May Institute Receives $50,000 Grant to Support Technological Innovation
Randolph, Mass. – May Institute, a national nonprofit human services organization that serves individuals with a range of special needs across the lifespan, was recently awarded a $50,000 “innovation” grant from the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS).
The grant is part of DDS’s Technology Forward Initiative that promotes the use of supportive technology as an opportunity for more inclusive and independent lives for autistic individuals and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
May Institute will use the grant to fund novel technological initiatives designed to help adults with IDD and autistic adults achieve greater independence and increase their social and community access.
“We are implementing several projects to foster the inclusion of supportive technology in the lives of autistic individuals and individuals with IDD,” states Paul (PJ) Simeone, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, ATP, Vice President of Allied Health and Supportive Technology for May Institute. “Our innovations will include the implementation of life management technologies, a virtual reality community access module, and training and mentorship for staff development and acceptance of assistive technology.”
According to Dr. Simeone, May’s life management systems will provide individualized visual and audio support materials that individuals can access with handheld devices and in technology hubs at various locations to complete tasks more independently. Sensor-based technology and QR codes will be used to automate recognition of task completion and data collection. The goal is to empower individuals with special needs to achieve their personal goals related to independently caring for themselves, interacting with others, and accessing the community.
Another new project will include the production of virtual reality (VR) modules to address the unique behavioral needs of individuals served. For example, 360-degree videos will create client-centered VR modules to simulate scenarios to provide opportunities for exposure when safety might otherwise be a risk.
The grant will also help the organization build staff capacity to identify assistive technology (AT) needs and implement AT interventions. Direct support professionals will be trained on topics such as: person-centered supportive technology practices; using AT frameworks; using AT screening tools; and strategies for being an effective communication partner.
“Our goal is to use our expertise in supportive technology to further integrate technology into human services in order to improve the quality of life for the individuals we serve,” says Dr. Simeone. “This grant is enabling us to make considerable progress in this endeavor.”
About May Institute
May Institute is a nonprofit organization that is a national leader in the field of applied behavior analysis and evidence-based interventions, serving autistic individuals and individuals with other developmental disabilities, brain injury, neurobehavioral disorders, and other special needs. Founded more than 65 years ago, we provide a wide range of exceptional educational and rehabilitative services across the lifespan. For more information, call 800.778.7601 or visit www.mayinstitute.org.