Friday, August 31, 2012

Kickin’ It With Sarah

The upcoming Labor Day weekend is a great opportunity for people to relax and get a little exercise before hibernating for the winter. In that spirit, check out this nice photo of Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont resident Sarah using her adaptive walker to kick a ball and work those muscles!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

SmartHome Residents At Sports Authority Field

This past Monday, residents of the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome took a tour of Sports Authority at Mile High, home of the Denver Broncos. Here’s a couple of nice pictures from the tour.

Not sure if this photo was on the way to or from the field, but either way, Lana, Donna, and Gerald sure look happy.

Rebecca (front), with Donna and Lana behind her at Invesco Field.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sarah’s iPad Wheelchair Mount

We all know that iPads are game changers when it comes to creating new opportunities for individuals with a variety of disabilities. But even fantastic tools like the iPad aren’t much help if a person’s physical challenges are such that they can’t simultaneously hold and use the iPad. That is why it is so exciting to announce that we have placed an iPad mount on Sarah’s wheelchair. Sarah lives in Imagine!’s Charles Family SmartHome and is already using the iPad to explore new worlds. This short video gives a glimpse the wheelchair mount and of Sarah in action on the iPad.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Developmental Pathways Tour

We mentioned last week that our good friends from Developmental Pathways took a tour of the Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont. Here are a few pictures from the tour.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Are You Ready For Some Football?

Residents of the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome in Boulder are scheduled to attend a Denver Broncos training camp session and to take a tour of Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Monday.

Gerald, who lives in the Boulder SmartHome, used his Dynavox communication device to share how thrilled he is about this upcoming tour:

"We are going to the Broncos training camp on Monday, August 27th. I am so excited. We are getting a tour at the Sports Authority Stadium. Can I have your autograph please? We are super excited. I am excited to meet Peyton Manning. We get to see where one of our counselors Brent works at the stadium."

Have fun, everyone!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

SmartHome Artists At Boulder Fringe Festival

Recently, residents of the Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome in Boulder took part in the Boulder International Fringe Festival.

The Boulder Fringe Festival hosts artists, local, national and international, presenting shows in twelve days at various venues – mostly within Boulder’s cultural corridor in the heart of downtown. The Boulder International Fringe Festival is in service to the community, building bridges between audiences, artists, businesses and civic organizations in conjunction with the worldwide Fringe Festival® network, and is a great opportunity for those served by Imagine! to demonstrate what they have to offer to the community.

Check out these photos of talented SmartHome artists in action.

Gerald and Donna rock the house.

Mandy shared some of her original writings.

Play us a song, John, you’re the piano man.

Mandy wowed the audience with her words.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guess Who’s Touring The SmartHomes

We’ve got a big group of administrators from our good friends at Developmental Pathways touring the Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont this morning, including Melanie Worley, CEO, Matt VanAuken, VP of Operations, and Lloyd Sweet, CFO.

Developmental Pathways (like Imagine!) is one of Colorado's 20 Community Centered Boards (CCB) serving Arapahoe and Douglas Counties and the City of Aurora. We’re honored to have them visit and look forward to sharing ideas as to how best to use technology to better serve some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

SmartHome Residents Providing “Voices of Imagine!”

Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome residents are eagerly contributing to Imagine!’s new blog, “Imagine! Voices,” which is designed to allow those we serve share information about their lives and the great things they are doing in their communities. In a couple of recent posts, Lana talks about her recent trip to I-HOP with her sister, and Mandy discusses a new jobs class she is planning to take through Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department.

Monday, August 20, 2012

John Volunteers For A Good Cause

On Thursdays, a crew of folks from Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department volunteers for two hours at the Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA) in Boulder, including Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome resident John. In the pictures, John is measuring food for cats and dogs and putting it into small bags. The hard working CORE/Labor Source crew members recently moved 3,000 pounds of food from the garage into the building in one day. Way to go, John!

Sarah, the CORE/Labor Source crew supervisor, helps John open a bulk sized bag of dog food that John scoops into smaller bags.

John had finished bagging dog food and had switched over to measuring bags of cat food.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Imagine! and AbleLInk - A Great Partnership

Today we’d like to share a video highlighting how AbleLink, and Imagine! are partnering to create new technological solutions for individuals with developmental disabilities.

AbleLink's pioneering research and award-winning products have a common purpose: To enable individuals with cognitive disabilities to experience a more self-determined and fulfilled life. Their innovations represent a new class of empowering technology characterized by a person-centered design philosophy that results in making everyday technologies such as phones, computers, and PDA's accessible to people with cognitive barriers.

We are honored to be working side-by-side with AbleLink to provide more opportunities for independence and meaningful community interaction for those we serve.

Can't see the video? Click here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

INARF Conference - Day 2

Day 2 at the INARF Technology Conference. SmartHomes guru Greg Wellems participated in a panel discussion discussing how organizations are currently using technology to improve the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities. The panel included providers and family members.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


Imagine! SmartHomes guru Greg Wellems and PR guy Fred Hobbs are in Indianapolis today to present at the INARF 2012 Technology Conference.

