From gaming to smart home devices, assistive technology helps people with disabilities maintain independence. It also helps them develop skills at home they can use in the community.
Ben Jacobs, the founder and CEO of RebelTech Consulting LLC, recently led a full-day training session at INDATA on the benefits of this innovative assistive technology.
The Gift of Adaptive Gaming
Jacobs’ presentation busted many of the myths surrounding the world of gaming. Chief among them is the notion that playing video games is an isolating activity for couch potatoes.
“Playing games can be important to people’s development,” Jacobs said. “It’s how they learn how to live in a society and appreciate teamwork, rule following and how to deal with failure.”
In addition, other benefits of gaming include pain reduction, enhanced hand-eye coordination, improved attitude and better decision-making skills.
Moreover, Jacobs debunked the myth that people with disabilities have to limit their gaming experience to simpler games outside of the usual systems like PlayStation, Xbox, etc.
The Xbox Adaptive Controller shows how the mainstream gaming world is growing more accessible and inclusive. For instance, this device allows users to connect switches, buttons, joysticks and mounts to create a customized gaming experience tailored toward their needs and abilities.
Another adaptive controller is the Quadstick, a mouth-operated controller for quadriplegics. Complete with a joystick and sip and puff sensors, it is compatible with Android, PC and PlayStation 3. A USB adapter allows control of Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 4.
The 3dRudder, a foot motion controller, allows for easier movement in gaming; further, you can also use it to browse the web and access Microsoft Windows programs.
The Life-Altering Luxury of Smart Home Technology
Thanks to smart home technology, people are able to control their homes like gaming systems.
Jacobs helps show how what is merely convenient for able-bodied people can be vital for those with disabilities.
“A lot of times when we see smart home technology in media, it’s shown as a luxury or convenience for individuals who are physically able to perform various tasks,” Jacobs said.
“What isn’t shown is how much of an impact these solutions can have on individuals with disabilities. I remember looking at an online community that focused on Google and their products. Google had recently announced their smart display, and people were discussing it. One person mentioned they didn’t understand who would benefit from or want a smart device in their home. However, I said in the hands of someone who couldn’t perform simple everyday tasks, this technology can be life altering. They immediately responded, ‘Oh my god, you’re right, I hadn’t thought of that at all. I’m going to get one for my grandmother!’”
Game Changing Technology
Smart speakers like Alexa serve as virtual caregivers for people with disabilities. Whether turning on lights or offering medication reminders, they allow people to benefit from home care without having to rely on someone else.
“Being able to control every device in your home with your voice or an app on your phone is very close to becoming a reality,” Jacobs said. “For people who aren’t physically able to access these devices, this is a real game changer. For example, soon there will be faucets you can ask to pour a cup of water. Or you can ask your bathtub to draw you a bath at your preferred temperature.”
In conclusion, by making home lives run more smoothly, this technology helps people with disabilities get out into the community more easily. Furthermore, gaming assists them with their interpersonal skills. Above all, while this technology may seem to keep people at home, it’s meant to help them navigate the world around them.
Click here for more information about RebelTech, a group of technology and accessibility professionals, dedicated to making independent living accessible to every individual.