Apps for Independence

Today’s mobile technology, like tablets and smartphones, offers us opportunities for learning and entertainment from almost anywhere.  Applications or “apps” are now considered as valuable tools for work, home and play.  As the market grows, more developers are creating applications to support accessibility and independence in the community.Apps for Special Needs

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the number of applications that can be downloaded to a device.  We often receive calls from individuals asking for guidance about how to find apps that might support someone with a disability or who is aging or who has dementia.  Here are some tips we suggest they consider:

  • Start with your mobile device.  Most tablets and smart phones have accessibility features in the “settings” folder.  These might include increasing the size of an app icon or using voice to text.
  • Utilize trusted online resources to research apps.  I check with organization websites or blogs to see what they might recommend or I search for “top apps for . . .” and see if several sights highlight the same app.
  • Don’t limit yourself to specialized or therapeutic apps. Often many of the standard games or learning tools can be just as impactful on learning and independence.
  • If there’s a “lite” version, download it first.  These are typically less expensive and allow someone to use a limited version of the app before purchasing the full version.
  • The more personalized the app, the more it may reinforce learning.  For some people, having photos or voices they recognize assist them in making more personal connections with the learning.   Research apps to determine if you can upload photos or record voices if that will be more meaningful to the individual.
  • Find apps that are based on topics the individual enjoys.  Connecting an individual to technology might be challenging initially.  Using themes such as nature or animals might spark their interest in interacting with the device.

As you begin to download apps and introduce them to individuals, remember that “less is more.”  Starting with 2-3 apps and becoming comfortable with those can make the difference in how successful the technology will be for the individual and more importantly, how successful the individual will be at home or in the community.

For questions about a specific concern or app, call SimplyHome Toll Free at 877-684-3581.

NCBDDD Publishes MMWR on Prevalence of Disability and Disability Type in the United States

To reflect on a month of recognition for the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) announced a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) report that describes the percentage of adults living with disabilities in each state and select functional disability types.  NCBDDD’s Division of Human Development and Disability published “Prevalence of Disability and Disability Type Among Adults — United States, 2013”, a report that also presents estimates of disability by select demographic groups.  Health officials and other stakeholders invested in the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities can use this information to better understand and address the needs of this population in the United States.

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According to the report:

  • 1 in 5 adults, or over 53 million people in the United States, has a disability, with state-level estimates ranging from 16.4% in Minnesota to 31.5% in Alabama.
  • The most common functional disability type was mobility disability – defined as serious difficulty walking or climbing stairs – reported by 1 in 8 adults.
  • Although any person can have a disability at any point in life, disability was more commonly reported by:
    • Black Non-Hispanic and Hispanic adults: 29.0% of black non-Hispanic adults and 25.9% of Hispanic adults compared to 20.6% of white non-Hispanic adults.
    • Women aged 18 years or older: 24.4% of women, compared to 19.8% of men
    • Older adults: Over a third of people 65 years or older reported a disability.

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SimplyHome Celebrates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Anniversary

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed 25 years ago this past month. The ADA is a commitment to eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities. Though there is still discrimination, the ADA is something to celebrate.

SimplyHome’s founder and owner, Allen Ray, answered a few questions about the impact of the ADA and how he is celebrating the anniversary.








-How do you think the ADA has impacted the folks that SimplyHome serves?  

First and foremost, I believe accessibility should be one of the core considerations whenever decisions for current needs or future service assessments are made. It just seems to be the right thing to do. I remember when the ADA legislation was being debated, I was surprised accessibility was not already a key part of outcomes and service expectations. The law’s lasting legacy is it has given every person with varying capabilities a means to change their circumstances.

-How has the ADA directly impacted the work that is done by SimplyHome?

It’s easy to see how the legislative mandate for accessibility has opened doors and opportunities for many who likely had limited options before 1991. Many see the ADA as giving permission to use the ever-changing tools of technology to create new solutions. These new possibilities, coupled with the options provided by SimplyHome, will hopefully offer additional outcomes previously thought impossible. With the backing of the ADA, SimplyHome is able to provide more solutions. In the end, there is truly no greater personal joy than the look on a person’s face as they regain lost independence or hearing a person tell their parents, “Look what I can do now!”

-What do you think our country/society would look like without the ADA?

Sadly, without the ADA and the outcomes it creates, the richness of experiences for so many would be greatly diminished. It’s not just for those with differing abilities, but it’s also for their co-workers, friends and families. The fullness of life when all are included is immeasurable.

-What are you doing to celebrate the ADA? 

I think I’ll celebrate the continuance of the outcomes created over the past 25 years. I’ll likely take a moment to embrace what I consider the act’s greatest achievement… making accessibility the new “normal” and genuinely a part of the initial thoughts in our daily routines.

-What do you think is important for people to know about the ADA? 

Accessibility has a place in everything we do and technology plays an integral part in opening new doors. Enabling technology, like SimplyHome, should be seen as ANY technology that increases, maintains, or improves a person’s outcomes. In the end, the ADA is really not about the legislation… it is rather a continuing journey toward an improved outcome for all of us.