How Technology Creates Independence: The Story of Todd Stabelfeldt

Todd and Karen Stabelfeldt
Todd and Karen Stabelfeldt – Photo: Chiara Sottile

Four years ago, Todd Stabelfeldt couldn’t wait to marry his now-wife Karen. However, Todd, who has a spinal cord injury and uses a wheelchair, was concerned about Karen having to take care of him.

Thanks to assistive technology such as Apple’s “Home” app, Todd no longer has those concerns. The “Home” app allows him to control various accessories in his home, including door locks and lights, through Siri, Apple’s digital assistant.

Todd also uses voice recognition on his iPhone for phone calls and to send text messages, as well as Apple’s “Switch Control” app. “Switch Control” allows Todd and others with limited mobility to navigate sequentially through a device’s screen using Bluetooth-enabled switch hardware. Todd said, “Between Siri and Switch Control, I can use my phone just as good as anyone with 10 working fingers and hands.”

Apple’s assistive technology has changed Todd’s life. “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to be in love. To be married. To have children. To have dogs,” he said.  This technology has greatly benefited Karen as well. “When I’m cooking, I don’t have to stop and do those functions. He can facilitate and do those,” she said.

While assistive technology has seen great improvements in recent years, Todd is hopeful that it will continue to improve. He currently cannot control all his home accessories from the “Home” app, something he would like to see changed so that he can control everything in his home from one app. That way, Todd could become even more independent.

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Sam Graves

I am 23 years old and am a graduate of Augsburg College. I currently am the social media intern for Accessible360. I previously contributed to the Special Olympics Minnesota social media platforms and website. Before graduation from Augsburg College, I worked at The Arc Greater Twin Cities as a social media intern in 2015. In my spare time, I have been a baseball and Twins fan for many years.

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