Keith McConville, who lives in an HCO house in Winona, MN, recently testified remotely in front of the Senate Committee on Human Services Reform Finance and Policy. At issue before the committee was a bill, SF 1092, that would put some teeth into informed choice for people with disabilities, making sure that they have access to information about new technologies and remote supports. In a letter to the committee, the Minnesota Inclusive Higher Education Consortium (MIHEC) said, “This important legislation will establish and clarify the term Informed Choice. In addition, the legislation strengthens the Employment First, Independent Living First and Self-Direction First policies and establishes a Technology First policy.”
Keith shared with the committee his ability to make an informed choice about the technology used in his home. His program was the first at HCO to implement remote monitoring technology, which allows individuals to reach out for support as needed during the overnight hours without requiring staff to remain on-site. He told the committee how much he appreciates and embraces this technology, which gives him and his roommates increased independence and responsibility at home.
Keith enjoys the independence he has to determine his own life. In addition to living in a home of his choice, Keith makes independent choices about his leisure time and work. He shared that he works and earns money. He has his own lawn mower, and mows the lawns at his house and his parents’ house to earn more. He likes fishing, biking, and going bowling in his free time. He plays the organ, giving concerts for his housemates and staff, and also plays organ at church. Before the pandemic, he volunteered his time playing the organ at the hospital.
The committee was impressed by Keith’s presentation, commenting that it was comforting to hear that such independence was available to Keith and others through assistive technology and informed choice. They were also impressed by the fact that the remote monitoring that Keith likes so much also saves the state a great deal of money.
Keith’s testimony was a great example of being a self-advocate sharing his thoughts and experiences for the benefit of others with disabilities.