General News and Events

Connecticut Team Shares Highlights from State’s “Stay Connected” Program

Technology Can Help Ease Isolation During COVID-19

This fall, two Connecticut Department of Aging and Disability Services colleagues were joined by a Quinnipiac University professor to co-present highlights from “Stay Connected,” a statewide program that uses technology to help isolated individuals connect with family, friends and medical providers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Connecticut’s “Stay Connected” program was highlighted during national presentations to the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP) and Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs). The presenting team included the Department of Aging and Disability Services’ CT Tech Act Project Program Director Arlene Lugo and the State Unit on Aging’s Patricia Richardson, as well as Professor Nicholas Nicholson of Quinnipiac University’s School of Nursing.

As a result of the presentation, several states expressed interest in replicating the “Stay Connected” program, according to Lugo.

The “Stay Connected” program was implemented with funding from the March 2020 federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act), which provides economic supports and other critical resources to Americans who are negatively affected by the pandemic. “Stay Connected” is a statewide program operated out of the Connecticut Department of Aging and Disability Services in collaboration by the State Unit on Aging and the CT Tech Act Project.

Find an article about the program here:

To read about how the Stay Connected program is helping Connecticut seniors  and people with disabilities stay in touch read these posts:

AT Success Stories News and Events

Samsung Galaxy Has an Instant and Powerful Impact for Stay Connected Program

by Kristopher Thompson, NEAT, Smart Technology Specialist

A few weeks ago, Independence Northwest reached out to me with an urgent referral for the “Stay Connected” program. The referral was for a woman who, like many facing social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, lived alone and had mobility challenges that prevented her from getting out to see her doctors. She had some very important medical appointments coming up and she needed access to telehealth.

I immediately reached out to her for a remote consultation to determine the best technology to get her better connected. Due to her severe hand tremors, she also needed a hands-free solution. Fortunately, the “Stay Connected” program had a lending library that we could use. The library contained the perfect Samsung Galaxy tablet and case, which also doubled as a stand. I shipped the items and she received them by the end of the week. We reconnected by phone and I walked her through the set-up process to ensure she had the apps necessary to provide the connectivity she needed.

This impact was instant and powerful, and she now regularly video chats with her doctors and loved ones, hands-free! Due to the generous funding from “Stay Connected,” we will be able to replace the tablet and case in our lending library and continue to have a great impact as a result of this program.

AT Success Stories News and Events

Amazon Echo Show Brings Caregiver Peace of Mind for Stay Connected Program

by Amy Norton, EASTCONN Assistive Technology Specialist

One of the best parts of working with consumers as part of “Stay Connected” is finding ways to help make life easier for people, especially during these trying times.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with a very lovely woman in CT, who is the primary caregiver for her husband. She limits her time away from home due to concern for his well-being. When we discussed using technology to help her check-in on him, whether she is in another room, running errands or meeting a friend for a quick lunch, she loved the idea. Knowing that he is okay, and that she can check on him remotely, gives her peace of mind and the ability to relax and take care of other things, including her own needs.

In addition to providing remote access to her husband, the Amazon Echo Show (funded by the “Stay Connected” program) allows him to play games, listen to music and communicate with family and friends. He can also ask Alexa to take a note so he can take phone messages for his wife when she’s out. It’s a great outcome for both of them!

AT Success Stories News and Events

Remote Training Allows Consumer to Stay Connected

 by Jen Lortie, UCP Assistive Technology Specialist

In mid-September, assistive technology specialists at UCP of Eastern CT worked with Connecticut resident Nancy Robertson through the “Stay Connected” program to provide her with computer training, so she could connect with her friends and community during COVID-19.

One big challenge? Ms. Robertson had never used a computer before. Thanks to the “Stay Connected” program, Ms. Robertson was provided with a new computer. Next, we connected with her by phone to provide in-depth training on how to use it.

Training began with the basics, explaining that laptop computers have batteries and must be plugged in every so often to charge the battery. This was followed by training on the keyboard layout. During this training, Ms. Robertson asked, “Where is the space bar? I do not see anything labeled S-P-A-C-E!”

Next, we got her logged into her Wi-Fi. We reviewed internet basics, such as how to search for websites and save bookmarks. Ms. Robertson was interested in joining her friends in an online Bridge Club, so we located the correct Bridge website and bookmarked it.

