Increase Independence with Technology

More and more people are using voice-activation.  Siri and Google for navigation, to send texts, or to ask a question.  Amazon has their Echo.  

The Echo can be a remarkable gift for a loved one who has limited mobility, limited independence.  Especially for people who are limited to their bed, chair, and/or wheelchair much of the day.  "Alexa", (Echo's voice) can turn on and off your lights or tv.  She can tell you the weather.  She can tell you the day or time.  Alexa can play you music or check the news.  Technology can be complicated for some people, different small buttons and codes can be difficult to manage.  Voice activation can be a huge relief and allow the person to independently control their own environment, rather than always relying on another person.  

Safety features

The Echo even has an "Ask my buddy" feature, that you can pre-set certain contacts and "Alexa" will text, email, or send an alert.  This can not only be a great communication device - asking your spouse to bring home milk, but can also help with more urgent issues- calling a family member if you fell.  

You must be in the general area/the room for Echo to work, but they also make a coordinating "Dot", that you can place in other rooms (e.g. the bedroom, the bathroom, on a wheelchair or attach to a walker).

Speech, Language, and Alexa

Alexa has benefits to people with aphasia and dysarthria as well.  If someone has word-finding difficulty, their speech pathologist can help them perfect key phrases to use with Alexa. With practice, the person can pre-plan their goal before speaking, which sometimes helps the words come a little easier.  Alexa also encourages the person to speak clearly, helping a person with Parkinson's use more effort and focus on their speech.  Using the Echo throughout the day can help people practice their communication skills, even if they are home alone most of the day.  And regular practice is key to improvement.

 Amazon Echo - Increase independence for people with disabilities. Personal image.

Amazon Echo - Increase independence for people with disabilities. Personal image.

Communication and Technology go hand in hand.

I regularly encourage clients to use Siri or Goggle on their phone to set reminders and events because of the functional practice and increased independence. (Don't we all use reminder notifications on our phones?)  Apparently, Amazon Echo understands you better than the rest. For my phone and iPad, with clients, I prefer to use Google instead of Siri, because Siri seems to want more specific commands and has a harder time understanding speech. Google seems to understand more broken phrases, seems to allow a longer time for speaking and understands slurred speech better than Siri. BUT, according to many, many reviews, Amazon Echo understands people even more, making this an ideal choice.  

If you have an Echo, but Alexa doesn't understand the commands, give me a call and we can do a few sessions of speech therapy to improve skills so that this strategy can be more effective to make your life a little easier and a little more independent.  

But don't take my word for it.....

Check out the reviews to hear more first-hand stories of people who use Amazon Echo to help their loved ones with disabilities be more independent.  Leave a tip below in the "comments" to share any helpful tips you've discovered with others.  

Note: This isn't an affiliate link, I don't make any money if you order the Echo. My hope is that it does make your life a little easier.