16 Must-Have Smart Devices for the Disabled
Going through life with a disability is already a challenge, and the limited amount of options available for the disabled only makes it harder. With some 61 million Americans living with some form of disability, there’s been a focus on advancing technology to increase accessibility and minimize the difficulties of daily life. Devices for disabled individuals utilize state-of-the-art technology to make life easier, and assistive features enable those living with disabilities to adapt and thrive.
At Freedom Motors, we believe everyone should have access to the resources they need. That’s why we’re sharing our list of cult-favorite devices for disabled people, as well as some of the newest trends in gadgets for the handicapped.
Types of Devices for Disabled Individuals
There is a serious unmet need for devices for the disabled. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that global hearing aid technology accounts for just 10% of the global need. Similar statistics can be found for wheelchairs, ramps, lifts and other forms of assistive technology.
Luckily, there are various charities and nonprofit organizations, like Devices 4 the Disabled (D4D), that provide free equipment and resources to those living with disabilities. Additionally, government programs are becoming increasingly common with the goal of making this technology available to those on low to moderate incomes.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most common devices for disabled individuals.
- Mobility Aids – This category encompasses anything that applies to mobility, such as walking canes, crutches, scooters, and wheelchairs.
- Hearing Aids – Hearing aids allow people with hearing loss to better engage with and receive the world around them. This also extends to closed captioning for when a hearing aid is no longer effective, such as those with profound hearing loss.
- Cognitive Aids – These aids are electrical assistive devices to overcome challenges in someone’s cognitive ability. They can help with disabilities like an attention deficit or issues with a person’s memory.
- Software and Hardware – Computer software and hardware include screen readers, enlargement applications, and voice recognition programs to support those with mobility and sensory problems.
- Educational Aids – Adapted pencils, book holders, and automatic page-turners support disabled individuals in educational settings.
- Physical – Modifications made to homes, businesses, and governmental buildings. This category includes things like wider doorways, wheelchair ramps, and grab bars.
- Adaptive Switches/Utensils – People with disabilities affecting their motor skills often struggle to accomplish basic tasks like eating. Adaptive switches and utensils are modified for those who need some extra help.
These devices are designed to take into consideration the day-to-day activities in life, featuring tools to support those with disabilities in performing basic tasks.
A Brief History of Devices for the Disabled
Smart devices for the disabled are electronic devices that enable users to perform certain tasks more easily and efficiently while minimizing risk to their physical safety (reducing the likelihood of falls or accidents). These gadgets for disabled persons have traditionally been unaffordable to many households due to their high price tags.
Cost is the biggest barrier to obtaining these devices. Unfortunately, depending on the severity of someone’s disability, some may be unable to earn an income high enough to afford costly home modifications or expensive equipment.
Thankfully, the cost of smart devices for disabled individuals has decreased in recent years. This is due to the accessibility and flexibility of technology. Here are a few of the ways technology is making the world of smart devices more accessible:
- More Competition – The Internet of Things (IoT) market is becoming more crowded. Major retailers like Amazon, Apple, and Google have amplified competition, driving prices down.
- Simple Installation – Traditionally, a device for a disabled person would come with a costly installation fee. However, smart home devices are simple and easy to install — often taking no more than a few minutes.
- Growing Demand – Studies have shown the number of Internet-connected devices will reach 75 billion by 2025. This drastic increase in competition and a highly saturated market will continue to drive prices down.
- Convenience – Smart devices are all competing for convenience. Rather than bulky and complex gadgets that weren’t an option for many living with a disability, the industry has moved towards small, light and convenient products — perfect for those with mobility issues or who prefer a more discrete approach.
Thanks to modern technology, people living with disabilities no longer need to rely on government welfare programs to access these much-needed devices. The free market and growing demand are reducing the costs of intelligent products for everyone.
16 Top Smart Devices for People with Disabilities
Creating a smart home for the elderly and disabled allows those with limitations to retain their independence. And with price ranges for the best new disability adaptive equipment becoming more attainable, these smart devices are within reach.
