Providing mainstream smart home technology as assistive technology for persons with disabilities: a qualitative study with professionals

Document Type



Purpose: Mainstream smart home technology (MSHT) is becoming increasingly powerful, affordable, and relevant to improving environment control, independence, and participation of people with disabilities. This study examined how MSHT is delivered as assistive technology (AT) by practitioners of various disciplines and roles and collected their perspectives on the challenges and important considerations during the delivery process.

Methods: Practitioners with at least 1 year of experience providing MSHT as AT were interviewed individually or in small groups of 2-3 participants. Researchers developed guiding questions based on the AT service delivery process and applied an inductive qualitative analysis to generate common themes from the data.

Results: While all 15 participants confirmed the potential benefits of MSHT to people with disabilities, most followed an informal service delivery process and encountered various challenges, including challenges related to technology updates and compatibility, difficulty in keeping up with technology changes and advancement, funding for MSHT and services, client Wi-Fi/Internet access and quality, and security and privacy concerns. Participants also emphasised the importance of assessment and technology trialling during the delivery process and shared strategies for device customisation and client training.

Conclusions: This study provides first-hand information about the current practice of MSHT service delivery, as well as insights into areas where support is likely needed. The results could inform the development of new tools and resources to support MSHT service delivery. More research is required to develop and evaluate viable service delivery models for mainstream technologies to be used as AT.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONPractitioners who have experience delivering MSHT as AT confirmed the benefits of MSHT for improving independence, safety, and social connection of people with disabilities.Practitioners emphasised the importance of assessment prior to device selection even though MSHT can be readily purchased off the shelf.Practitioners need support for device trialling, installation, troubleshooting, and keeping up with constantly evolving MSHT.More research is needed to develop and evaluate service delivery models for mainstream technologies as AT for people with disabilities.




PMC Copyright Notice: In the absence of a copyright statement, users should assume that standard copyright protection applies, unless the article contains an explicit statement to the contrary.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Ding D, Morris L, Messina K, Fairman A. Providing mainstream smart home technology as assistive technology for persons with disabilities: a qualitative study with professionals. Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2021 Nov 9:1-8. doi: 10.1080/17483107.2021.1998673. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34752169.