Integrating Smart Technology into the Lives of Individuals in DC

Initiative Description

The DC Assistive Technology Specialist serves on the Department of Disability Services work group to develop a "Technology First" initiative in the District of Columbia. This national movement endeavors to integrate "smart" technology into the lives of persons with intellectual/developmental disabilities to live in their communities. The AT Specialist will be providing on-going technical assistance on the necessary role AT plays in the implementation, operation, and management of this emerging support system. The major collaborating organizations are: Developmental Disabilities Administration, Rehabilitation Services Administration, DD Council, Georgetown UCEDD, Quality Trust, Project Action, The Center for Accessibility at the Martin Luther King Library, St. John’s Community Services, RCM of Washington, Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration, Connect. DC, Federal Communications and Disability Cocoon. However, the Tech First Initiative can expand into a District Wide Initiative with the potential of expanding partnership with Department of Aging and Community Living, Department of Behavioral Health, and The District Department of Transportation. The funding that was used to implement the initiative includes: DDS Local and Federal Funding, American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and Partnership’s in Employment Grant (PIE). We have hosted a 10-part Tech First Web Series hosted increased awareness amongst stakeholders; DDS and the DCATP Center has an identified and acquired twenty-six (26) new emerging tech solutions to add to its lending library for demonstration. The tech solutions acquired will be utilized to spread awareness amongst people with disabilities, family members, and service providers of impactful tech solutions within the category of “Internet of Things” (IoT) and Remote Supports equipment. DDS has brokered a relationship between DDA Service Coordination and IDD Assistive Technology Services Waiver providers to ensure moving forward they’re utilizing the AT Center as a resource to assist people with IDD and their support planning team with making informed decisions prior to acquisition of tech.

Lessons Learned/Replication

Seventeen DDS Providers enrolled in SHIFT Enabling Technology Curriculum to achieve Technology First Organization Accreditation. This will result in expanding the number of providers that can assist people with IDD with person-centered tech exploration, discovery, matching, planning, and implementation. DCATP is able to expand their services to providers that specifically provide services to clients with intellectual/developmental disabilities. DCATP, DDS and the Accessibility Center at Martin Luther King Library are creating an exhibit that features some these smart and remote technologies for the public and library patrons. Covid-19 proved to be a barrier to effectively administering tech surveys to people with IDD.  The most effective method would’ve been to host in-person focus groups.  Some considerations for replicating this initiative should include: Assess current service delivery system to identify barriers that prevent people w/IDD with accessing tech; Develop of a Taskforce, Council, or Work Group composed of District Partners and Stakeholders to identify core strategies and activities to advance the initiative; Marketing Strategy for stakeholder engagement and awareness; Achieve Mayoral support via Proclamation or Executive Order; Secure Grant Funding opportunities for innovation programs. 

Year of Implementation



District of Columbia

Initiative contact information

Alicia Johns