We adjust many features of our home or work space to fit our needs throughout the day. You might want to open the blinds, turn on a light, or shut off a fan. These devices don’t always come with buttons that are easy to access. Adaptive environmental control products can give you more independence.
Environmental control units use different types of technology – such as infrared light, radio waves or “z-waves,” or wifi – to send the signals that make your devices work. These products are often called Electronic Aids for Daily Living, or EADLs.
How can I control my environment?
Using a central hub can make the process of controlling your environment faster and easier. This might be a smart home hub or it might be an adaptive environmental control unit.
Smart Home Hubs
Devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home are becoming popular ways to control your living space. There are hundreds of compatible accessories, so you can create a network of smart things. Lightbulbs, security cameras, thermostats, door locks, blinds, and more can be connected to your hub and controlled by voice or through an app. To learn more, visit the smart home hubs page.
Adaptive Environmental Control Units
These hubs are designed with disabled people in mind. They may accommodate a variety of input methods such as touch, voice control, switch scanning, and eye gaze. Examples include the MEDIAssistant, autnoME, and REACH. Many products, such as HouseMate, are also starting to take advantage of the fact that our smartphones and tablets can now interface with multiple access methods. You can buy the HouseMate transmitter and control your devices from an app.
The items below usually work straight out of the box; you do not need to connect them with an app or pair them with a smart home hub.
A bulb adaptor like the Vocca can let you turn a light on and off with your voice. (If you have multiple lights, customize different commands for them in the vocca app.) Companies like Ameritac and Lumie Touch make other simple, plug-in wall adaptors that will let you control your lights via motion sensor or a foot-control switch.
Hardwired switches and radio-remote solutions are available to automatically open your door, without an app. See examples from companies like Open Sesame.
Outlet adaptors from companies like Dewenwils come with their own remote. It will turn on or off whatever device you have plugged into it. This can be useful for items like fans.
Talking thermostats make it easy for people who are blind or have low vision to set their room temperature. The thermostat will announce out loud everything that is usually seen on a screen – the day, time, and room temperature – and give verbal feedback as you adjust it using large buttons. Some models, such as the Kelvin, can also be adjusted by speaking voice commands.