Alexa might be one of the best tech products for disabled children on the mainstream market. At first look the Amazon Echo is just another music device, that maybe you might ask the weather occasionally and I’ll admit, that is what we mainly use it for in our household. But, having recently spoken to many families who use this device, my view has changed dramatically and I now can now see how this little box can help to change the world around them for a disabled child.
If you have a disabled child, here are my top 5 reasons you need to add Alexa to
your Santa’s shopping list this Christmas.
We are all used to specialist products for disabled people coming with a hugely inflated price tag. But this is a mainstream product, designed for everyone with a price tag to match. Even at it’s most expensive, the Amazon Echo Plus is just £139.99 making it cheaper than most specialist devices.
You don’t have to be able to talk to use Alexa
My son can’t use the Amazon Echo technology yet because he can’t use his voice but that doesn’t mean you have to be able to speak to access Alexa’s technology!
Echo’s technology works with eye gaze and other specialist communication systems. If your child communicates via an electronic communication device, chances are you can connect it to Alexa!
Alexa can be trained to work with any voice and any level of speech so even if speech isn’t perfect it will still be able to understand commands.
**EDIT** I have been informed that the Alexa voice training option is no longer supported in the UK but is available on USA products. Hopefully this will be reinstated on UK devices soon.
You can control your environment without any motor skills
Once Alexa is set up you can add more devices to allow you to control your environment. Adding smart plugs will mean you can switch on (or off) any device plugged into it simply by asking Alexa. This would be fantastic for sensory toys, bubble towers, disco balls etc but also for more practical reasons like switching on a fan in the summer.
You can add smart light switches to control ceiling lights, or smart bulbs to have Alexa change the colour of your lighting. If you have a smart thermostat you can even ask Alexa to put the heating on!
Control the TV
If you’ve got poor motor skills, using a remote control is pretty difficult but did you know you can now use voice control to change channel, play your favourite show, or adjust the volume?
If you’ve got a smart TV you can link it to directly your Echo but if you don’t want to upgrade your TV you don’t have to miss out. By simply linking a device such as the AnyMote Home to access voice control, a disabled child can watch their favourite show without having to rely on their Mum to change the channel.
The basic Alexa skills
Alexa’s skills are far from basic. No longer do you have to be able to press a button to turn on the radio or type to search for your favourite music.
Using their voice, a disabled child can ask Alexa to play their favourite music (on repeat if desired), tell them a funny joke or read them a bedtime story.
Alexa can even tell them how many sleeps there are until Christmas!
Has your child used one of these devices? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
If you are looking for other Christmas gift ideas take a look at this post about sensory gifts for disabled children.