Monday, August 13, 2012

History of Assistive Technology at Imagine!

Imagine!’s SmartHomes didn’t appear out of nowhere. Imagine! has been exploring how technology can be used to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of services to individuals for almost as long as it has been in existence.

Want proof?

Check out the piece below on the history of the use of assistive technology at Imagine!. The piece was written by members of Imagine!’s Leadership Development Group as part of a proposal for a new assistive technology program for seniors. That proposal itself indicates that Imagine! continues to explore new an innovative ways to serve its community.


At Imagine!, technology is not just a buzz word, but a way we provide services. From the trainings we provide to caregivers, to how each individual accesses and navigates their environment, technology is the conduit in which we provide our support. While some form of technology has always been a part of Imagine!’s culture, the real pursuit of integrating that type of support into how we provide services and how individuals learn and communicate began long ago.

In the 1990’s, Imagine! utilized cell phone technology through Labor Source, Imagine!’s vocational provider. Later, this technology was also used for our day program services. This provided an additional edge on communication between team members and ensuring safety for the individuals Imagine! was serving in the community.

By the late 1990’s, Imagine was utilizing interoffice email and cell phone technology, and was ready to invest in using technology to benefit not just the transference of information, but a transformation of information. In other words, Imagine! began to identify a need for technology and communication for the individuals we were serving.

Communication devices were not being used toward functional communication and Imagine! began to evaluate how these devices could be used more efficiently. Technology was embedded into classes at our CORE day service program, and individuals began to use their technology to communicate in a way they never could before.

A sensory lab was started which focused on how the environment changes in response to an individual’s movements and responses. For example, a video game could be played by projecting an image onto a screen and using a person’s head movements to play. Later, a computer lab was created so that individuals could access the internet, Microsoft applications, and social media. Currently, there is an assistive technology lab which uses big buttons, joystick mice, adaptable keyboards, touch screens, and head tracking in order to facilitate communication from consumers who were previously not able to do so on their own. Dayspring, Early Intervention, and Innovations are beginning to test the use of mobile touch screens like tablets and iPads to access applications and software systems. It is likely that this type of technology will be incorporated in how service and therapy are provided.

There is a partnership between the Imagine!’s technology department and speech therapists to design communication plans so that individuals are not only practicing their communication, but utilizing the available technological resources to achieve their goals. These teams are collaborating in order to have unified plans across residential and day program services, so that there is consistency and a knowledge base to practice skills and learn new ways of communicating.

Imagine!’s use of assistive technology doesn’t stop with classes at the day program, but is embedded in the construction of houses for our individuals. In 1997 Imagine! was provided a grant that funded assistive technology devices at the Cottonwood apartments. The voice and picture prompting systems, and communication system allowed for individuals to be more independent and effectively respond to their environments.

In 2004, Imagine! began to implement environmental control systems into a home that supported three DynaVox users know as the Tech PCA (Personal Care Alternative). The home used a variety of x-10 systems, web-based communication tools and media servers to give individuals access over their environment and computers.

In September 2009, Imagine! broke ground on the first SmartHome in the country that was designed specifically for individuals with cognitive and developmental disabilities. Through the help of the Imagine! Foundation, a second home opened in Longmont in 2011. These homes provide a technology foundation and adaptable equipment for monitoring systems, support systems to access laundry, adjustable counters to access food preparation and cleaning, and individualized technology supports in each bedroom so that communication is a part of all interactions.

Each component of the SmartHomes has been developed with technological insight and creativity so that all parts of the house are being used for ease of navigation and communication. These homes also serve as an ongoing test environment for evaluating effective technology in supporting individuals with cognitive disabilities. A comprehensive technology screening tool has also been developed to measure and document the progress of each of the individuals utilizing the supports.

Another home is currently being constructed, and it will have an emphasis on older adults and their needs. While the other homes have been called “SmartHomes,” this house will have some of the same infrastructure like the technology and wiring, but will be used on an individualized basis rather than on a global one.

Imagine! is currently partnering with AbleLink in order to provide remote monitoring systems in homes. This partnership also allows access to communication within social networking sites. For example, there are bigger icons on computers to run programs like Facebook and Skype, and to talk into a computer microphone so that an individual who does not type could send emails and write letters.

While Imagine! has emphasized the use of technology for working with the individuals we serve, Imagine! also uses technology for the administrative and training end of providing support. In the early 2000’s, Imagine! invested in a program called NetSuite, which provided a systematic method for organizing information and data collection. This system is used not only for financial coordination and tracking, but also for data collection for the individuals we serve so that caregivers may analyze an individual’s progress. In 2004, Imagine! developed MedSupport, an online system to organize and track medication distribution for consumers. This program was used by 27 providers in 9 states before being developed into a for-profit partnership with CaraSolva. Online file storage and organization was brought to Imagine! in the mid 2000’s with Questys. Later, our timecard, personal information and benefits were moved to computer based systems for ease of access in the pursuit of information safety.

