Most of you probably think of your smartphones as your primary method of communicating with your friends and family, but for those with disabilities, like myself, it’s also assistive technology. I live in my own home and use apps on my smartphone to control many of the features in my house such as the exterior doors, garage door, the lights, window shades, and the thermostat. It’s not just a luxury or convenience for me. For example: I have a six-year old Cocker Spaniel named Chloe. Home automation technology allows me to let Chloe out when she needs to, without having to rely on somebody else. Chloe and I can also go out on my back patio whenever we want, and enjoy nice weather. But what if my smartphone were to break? Well, that’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago.
After four years of constant use, my smartphone burned out. The system I used to control my house wasn’t compatible with my new smartphone, so not only did I have to get a new phone, but also update the smart home equipment and new apps. FORTUNATELY, I was able to pay for all of this through my ABLE Account. An ABLE account is a savings account for people with disabilities, which can be used to pay for assistive technology, and other qualified expenses. That’s why it’s so important for people with disabilities to have an ABLE Account. Not only does it help you save for the future, but it also helps you pay for unexpected expenses. You never know what might come up that you’re going to need help paying for right away, without it having to be approved by a waiver, or some other form of funding, which could take quite a while and may or may not be approved.
Impressions by Alexa’s Dad, John Brill:
I had hoped it would take a few more years, but I wasn’t really surprised that Alexa had to upgrade her home automation system. This type of technology has improved quite a bit in the past four years and is a lot more popular and available. All the ‘hard wiring’ is in place and the physical replacement of the devices that needed to be switched out was fairly simple. What did surprise me was the amount of programming time that was required to allow Alexa to control everything via her smartphone and/or Echo device.
I believe I am better than average in understanding what needs and can be done with this technology. BUT, I am below average in knowing how to make it work. As Alexa and the technician worked using their cell phones, and discussed what they were doing, I thought I was listening to a foreign language…. I was lost. The tech held his phone near Alexa’s and they would jabber and all of a sudden a door would open or a window blind would go up and they would cheer! It made me feel good to know that Alexa was so comfortable with all of this.