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Technology helping people with disabilities live a more independent life

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Technology already used by thousands of households across Scotland is being adapted to help support people with disabilities to lead a more independent life.

Alan Kay uses eye gaze control to activate voice commands on his tablet, which he uses to order drinks at his favourite café or to speak with friends and family.

But many simple everyday tasks are beyond his physical ability.

“I like it – it helps me a lot,” said Alan.

The technology is now part of a trial helping residents at Capability Scotland in Perth live more independently.

Nick Laing is from Function Control, the company behind the technology.

He told STV News: “We’re using infrared transmitters to integrate eye gaze control so people using eye gaze control from a tablet can also control their lighting and heating and blinds completely independently.

“Conventional switches on the wall for lighting control, blind control and temperature control so carers going into a room will always have these control.

“Any voice assistant, regardless of what kind of voice assistant, we can integrate with that.”

Capability Scotland plan to roll out the technology at their new campus at Bertha Park.

Naomi Smith, the charity’s co-production lead, said staff are already seeing the benefits.

She said: “They were just amazed at what they could achieve by themselves and they wanted it here and now and I think it’ll make a massive different for people who have got complex needs to be able to do things themselves.”

Alan’s mother Wilma hopes this will be the start of what he can achieve.

“When Alan was younger, obviously we had to do everything for him,” she said. “But now we have a mobility vehicle that Alan can just drive into and we can transport him anywhere.

“I’m hoping Alan will be an ambassador in a way to show people who are perhaps not as fortunate as Alan there is life beyond being in a home and in a wheelchair.”

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