- Last Updated
- May 31, 2022
The Division uses information and communication technologies, otherwise known as virtual platforms, to deliver some services, including virtual Braille and adaptive technology training as well as intake and followup interviews and assessments. Based on a participant’s individual service plan, the use of information and communication technologies allows Division staff to interact with them, their family/and support network.
Services delivered by virtual platforms may be delivered by blindness/DeafBlindness skills instructors, the Program and Student Affairs Coordinator, a Student Support staff member, or other staff as needed from time to time. A remote participant will typically be connecting from their home but may also connect from a hospital, clinic, professional office, educational institution, work site, library, community centre, congregate living facility, other organization-based setting, or other residential setting such as a friend or family member’s home.
Virtual service delivery is a participant’s choice unless a particular service is only available virtually or it is impossible for a participant to get to physical location for service delivery. In all other cases, staff will work with participants to determine if virtual service delivery is a good fit.
While it may be determined that service delivery via information and communication technologies is appropriate at the beginning of services, it is important to revisit decision making throughout services. Decisions regarding service delivery via virtual platforms will be made at the beginning of service and revisited every year unless the participant and staff decide to revisit the decision sooner, which may be due to, but not limited to, any of the following:
- a participant finding virtual services to be ineffective;
- new technology being introduced;
- a participant’s access to or the reliability of technology, equipment, and the internet changing;
- the receptivity and understanding of the participant regarding the use of technology and equipment changing;
- availability, support, and/or interference of members of the family/support network as applicable changing; or
- the safety and/or privacy of the setting where the participant is connecting from changing.
When working with a participant to make a decision about whether virtual or in-person training is a better fit, the staff member should consider the following:
- a participant’s previously identified risks;
- Any additional risks virtual service delivery may pose;
- a participant’s access to or the reliability of technology, equipment, and the internet;
- receptivity and understanding of the participant regarding the use of technology and equipment;
- availability, support, and/or interference of members of the family/support network as applicable;
- the safety and/or privacy of the setting where the participant is connecting from; and
- effectiveness of virtual training in meeting their goals as described in their individual service plan.
3. Procedure for Enrolment in and Exit of Virtual Service Delivery
- Staff and participants will jointly decide if virtual service delivery is a good fit.
- If virtual service delivery is a good fit, written consent from the participant must be obtained by email, text, or paper document.
- A copy of this consent document must be saved in the participant’s folder.
- A separate media release consent form must be signed before any participant may be audio recorded, video recorded, and/or photographed.
- The decision to continue virtual service delivery will be revisited at least every year or sooner if staff and participants wish to do so.
- If a participant decides not to continue with virtual service delivery, they should be recommended in-person services where available.
4. Procedure for Virtual Service Delivery
- If the virtual service delivery participant is connecting from a COBD controlled site, staff providing the virtual services will ensure an appropriate facilitator is present when needed. For participants connecting from non-COBD-controlled sites, a family member or caregiver may function in the role of facilitator if the participant desires.
- Based on identified needs of the participant and staff participating in the virtual service delivery, staff will ensure that needed modifications to equipment, materials, the built environment of the originating and, where possible, remote sites are made; including accommodations to ensure privacy, usability, accessibility, and learning outcome success. Accessibility accommodations may include, but are not limited to: adaptive technology such as alternative keyboards and headphones, close-captioning software, a sign language interpreter, materials in braille, the provision of printed materials and audio recordings to supplement information provided during an encounter, etc. Privacy considerations may include, but are not limited to: whether the environment where the person served is located provides for confidentiality during interactions and is conducted in a manner that keeps personal participant data private.
- Where possible, availability and/or function of technology needed to access virtual platforms at both the originating site and the remote site must be confirmed by staff 2 business days before the initial session of virtual service delivery.
- If new technology or equipment is being implemented, there have been problems with the technology or equipment in prior sessions, or someone new will be responsible for operating the equipment or technology, staff will reconfirm the availability/function of needed technology.
- As appropriate, instruction and training are provided by staff to the participant and any applicable members of the family/support network on the features, setup, use, and/or troubleshooting of the equipment used for virtual program delivery.
- Prior to the start of each session, all participants in the session, including those at the originating site and the remote site, are identified.
- Prior to the start of each session, staff will periodically provide applicable information that is relevant to the virtual service delivery including the timing of services, record-keeping, scheduling, information on who and how to contact between sessions, privacy and security, potential risks, safety considerations, confidentiality, rights and responsibilities, etc.
5. Staff Training
As appropriate, staff who deliver services via virtual platform delivery receive training on how to deliver services effectively via virtual platforms, including:
- how to determine whether the use of information and communication technologies is appropriate for a participant;
- what information to collect from participants for emergency situations;
- how to respond to emergency situations;
- how to use the equipment and technology needed to deliver those services
- how to guide participants, members of the family/support network, and others at the remote site on their use;
- strategies for communication with participants and, if applicable, members of the family/support network;
- confidentiality in virtual settings;
- observation/assessment techniques; and
- how to adapt hands-on services to remote delivery.
They will also receive training on any necessary equipment features, setup, maintenance, operation, and troubleshooting. Lastly, they will receive training on safety considerations when delivering virtual services that includes sanitization of both the originating and remote equipment as applicable.
6. Infection Control
All equipment used at the originating site and any COBD controlled remote site must be properly sanitized between each use. This includes but is not limited to keyboards, mouses, and Braille displays.
As appropriate, participants and any applicable family members in the home are instructed in proper hand-washing technique; shielding coughs and sneezes; and the use, if necessary, of gloves or masks to minimize risks associated with sharing equipment.
7. Equipment Maintenance
All equipment must be maintained in accordance with manufacturer recommendations that include, but are not limited to, storing equipment at an appropriate temperature. Despite this, replacement power cords may be used if cleared by IT Services.
8. Technical Support for Virtual Service Delivery
Technical support is provided by the IT Services team at the request of staff. To contact IT Services, please use the contact information for IT Services in the staff directory.
9. Other Support for Virtual Program Delivery
All other support, including the addressing of questions related to virtual service delivery by both staff and participants, can be addressed to the Program and Student Affairs Coordinator. To contact the Program and Student Affairs Coordinator, please use the contact information in the staff directory.
This policy will be reviewed at least annually and updated as needed.