SD Network

Member Spotlight: Duane

user image 2020-06-25
By: SD Network
Posted in: Member Spotlight

Meet Duane. When he’s not biking, kayaking, or playing hockey, he strives to assist people with disabilities have choices through the help of technology. He’s a strong advocate of self-determination and believes it’s the best practice for people with disabilities to live the best life possible. We’re so fortunate to have Duane as a member of the Network! 

What's your story?  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Duane began working with people with disabilities as a junior in high school. He started as a Direct Support Provider at St. Francis School for Exceptional Children in Freeport, Illinois and eventually became the residential director there. He went on to be a Qualified Mental Retardation Professional for an agency in northern Illinois and while attending graduate school at the UW-Madison, was hired by the Waisman Center to assist in the design, development and implementation of the Sound Response Program. He explains that Sound Response was the first documented Remote Supports service in the United States. The Sound Response program would evolve into Night Owl Support Systems, LLC and he is one of the owners of that organization. He spent the first part of his career helping students/children by teaching skills that would foster their independence and allow them to live in the community when they became adults. “Choice has always been a big part of my value system and it’s integrated into the way I think. The latter part of my career has been involved with providing technology to people with disabilities to empower them to make choices and the technology allows for more self-direction,” he shares. 

How are you involved with self-determination? Why did you join the SD Network?

Duane was a part of the self-determination movement in Dane County when most people receiving waiver services shifted from the legacy waiver to self-direction. That being said, he explains that as people shifted to self-direction, they were offered more choices and could utilize Remote Supports as one of their options. His involvement was from the perspective of a Remote Supports provider. This would allow people more independence by not having staff 24-hours a day.

He joined the Self-Determination Network to stay connected with the self-determination movement. He’s a strong advocate for self-determination and recognizes that not all places offer self-determination as an option for people. He wants to be able to continue to advocate that self-determination is best practice for people with disabilities to live their best life. Joining the SD Network allows him to keep updated on the latest activities and advocacy. 

Tell us some good news - what's the most exciting thing happening for you (or in Wisconsin) in terms self-determination?

Duane says that there are a lot of exciting things going on right now. He explains that the last couple of years have shown an explosion in the awareness and use of enabling technologies. There are new technologies offering more sophisticated Remote Supports, there are many new devices people use day-to-day and new apps for making life much easier. From residential supports to vocational supports and transportation, the technologies are more readily available than ever. Wisconsin, like some other states, is promoting the use of enabling technologies through technology conferences and technology fests.  “I believe the push for technology will only enhance self-determination” he tells us.  

What tip or resource would you like to share with people who want to be more self-determined?

"Technology,” Duane exclaims! Having been a part of the technology evolution regarding enabling technologies and Remote Supports, he has been able to see the benefits that technology has provided to people with disabilities allowing more self-determination. “Many people do not have a choice of where and with whom they can live. Technology offers that opportunity,” he says.    

What are some of your hobbies?

Duane enjoys bicycling, swimming, kayaking and playing his guitar. He also can often be found playing hockey in Sun Prairie, WI.

***We love hearing the views and opinions of Network members. We need to mention that the views and opinions expressed on this site are those of the person who is sharing them. They do not necessarily reflect InControl Wisconsin or any of our supporters and funders.


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