By Ryan Murphy
I don’t normally like to admit this so freely, as I have a reputation to uphold, but I am secretly a bit of a geek. The truth is I have been since I was a wee lad. Now yes, I know what you’re probably thinking, “But Ryan, at an athletic 6’-2” 185 lbs, only an occasional use of corrective lenses, and captain of your high school freshman boys basketball ‘B’ team, how could this be?”
As it turns out, I’ve been enthralled with science and technology since the first time I took the reins of our family computer at age six. Whether it was the telescope I received from Santa in the second grade, or the remote controlled door knob shield to dissuade intruders from entering my bedroom (lest they knew of the secret Velcro that kept the device fastened to my door) that I purchased in the fifth grade, I’ve lived a life full of gadgets and devices.
Luckily, I’ve been able to meld my love of technology with my passion for helping others here at ADEC. Beginning in September of 2012, I was hired to think about, tinker with, and devise ways in which technology can enhance the lives of the clients we serve. Currently, there are four main projects that we’ve come up with. With the aid of an outside consultant, Phil Briski, we will start producing tangible results for these projects over the next few months. I will detail the goals, steps, and end-products with all of you as we advance through this journey of customized Assistive Technology here at ADEC. I hope to provide some alternative forms of media in the form of pictures and video so as to properly capture the utility of our solutions for our clients.
1.) The KADE® project involves assisting a client with physical limitations. Operating a traditional computer is cumbersome, so we’ve sought alternative ways for this client to access media and remain in contact with distant friends and relatives. We’re waiting on some newly developed devices that will allow external joystick and button control of an Android tablet with minimal extra components. Once the finalized version of the device arrives, we’ll begin formally piecing the project together.
2.) iPad Research Project: We’ve tasked each of our day services with utilizing the iPad for a specific measurable goal with a limited number of clients. The projects vary in purpose from learning to tie shoes, encouraging better behavior on daily transportation routes, instructing clients to set up, use and take down a table saw, enhancing the ability of staff to respond to client needs with tailored communication applications, to reminding working clients of the daily duties. Most of these projects have been underway for a while, and we are working to get actual testing for the others going ASAP.
3.) In our Home Automation Project, we’ve met with and talked to a few of our clients that live mostly independently. Occasionally, these clients need assistance in completing their daily tasks like remember to take medications at specific times, or ensuring their doors are locked when they retire for the evening. We are pursuing fail-safe measures that will complete these tasks in the event that our clients omit to do so.
4.) Since moving our Elkhart Day Service out of the YMCA and into a location on Main St., we have established a “Tech lounge” in the day service. This will be a space in which we introduce new technologies as we see fit so clients can experience them on a daily basis and gain comfort in interacting with these new items. It’s a project that will continue to grow as new, inexpensive and useful technologies emerge (check out the video below for an example of such technologies).
That’s just a quick overview of our current projects. We’re also working to establish a connection with the University of Notre Dame through various professors and departments, as these projects only benefit from diverse thoughts and experiences. I’m very excited to continually update all you readers on the progress of these projects!