LAKEWOOD, Ohio — On the outside, it looks like your typical Lakewood apartment.
Fourteen units close to shopping and restaurants, right in the heart of the city.
But on the inside, four apartments have been in the works for nearly two years.
They’re called TryTech - short for "try technology."
A partnership between the nonprofit North Coast Community Homes and the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities.
Kelly Petty is the CEO at CCBDD.
“We might see people with cerebral palsy, autism, Down syndrome, a whole variety of disabilities that qualify for our services,” she explained.
And TryTech is the first of its kind in the country.
Smart apartments tricked out with the latest in technology to make independent living for those with developmental disabilities attainable.
Voice activated tech, smart fridges and doorbells, an iPad with access to a virtual support person at the touch of a button, just to name a few things.
Being in an integrated building sets it apart even more.
“People who come to live in the TryTech apartments will be living in the same building as people without disabilities and that is unique and very exciting,” Petty said.
Chris West is the CEO of North Coast Community Homes, which has helped build and design hundreds of homes for those with disabilities in Northeast Ohio. Their partnership with CCBDD stretches nearly four decades.
“This really allows them to be in a community that’s inclusive,” West said.
The apartments will be available to four individuals at a time, on a trial basis —they can test it out for a weekend or even up to a few weeks.
From there, they can decide which parts of the technology are most helpful, so that can be integrated in a more permanent home for them.
Grace Gorton was one of the first to test it out.
“It feels very empowering as a deaf person and deaf single woman,” Gorton said, adding that she’s proud of herself for getting out of her comfort zone. “I want to work on my self confidence and my ability to live on my own.”
“It really allow them to show everybody they can live on their own. We know that they can,” West said.
And this project lets them prove it — to themselves, to their families, and to their support systems.
If you’re already client of the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, feel free to reach out to your team for more information on testing out a smart apartment.
And if you are in need of support services, you can get help by calling the switchboard at 216-241-8230.