Steve Smith Discusses ALS & the Automated System That Improved His Life

Steve Smith and the designers of his system (Photo: "Extra, extra, read all about it." The news seems to change every 10 minutes, but do we really stop and dwell on the lasting effects the stories have on individuals and families?

My story is one of those 10 minute stories. Like millions of others, I have a disease that doesn't move on. Our lives and the lives of our families are forever changed. My demon came in the form of Amyotrophic Lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also known commonly as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Basically, it is a neurodegenerative disease that renders the body paralyzed, trapped inside a useless shell.

Having knowledge of modern technology and the willingness to use it helped me overcome the countless hurdles of my disease. I brainstormed with some of the sharpest minds in the automation industry. The result of this combination of talent and intellect was a custom-designed system that gives me the independence I had before my illness took hold.

I could not explain in words alone how such systems have an impact on daily life. The overall outlook on life changes. The stress that illness puts on your family is reduced tremendously. Your self-worth is lifted to a renewed level. Your ability to control the daily routine improves. You can control your lighting, thermostat, TV, music; you can carry on a conversation despite having lost the ability to speak.

Talk about celebrating Independence Day. You will be celebrating independence every day.

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Steve Smith currently lives in Greenville, NC. He was an expert in home automation systems before ALS rendered him unable to work and live as he once had. His inspiring story shows the potential of technology to work miracles in the lives of disabled people who are still full of vitality and the belief in maintaining independence. 

May is national ALS Awareness Month. For more information about current research into this terrible disease--and to find ways you can help fight it--visit the ALS Association websiteTo learn more about the disease, check out this ALS information from WebMD. Also check out this video from on the medical source of ALS. 

Visit IndependentLivingBlog again soon--we will tell the story of one of our engineers, Chris Whitworth (pictured above to the left) who helped build Mr. Smith's incredibly enabling system. The system won an Innovation Award from the Consumer Electronics Association in 2007.