Cut the Cord

Get the low down on five Bluetooth technologies that can help people who use wheelchairs

A technology that’s been around for more than 15 years, Bluetooth connects devices such as laptops, tablets and phones to other devices such as headsets, speakers and keyboards. At surface level, Bluetooth seems like nothing more than a way to eliminate extra wires and enjoy music or phone calls conveniently. However, some Bluetooth products on the market serve a more important and helpful purpose, especially for those in wheelchairs.

Hands-free cell phone devices

For people with high-levels of spinal-cord injury and limited hand dexterity, operating and holding a small phone can be difficult. Wired headsets are helpful, but they can be hard to attach to the phone and still leave you with the task of pressing tiny buttons to dial a call.



Bluetooth products like the BlueAnt Supertooth 3 Hands-free Speakerphone and the EasyBlue switch adapted Bluetooth device eliminate that problem. Both connect to your mobile phone via Bluetooth. Then use BlueAnt to make a phone call via voice commands, or EasyBlue using your own adapted switch or power chair joystick.




Health monitoring sensors

Many health-monitoring devices are now available with Bluetooth built in so it can send the information straight to a smartphone, computer or tablet to keep track of health. iHealth creates a number of tracking products that log health information including blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters and glucometers. The Sensimat is especially helpful for wheelchair users. The sensor mat is placed under your wheelchair cushion and monitors and notifies you when it’s time for a weight shift in order to avoid pressure ulcers.



Home security and lighting devices

In many homes light switches and door locks are above the reachable height for someone in a wheelchair. Keys and locks can also be troubling for someone with limited hand dexterity, and let’s face it, sometimes you just don’t want to roll over to the light switch all the way across the room when a movie is starting. Thankfully, Bluetooth technology has solved this problem with several door locks and light switches that can be operated through your smartphone via Bluetooth.

The Kevo Bluetooth Electronic Deadbolt is a trusted Kwickset lock that uses Bluetooth to connect to a phone app that controls when it’s locked, opened and who is able to open it — with this device, your smartphone becomes a key. The Bluetooth Bulb works in a similar way, but instead allows you to turn the lights on and off and even dim or increase the brightness all from your smartphone.


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