Technology pilot program to increase safety and independence
AuSM is partnering with Aware Services, LLC and the St. Paul Police Department to offer a free pilot project that uses mobile technology to help individuals with autism and other “invisible disabilities” live more independently and securely in the community.
Many conditions like autism, traumatic brain injury, mental health challenges, fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, epilepsy, and others are referred to as “invisible” disabilities, because there are no physical indicators that others can see that might inform them of the disability. The invisibility of these disabilities can put the individuals at risk, because they often exhibit behaviors and traits that emergency responders can misinterpret as being intoxicated, uncooperative, or evasive.
A new technology-based project called the “Vulnerable Individuals Technology Assisted Location Service” – or VITALS – helps make the invisible visible. VITALS uses a transmitter, or beacon, and a mobile app that allow individuals with an “invisible” disability to voluntarily disclose their diagnosis to emergency responders within a 30-50 foot radius.
The individual carries a small beacon that can be detected by an app on the emergency responder’s mobile device. When the beacon is detected, the emergency responder can see a profile of the individual, with relevant, real-time information that can help the responder more knowledgeably interact with that person, especially in critical situations, where anxiety may be heightened and communication challenging.
“Many individuals with disabilities and their families have expressed fears of interactions with law enforcement and other emergency responders,” Jonah Weinberg, AuSM executive director, said. “VITALS was designed with input from these individuals and families to create a system that will reduce concerns and make it possible for individuals with disabilities to feel more secure and understood when they leave their homes for work, school, or recreation.”
Personalized for the individual with a disability, the VITALS app profile features a photo of the individual and other details including name, diagnosis, anxiety triggers, preferred ways to be approached, preferred de-escalation tactics, and more. The emergency responder can use this information to help prevent an interaction with that person from becoming negative, due to a misunderstanding of their behaviors.
Pilot Program in Ramsey County
In an effort to learn more about how this technology can increase community independence and security for individuals with disabilities, AuSM, VITALS and the St. Paul Police Department are launching a limited-time pilot study and are looking for individuals with disabilities ages 15 and older to participate. Ideal candidates live in, work in, or go to school in Ramsey County and spend time in the community, independent of a caregiver.
If you or someone you care for is age 15 or older and interested in participating in this pilot program, CLICK HERE to complete the VITALS Pilot Program Application. Aware Services, LLC will determine each candidate’s eligibility, and will be in touch with those who are selected for the pilot by Feb. 15, 2017. Pilot program capacity is limited.
If you do not live in, work, or go to school in Ramsey County but are interested in having the VITALS service in your community, CLICK HERE to share your contact information so we can keep you informed as this program grows.
Pilot program applications are due Jan. 27, 2017.
About Aware Services
Aware Services develops technology to help vulnerable individuals live more independently and securely in their community of choice.