During a recent follow-up and wellness call with Ms. Robertson, she informed us that she is now playing Bridge with her friends online, twice a day. She also told us that she had purchased a book online!

Ms. Robertson said she “really enjoys using her computer to stay connected with friends and participate in virtual activities.” She’s grateful for the Stay Connected program during the long days of COVID-19.

News and Events Product Spotlight

Social Distancing Does Not Have to Mean Social Isolation – Generations on Line

Generations on Line (GoL) Helps Seniors Navigate Tech Options

By Katie Burke, Administrator, Generations on Line

Older woman holding a tablet with an the Easy Tablet Help app openedIf you, or someone you love, wants to learn how to use a tablet or smartphone to access the internet, Generations on Line (GoL) can help. GoL is a 20-year-old national non-profit, with a mission of narrowing the digital divide for seniors. And now, GoL is offering a FREE, interactive, tutorial for Android, Apple or Amazon tablets and smartphones, which can be found at

The tutorial was created with grant funding, and GoL shares it freely, to provide seniors with the information and skills necessary to use the internet. Although the training is specifically designed for seniors, anyone can use it. Another helpful feature of the GoL free tutorial is that it can stay on a learner’s device, allowing them to return to it, if a refresher is needed.

The GoL Free Tutorial Includes:
The Basics :
 Tapping a touch-screen, enlarging a page and shrinking, scrolling up and down, where buttons are located, how to get a keyboard to appear AND disappear

  • Web : How to search the internet and internet safety
  • Email+: Texting, video-calling (Skype, Zoom, FaceTime), setting up and accessing a Gmail account
  • More : Using the camera; accessing apps and YouTube; how to attach photos to email

screen shot of GOL websiteLoneliness and the Benefits of Technology: GoL Has Some Suggestions…

Did you know that loneliness has been associated with numerous health challenges, including increased risk of dementia? The pandemic’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” protocols have increased social isolation that often leads to loneliness, boredom and depression. GoL works to help older adults to feel a part of their family, neighborhood, extended community and world.

Those who have used technology before may need very little support, and will go through the tutorial at their own pace, choosing to repeat sections or move ahead as they wish. Many others will need a friend or relative to help coach them through the program.

  • If the coach and learner can be in the same room, the coach can support independent learning simply by troubleshooting, prompting and encouraging as needed.
  • If remote support is required, friends and/or family members can act as a remote coach by putting the same GoL tutorial on their own device. They can make the same selections on each page as the learner and be ready to encourage or answer any questions by phone.

Seniors may need inspiration to pursue new technology options…
For many seniors, it helps to discover the benefits of new learning, especially when it comes to technology. Do they like cooking—tell them about the treasure-trove of recipes available online. Do they miss the family? Video calling is a great incentive for many to start learning. The incentive varies from person to person. One senior loved to fix cars and learned he could view old car manuals online – then he was hooked on the internet!

Once they start learning, most find it rewarding. “I never realized so much was out there!” a coach shared recently. “My learner had only used her tablet for games. She did not use the camera, email, apps or other features for she was afraid she would wipe out something. After completing the tutorial, she is now much more confident and can use the device. Goal met!”

More support from GoL: Free Family Guides

Generations on Line has recently created free Family Guides to help families assist loved ones with tablet and/or Wi-Fi acquisition, setup and learning, even remotely if necessary. GoL provides these free materials and tutorials so friends, family and facilities such as senior centers, libraries, nursing homes, etc. can help a techno-timid elder find the on-ramp to the information highway. You can find the app and web-versions of the tutorial, along with the Family Guides at:

News and Events Resource

Accessible Pharmacy Services Can Help Seniors and Individuals with Disabilities

by Patrick Olsen, Director of Business Development for Accessible Pharmacy Services in Connecticut

Accessible Pharmacy logo

Accessible Pharmacy is a comprehensive healthcare company specializing in medication management for individuals who are blind, have a disability or are part of the senior community. Accessible Pharmacy Services provides free home delivery throughout Connecticut and will work with any insurance provider, including Medicare and Medicaid. The company was co-founded by

Dr. Alex Cohen, who is blind and lives in Philadelphia. Dr. Cohen earned his Ph.D. in Marketing, with a specific focus on retail accessibility. While earning his degree, Dr. Cohen learned about the lack of medication-management support available for seniors and people with disabilities.

