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  • Radar Keys - Locked Disabled Toilets Explained What is a Radar Key? It is a large, silver-coloured skeleton key that opens more than 9,000 disabled toilets in the UK, just like magic! People who need to use a locked disabled loo can now be confident that these toilets will be available to meet their needs. These loos are those with wide entrances and disability symbols on the door. Toilets fitted with RADAR locks can now be found in shopping centres, pubs & cafés, parks & footpaths, airports & stations and many other locations across the UK. Unlike regular public toilets, these loos are often locked and are regularly only available for use on request.Sods law say that when someone really needs to use it, the only compatible key is nowhere to be found! The Radar key scheme ensures that people who need to use accessible toilets don’t have to ask someone to unlock the door so that they can have a wee, please! Disabled people's toilets are big, private and less likely to be occupied than. As a result they are open to misuse by the general public. Most notoriously, they are sometimes occupied by drug users or people having sex. The Radar Key Scheme enables these disabled toilets to be locked, to prevent vandalism and misuse. “Not all disabilities are viable” RADAR keys are much needed for a wide range of people as they suffer from various problems, and I cannot always manage stairs or a queue. PS Spick commented: “Not everyone who has a genuine need for one has a visible disability - as previously mentioned I cannot always queue. This is because I suffer from incontinence problems and if I do not make it to the toilet in time the consequences are messy to say the least! I do not have a visible disability and I have a genuine need for one, and this has attracted some negative comments. Although this is for disabled people and it could be purchased by the non disabled, the majority of buyers are genuine” Knock First! Although disabled toilets also obviously have locks on the inside also, we have had a lot of comments that recommend knocking before using the key in case someone's in there! One of our customers experienced the embarrassment (from both sides!) of the inside lock not working/being overridden by the Radar key! Why are Radar Keys so big? The large size of the key, the ergonomic turning head and chunky ring, are all designed to be easier for people with physical impairments to get it out of a bag and in to the lock. Sarah Cosby, of Disability Rights UK, is the modern-day guardian of the Radar key and has an even more basic explanation for its uncomplicated bulky shape: "[The lock] is a very simple mechanism which has to last for a long time and must withstand a lot of people locking and unlocking it daily. We could have designed a much better one but the main aim was for people to realise that they are not supposed to go in." The first Radar toilet opened in 1981. Since then, more than 400 local authorities and thousands of businesses have joined the scheme. Some 9,000 toilets are now listed as being accessible via the Radar key but the figure is probably much higher. Graeme Hardman from Nicholls and Clarke - the builders' merchants who have been producing the keys and locks since day one - estimates that more than a million of the distinctive keys are in use. How much does a key cost? The key's simplicity has led to wide spread piracy - a quick web search brings up tens of unofficial sellers making fake cheap copies. We are approved sellers of genuine RADAR keys and buy all our keys from Nicholls and Clarke who manufacture the locks. Our official Radar keys are currently half price! Just £3! They are also VAT exemptible and come with a Free Keyring.  Buy Here Genuine Radar key from Blue Badge Company You can also buy them with a beautiful leather embossed keyring, making it a great gift! Leather embossed keyring with Radar Key Read More...

  • 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...