Independent living is something that a lot of people take for granted. But people with disabilities and many older adults think about this issue every day. For us, independent living doesn’t just refer to our ability to remain in our homes. It also refers to our ability to stay in control of our lives and make our own decisions—about our education, our jobs, our health and even simple day-to-day tasks like making a meal.
Home automation technologies are enabling people to control appliances, lock doors and switch lights on and off, all from their smart phone. For someone with mobility concerns, these technologies can make all the difference.
As the Executive Director of the National Council on Independent Living, my job is to fight to make independent living a reality for more people. I’m excited about the work that AT&T is doing to expand broadband access because I believe that this can help us achieve our goal of promoting independent living.
We are in a digital revolution, and broadband enables the use of innovative technologies and applications that promote independent living. These technologies are making it possible for people with disabilities to access online education, remote work opportunities and telemedicine services. Routine tasks like ordering prescriptions and standard household items can now be fulfilled over the Internet. Home automation technologies are enabling people to control appliances, lock doors and switch lights on and off, all from their smart phone. For someone with mobility concerns, these technologies can make all the difference. Those with sensory disabilities, i.e. people who are blind or deaf, are also experiencing new levels of access to these functions through screen readers and smartphones.
These technologies already exist, and they are already allowing people around the country to live independently. Now, the challenge is ensuring that more and more Americans have access to the IP networks that bring technologies and applications like these within reach.
Of course, we still have work to do to ensure that these technologies that promote independent living are fully accessible to people with disabilities. While challenges remain, we have made great progress in recent years. I am confident that IP networks will enable more Americans of all ages and abilities to enjoy all the benefits that come with independent living.