Environmental and structural adaptations are made to the built environment to remove or reduce barriers and promote access for individuals with mobility disabilities. In additional to structural changes, electronic devices can control a large portion of or an entire living environment for someone who cannot otherwise physically access it.
Electronic Aids to Daily Living (EADL) provide an easy, independent means of operating the various appliances located in the home, office and classroom. The EADL is controlled by sending a signal through a keypad, keyboard, joystick, switch, or voice control. The control unit is the central processing unit which receives the input signal and translates the information into an output command which then controls the appliance. The most common signal methods for ECUs are:
- Infrared (IR) - These types of units must have a direct line of sight for the signal to be received by the control unit.
- Radio Frequency (RF) - Can be used in different rooms but has a limited range of 50-200 feet. Additional wiring is needed in the house or office and interference from another control unit is possible
- Voice – through use of voice commands, the user can control household appliances.
Most environmental adaptations are permanent or semi-permanent structures, modifications, or additions that usually involve building construction, engineering, and architecture.