Natalie Kosko, 26
After being on a waiting list for a year, Natalie was excited when an accessible apartment opened up in Heath in the fall of 2020.
But the transition from her parent’s home to her own place highlighted some things she needed assistance with.
Luckily her Service Coordinator Amanda Brehm was ready with some suggestions about different types of assistive technology.
Natalie got connected with assistive tech provider SafeinHome and started trying different options.
Adding an Alexa was a simple solution that’s made a big difference, Natalie said. She has difficulty remembering things, and being able to use her voice to set up reminders and keep track of the things she needs to get at the store has been a game changer.
She also needed a better way to track her medications, to make sure she was taking the right doses at the right time. Now her medication dispenser will go off at the right time and continue to prompt her for an hour to take the pills.
She’s experimenting with a Ring doorbell, which helps her see what’s happening outside her apartment, and uses an alert button on days she’s feeling unsteady.
From a simple lock box on her door, — that helps trusted people get in — to a power assist device that attaches to her manual wheelchair, Natalie said she’s really benefited from technology.
She views it as just another type of accommodation that can open a lot of doors.
“When you look at what it really means and what you really need, you might end up fulfilling a need you didn’t even know you had,” she said.
She’s heard people express concern that technology can take away the human relationships people with disabilities have with their caregivers.
But Natalie is quick to point out that the reason she’s been so successful with technology is because of the support she’s received from LCBDD, her family, the helpful staff at SafeinHome and the Direct Support Professionals who support her.
“If you have support, you really have nothing to lose by exploring assistive tech,” she said.
—Nominated by Asst. Director of Service Coordination Kristen Morris and Service Coordinator Tacie Shannon
Phil Kirk, 52
Adding an iPhone with accessibility apps was just the first step for Phil when it comes to assistive technology.
Living with low vision, Phil connected with Ali Rahimi, the founder of Ohio at Home Healthcare, in 2021. Ali set him up with an iPhone 12 Pro Max, which has a sophisticated camera system that includes a LIDAR detector that measures depth.
Using his phone, Phil can determine where barriers are in a room so he doesn’t run into the furniture or walls, or use the Be My Eyes app to get directions or read lables.
Bone conduction headphones built in to a pair of sunglasses, allow him to use his phone for navigation while still hearing noises around him.
Now Ali and Phil are moving into the next phase of assistive tech in his home. Now Phil has cameras in his kitchen and living room and a call button in case he needs assistance. With smart locks on his doors and garage, he can now lock or unlock them with his phone.
They are also looking at installing a portal device, so Phil can communicate with a staff person as needed.
— Nominated by Service Coordinator Christine Burkamp
Billy Burkhard, 20
Every day, at both 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Billy Burkhard gets a video call on the tablet in his kitchen.
It’s a staff member from SafeInHome, calling to check in. Sometimes they talk about Billy’s pet fish or how far he’s planning to run that day. But those regular check ins have been a game changer for him.
“At first I thought it would be annoying,” he said. “But it’s really helpful. It helps keep me on a routine and helps me get a rhythm for the day. A routine is so important for me.”
It’s important for Billy to have someone to talk to throughout the day. And for his mother Katie Burkhard, who works outside their home, its reassuring to know that if he needs anything, SafeInHome will contact her.
Billy said he also feels good, knowing that if something unexpected comes up throughout the day, he can reach out to SafeInHome at any time if he needs them,.
Other technology, including a pill dispenser was a big help early on to help Billy get into a routine with his meds. They’ve also found the Life 360 app to be very helpful, especially when Billy is on a long run.
As Billy gets ready to start a job search and do more on his own, he’s excited to find out about other tech resources that can help him become more independent.
— Nominated by Service Coordinator Tara Copley
Quinnton Herreman, 18
Written and submitted by the Herreman family
“When Quinnton was around 4 or 5 years old, we found that he had an affinity for technology, long before he was diagnosed with Autism. He loved to play on our phones and home computer. He often reset the background on the computer, having figured out how to do it all on his own. He loved using the computer and so we purchased several educational computer games like “Magic School Bus” and learning adventure games.
After he was diagnosed with Apraxia and began speech therapy, Quinn used TV to expand his vocabulary. He would mimic “Blues Clues” for several years to practice his speech skills. When he was in 6th grade he was diagnosed as being in the Autism Spectrum and having anxiety. He started attending some evening activities through My Place To Be, where we learned of the “Touch Points” solutions wrist bands. These provided a calming vibration that helped him focus during times of stimulation and relieved his anxiety. Utilizing funding from LCBDD we acquired a pair and Quinnton used them for the next four years.
During that time Quinnton also began using his IPad to learn and grow his communication and speech skills. He created a YouTube channel and played MineCraft for as many hours as we would allow him on screen time. Speaking of which, we employed the Screentime app to limit his access to the IPad to the allowed amount of time per day. Minecraft provided reasoning skills and technology training, making him figure out how to solve puzzles, use YouTube for tutorials, and do some basic coding. He extended that to Roblox more recently and is learning how to manage his money buying things through in app purchases.”
— Nominated by Service Coordinator Rachel Harper
Shout outs to….
— Nominated by Service Coordinator Tiffany Rhoads
Do you know someone who would make a great Tech All Star? Let us know! Contact Public Information Officer Anna Jeffries at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your experience!