Smart Homes for the 21st Century


What the past three years have shown us is that isolation and digital exclusion has a huge impact of our lives. But there is hope on the horizon. The TAPPI report produced by the Housing LIN is one example of how the future might be made better by introducing systems that enable people as well as the tech to use them. There cannot be and should not be a one size fits all mentality. This has to be worked out for the individual.

At the time of writing I came into contact with two main organisations working with disabled people and councils in London.- A2i Dyslexia and Millenium Community Solutions(MCS). Both organisations promote the use of technology within their communities and beyond. MCS are producing an AT Toolkit which should be released next year. This will give vital information to those who need it and probably don’t know they need it. Research by AGE UK sites the need for confidence building approaches that will help people gain skills. Having been closely involved with that project called “Click and Connect” those who took part who were of senior age did show great confidence in being able to use the technology after our intervention. AGE UK and AbilityNet teamed up for that project.

So as we move down the road of more connectivity and more smart home use what about the reality of some of the present difficulties. For this I shout out two major companies Google and Amazon.. Google had a way that your Google Nest Mini could make phone calls using their great search engines but a couple of years ago they suddenly withdrew that in favour of Google Duo which sounds fine but you have lost that ability to search which is vital for a blind person. Then this November Amazon decided to withdraw their email service which further limits interaction. They also discontinued it seems their Amazon Connect device which gives hands-free access to making landline phone calls.

Please, why did you do this?

Whoever is in charge of accessibility in these organisations need to take a close look at their products and services in relation to the disabled.

So to conclude we are on a road map to a connected home and connected world that includes disabled people but we still have a long way to go in making it an accessible world for all.

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