Smart Home Discovery Place
Remote Support
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.

For more information contact:

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


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 to provide similar services to those offered by direct support professionals from a distance through the use of technology. Rather than receiving support from someone in the home, a comparable assistance is provided from someone at a different location outside of the home. 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 is available as an alternative to having staff in the home for many people, at present only a small fraction of those who qualify take advantage of this service.

What is the 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.


Research: The Technology Project has contributed to published journal articles and a white paper.

Smart Home Discovery Place: A replica one-bedroom apartment provides individuals with developmental disabilities, their family members, and professionals an opportunity to experience technology and learn about ways that it might enhance one’s independence before purchasing.

Annual TechSummit: The TechSummit is an annual one-day conference with a focus on technology use to promote independence for adults with developmental disabilities.

What are examples of independence promoting technologies?

The technology sought by the Technology Project does NOT include ALL assistive technology. The technologies of interest help someone with a developmental disability to experience greater independence and do more on their own, often reducing one’s reliance on the need for direct-support staff. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

Home safety:

  • Connected technology that will deactivate (range when smoke is detected) or activate (engaging a locking mechanism when one leaves the house) to reduce risk of fires or burglary
  • Sensors that can identify when a meal has cooled to an appropriate temperature; etc.
  • If This Then That technologies that will engage lights when someone exits their bed at night

Health technology:

  • Medication dispensers;
  • Telehealth;
  • Technologies that gather health data for better communication with caregivers and physicians

Independent travel solutions:

  • Travel applications that prompt someone when to get off of the bus;
  • Watches that will send GPS coordinates to a trusted contact;
  • Cars that drive themselves;

Independent task completion

  • Voice assistants;
  • Image and video supported guided direction applications;
  • Reminder Applications

There are many more examples of technologies that would fit this category.


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 is frequently changing and technology is increasingly incorporated into aspect of our daily activities. 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 and is well equipped to research the benefits of technology use for people with developmental disabilities.


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

Project Team

Jordan Wagner, Technology Project Coordinator.

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


Other Technology First States

March 28, 2019

Ohio was the first Technology First state. Other states have caught on. Read about the Technology First trend in the U.S. here: Are you in a ‘Technology First’ State? What Does That Mean?

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 increase the awareness and understanding of individuals with developmental disabilities, their family members as well as providers who support them about smart home technologies and other related resources that may be a viable solution for their everyday support needs and might help them to live with greater independence. 
The Ohio State University Nisonger Center’s Smart Home Discovery Place is an example of one of these environments; located in Columbus, Ohio, on Ohio State’s campus someone can experience technology BEFORE it’s purchased or used in the home.
Smart Homes around Ohio:


Current Events


The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) web article, Remote Support For People With Disabilities, offers an introduction to remote support and proposes some considerations when deciding whether remote support is right for you or a loved one. Read the post here: Remote Support For People With Disabilities: Inside the implementation of technologies and the ethical implications for people receiving services.


“The Ohio House of Representatives today passed House Bill 13… that helps expand broadband across Ohio… Nearly one million Ohioans lack a reliable internet connection and about 300,000 households have no broadband options whatsoever.” Read about the bill here: Ohio House passes broadband expansion legislation


“For many people, voice assistants… offer [ease]. For people with Down syndrome, it can be life-changing technology.” Canadian Down Syndrome society initiated a collaboration with Google to train their voice assist to better understand the speech of individuals with down syndrome: CNET – Tech Enabled


Tennessee resident, Anita, uses technology to help her work and live independently. Read about her story here: Breaking Ground 99: More Independence at Work for Anita Through Technology. Tennessee is one of many States to follow Ohio’s lead to become a Technology First State.


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