TBH resident Margaret Marie and MIT Students Winners of 2015, AT&T and N.Y.U. Connect Ability Challenge, Best Practices Caregivers Award

TBH resident Margaret Marie and MIT Students Winners of 2015, AT&T and N.Y.U. Connect Ability Challenge, Best Practices Caregivers Award.

TBH resident Margaret Marie and MIT students Elizabeth Hadley, Laura D’Aquila, and Tanya Talkar received the Best Practices Caregivers Award for their InstaAid iPad application at the 2015 AT&T and N.Y.U. Connect Ability Challenge, Monday, July 27, 2015.

TBH resident Margaret Marie worked with MIT students to co-design InstaAid, an iPad application app that serves as an accessible Nurse Call System that enables residents to call for help more accessibly, regardless of their abilities or limitations. The app proved feasible because many residents of TBH regularly use iPads attached to their wheelchair. InstaAid has two separate interfaces – one for the residents to use to call for help, and another for the nurses to view and respond to requests. With InstaAid, residents can send custom requests for assistance and also video chat with the nurse.

The students from MIT’s Assistive Technologies class met with Margaret weekly to design the application’s interface, which ensured the application addressed the needs of users. They also reached out to many other residents and staff of The Boston Home to receive a range of input, which guided their design choices and feature selection. InstaAid is extremely cost efficient – it may be downloaded for free from the app store and works well on even the most basic iPad. Users love being able to use mainstream technology – an iPad – rather than needing to learn a new piece of hardware. Nurses at The Boston Home have quickly adapted to using the application and even look forward to responding to resident requests, especially when they come in as Facetime video chat calls. Residents have been known to play jokes with the application, sending requests like “beer please” and “can I have a back rub” in addition to nice notes like “thanks for the water” and “wow the flowers are beautiful today”. Residents and staff have truly adopted the application in a way that makes it their own. The app empowers individuals to live more independently

The application went live on the Apple App Store in April. Thanks to feedback from users during the beta testing period, a number of modifications were implemented to enhance the usability of the application, and it is now deployed permanently at The Boston Home. Because many assistive living communities can benefit from a similar solution, the application has great potential beyond The Boston Home.

The AT&T and N.Y.U Connect Ability Challenge drew in 63 solutions from 15 countries around the world. The submissions were then judged by 4 exemplars along with other AT&T executives who have different disabilities. The four exemplars: Xian Horn, a teacher, speaker and writer from Manhattan who has cerebral palsy; Paul Kotler, a lecturer and student from Philadelphia who has autism and communicates using computer-assisted technology and struggles with impulse control; Jason DaSilva, a filmmaker from Brooklyn who has Multiple Sclerosis; and Gus Chalkias, an assistive technology specialist, career counselor and college student from Queens who is blind.

The exemplars judged developers and their software on five functional categories, including addressing public policy for the disabled community. The categories are: people with sensory disabilities, people in need of mobility solutions, social and emotional solutions, solutions for people with communicative and cognitive disabilities and solutions impacting policy and society.