Living independently is not always an option for people with disabilities depending on their limitations. As a 2017 Pew Research article shows, around 34 million Americans reported difficulties walking, climbing stairs, and running errands alone because of their disability, making independent living extremely difficult. This article also points out a large disparity in the number of technology users between those with disabilities and those without. According to their study, “Disabled adults are also about 20 percentage points less likely than those without disabilities to say they subscribe to home broadband, or own a traditional computer, smartphone or tablet.”
The latest advancements in smart home technology has the ability to make independent living easier for people with disabilities. Reducing this huge disparity and encouraging technology use could drastically change the lives of the millions of Americans struggling to live independently with disabilities.
Here are four smart home technology features that can improve the overall comfort and user-friendly nature of a home for someone living with a disability.
Home Automation Features
Depending on a person’s disability, he or she may struggle with simple household tasks. A person with Klumpke’s palsy, for example, may have limited fine motor skills that make tasks like turning the lights on and off more difficult. Depending on the tech company, this person could control all the lights, external door locks, and thermostats within his or her home from a tablet device. These home automation apps are often incredibly user-friendly and intuitive.
Smart locks can improve the security of any home, but they can be especially useful to people who have frequent visitors like caregivers or medical specialists. Newer smart locks allow you to set multiple door codes that you can activate and deactivate with the touch of a button.
A homeowner can give a code to a caregiver and deactivate it when the caregiver no longer needs access to the home. This can also reduce the amount of times a person with a disability needs to answer the door when in-home services are frequent.
While many people might think about outdoor home security cameras or motion sensors when talking about safety technology for the home, it’s important to think about interior security precautions. There are companies that offer medical alert systems either using a panel to talk through in the event of an emergency or a wearable alert button.
For a person with a disability or illness like epilepsy, this added support can be vital in an emergency when they may not otherwise be able to call for help. Again, not all home tech companies provide this benefit. But for a person with a disability that increases their potential need for emergency help, it is a feature that should be sought after.
Natural Disaster Alerts
For a person with a disability who lives alone, connecting with the outside world can sometimes be difficult, especially if they don’t regularly use social technology. This can also make it difficult to receive emergency alerts in the event of a natural disaster.
Having a home security system that displays warnings can add an additional safety measure. It can also be a helpful feature for a person who is deaf as they wouldn’t able to hear community alerts like tornado sirens.
In summary, smart home technology can do more for homeowners than increase security or provide more energy-saving solutions around the home. For a person with a disability, it can actively improve his or her overall quality of life. It can provide confidence and independence to a person who might not otherwise be able to live alone. And as technology continues to advance, the possibilities for many Americans living with disabilities will only grow.