Tech Tips for Your Smart Home
Did you purchase or receive a smart home device during the holiday season? Here at BridgingApps, we look at everything through the “How can this help people of all ages with special needs?” lens. It seems that all the biggest tech companies are jumping on the smart home bandwagon, and there are many devices out there to choose from. You may be feeling confused about what the devices are capable of and how they can be relevant to your unique family.
For the average person, smart home devices can make everyday life easier by providing shortcuts to getting things done; don’t get up to switch off the lights, see who’s at the door, or adjust the temperature of the room; just use your phone or your voice! For people with disabilities, these devices can support skills of independence in important ways. For our children with special needs, these devices will likely be exciting new toys for them, however we know that they can practice necessary skills in a fun way. Read on for ideas about how your family can get the most use out of these awesome new devices!
Besides the conveniences these devices provide, they can help our children in many important ways. Did you know that your child who might be afraid to speak up in class can practice conversational skills with Alexa, Siri, and Google- Ask them questions and they answer!
Maybe your child struggles with reading? They can practice their reading skills through fun activities or have stories read to them. How about your child that likes to cook, but has trouble understanding recipes? They can use their voice to find a recipe, have it read to them, and cook their masterpiece… all while gaining confidence and independence!
For some fun learning games, check out Alexa Skills, she can play games such as “Twenty Questions”, “Would You Rather?”, and even “Jeopardy”, research interesting topics, help your child learn to spell, answer medical questions, and you can even create your own skills for Alexa. With the introduction of the newest generation of Echo Show, Alexa won’t just tell you the information, she can also show it to you. There are many other devices that use Amazon Alexa, check them out and see which one you like best. Or, how about putting several Echo Dots around your home, so people can “call” one another or “drop in” on that room? This could be helpful if you don’t want to disturb the whole house to check on what is happening in one room.
Google Home can help you out with reminders, make grocery lists, play music and games with the family, and much more, all by simply saying, “Hey Google” and telling it what you want. Google Home is also compatible with many smart plugs, thermostats, home security systems, and even appliances. Take a look at how to control your home using Google Home here.
The HomePod is a speaker that you can use to listen to your apple music. It is advertised as having great sound quality, and you can just say, “hey siri” to wake it up and get the music started or use your phone to control it as you would any other speaker. The HomeKit app is included on all Apple devices and the HomePod speaker is just one of the many devices that works with it. Click on the link below to check out the other Homekit enabled devices:
These devices are also capable of doing some amazing things that can increase independence for teens and young adults with limited mobility. How about using a video doorbell such as Ring? See who’s at the door, talk with them, ask them to give you time to get to the door, or even unlock the door for them with a smart lock. Now, imagine the feeling of independence that is gained when you can control the thermostat, like this one from Nest, simply by using your voice or an app on your phone? No more lying in bed feeling too hot or too cold knowing that a wheelchair or other mobility device is the only way to get to the thermostat. Amazing, right?
With all the smart devices out there, one is bound to be useful for your family. If you did not receive one during the holidays, the new year might be a perfect time to invest in a new helper for your home!
If you are interested in searching for more apps, creating your own list of apps and sharing them, please go to BridgingApps.org. BridgingApps, a program of Easter Seals Greater Houston, is a community of parents, therapists, doctors and teachers who share information about using mobile devices with people who have special needs.
By AMZN mobile LLc
By Google LLc
Cristen Reat is co-founder of BridgingApps and a mother who found success when using a mobile device with her children who have special needs. Amy Barry is the Content Manager and Editor at BridgingApps and mother of five children. Amy Fuchs is the Program Coordinator at BridgingApps and a former special education teacher.
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This post originally appeared on our January/February 2019 Magazine