[INTERVIEW] Alexa & handicap: the experience of Patrick Fraleux

How voice assistants help people with disabilities Theme sensitive Alexa & handicap, Les Alexiens have already presented you in the past portraits of people for whom voice assistance, far from being a gadget, is a real daily tool in tasks that may seem basic for a valid person but its oh so delicate to be achieved, if not impossible, for a person with a disability. If the presence of a third person makes it possible to overcome certain difficulties encountered, it remains undeniable that being able to turn the light on or off when desired, without waiting for it to be done to you, is more than appreciable, so as not to say essential.

Update of 01/09/2020:

We would like to pay tribute to Patrick Fraleux, who died on July 09, 2020, whose fights touched us a lot. Following some discussions on our Facebook community, we interviewed him last May to discuss the benefits ofAlexa for people with disabilities, but also Handinewtek, its dedicated websiteaccessibility through digital.

Unfortunately, it was the fight he spoke the least about, against Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which overcame his courage and determination for 40 years.

We wish that his dream of seeing voice assistants and home automation increasingly useful for people with disabilities become a reality as soon as possible.
RIP Patrick!

After introducing you Nathalie, forced to be in a wheelchair and very happy to be able to control her lights, then Charlotte, visually impaired who finds assistance and support throughout the day thanks to Alexa, today we are going to discuss the contributions of voice assistants in the face of disability with Patrick.

There are sometimes coincidences, circumstances of time, place, or object, which make that we make very beautiful encounters ... Circumstance of time: one day during confinement. Circumstance of places: on our great community. Object circumstance: Alexa sure ! So much for the decor.

This is how we got to know Patrick Fraleux, new member on our community. Not hesitating to introduce ourselves by addressing his disability, we wanted to know more about his daily life and what it brings Alexa et Amazon Echo 3 to this passionate about Japan… but not only!

Hello Patrick, can you introduce yourself to our readers?

I am originally a web designer but in fact, I work more as a manager and producer of content for the site handinewtek.fr that I created in January 2020.

I live in the Grenoble region. Despite my rather heavy handicap, I live at home and I am helped by life assistants H 24, with two nursing visits in the morning and in the evening.

Otherwise, I am passionate about everything related to Japanese culture (I studied Japanese and I have encyclopedic knowledge on manga and the Japan League of football, in true geek mode), but also by new technologies in general. This is one of the reasons why I created my blog, handinewtek.fr, anxious to discuss ways to maintain autonomy in a disabled situation thanks to digital technology.

During your presentation on the community, you precisely mentioned your health concerns… What handicap do you suffer from?

I have a myopathy which forces me to use an electric chair and to have recourse to respiratory assistance 24 hours a day. My state of health is not in good shape, I am currently bedridden. I can't use my hands.

Comment Alexa entered your life?

Very humbly. Originally, I just wanted a smart speaker, which could be used as an intercom to call my caregivers from my bed. Then I opted for a Amazon echo 3, to test the voice assistant Alexa. I was not deceived !

What made you choose Alexa rather than another voice assistant?

I chose this connected speaker because it had a good value for money and allowed me to be able to try a voice assistant other than the Google Assistant.

Have you made your choice on Amazon Echo for some specific reason?

Originally, I focused on the connected speaker from Google which competes Amazon Echo 3, but I finally chose this one because it was equipped with Bluetooth, which allows it to be used as an intercom.

How long have you had a connected speaker?

I have had my Echo 3 for about 2 months. Pure happiness! 

“A fairly classic use then, but which in my situation makes the difference between what is possible or not. " Patrick Fraleux

What are your interactions with Alexa ?

I use them for turn off and on my bedroom light, listen to music with Deezer, for listen to the news, to have fun at To ask questions (useful or unnecessary). A fairly classic use therefore, but which in my situation makes the difference between what is possible or not. Without these devices, it is not possible for me to turn my bedroom light on and off, not possible to plug in Deezer and the info without someone's help. It is a gain of autonomy.

But what I appreciate most is being able to listen to audiobooks on Audible with a listening quality much better than the sound of my phone.

Try Audible for free on Amazon Echo with Alexa




How much time per day do you use Alexa ?

When it comes to listening to music, I would say one hour a day. On the other hand, for audio books, it can last a lot more: 3 or 4 hours… Especially if I am in a Heroïc Fantasy saga - there, I plunged into the Royal Assassin, I have some good ones weeks, even good months ... Otherwise, I'm more science fiction and thrillers, and subscribe to Audible.

