Baltimore, MD—Maryland Department of Health’s (MDH) Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) today hosted a kickoff event highlighting Governor Larry Hogan’s August 15, 2022 proclamation making Maryland a Technology First State. Maryland becomes the eighth U.S. state to launch the initiative, which aims to benefit people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) by expanding access to technology to improve the quality of their lives.

Under the Technology First initiative, the DDA has assembled a task force made up of fellow state agencies, provider organizations, advocacy groups, stakeholders and families to ensure that technology is considered part of all service and support plans for people with IDD.  “Making Maryland a Technology First State means that whenever we encounter a barrier to living an independent, productive and community-based life here in our state, we make sure that the use of technology is considered in the discussion of support options,” said DDA Deputy Secretary Bernard Simons. “We know it won’t take the place of traditional services, but it will help people get better access to their communities, obtain employment and secure accessible housing.”

Maryland Department of Disabilities Secretary Carol Beatty and DDA Deputy Secretary Bernard Simons mark the launch of Maryland’s Technology First State initiative by presenting Governor Larry Hogan’s proclamation in front of 125 guests at The Meeting House in Columbia, Maryland. Credit: Maryland Department of Health

During the kickoff, attendees were invited to visit with 18 vendors and several state agencies offering technology-based solutions to create accessible homes, transportation, healthcare devices and other services designed to increase independence and quality of life. Due to the volume of requests from the public to attend the invitation-only event, organizers opened up a special session for families to visit the vendor display room from 1–3 p.m. 

Maryland resident Kimberly Blocker tries out the Thrive With Artie app at MDH’s Technology First Kickoff. Credit: Maryland Department of Health

Supportive technology is typically categorized as either remote support or assistive technology. Remote support offers a person direct support from a provider through real-time communication means such as remote sensors or video chat. Assistive technology includes products and services that aid a person in gaining personal independence like smartphones with accessibility features, voice-controlled artificial intelligence assistants, smart smoke detectors and video doorbells.

“We are thrilled to declare Maryland a Technology First State, added Deputy Secretary Simons.  “We believe in bringing awareness, access and autonomy to all of our citizens so that existing barriers to communication and support eventually become eradicated in our state.”


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