Technology enables Paul to inspire

Monday April 29th 2019

Paul Di Ciacca

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A disabled man living with a degenerative condition has become an inspiration after embracing the latest in state-of-the-art technology to live his life to the full.

Paul Di Ciacca, 57, has limited mobility and relies on a wheelchair which he operates using his chin.

He has transformed his ground-floor flat using voice-activated systems and apps to control everything around him.

Paul, who has multiple sclerosis, spent the last two years researching the latest available gadgets and systems to keep him in control in his home.

And his determined approach has been captured in a public video which he hopes will inspire others to make the most of what is available to reclaim their independence.

Paul said: “Ten years ago if you were disabled you were put in a corner and left there, now you are encouraged to go out.

“The technology available has allowed me to take back control of my life and made a huge difference, I want others to realise there is so much more they can do.”

Paul, who lives in Cockenzie, has been in his current home for over two years.

His brother John Mark helped set up the technology in the property, saying he contacted “Maplins and John Lewis” initially to see what was available.

The advent of systems such as Nest and Ring opened up a new world for Paul and while his brother helped start off the flat, he has continued to seek out new ways of improving his life.

Paul said: “John Mark put this flat together and got it organised and I have taken it a step further.”

Using self-directed support, Paul can decide how he spends the money for his care and with support worker Vikki Tait at his side has continued to add new apps to his home.

With his mobile phone on a stand attached to his wheelchair, he can send texts, post on Facebook and control his home environment.

From adapting the temperature in a room to changing television channels, switching on lights and even creating art using innovative Eyegaze technology on video for his new YouTube channel, Paul is able to make decisions many of us take for granted but which are invaluable to those with a disability.

He even takes delight in playing pranks on unsuspecting cold callers who phone his flat by connecting them to his virtual assistant Bixby, creating hilarious conversations between them.

Paul said with the help of Vikki he was constantly improving his home.

He said: “I tell Vikki what I want to be able to do and she Googles it, finding a video which shows her how we can make it happen.”

And he reveals he has been inspired to aim high by the tale of the humble bee, which a former employer once shared.

He said: “There’s something very very special about bumblebees, it is not that they have a stripy coat or that they have six legs. It is that their wings are too small to carry their body but nobody’s told the bumblebee, so it keeps on doing it.

“That is the way I live my life; don’t worry about the things I can’t do, keep going with the things I can do and stay a bumblebee and keep flying.

“Just because you have had some trauma in your life, it doesn’t mean your life is over.

“You can change it, keep going forward, embrace change and flourish.”

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