Electronic Aids to Daily Living
EADLs provide independent control of electrical devices within the environment. A more official definition is any electronic technology used for the specific purpose of providing independent operation of appliances. That can include many different things that can be controlled.
Figure 1. Examples of electrical devices.
This area of technology used to be referred to as environmental control units, or ECUs, or environmental control systems, or ECSs. You might have heard some of those terms, so why are we now using this term EADL? EADL defines the task that is being completed rather than putting the focus on what is being controlled.
In terms of funding this area of equipment is still quite challenging. By using the terminology ECU, the focus was on what was being controlled in the environment and that was a real hindrance in terms of funding. Also, technically in the engineering world, ECU refers to HVAC technology. HVAC is heating and air conditioning, so this would refer to your furnace and your central air in your home. It is possible to use this technology to control the temperature in the room, but it certainly does much more than that. ECU is not technically a correct term and that is why the term was changed a number of years ago.
Alternative Control of Devices
EADLs provide alternative control of devices in the environment. There are all sorts of things in the environment that we control every day that we take for granted. We control our audiovisual equipment, i.e. T.V. DVDs, cable box, etc. We control our doors, our telephones, our lights, and simple appliances. We turn up the heat or turn on the air conditioning. There are all sorts of things that we control. These items might be out of control for clients who have physical disabilities in particular, but those with sensory and cognitive disabilities as well. For some of our clients this might also mean control of an electric hospital bed, a power door opener, and some adaptive telephones.
Classification of EADLs
EADLs are classified into two main categories. The first category is general function EADLs. The second category is specific function EADLs, meaning this piece of assistive technology is designed to control one specific thing. The specific function EADLs include door openers, standalone adaptive telephones, and page turners, though this technology is really quite outdated and is rarely used. The general function EADL category includes limited output or basic EADLs providing control of maybe just a few devices or a few functions, and then multiple output EADLs can control just about anything in our home.