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‘Smart Home’ in Hartford assisting individuals with disabilities

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HARTFORD --  Technology is certainly making things convenient, but if you're someone with a disability it can be life changing.

At the New England Assistive Technology Center in Hartford, otherwise known as the NEAT Center, that technology is on full display.

“There's just so many capabilities that it's fascinating and very empowering,” said Khris Thompson, who is a NEAT Center coordinator.

At the Center, operated by Oak Hill, Thompson helps people with a wide range of disabilities gain greater control over their lives.

The "Smart Home" is an interactive space that demonstrates the latest technology and how it can make a difference in the lives of someone who might be blind, deaf, or immobile.

Technology can help control home temperature, lights, or even a person’s oven. Each success story has grown out of using technology to fit a specific person's needs.

“It has been the best purchase of my life,” said Lisa Fine, a NEAT Center administrative assistant.

Fine knows the struggle of those she helps every day all too well.

“I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and I'm in a relationship with a gentleman who is also disabled,” said Fine.

Fine said over the past few years MS has started to affect her cognitively, specifically her memory.

“It was very overwhelming, because I couldn't hardly remember my own stuff,” said Fine, “so I asked my colleague Chris if we could meet, and I basically said give me all you've got.”

The purchase that made a difference for her was Amazon's Echo -- also known as “Alexa”.

“I can set a reminder at 11 o'clock, set a reminder to take Penny out, who is our dog,” said Fine.

“We're really looking at that person as a whole, and what tools work for them,” said the NEAT Center Director of Assistive Technology, Nicole Feeney.

If you cannot physically make it to the Smart Home in Hartford, the NEAT Center's dedicated staff can make a home visit for an assessment.

For more information on the NEAT Center click here.

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