SMART HOMES MADE SIMPLE is a project that is designed to raise awareness about how people with disabilities can gain control over their environment and live safely and more independently in their own homes using generic smart home technology.

This campaign is a result of a generic technology grant from the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (PADDC) awarded to Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF) in 2017.

So what is Generic Smart Home Technology?

Generic Technology – Devices that can be purchased “off-the-shelf” and used “as is.” When used to help an individual with a disability perform a function, generic technology is also called assistive technology (AT).

Assistive Technology – Any device that helps a person with a disability achieve a more independent and productive life. The federal definition of assistive technology under the Assistive Technology Act is “any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.”

Smart Home – A residence that has appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, TVs, computers, entertainment audio & video systems, security, and camera systems that are capable of communicating with one another and can be controlled remotely by a time schedule, from any room in the home, as well as remotely from any location in the world by phone or internet.

Put them together and you have…

Generic Smart Home Technology

which covers everything from an Amazon Echo that allows a person to turn on the lights with their voice to an app on your phone that is set to turn on a smart lightbulb on your front porch when it recognizes that you’ve pulled in the driveway.

While mainstream use of such technology is gaining ground, the application of these devices in the disability community as AT is lagging, with many people still dishing out thousands and tens of thousands of dollars for older, specialized AT. Our goal is to learn about, define, and raise awareness of what this amazing and affordable tech can do for people of all abilities.

The target groups for this project will be individuals with developmental disabilities who have significant support needs and who are transitioning to the community, as well as young adults who are moving into a home of their own. The project will focus on enabling these individuals to live independently in smart homes customized with generic smart AT (assistive technology). This project will directly serve individuals who are low-income and who live in Southeast PA, primarily Philadelphia. However, the information that is gathered by the Advisory Committee and learned from the consulting partner’s installs of 20 new smart homes each year will be disseminated throughout the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF), Pennsylvania’s Alternative Financing Program under the federal Assistive Technology Act, will be the lead on this project, working with a consumer-controlled Advisory Committee. PATF will collaborate with a technology consultant, Kirby Smith of SunKirb Ideas, to fulfill many of the required activities of the Generic Technology project. PATF is a consumer-directed, statewide organization that provides education and low- and no-interest loans for AT. PATF helps Pennsylvanians of all disability diagnoses, health conditions, ages, and incomes.