Let’s discuss the top devices for people living with disabilities, including smart home systems and voice-activated devices for the disabled.
Amazon Echo is a speaker that connects to cloud-based services, including Alexa. People with mobility issues or a lack of fine motor skills can perform simple tasks — simply by using their voices. Some of the tasks Echo can perform include playing music, setting alarms, making phone calls, and online shopping.
Echo is simple to control and connects with countless other devices. It can even be installed in vehicles so you can easily manage your life on the go.
The Hive Smart Plug is one of the most useful devices for someone with physical limitations because it acts as an adapter. Simply plug it into the wall, and any other device plugged into Hive can be controlled by the homeowner.
Just set up the Hub, and the system will automatically search for new devices and install them on the app display. On average, it takes just 45 seconds for this process to run.
Any device you connect can then be controlled via an app on your smartphone. The actions you can perform will depend on the device in question. Simply being able to control multiple functions on your phone, however, is a major advantage for someone who lacks mobility.
Things like turning on the air conditioning, switching on the lights, or changing the brightness of home lighting systems can become quick and easy for those who lack mobility.
Echo Spot is similar to the standard Amazon Echo, but the Echo Spot also contains a webcam and screen. While the webcam may have limited use, the screen is useful for everything from the local weather to your favorite YouTube videos.
Many people with disabilities choose to use Echo Spot in their kitchens or bathrooms to assist them with their daily routines. You can also connect other home devices to your Echo Spot to further enhance the usability of this device. Like the original Echo, it’s completely voice-activated.
The Philips Hue bulb kit works like Hive — connect it to your phone to gain full control over your home’s lights. Switch the lights on and off from your mobile device or activate them with your voice for a truly smart home.
The Smart Bulb Starter Kit also allows you to alter the color and brightness of your bulbs. People who have visual disabilities may need to change the settings of their lights to suit their eyes at certain times of the day. This device gives them full control over this aspect of their environment.
This is a great device for disabled persons living with mobility limitations. If you’re expecting guests, ordering takeout, or receiving a package, you no longer need to worry about getting to the door in time. You can use the video stream to check who it is, or even use Ring to automatically unlock your door.
Some manufacturers even allow you to add an extra security feature, so if there’s someone suspicious, you can automatically send that information to a private security company. If an intruder is detected, your fully monitored security system will notify local law enforcement, who can respond in minutes.
If you need aid from a family member, caretaker, or housekeeper, you can now easily give them access to your home. If you have someone who regularly visits your home on a specific schedule, you can also provide access to your home during a specific window.
Smart locks are excellent devices for people with mobility impairments because it provides trusted people with keyless entry. It’s also safer than a keypad, as it’s impossible for somebody to crack the code and gain unauthorized entry to your home.
The Nest Smart Thermostat makes it simple to keep your home comfortable. Smart thermostats are great for people with Cerebral Palsy because they usually record a lower body temperature than average. Reaching your thermostat if you have mobility problems isn’t always easy. Smart thermostats connect directly to your phone and can be altered with the click of a button.
You can also create schedules so that when you’re out and about, you can ensure your home will be at your desired temperature by the time you get home. Because the temperature is carefully controlled at all times, you can also save money on your utility bills. That’s why many power companies are actively promoting smart thermostats to their customers.
Adjusting blinds or curtains can pose a challenge if you are in a wheelchair or are limited in mobility. Smart blinds are designed to provide privacy and be user-friendly at the same time. Custom-made motorized smart blinds or curtains can be controlled via a smartphone app, a remote control, or even by the sound of your voice.
The most advanced smart blinds can even be scheduled to open or close based on set times. This is especially useful if you have already gone upstairs and forgotten to close your living room’s curtains. There’s also evidence to show that smart blinds can reduce your energy bills by blocking out draughts and unwanted warm air. For full control over your curtains and blinds to create a more comfortable, smart blinds could be the right solution for you.
