These Smart Home Devices Can Enhance Independence for People With Disabilities and Mobility Needs – The New York Times

December 3, 2021 by No Comments

Smart-home devices can sometimes feel almost magical. They allow you to turn on lights without having to touch a switch, answer the front door from your bedroom (or a hotel room), and tweak your thermostat with a simple voice command. For many people, those capabilities are a convenience or a luxury. But for those who live with accessibility challenges, smart-home technology can be a powerful enabler, one that allows them to live a more independent and empowered life. Todd Stabelfeldt, CEO of C4 Database Management, is a quadriplegic and an avid smart-home user. As he puts it, “Convenience for you is independence for me.”

Stabelfeldt is one of 61 million US adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who live with what’s classified as a “disability”—which the CDC often defines as “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” He’s also one of the growing number of people who are tapping into smart-home technology to make it possible or easier to accomplish everyday tasks, be it turning on lights, opening doors, or turning on the TV. (Stabelfeldt calls his decked-out smart home “The Quadthedral.”)

It’s impossible, of course, to fully cover solutions for every need. But based on years of researching and testing smart-home products, we’ve compiled a list of what we think are the products that can best help people—and potentially their loved ones and caretakers—with many types of accessibility needs. (For a better understanding, please read Who this is for.)

To benefit from smart-home technology, you don’t have to go all in on a pricey, highly complex home that’s packed to the gills with technology. “Start small,” said Stabelfeldt, who recommends beginning with something as simple as a $10 to $15 smart plug, which can automate any electrical device. “Go get an app, get a little modular plug, and just start.”



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