Position Statement of AAIDD
Technology is an integral part of participation in the community in the digital age. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) can maximize their independence and inclusion in society with readily available off-the-shelf devices and products, accessible technology, technology-enabled supports, and internet/broadband access. However, the costs of these vital supports present a substantial barrier to the vast majority people with IDD who have incomes below the poverty line, as these expenses are not typically covered by insurance nor are allowable expenses under public benefit guidelines.
Access to technology solutions and the internet has become an essential part of everyday life. Personal devices facilitate social communication, provide vital health monitoring around the clock (with appropriate privacy protections), and other supports to people with IDD in nearly every aspect of their lives. In addition to offering specialized supports, key technologies and internet access enable people with IDD to connect with and utilize educational supports and services, apply for jobs, take courses to develop new skills, navigate public transportation and ride share services, maintain contact with others, and engage fully in the world..
As the ways to access important information and resources have shifted, primarily if not exclusively, online, internet access has become essential, on par with electricity, heat, and running water. For example, electronic communication has become nearly universal for rapidly transmitting vital information that affect public health and safety, such as dangerous weather conditions, transportation disruptions, public health emergencies, and law enforcement activities; those who lack access cannot take prompt action to preserve their health, wellness, and safety.
To maximize their independence and inclusion in society throughout their lifetimes, people with IDD must have access to affordable, appropriate, useable, and accessible technologies and internet access of sufficient bandwidth to perform typical educational, employment, or leisure activities. To achieve this goal, policies and practices must:
- Ensure that internet access be treated as any other utility necessary for health and safety.
- Ensure that people with IDD have equal access to the digital world as their peers without disabilities.
- Expand the adoption of commercial, off-the-shelf, multiple-use technology to support people with IDD.
- Eliminate barriers for Medicaid beneficiaries to multi-use and commercial off-the-shelf technology that could support independent living in the community
- Ensure that policies regarding technology solutions do not unnecessarily exclude future technological advancements.
- Ensure that technology needs (including internet access) are addressed in Individualized Education, Support, and Family Service Plans (IEP, ISP, and IFSP).
- Make specialty assistive technology available to those who need it.
- Expand coverage of appropriate technology solutions and technology-enabled supports, including smart home technologies.
- Promote ongoing research on the impact of adopting effective technology solutions and adaptations and on information services concerning technology-enabled supports.
- Invest in the development of innovative technology-enabled supports and promote the evaluation of their impact on outcomes for people with IDD.
- Ensure that technology benefits are robust and cover the cost of devices as well as selection, installation, customization, maintenance, capacity (such as high speed), and training regarding the devices and internet access.
AAIDD Board of Directors, September 9, 2020