Being a techie for decades has opened my eyes to how much technology has advanced in many parts of our lives.  Going back to when the original Sony PlayStation became available, many people thought the system’s graphics and controls would not be able to compete with the popular Sega Genesis gaming console.  That theory soon would be thrown out the window and the Sony PlayStation’s are still around as well as being popular. 

Smartphones have gone through a metamorphosis over the decades as well; now, cell phones are used not only for having conversations but have a multitude of functions that assist the user in navigating through their daily life.  However, it wasn’t until recently that I began to explore a facet of technology that has opened possibilities to individuals that had not been available or noticeable before.

Having a physical disability, myself, I am always looking for ways or things that can make my life easier to navigate.  However, it only has been a couple of years that I really became aware of technology that can not only make my life easier but those who have their own disabilities that limit their lifestyle.  Personal Assistants and technology had combined years ago to establish a virtual Personal Assistant in smartphones and computers in which a user would simply ask the P.A. a question and it would find the information almost immediately. 

Yet, the big breakthrough in the virtual P.A. came from Amazon and they named it Alexa, which came pre-installed in a device known as the Amazon Echo.  Today, we are going to look at how Alexa has opened doors that were once closed to those with disabilities.


Alexa Plus TP-Link Smart Plug Equals Lights on!

When you have a physical disability, easy actions to preform can become troublesome to accomplish.  One issue I had was shutting off the lights in my bedroom at night as the lamp is stationed on the other side of the bed.  Considering my wheelchair cannot make it through the other side without taking steps to shut it off, it could prove dangerous for me; especially if I had taken my medication which makes me drowsy.  My solution was a combo of using a TP-Link smart plug and my Amazon (Alexa) Dot so I could shut it off with the sound of my voice. 

I had assistance plugging the smart plug into an outlet and then configured my Amazon Dot, so all I had to say was Alexa, shut off Seth’s light. Now, I can turn on and off the lamp in a safe and controlled manor.  Whatever device is connected to the smart plug, I can turn it on or off with my voice once Alexa and the smart plug are synced up.

Hot or Cold, Alexa and a Smart Thermostat Will Save the Day!

Another advancement in technology is the smart thermostat that not only does this device provide safety and is convenient to the user, but it will help cut down costs in your electric bill.  Regular thermostats can be in hard-to-be-reached areas and remain at one temperature throughout the day.  That means this individual may have the temperature set that is cost-saving, but it may be too hot or too cold when getting home. 

The combo of Alexa and a smart thermostat can give the power to a user, so that temperature can be set using an individual’s voice without getting out of bed or use an app that can set the desired temperature on your way home from work.  I know that the less I need to get out of my bed to accomplish something, the better off I will be with my safety.

Alexa Plus Audible Equals Enjoyable Reading

Switching things up, one disability that I have not mentioned yet is the individual who is blind.  Although there are books that come in braille, not every book is written this way.  This is where the audible app and Alexa come into play.  Once they are in sync, there are plenty of audio books to choose from that Alexa can read to the user.  Even those who are not blind but has an issue with reading, just ask Alexa to open the Audible app and begin, or continue as it remembers the last page you stopped at, to read the story while listening to the descriptive words the author used.  Alexa can play your music as well since it can become your speaker as well.

Last Thoughts on Alexa

Although there are more ways that Alexa can assist those with disabilities, the few that I mentioned demonstrate how the disability community can benefit from an Alexa device.  Now that I resolved my issue with my lamp, I am looking for ways to use Alexa with my smart plugs to make things easier while creating a safer environment.  There are times that a person with a disability feels left out of society because he/she cannot do something that others can do.  However, technology continues to make strides in helping others to accomplish things that seemed once to be impossible.  Alexa is one of those advancements that will continue to open more doors that were once locked to those with a disability; just like me.