Excerpt of the article How Pueblo Regional Center is using technology to better serve its disabled residents by Josué Perez, originally published in The Pueblo Chieftain, March 12, 2023.
Pueblo Regional Center has started a pilot program that uses technology to give its staff a chance to virtually experience the daily activities of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Some of the regional center’s staff used virtual reality headsets last month to simulate some of caregiving scenarios, which can place the user in the role of a caregiver or person with a disability such as vision or hearing loss, Alzheimer’s disease or Lewy body dementia, among others.
The center, which serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is the first of three statewide regional centers through the Office of Adult, Aging and Disability Services to use the virtual reality demonstrations.
“I think (the program) is extremely promising,” said Elaine Fisher, staff development director of the Division of Regional Centers. “We’ll definitely know more (once we) really start collecting data … the initial feedback we have received has been phenomenal. "
Fisher said those who've used the tech have said it "completely changes their perception" about how they can care for people with certain disabilities and often come away with new approaches to caregiving they "wouldn't have thought about if they hadn't used the virtual tech."
The VR technology comes from Embodied Labs, a training and tech platform that, according to its website, believes “VR experiences can enable those providing care to embody the perspectives and conditions of other people, gaining an understanding they can’t get from traditional training tools.”
Embodied Labs has developed other scenarios that aren’t specific to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but its ability to offer labs that simulate scenarios for that population piqued the interest of Yolanda Webb, the director of the Office of Adult, Aging and Disability Services, Fisher said.
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