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CNN Today

High-Tech House Gives Its Residents Independence

Aired September 11, 2000 - 2:42 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: In South Florida, six disabled people are living independent lives thanks to 21st century wizardry. Their house is so "Jetson-esque" they call it the "Gizmo House."

CNN's Mark Potter makes a house call.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARK POTTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At first glance, it is a normal house in a neighborhood near Fort Lauderdale, but inside, it is so much more. With the touch of a keypad, tables and countertops move up and down, drapes open and shut electronically, radio signals control the doors. This is Gizmo House, a high-tech home for special residents.

The six occupants of Gizmo House suffer from multiple physical and mental disabilities. All are confined to wheelchairs. In the past, they were dependent upon others for almost everything. Now, thanks to innovative architecture, technology and training, they share their own home, make their own choices, and can do as they please.

If Andrea (ph) wants a snack, she pushes a computer screen icon and the pantry moves to reveal her selection. If Natoley (ph), who has trouble speaking, wants to say something, he pushes some buttons and out come his words.

NATOLEY, GIZMO HOUSE RESIDENT: How are you?

POTTER: If Linda wishes to telephone a friend, she dials out on a preprogrammed keypad on her wheelchair.

LINDA: Opal, this is Linda.

OPAL: How are you, Linda?

LINDA: You coming this Saturday?

POTTER: What this means is the residents now enjoy independence and a better quality of life.

JIM MCGUIRE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ANN STORCK CENTER: Most importantly, there's a dignity in making choices, acting upon them and achieving things. From that comes self-confidence. So you're no longer a spectator in life; you're an active participant. POTTER: The home was built by the Ann Storck Center, a nonprofit group that helps the disabled. Grants and donations covered the $750,000 cost. A local engineer designed the computer and wiring system that make the house run. A full-time staff, paid by Medicaid, assists the residents.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to do salad? There's your salad.

POTTER: The walls of the home are lined with an impressive collection of artwork, painted by the residents themselves. The focus is on personal freedom and ability, not disability. The high-tech innovations here help bring that to light.

Mark Potter, CNN, Plantation, Florida.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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