Which objects are compatible with Alexa do you own

I currently have a connected bulb and a Dyson heater that I have not yet connected to my Wi-Fi network, but which is compatible Alexa recently. As it concerns Alexa, I have a Amazon Echo of 3e generation. It's starting to be a small collection!

What is your next acquisition?

I thought about buying a EchoDot 3 to put it in my bedroom and transfer my Echo 3 to the living room, but I'm mainly going to buy several smart bulbs and perhaps sockets and connected switches to be able to manage all this by voice and why not later connected thermostats to manage the heating. Not bad, as well during the heat wave as during the peaks of cold!

"The absolute happiness would be to be able to control the positions of my chair and my bed by voice with Alexa ! " Patrick Fraleux

What would you likeAlexa can be of service to you on a daily basis?

The absolute happiness would be to be able to control the positions of my chair and my bed by voice with Alexa ! I don't have much hope of achieving this in the short term, because the disability market is unfortunately still too peripheral for mass development on this type of product… But in a more distant future? As far away as possible?

Otherwise I would like to be able to make phone calls in my phone's address book without my contacts necessarily being subscribed to Amazon and have activated the service. Not all of my friends are geeks (yet)!

You mentioned managing the handinewtek.fr site. Can you tell us more ?

“Handinewtek is a site dedicated to digital accessibility and new technologies accessible to people with disabilities. " Patrick Fraleux

Handinewtek is a site dedicated to digital accessibility and new technologies accessible to people with disabilities.

The site is intended for people with disabilities and perhaps in priority to people who cannot, or no longer, use their hands.

Indeed, when this is the case, it is difficult, if not impossible, to use new technologies without resorting to adaptations, and small tricks.

handinewtek therefore intends to share these adaptations and these tips through tests, tutorials and comparisons. Vou can also find interviews with people who support the community of people with more or less severe disabilities.

“The aim would be to create, within two years, a label which certifies that high-tech objects and applications can be used by people with disabilities. " Patrick Fraleux

How long has your site been in existence? 

This project is still very young since it started on 1er January 2020, but we already have lots of positive feedback, which confirms our approach. The aim would be to create, within two years, a label that certifies that high-tech objects and the applications can be used by people with disabilities.

Have you taken steps for the recognition of your label?

“We have set ourselves a goal of launching the label within one or two years, depending on the development of the audience. " Patrick Fraleux

We will file the statute of the company in order to be able to develop ourselves. But for me, the essential is first to create and maintain a community. Too often, in the field of disability, institutions, companies, associations or structures appropriate our interests and represent them poorly or in a disconnected way. Social networks make it possible to have direct contact between people with disabilities.

When I started Handinewtek, it was very shy, like throwing a stone in the void of the net or shouting at the top of a cliff: “Are there other people in the world besides me who are wondering how to stay connected to the digital world without your fingers? Could my hours of research to remain digitally self-sufficient help someone else? " 

I never thought I would find so many interested individuals and so much wealth. I was struck by the spirit of mutual aid, solidarity and inventiveness. People are each thinking in their own corner about solutions to preserve their digital autonomy, Handinewtek is the chance to join forces! Everyone manages different disabilities and enormous constraints, everyone has ideas: some write with their noses, others hold their gamepads with their feet, I type my texts by voice, with configured software so as not to be bothered by the noise of my respirator. For the moment, we are in the process of creating an audience by offering help and tips and tricks, to bring this community to life… The label stage occurs quite logically in a second step. We have set ourselves a goal of launching the label within one or two years, depending on the development of the audience.

Thanks Patrick. The Alexiens wish you good luck for the development of your projects and long life to Handinewtek.co.uk.

As you have seen, disability does not prevent Patrick from activating and trying to make things happen. The recognition of a compatible label for people with disabilities is a project that we will not fail to relay. In the meantime, do not hesitate to visit the site Handinewtek.co.uk and to make it known to you. There you will find tips and tricks to simplify everyday life.

Simple user and novice fallen into the pot Alexa, this one fascinates me and thanks to the boys, Jean-Christophe and Alexien Modo, I learn a little more every day. Loving the different aspects ofAlexa, I turned to skills to share my discoveries with you.