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The benefits of smart-home technology in supporting independent living of persons with disabilities

The SWEET HOME project partners are conducting primary research looking at the solutions that smart-home technology can bring for persons with disabilities.

For persons with disabilities, the right to independent living, to be able to maintain a life that is independent within their home must be supported, as established within the UN CRPD. Nevertheless, independent living is only possible when the necessary support services and systems are made available. The project SWEET HOME: HOME, MY OWN SWEET (SMART) HOME aims to highlight how the use of smart-home technology, which is available today, can contribute in enabling persons with disabilities to participate actively and autonomously in daily life.

The SWEET HOME project aims to open up a new world of opportunities and possibilities for persons with differing types of disabilities (down syndrome, blindness and visual impairment, hearing impairment, muscular dystrophy, Alzheimer's disease, cystic fibrosis and renal disease) through smart-home technology. We aim to build a bridge, bringing together people with different types of disabilities and needs structures, carers, and technology developers in an exchange to dissolve the knowledge gap.

Over the last few months, EASPD alongside our 5 project partners have been conducting primary research with a wide range of persons across the 7 target groups outlined in our project. These include persons with disabilities, their family members, professionals working with persons with disabilities, smart-home and domotics experts and interior designers.

Interviews and questionnaires have been held to better undersdtand the needs and issues faced by persons with disabilities when living at home. Questions focused on 10 topics: medical care and monitoring, personal care, home comfort, home safety, home mobility, cleaning, energy saving, entertainment, social participation, use of e-learning.

Home observations were also conducted in the participants’ own home to better understand how they live, where their main challenges are, and explore if they are already using any smart-home technologies. Finally, 7 roundtables have been conducted, each focusing on one type of disability. The roundtables provided an opportunity to present our findings, learn more about what technological solutions already exist to alleviate the challenges presented, and discuss industry recommendations for smart-home technology developers and policymakers.

The above findings and results will be consolidated into 7 reports outlining the problems, solutions, and recommendations for each group's own smart home. The 7 guides will be published on our website in early 2023, so keep an eye out for them!