Personal Emergency Response Systems, or Medical Alert Systems, automatically connect you with life-saving services with a single press of a button. While many of the most popular devices for those with disabilities are there to make life easier, these systems will hopefully never need to be used.
Not everyone has 24/7 access to a caregiver. If you experience long visits between caregivers, these smart systems could be lifesavers. Some of these products even come with automatic fall detection, meaning if an accident occurs, you don’t need to press a button to access help.
Medical Alert Systems connect to the person’s emergency response team and send out a distress call with their location. Installing one of these devices enables the disabled to stay in their homes and retain their independence for longer.
Ivee Sleek offers one of the most powerful microphones in the business. It can pick up commands from a distance of up to 15 feet, so you don’t even need to be in the same room as the microphone. And you can do so much more than simply adjust your thermostat or wake you up with the news — you can ask Ivee Sleek to do anything, from scheduling rides with Uber to creating new Spotify playlists.
Connecting to other smart devices is becoming the standard among devices for disabled individuals. Jibo does this, but goes further even with its multiple high-resolution cameras. These cameras are powerful enough to recognize familiar faces and track them. You can enable video calling, ask for medication reminders, and even capture pictures through Jibo. This device will also connect you with a healthcare professional whenever you need it.
Those with limited mobility may find it difficult to keep their homes clean. The LG ThinQ Vacuum Cleaner is one of the most popular voice-activated vacuum cleaners available today. It offers a range of convenient features that not only make cleaning a breeze, but makes keeping a cleaning schedule easy. Whether it be performing pre-set cleaning patterns or accomplishing spot cleaning on command, this robot vacuum has got you covered.
Rather than simply switching on the lights or locking the doors, this AI-powered device will synchronize with your home entertainment system. That includes popular streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. The Mycroft is perfectly compatible with Chromecast and Roku, enabling you to stream your favorite TV shows and movies directly to you.
Limited mobility can mean difficulty getting up to find the remote or finding those tiny buttons on the back of the TV. And after a long day, you deserve to rest and relax on the couch. On those days when you need to limit your movement, a Samsung voice-activated smart TV is one of the top voice-activated devices to have in your home.
In addition to basic capabilities like increasing the volume or changing the channel, the voice activation feature allows you to download and launch apps, perform Google searches, and more. You can also connect your smart TV with other devices around your house for a truly connected smart home.
The learning thermostat we mentioned earlier on in this list is controlled by an app on your phone or mobile device. However, not everyone has the handle mobility to fiddle around with their smartphones. Additionally, some people prefer not to use smartphones at all.
Enter a voice-activated thermostat from Honeywell. This is the thermostat that learns and grows the more you use it. Its command vocabulary is not static, meaning you can expand its vocabulary. If you have a disability that prevents you from projecting your voice or pronouncing words, you can teach your Honeywell thermostat to understand shortened versions of common commands.
Driving with disabilities presents a new world of difficulty for many. Luckily, several in-car voice activation options exist in order to make the experience less stressful and safer for everyone on the road. Voice activation is commonly associated with smart homes, but you can now bring that same functionality to your car. Even popular voice-controlled Amazon products like the Amazon Echo Auto are designed for in-car use.
You can now focus on driving while voice-dictating messages or changing the music with one voice command. These voice-activated, in-car features can be used for everything from navigation to requesting traffic updates to opening your smart garage.
Find Your Freedom with Freedom Motors
Smart devices are getting smarter. Rapidly advancing technology is providing people with disabilities with the support they need to enjoy life to its fullest.
Choosing the right devices for your disability and lifestyle means researching what’s on the market and collaborating with your family and caregiving team. The right smart devices can transform your life.
At Freedom Motors, we specialize in providing customized, wheelchair accessible vehicles designed specifically for your needs. We’re a family-owned and operated business with over 35 years of conversion manufacturing experience, we have the largest collection of wheelchair vans and handicap accessible vehicles in the country. Contact us today to learn more!