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  • Indispensable Stocking Fillers for Elderly and Disabled Relatives and Friends Photo credit: charley1965 You've put up your fairy lights, you've baked your mince pies and you've spent the requisite three hours queuing at Santa's Grotto; what's next? There is always room for a few extra, little gifts to add to your shopping list so, in this post, we are going to share some fantastic stocking fillers that are especially perfect for disabled or elderly people. Bracelet Buddy Sometimes, the simplest things make the biggest difference. For anybody who struggles with manual dexterity, putting on a bracelet one-handed can be virtually impossible. The Bracelet Buddy uses a small clamp to provide a 'third hand' to make it easier to put on - and take off - bracelets and watches. Genius. Easybelt Easybelts are belts for children, young people and adults that avoid the need for fiddly fine motor skills to open and close buckles. They have a unique velcro closing that helps people to maintain their independence and manage wearing a belt when it might otherwise be difficult, and there are loads of designs and colours to choose from. Floating Bath Thermometer with Alarm This little gadget floats in your bathwater, measuring its temperature and sounding an alarm if the water gets too hot. This is especially useful for people who might be forgetful or have limited sensation, risking burns and scalds. Yaktrax Ice Grips for Shoes Yaktrax grips attach to shoes and make it virtually impossible to slip on ice or snow. These are incredibly useful for anyone who is unsteady on their feet, but can be used by anybody who wants to walk more securely in winter weather. I use these - in combination with the next item - and they are remarkable. Walking Stick Ice Grip In the past, although my Yaktrax are fabulous, if my walking stick or crutch slipped on ice or snow, I was still really unstable. This year, I have grabbed one of these gizmos that attaches to the end of the crutch and helps to provide grip in difficult environments. LoVision Playing Cards Ideal for people with vision problems, these playing cards feature extra-large numbers and symbols so that they are easy to read. Read More...

  • Perfect Christmas Presents for Disabled Family and Friends Shops are getting crowded and tinsel and baubles are taking over mantelpieces across the country. It can only mean one thing: Christmas! So, while you're pre-ordering your tree and googling turkey recipes, you also need to start getting gifts for the ones you love. We wanted to share some products we've found that make ideal gifts for your disabled and elderly friends and relatives, so scroll down and take a look at our suggestions. Waistcoat Dignity Bib Many adults don't like the idea of wearing a bib, because they are often associated with small children. Bibble Plus have solved this problem with a range of stylish bibs that anybody would be proud to wear. My favourite was this humorous waistcoat-style bib, so you can go out for a meal and look smarter than anyone else at the table! Trabasack Trabasack makes innovative bags that can also be used as lap trays. A favourite for many wheelchair users, the Trabasack Mini design has won awards for its ability to adapt to a range of different situations. The Trabasack can be carried as a rucksack, satchel, briefcase or messenger bag and it can hold a laptop or tablet, as well as featuring zip pockets for phones and keys. Wake 'n' Shake Alarm Clock For people who are Deaf or hard of hearing, waking up in the morning can be particularly difficult. This smart alarm clock allows users to use three different tactics to help you wake up: a super-loud, 95 decibel alarm, a vibrating pad under the pillow and a strobe light. The digital display uses large numbers to help with visibility, too. Clubbing Chix Eco Bag This stylish and modern bag is eco-friendly, made from recycled billboards. This means that each one is unique, and it fits perfectly on the back of a wheelchair. What the **** Is Normal? by Francesca Martinez If you are a fan of comedian Francesca Martinez, you will love her book asking this all-important question! Multi-Memo Voice Recorder For anybody with visual difficulties or impaired memory, this clever voice recorder allows you to record your voice to remind yourself of anything you want to remember. It can record and play back up to 60 voice memos, and carers and relatives can also record reminders and messages for their loved one. Read More...

  • Fun and Practical Christmas Gifts for Disabled Kids As the bells start jingling and Santa's elves gear up for a busy month, parents and friends start trawling the web for the perfect presents to get for the children in their lives. The needs of disabled children might be a little different so, in this post, we are going to share some of the best gifts we've found that are ideally suited to disabled kids. Communication Fans These ingenious little tools help children who struggle to communicate by providing visual pictures and cues. Rosy & Bo sells a Bedtime Routine Communication Fan, a Behaviour Communication Fan, a Bathtime Routine Communication Fan, an At School Communication Fan and more. It's OK To Be Different Button Badge This autism awareness badge carries an important message for all children: it's ok to be different. Illustrated with cute penguins, it is also available as a greetings card and a t-shirt. Junior Wheelchair Gloves These kids’ wheelchair gloves have gel padding on the areas of children’s hands they use to push their chair. They have a great grip, a Lycra and towelling backing, a Velcro fastener and a splash of colour to brighten them up. British Sign Language Poster Ideal for a bedroom or nursery, this poster shows children how to sign words like hello, thank you and goodbye. RNIB Child's Talking Watch For kids with visual impairments, as well as those who haven't yet learned to tell the time, this cute watch was designed expressly for children and speaks the time in a voice recorded by the RNIB. It also has an alarm, with voice feedback to help the child set it, and the watch face makes use of contrasting colours. Read More...

