Accessible Tech: Voice Automation and Disability

16/07/2018 16:17

However you feel about technology, whether you are completely tech-savvy or just starting out, there’s no doubt it has definitely enhanced all of our lives.

We can reach out to friends and family halfway across the world, we can set reminders and alarms, and we can surf the web and order to our doors without ever having to visit a store!

Products like Amazon’s Echo (or mini Echo Dot) and Google’s Home have taken technology a step further and begun to spark futuristic ideas of an almost entirely automated home. Scary as this seems, the futuristic little pods can be used to complete even the most basic of tasks. For those with any disability or mobility issues, these products open up a new world to all.

For those unfamiliar, the Amazon Echo and Google Home are little pieces of kit that will fit in the palm of your hand (they look like a round speaker). You can set them up anywhere in the home, and with an internet connection they can do just about anything you can think of, using voice activation.

Typically priced around £100, or sometimes less, products such as these are increasingly affordable and have an array of apps or ‘skills’  which are in constant development, and the apps available continue to grow.

If you struggle with using a laptop or phone, one of these products allow for easy life-administration; you can set reminders, create shopping and to-do lists, track your shopping, dictate lists and generally use any search function you’d expect from Google, or any similar search engine.

For those with visual impairment, audible books can be accessed. You can ask Alexa or Google Home what time it is, what the latest news articles are, and check your calendar for your appointments that day. You can play messages and make calls, without having to scroll through your phone.

That’s not all as other mobility issues can be eased with this impressive technology. Daily tasks which can seem daunting or frustrating when you use a wheelchair, can be instructed to Alexa or Google Home with a simple voice command. When set up, the device can control elements in your home such as lighting, or even be set up with smart blinds to open and close as needed. For even more bold additions to the ‘smart home’ set up, you can lock doors, open and close the garage door, set and adjust the thermostat and control the TV.

As we move towards a more inclusive world in every sense, innovative products like these will continue to bring a level of ease to the lives of wheelchair users and those with other disabilities.