Access to Technology for

Mainers with Developmental Disabilities

DD Tech Project Outcomes

Facilitating Engagement in Virtual Social Participation for Individuals

with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Margaret Carter, OT/s

Robin Newman, OTD, OTR, CLT, FAOTA; Rachel Dyer, Associate Director of the Maine Developmental Disabilities Council

Department of Occupational Therapy


Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) experience:

  • Higher rates of loneliness 7
  • Less access/lower rates of digital technology use5,6

COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Physical distancing increases risk of loneliness 2
  • Digital technology is critical to engage in virtual social participation

Amid pandemic, individuals with IDD are less likely to engage in virtual social participation using digital technology and are at a greater risk for loneliness 

Theoretical Basis

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Knowledge to Action (KTA) Framework

Description of the Project

iPads – 147 individuals with IDD receive iPads

Observation – Observe existing Zoom groups for individuals with IDD

Assistance – Assist participants (individuals with IDD and/or staff) with technical support as needed

Data – Gather and analyze data from surveys and focus groups

Conclusion – Compose report with conclusions and recommendations


114 participants responded to two online surveys approximately 1 and 2 months after receiving iPad

At conclusion of iPad project:

  • 94% Strongly Agree that they are satisfied in participating in the iPad project
  • 95% Always or Often feel good when using the iPad to connect with people
  • 83% can access services Much More than Before or Somewhat More than Before


         -Day programs

         -Contact with case managers and providers

Themes from qualitative data:

  • The iPad helps people connect with family and friends and access services
  • People like using it to connect with others, feel less lonely, and like the video aspect
  • Using the iPad, keeps people engaged in games, leisure, educational, and social participation activities
  • People felt thankful, special, and lucky for receiving an iPad


Providing individuals with IDD with iPads in conjunction with family/staff support, technology assistance, and accessible resources facilitated:

  • Engagement in virtual social participation
  • Participant satisfaction in program

Future directions include:

  • Development of a virtual social participation group on Zoom led by an occupational therapist (OT)
  • OT led trainings for staff/family members to support people with IDD in using technology