Here’s how Apple’s HomeKit feature is an accessibility advantage

New houses being built with HomeKit-enabled appliances are becoming more accessible to consumers thanks to homebuilders incorporating Apple’s home automation technology, and HomeKit isn’t just a convenience or neat demo. NBC News shares the incredible story of how Todd Stabelfeldt who is a “complete quadriplegic with no movement below his shoulders” has been empowered by HomeKit.

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Stabelfeldt’s cousin accidentally shot him in the jaw when he was eight years old, severing his spinal cord. […]

But he doesn’t spend time feeling sorry for himself. In fact, he spends most of his time running his IT consulting business from his home office, helping his wife around the house when she’s not at work, and building his charity, the TSM Foundation, to help other people in wheelchairs.

And it’s all thanks to new smart home and assistive technology like Apple’s “HomeKit.”

Stabelfeldt uses Siri and SwitchControl to command HomeKit from his iPhone that is recharged from his wheelchair.

Apple’s “Switch Control” allows Stabelfeldt and people with limited mobility to navigate sequentially through items on a device’s screen using Bluetooth-enabled switch hardware — controllable by the mouth, for example. “Between Siri and Switch Control, I can use my phone just as good as anyone with 10 working fingers and hands,” he said.

This accessibility advantage is no accident, according to Apple:

“We put a lot of time and effort into making sure our products are as accessible as possible for all users,” said Apple’s Sarah Herrlinger. She has worked at Apple for nearly 14 years and is their Senior Manager of accessibility policy and initiatives.

“For some people, doing something like turning on your lights or opening a blind or changing your thermostat might be seen as a convenience, but for others, that represents empowerment, and independence, and dignity,” she told NBC News.

You can read the full story here, but it wraps up with this powerful line:

“HomeKit and Switch Control and Siri have given me a lot of value and a lot of opportunities to demonstrate that I’m a quality man and I’m a man of integrity,” Todd Stabelfeldt. “To get up every day and go to work: Everybody’s valuable, everybody has worth, everybody should have the opportunity to demonstrate it.”

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