Accessible Pharmacy Services Director of Business Development Patrick J. Olsen has been working with Connecticut consumers who are blind, low-vison, senior citizens, including veterans and individuals with developmental disabilities, since 2012. Patrick himself is blind.

His Accessible Pharmacy Services salespeople are experienced, top-notch customer care representatives who are blind or have disabilities. Patrick’s Connecticut customer care coordinators work with each individual client to find the best solution for effectively managing all medications. For all Connecticut residents this includes a wide variety of packaging and pill-sorting options, high-tech label-reading solutions, Braille and large-print labels, automatic refilling and reordering of prescriptions, medication consultations, education and reminder systems. All of these additional services are free, if you sign up now.

Additionally, Connecticut state consumers are provided a no-cost service that manages the transfer of pharmacy files securely, while seamlessly coordinating with all the client’s physicians, hospitals, clinics and support systems.

Accessible Pharmacy Services, through a partnership with Be My Eyes, now offers easy-to-understand procedures for private COVID-19 home testing kits for use in homes, facilities or apartments, including supports for all individuals who are blind, have low vision or other disabilities. This unique service is designed for all individuals with disabilities and senior residents in Connecticut, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our team enjoys educating all clients, family, caregivers and facility managers about the parameters of the program and any changes that have taken place. They transmit patient medication usage data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and objectively and clearly present patients with all programs that are available to all Connecticut consumers. This service is free until the end of 2020.

Patrick Olsen, Director of Business Development for Accessible Pharmacy.To learn more, visit or call anytime 215-799-9800 for immediate enrollment. In Connecticut, you can also contact Patrick J. Olsen, Director of Business Development (CT), Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Or email

News and Events Product Spotlight

Instructional Robots have Moved into Oak Hill!

By Adam Kosakowski, NEAT, Assistive Technology Specialist

Image of Kebbi. A classroom robot with a very cute digital face.Meet Kebbi!

Kebbi is an educational robot that integrates artificial intelligence, software, and hardware technology to provide a variety of facial expressions, body movements and communicative interactions. Kebbi provides a unique set of capabilities that offer students with autism and other special needs a unique approach to learning and engagement in the home/school environment.

The robot-assisted instruction comes with fundamental skills-training, using evidence-based techniques. The software supports a pre-programmed curriculum with the ability to customize, based on the student’s educational deficits as well as achievements.


The NEAT Center at Oak Hill has received two of these beautiful devices: one, which was donated to Oak Hill from MOVIA Robotics, and the other purchased for NEAT by the CT Tech Act Project. The CT Tech Act Project provides a great deal of programmatic support to NEAT, especially for the Lending Library and Adaptive Equipment Services. Both devices have been entered into the Lending Library at NEAT and can be borrowed to help make informed decisions about purchasing. Borrowing a device allows individuals time to see if it will meet their needs, both socially and educationally. Want to learn more? Please reach out to Adam Kosakowski from the NEAT Center at

Want to see more right now? Check out the links below:

Two young boys happily interacting with Movia Kebbie Robot

Young boy using Movia Kebbie Robot

AT Success Stories News and Events

Lending Library Brings a Voice to Transition Student

by EASTCONN’s Ann Bedard, M.S., CCC-SLP, Assistive Technology Specialist/ Speech-Language Pathologist

Chris using TouchChat appThe TouchChat app was recently trialed through EASTCONN’s AT Lending Library by Chris, a transition-age student with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Several AAC options were ruled-out prior to Chris’s device trials, after matching specific software design features to his abilities and needs. For example, Chris had demonstrated his ability to make requests to meet his needs and he had a large, receptive vocabulary. Yet, he was often impatient, so he benefited from automatic navigation and grammar guidance to produce full sentences quickly. Trials began with Chris observing the examiner using an 8-inch dynamic display, speech-generating device (SGD) with synthesized voice-output running research-based AAC software, called TouchChat. TouchChat is designed and manufactured by Saltillo for individuals who need efficient access to a robust vocabulary with a mix of single words, phrases and complete sentences. It is an app for iOS only, not Android devices. Chris’s support coach said he needed the smaller size of the 8-inch iPad, as compared to his current, 10-inch SGD. Chris enjoyed using the custom messages in the About Me page to express how he liked ketchup and other favorites. He quickly demonstrated the ability to imitate a model, and even learned to sequence three buttons independently to express, “I want to play music.” As a result of Chris successfully trialing several assistive technologies and devices, his school district could determine which device would best meet his needs.