in a way in which persons with developmental disabilities are excluded from the digital environment. In an age where every year we are more integrated into a global digital society, it is imperative that people with developmental disabilities are not left behind. If people with disabilities cannot utilize the technology others take for granted then they will be left disenfranchised from the way in which society will operate in the future.

Not only is there a need for technology to become more accessible and available for those who have a disability, there is an opportunity to use technology to help promote a more inclusive and independent life for people with developmental disabilities. Currently, in Ohio alone, over 90,000 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities receive supports from the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD). In recent years, technological advancement has provided an opportunity for supported living services to become, in many ways, less intrusive and promote independence.

One such advance is the use of remote support. Remote support mean receiving assistance from a distance. Rather than receiving support from someone in the home, the same assistance is provided from someone at a different location. The remote support rule defines this as the monitoring of an individual in his or her home by using one or more of the following systems: live audio feed, sensor technology, radio frequency identification, web-based monitoring system, video feed, or other devices. The system includes devices to engage in live two-way communication with the individual receiving services as described in the Individual Service Plan. While remote support are available as an alternative to having staff in the home for many people, at present, only 170 individuals take advantage of this service.

What is the Technology Project?

The Technology Project is a collaborative enterprise between the Department of Developmental Disabilities and The Ohio State University Nisonger Center. The project aims to take an in-depth look at the role technology, including remote support, plays in the lives of people with developmental disabilities and their families, create a vision for how the use of technology may be improved and expanded upon, and identify technological advances that might benefit people with developmental disabilities by increasing their independence.


The Technology Project can be separated into 3 parts:

  • Conduct Focus Groups and Interviews regarding remote support
  • Conduct a national review of technologies that currently enable people with developmental disabilities to live and participate in their communities with less direct support from caregivers
  • Identify areas of future technology development that might benefit people with developmental disabilities

The focus groups and interviews will provide detailed insight into the reception and use of remote support. We will discuss the topic with people who have used the service, people who are closely associated with those using the service, and people who have never used it. This will provide insight into what people like and dislike about remote support as well as provide insight into what barriers may exist that prevent people from trying remote support. With this information, remote support will be expanded and refined.

In order to write a national review of technology, external resources will be leveraged to gain an understanding of the technology landscape. These resources will be everything from news articles to interviews with experts and technology conferences. The review will document the use and reception of technology as well as an analysis of its accessibility and ability to promote independence among persons with developmental disabilities.

Through the Technology Project, a plan will be developed to introduce an independence promoting technology into the lives of people with developmental disabilities.

What are examples of independence promoting technologies?

Technology that provides support to someone with a disability is called assistive technology. There are many different disabilities and there are assistive technologies that support many of them. Examples include: tools used in speech therapy to teach an individual how to initiate specific phonetic sounds; switches which are easy to use buttons for people who lack mobility or the ability to use complicated technological instruments; apps that help someone to communicate; or the use of Google Glass to live stream the daily activities of a man who has a vision impairment, so that someone may assist him remotely.

The technology sought by the Technology Project is something that promotes independent living while reducing the person’s reliance on the need for direct-support staff. To this end there are apps that prompt someone when to get off of the bus; watches that will send GPS coordinates to a trusted contact; cars that drive themselves; devices that will send notifications to someone’s phone when their food has cooled to an appropriate temperature; technology that will turn off appliances when someone leaves the home; etc. There are many examples of technologies that would meet our purpose in some way. The Technology Project aims to find a few that can meet the most needs and promote the greatest amount of independence.


Technology has already shaped the way we communicate and live. With the rapid introduction of autonomous cars, the internet of things, virtual and augmented reality, and wearable technology, the digital landscape and its influence on our lives is about to change in a way that is unparalleled to any change we have experienced to date. The new landscape has potential to be a practical and beneficial alteration. It is an exciting time – one in which people with developmental disabilities will have the opportunity to live more independent and socially engaged lives.

The Ohio State University is a leader in technological innovation and research. It is the perfect organization to recognize the affect technology can have on persons with developmental disabilities.


  • The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities
  • The Ohio State University, Nisonger Center – University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

Project Team

Jordan Wagner, Technology Project Coordinator.
Christopher Steiner, Support Analyst.
Daniel K. Davies, Project Consultant – Founder and President of AbleLink Technologies.

Marc J. Tassé, Ph.D., Project PI.


Fox, Susannah, and Jan Lauren Boyles. 2012. Disability in the Digital Age. Washington, DC: Pew Research Center.


Jordan B. Wagner
Coordinator, Technology Project
Tel.: (614) 688-3155 Office

Technology Project resources


Renee Wood is a member of the Ohio Developmental Disabilities Council Technology and Communication committee. She uses technology to assist her with everyday tasks such as turning the lights on and off and creating a grocery list. Watch the video below to hear her perspective on technology use!

The Coleman Institute of Cognitive disabilities created the Declaration of Rights of People with Cognitive Disabilities to Technology and Information Access. The video below details this declaration. The declaration can be signed by following this link:

Todd Stabelfeldt uses technology to increase independence in and out of the home. Watch this video to see how Todd uses everything from voice control to a connected home to promote independence in his own life.

Originally for the 2008 Coleman Conference on Smart Home technology and personal support technology, this video, released before the iPad was introduced, is often cited as a positive vision for the way in which technology could be used to promote independence for individuals with developmental disabilities. While not all of the technology existed at the time, nearly all of it exists today. Here is a breakdown of the technology in the film and what some examples may be:* 

SOCOG’s Mobile Smart Home


Website Links

DODD services: Assistive Technology

DODD services: Waiver Remote Support


Technology Project: Scope of Work

Executive Summary – White Paper: Use of Remote Support in Ohio and Emerging Technologies on the Horizon

White Paper: Use of Remote Support in Ohio and Emerging Technologies on the Horizon

Remote Support fact sheet

The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities One-Page guide to remote support

News Articles 

Columbus Dispatch Article about Remote Monitoring

Pipeline Quarterly 2014: DODD’s Newsletter about Remote monitoring

*The Ohio State University Nisonger Center does not endorse any specific company or organization*

Technology First
On May 24th, Governor Kasich signed an executive order to make Ohio a Technology First state. Modeled after Employment First, a Technology First state is dedicated to the adoption and promotion of technology options that may be used to better someone’s life.
As a part of this executive order, a Technology Fist Council was created. After 6 monthly meetings, a Final Report was created with Benchmarks. That document can be found below along with a couple related videos.
Growth of Supportive Technology and Technology First Benchmark #1


Videos of the Technology First Council sessions can be found below.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Smart Homes
Often technology can assist someone to live with greater independence. However, without personally experiencing the technology, it can be hard to find the right equipment or imagine how these technologies could affect one’s life, .
Throughout Ohio, organizations have developed smart homes to help individuals with developmental disabilities, their family members, and professionals experience and discuss the use of technology to enhance independence BEFORE it’s purchased or used in the home.
Smart Homes around Ohio:


Current Events


A lack of internet access means a lack of access to job applications, resources, and services that can help to promote independence, like remote support. For individuals with disabilities, Comcast is pursuing some creative solutions to this difficulty: CNET – Tech Enabled

Technology First Announcement

ABC 6 | NBC4i | CW Channel 2 | Columbus Dispatch | Toledo Blade |

Remote Support News

From ‘remote’ to realistic shot – Sandusky Register

Ohio one of first states to experiment with video monitoring for people with developmental disabilities