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Five Innovative Technologies for Older Adults and People with Disabilities

Douglass Kastens, CEA Philanthropic & Foundation Intern, Consumer Technology Association

Tech innovators from around the world gathered at M-Enabling this year in Washington, D.C. alongside leaders of the accessibility community. CEA is a sponsor of the annual event, which highlights new advances in accessibility technology.
While attending the summit, we at the CEA Foundation had the opportunity to see firsthand a variety of new accessibility products and their potential to lessen the difficulties of aging and enhance the lives of those in need.  The foundation was established with the mission of linking seniors and people with disabilities with technologies to enhance their lives. Here are a few of the innovations that stood out to us.
Voice-activated and connected to the internet via Wi-Fi, Amazon’s Echo can create a shopping list, check the weather, news and traffic, play music, turn lights on and off, set alarms and much more.  Similar to Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, this device has the potential to allow those with limited mobility or sight to gain increased control of their surroundings with the power of their voice.
Sesame Enable
Sesame Enable created the world’s first touch-free smartphone. Through head movements captured by the phones front-end camera, the user controls a cursor on the screen to open and close apps. The Sesame Phone allows those with mobility related disabilities to access a new pathway of communication and gain greater independence in their daily life.
Uber recently unveiled updates to their service, which allow those hard of hearing and deaf to more effectively use their service.  The Uber app now allows users to notify their driver if they have a disability, such has deafness, though text message options within the app. The app also allows users to type in their destination and adds the option of visual alert cues, in addition to audio one.
Sprint Relay
Sprint Relay services allow users to communicate through a variety of means.  These services allow those with hearing deficits, vision loss or speech disabilities to effectively and easily communicate with others. Through devices such as IP Relay or a CapTel phone, users connect with an operator who can relay the information by text, sign language or audio to another party.

Resound hearing aids offer “smart hearing aids” that seamlessly link with Apple products and allow users to discretely control the volume of their environment with the convenience of ReSound’s iPhone app.  ReSound’s connectivity goes beyond just the iPhone though. It links up with the Apple Watch giving even more hidden control of hearing aid settings to the user.
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