While the administrative end of Imagine! moved away from paper based documentation to computer and web based documentation, in 2003 Imagine! developed content for the systematic teaching and training of Imagine!’s employees. This LMS (Learning Management System) allows users to access trainings online through their personal computers. This program ensures the consistency of trainings across Imagine! employees so that information is distributed and learned throughout all the different facets of Imagine!. This program is shared with two other community center boards and at least five Program Approved Service Providers (PASA’s) utilize Imagine!’s trainings for their employees, which shows that Imagine! is the cornerstone of computer based education in the community.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Have You Heard About "Imagine! Voices?"

Imagine! recently started a new blog, “Imagine! Voices,” which will feature the words, art, and photos of individuals served by Imagine!, including folks living in our SmartHomes. The idea behind this new blog is that the individuals we serve will be able to use the blog as a platform to provide a unique perspective on life and demonstrate the many contributions they are bringing to their community every day.

In the most recent “Imagine! Voices” post, SmartHome resident John shares his thoughts on the Olympics, his job, and one of his favorite jokes. Check it out here.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Shelly’s Art Patron

Recently, Sandy Allen, who used to be a host home provider for Imagine!, purchased some of SmartHome resident Shelly’s art that she saw on display in the hallway at Imagine!’s Coal Creek office. The art was created by Shelly in an Imagine! CORE/Labor Source art class, and had previously been on display at the Dairy Center for the Arts in Boulder.

Sandy didn’t know Shelly but loved the art, so Sandy was shown some photos of Shelly participating in her Communication Class that were posted on the Imagine! Facebook page, and she was very happy to learn about the artist who had created this beautiful art she had purchased. Sandy is with her son in the photo.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Boulder Valley Green Building Award Update

Last night, representatives from Imagine!’s SmartHome had the pleasure of attending the Boulder County Business Report’s 1st Annual Green Summit. The Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome was up for a Boulder Valley Green Building Award, co-sponsored by The Colorado Green Building Guild (CGBG) and the Boulder County Business Report (BCBR).

Although we didn’t end up winning in our category (that well-deserved honor went to the University of Colorado’s Williams Village), we were honored to have been nominated and we send a big thank you to BCBR and CGBG for including us. It was a great event!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Implications and Use of Innovative Technologies in Services and Supports for People with Disabilities

Imagine! SmartHomes guru Greg Wellems presented today as part of a panel on “Implications and Use of Innovative Technologies in Services and Supports for People with Disabilities” at the “Reinventing Quality" 2012 Conference. Couldn’t be there? Not to worry! Check out his PowperPoint below.

Monday, August 6, 2012


Tomorrow, SmartHomes guru Greg Wellems will be presenting as part of a panel on “Implications and Use of Innovative Technologies in Services and Supports for People with Disabilities” at the “Reinventing Quality” 2012 Conference.

In the fall of 1999, The National Association of State Directors of Developmental Disabilities Services (NASDDDS) was awarded a three-year grant by the federal Administration on Developmental Disabilities to gather and disseminate "best practice" information on individualized, person-centered supports and related quality management activities.

This "Reinventing Quality" project was carried out in collaboration with the Research and Training Center on Community Living, one the nation's premier disability research and training centers, and the Human Services Research Institute, a policy research firm specializing in mental health and developmental disabilities issues. Among the activities supported by this grant was the sponsorship of nationwide conferences to showcase best practices in person-centered supports from across the nation: The Reinventing Quality Conference.

The project's funding ended in the fall of 2003, but the annual conferences have continued under the direction of the original project collaborators.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Wishing the happiest of birthdays today to Sarah, who lives in the Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont. Make it a great one, Sarah!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Happy Birthday, Anthony!

Wishing the happiest of birthdays today to Anthony, who lives in the Charles Family SmartHome in Longmont. Make it a great one, Anthony!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Guess Who’s Touring The SmartHomes

Scheduled to tour Imagine!’s Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome in Boulder this fall during the Coleman Institute’s Annual Conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology (Nov. 2) or ANCOR’s 2012 Technology Summit (Nov. 3): representatives from Minnesota-based The Phoenix Residence, Inc.

The Phoenix Residence, Inc.’s mission is committed to developing person centered quality living experiences for individuals with disabilities. We're looking forward to hosting them and share our experiences!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Attending Coleman Or ANCOR Tech Conferences? Tour The SmartHome While You Are Here

Are you planning on attending either the Coleman Institute’s Annual Conference on Cognitive Disability and Technology (Nov. 2) or ANCOR’s 2012 Technology Summit (Nov. 3) in Colorado? Or both? If so, why not come a day early and tour Imagine!’s SmartHome? We already have scheduled a tour on Thursday Nov. 1 with some conference attendees. If you’d like to join them, simply contact Imagine!’s SmartHomes Project Manager Sterling Wind at

Even if you are not planning on attending one or both of those conferences, you can always still sign up online to take a tour of Imagine!’s SmartHomes to see firsthand how technology is changing the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities. Just click here to get started.