Working on disability provider policy in Washington, DC in today’s world makes it practically impossible to not have a constant theme of technology surrounding every day’s meetings, negotiations, and policymaking. Today’s world is run by apps and tracking programs, phones and laptops, and smart devices. We are fortunate to live at a time of such fascinating innovation. However, technology enters the disability services world in many ways we are appreciative of, and in some ways that can make us hesitant.
Back in the early 2010s when ANCOR was a leading supporter of the disability treaty, or the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the idea of access to technology for people with disabilities was a strong point to make to establish why people with disabilities needed equality. Now as we near 2020, we face more complex issues than the broad stroke of access. Electronic Visit Verification, which can provide great benefits if properly implemented, is being mandated and attached to the first legislative FMAP deduction ever beginning in January 2020. Artificial intelligence and algorithms are entering our space and the question is becoming whether those are systems that will work for people with disabilities. We have IBM Watson working with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) going in states across the country and using technology to do vast oversight audits. But do not get me wrong, technology is not the problem, rather, the details around the application and implementation of technology are key to its success.
In October of 2016, ANCOR released its 2016 technology position paper. This paper serves as the guidepost for our work in ANCOR’s policy shop. It’s the reason that we had the tremendous response by Administrator Verma on the funding of technology and it’s the reason we are extending our work on access to technology to beyond remote monitoring and accessible devices to even telehealth and telemedicine for people with I/DD. It’s why we recently accepted an invitation to join the Clear2Connect coalition which works to protect access for people with disabilities to technology offered and monitored through the Federal Communications Commission. It’s why we have been an active disability partner in the Coalition for Future Mobility, a coalition of mostly major car manufacturers working on legislation to enable people to use self-driving vehicles.
Technology will continue to evolve in our space and we are ready to fully embrace it with the guidance and support of ANCOR members like you. Thank you and I look forward to seeing you at the ANCOR Gamechangers Policy Summit on October 15!
Esmé Grewal is ANCOR's Vice President of Government Relations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.