A project at an Adelaide home has prompted researchers to call for more government investment for technologies that boost the independence of people living with special needs.
The work by Flinders University investigated how easily and cheaply homes could be retrofitted with readily available technologies to make life easier for the elderly and those with disabilities.
The Retrofitted Electronic Aids project was funded by the State Government, and aimed to see how many gadgets could be bought and installed in a home for $10,000.
A home belonging to a woman with multiple sclerosis was fitted with various electronic devices to make it easier for her to answer the door, use her mobile phone, turn on the television and access the internet.
Flinders University researcher Karen Reynolds says existing technologies can vastly improve a person’s ability to perform tasks others taken for granted.
Professor Reynolds says the challenge is not so much accessing the technology, but integrating it.
“Most of the things we’ve retrofitted, they’re off the shelf, in fact they’re all off the shelf. But it’s being able to bring them all together so they’re all centrally controlled,” she said.
Professor Reynolds says the project could reduce the dependence of people with special needs on carers.
“As people get older they want to be able to stay where they’ve been living, stay where their friends are,” she said.
“Their family might be living round the corner but they want to be able to say in their own home and not move into another location.”