2YH: How technology is helping one man live a more independent life

ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Technology has come a long way. Long gone are the days of having to print out navigation maps or using a phone book. For some, it's used as a means of entertainment and convenience, but for others, it's a lifeline.

Peer advocate, Travis Noah using his smartphone to control different things in his home. It's an adaptive technology that's helping him live more independently.

Just ask Travis Noah, how it's helping him live more independently. We visited him at his home in Anchorage to see what was installed and how much it's making a difference. Upon arrival, the first thing we noticed were the automatic door and locks. Noah controls the locks using an app on his smartphone. It opens by one press of a garage door like remote that is tethered to his wheelchair.

Noah was born with Cerebral Palsy. He said things as common place as turning on a light or opening a door might seem simple, but for someone with a severe physical challenge, it's not. He's lived in his home since 2008, but it's changed over the last 11 years.

"There was none of the technology. That wasn't a glimmer in my eye at the time," he said.

He toured us around his home showing the different ways technology is making a difference. Everything from a remote controlled front door to automated blinds, sink, even a paper towel dispenser is all controlled using an app, voice command or by Noah himself.

"Let's say you have only one good hand and you're trying to handle a dish at the same time. It's literally motion sensor. After 3 minutes, the water will shut itself off, it's automatic," said Noah explaining how he washes his hands and dishes at the kitchen sink.

Noah spent two weeks working with Assistive Technology of Alaska learning how technology can help someone with a disability live more independently.

"They wanted to know do you need help with that and if so, how many times a day. 90 percent of this is not something that's disability specific period, it's just being used in a way that a person with a disability can benefit from it," said Noah.

He said what works for him might be different than what works for someone else and he still requires help from a support staff, but as he put it, a happy day to him is as simple as having the ability to control the temperature in his own home, which he now does using Alexa.

The grant to outfit Noah's home with the technology was secured by the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. The goal is to use his home as a model home to show what can be done.

For health topics and ideas that you'd like to see, send us an email to 2yh@ktuu.com.

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