  • Learning to Drive as a Disabled Person So, you've checked you're allowed to drive and you've found out about any adaptations you might need to help you to drive more easily. Now, it's time to actually learn to drive! Excited? I spoke to Chris Kingsley, a specialist driving instructor from Queen Elizabeth's Foundation for Disabled People about his career, and about the extra challenges that disabled people can face when learning to drive. Chris is an ADI lead at QEF Mobility Services and is based on Carshalton. I started by asking him what made him interested in teaching disabled people to drive. I enjoy being a driving instructor, for that reason I’ve always attended training courses to improve my skills. When I went to QEF for the three day course to teach people with disabilities I was amazed at how little I knew and how the training fitted nicely with the teaching I was already doing. I became keen to learn more. Luckily for me I lived close enough to offer to take on some of their pupils. What challenges do you think disabled learner drivers face that non disabled learners do not? Many driving instructors fear disability and the challenges can be numerous for example: For some, even deafness seems an impossible and specialist task, for others they can be a little gung ho and not consider the reason their pupil is deaf and any other impairment that might be associated with deafness so they might not ask the right questions. Because driving instructors who have had some training are often far apart there can be implications with travelling time for the instructor which they often pass onto the pupil in terms of cost. The person with a disability also needs to prepare for their first driving lesson better as they may need an assessment to find out which controls they need. Finding a driving instructor with adaptations can be difficult and if anything more than hand controls or a left foot accelerator is needed then tuition may need a weekly trip to a mobility centre or learning from their own vehicle which has cost implications. Cognitive difficulties may require particular teaching techniques which is not part of the statutory training for becoming a driving instructor. There are many different types of disability and impairment. How does your training equip you to work with people who could have any condition from deafness to paralysis? I’m extremely lucky at QEF, we have a team of occupational therapists and very experienced driving instructors to ask questions of, we hold regular meetings to review our work and consider our pupils' needs, there are opportunities for someone to sit in on a driving lesson and the progress of pupils is monitored to make sure people continue learning. Also, I have attended and continue to attend various training courses and meet people with a range of disabilities on a daily basis. What do you enjoy about your job? I enjoy the variety of my job. Mostly, I am a driving assessor and we are looking to enable someone to drive either for the first time or to return to driving after an illness or trauma. Driving is a life skill and can be an important part of someone’s rehabilitation, a return to normal and it can be a help in finding employment. What is your experience of teaching disabled drivers like? How would you describe it? For the most part it’s fun. I have had one or two hairy moments however, once someone is sitting down and driving you mostly don’t notice any impairment. The smile is just as broad on test pass for those who are learning to drive for the first time and for experienced drivers who are returning to driving, the relief you see on their faces makes this a very rewarding job. For further information about Queen Elizabeth Foundation for Disabled People, visit their website. Read More...

  • Disability-Related Products We Love Disability products risk being old-fashioned and, well, a bit boring. In some cases, that's because something has worked for a long time and doesn't need any improvement, but often, innovations, better design and fresh thinking bring a whole new generation of gadgets and items that make people's lives better. That's what happened with us - blue badge wallets existed before, but they were often plastic and beige and very functional. Now, our bright, hand-made wallets adorn thousands of blue badges across the country and we get great feedback because people really enjoy having colourful, great quality alternatives. So, we're always on the lookout for companies whose products are also moving the world of disability products forwards. In this post, we want to share some of the things that we've found. Check out their websites below and have a look around! Tap2Tag Tap2Tag is a great example of a company applying innovative ideas to emerging technologies and making the world better for disabled and sick people. By harnessing near-field communication - technology that is expected to be present in the vast majority of new smartphones by the end of this year - Tap2Tag allows people to wear a scannable bracelet that contains vital information such as details of medication, emergency contact information and medical history. In the event of an emergency, ambulance staff or medics can simply scan the bracelet (or key fob, if you prefer) and these crucial pieces of information are made immediately available. This makes healthcare safer and more effective and avoids the need for an individual to remember a long list of tablets or be able to communicate when feeling unwell. This kind of tech sounds like it come with a hefty price tag but, in fact, the key fobs cost £8 and the bracelets are just £15. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Tap2Tag?fref=ts Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tap2Tag   Flexyfoot Ferrules are the rubber caps at the base of a crutch or walking stick. They should be checked regularly because, if they start to wear down, they can cause the crutch to slip, because it loses grip, and this increases the risk of slips and falls. Crutch and walking stick users need to know that their ferrule is safe and reliable so that we can have confidence when putting our weight on the aid. Falls can have an impact on confidence, as well as risking injury - if you're like me and fall over fairly regularly at the best of times, it's really important to know that my crutch isn't making this worse rather than better! Flexyfoot has won awards for its new design of ferrule, which helps to extend the life of a walking stick, reduces the risk of falls, and can even reduce pain. Its unique size and shape means that it is better at absorbing impact, described as being "like having a spring on the foot of your walking aid". To use a Flexyfoot product, the existing ferrule on your stick or crutch can be easily removed and replaced by a Flexyfoot, which just needs to be pushed onto the end of the device. It's that simple. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/flexyfoot?fref=ts Twitter:  https://twitter.com/flexyfoot01   Rackety's Rackety's sells clothes that are specially designed to cater for the needs of disabled children and adults. They produce clothes that take into account the problems that wheelchair users can face with more conventional clothing, clothes that make it easier to manage incontinence pads and colourful bibs, all for both adults and children. Rackety's has a special panel of customers who advise and recommend products and improvements. They say, "We have learnt everything we know about the clothes you need, and the other things you find it difficult to get hold of by asking the people who know best. The Mums, Dads, sisters and brothers and the carers who are on the frontline of looking after children or adults with special or different needs every single day." A great example of the kind of clothing they sell is their children's pyjamas. As well as looking good, they have one zip closure, to make it easy to change nappies, and another across the stomach for easy tube access. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/racketys?fref=ts Twitter: https://twitter.com/Racketys     Read More...