Environmental Control refers to those activities of daily living that have to do with controlling items in your environment, sometimes referred to as EADL's (Electronic Activities of Daily Living). These can be such activities as changing the channel on the television to opening a door to controlling the temperature in the room. For PALS, performing these types of activities independently can become difficult or impossible. But, there are many products on the market that make performing these activities possible for PALS.
If a PALS has the ability to push a button, like those on a television remote, regaining control over a variety of environmental controls can be done very inexpensively. There is a technology call X-10 that sends signals through household wiring to control a wide variety of devices. By plugging an X-10 module in your electrical sockets, you can have the ability to turn lights on and off, dim or brighten lights, turn on or off many different appliances, and much more. For more information go to www.smarthome.com and look for the X-10 line of products. Another resource is www.activehome.com.
If the PALS is not able to push a button, then there needs to be some sort of interface that will allow the user to send the commands to the device they would like control of. High end communication devices often have this capability built in. With these communication devices, you have the ability to control any device that uses an infrared remote, such as TV, VCR, DVD, as well as send commands to X-10 devices. If you are not sure if your communication device has the capability, call the vendor of your device, or call The ALS Association, Greater New York Chapter.
Another way to achieve control over your environment is through a computer. If the PALS has a way to control their computer, there are software packages and hardware components that will provide the ability to control items in the environment. Go to these websites to see the different options available:
www.activehome.com (do a search for "firecracker")
There are some stand alone environmental control systems available. These are very costly items, but they have the benefit that they are not dependant on any other system, such as a computer or communication device. Each of these systems had different pros and cons. If you need help choosing one of these systems, please call the Assistive Technology Specialist at The ALS Association, Greater New York Chapter.
http://www.tashinc.com/catalog/env_index.html -- they have more than one system
www.zygo-usa.com - Go to "Products" then "Environmental Control Units"
Download a PDF of our Environmental Control Chart (Adobe Acrobat Required)
If you have any assistive technology related questions, you can email Ben Lieman, our Assistive Technology Specialist at BLieman@als-ny.org or call the office at 212-720-3057.