Google donates 100,000 Home Minis to help people with paralysis

Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary, but for Paralympic powerlifter Garrison Redd home is sometimes a challenging space that reminds him of what he lost nearly two decades ago.

When Redd was a senior at James Madison High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he also played football, he was shot in the back one summer evening in a random act of violence that left him unable to walk.

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Simple daily acts that most of us take for granted, like being able to easily reach the light switch or thermostat, or being able to bend over and pick up our cellphone when we drop it, are different for someone living with paralysis.

So for people like Redd, voice-activated devices can make all the difference.

Paralympic powerlifter Garrison Redd, seen above, is using his Google Home Mini to increase his quality of life. (Courtesy of Google)

Paralympic powerlifter Garrison Redd, seen above, is using his Google Home Mini to increase his quality of life. (Courtesy of Google)

The Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation and Google announced a partnership on Friday to better understand how technology can uplift folks living with paralysis. As part of the effort, Google is donating 100,000 Google Home Minis to help that community.

"I've been using mine for a few months, and it's helped me control my environment, gain more independence, and have a little fun — all with my voice," Redd, 31, said in a blog post announcing the donation.

Redd is currently training for the 2020 Paralympic Games as a powerlifter for Team USA. He weighs 120 pounds, he can lift 305 pounds and wants to surpass 400 pounds by the time the Games happen next year.

"The wheelchair isn't a restriction. It's society that creates restrictions for wheelchair users," Redd said in a video released by Google.

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The Google Home Mini, a smart speaker that packs a good amount of computing power despite its small size, can be connected to your Nest Thermostat, set your alarms, manage your calendar, play music and answer your most pressing questions.

To activate the Mini's power, all you have to say is: "Hey Google."

"Twenty-nine years ago today, the Americans with Disabilities Act passed landmark legislation making public spaces more accessible for everyone. Unfortunately, the world isn't flat and there are still obstacles for people living with paralysis," Redd, who is also a motivational speaker, said.

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"I'm hopeful that Google Nest can help more people make their homes that much easier to navigate, just as it has for me," the powerlifter said.

People living with paralysis and their caregivers can find out if they're eligible to receive a Google Home Mini by clicking here and those looking for more information about the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation can find it here.

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