Sometimes they are created with a specific purpose or person in mind and other times these gadgets are things that anyone can use. We have listed things that can REALLY help people with disabilities or impairments. Everyone loves gadgets and these ones are the pick of the crop for people who might need a bit of extra help with jobs and tasks around the home and on their travels. If you have any ideas for gadgets to be featured please add a comment. More info about each product and review can be found on our blog Living with disability.
High-Tech Helpers: Robot Vacuum Cleaners
For years scientists have been promising us that one day we'll have robots to do the housework for us. But when? It never seems to happen. Well that day has finally come - for the vacuuming at least.
Robot vacuum cleaners are great if you have problems lifting, bending, or moving around, or if you get bad fatigue. Start them up and off they head around the room, sucking up dust and dirt as they go. Just like your own personal slave!
Two brands lead the market. The first contender on the block was the iRobot Roomba. It's tough and it gets the job done, although it may go over the same spot more than once. The Neato's clever technology means that it automatically adjusts to different floor surfaces, making the job quicker, but it can struggle with obstacles. It's really a personal choice between sturdiness and speed.
Robot Vacuum Cleaners may seem a little expensive, but they can be an excellent investment if vacuuming is getting too much for you.
Robotic vacuum cleaners on Amazon
Low-Tech Lifesavers: One Handed Scissors
Some household items can be difficult or impossible to use if you have a disability. Scissors, for instance. If you have dexterity problems, have tremors or spasms, or your grip is weak, they can be just out of the question.
Here's the solution! One-handed scissors let you cut whatever you need to without having to get help from someone else.
You work one handed scissors by pushing down on the top lever, so there is no need to hold them. They reopen automatically once released, so whatever you're cutting doesn't get trapped.
One-handed scissors have to be used on a level surface, but they're very lightweight and easy to carry to where you need them. Still, with something this useful, why not keep one pair in the kitchen and one in the living room?
Whether it's for wrapping, crafting, or cooking, you'll find these essential. They come with a blade guard for safety. Some models have a built-in base for further safety and stability.
One handed scissors on Amazon
Essential Items: Medline Rollator
For those of us with mobility problems, a rollator (walker) can be essential for keeping our independence. One of the top brands is by Medline.
Rollators are four wheeled, giving the maximum balance support while also being easy to move. The strong brakes give security when you stop.
When you need a rest, you can sit in comfort on the Medline's padded seat and lean against the padded backrest. The non-marking wheels mean it's suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Under the seat is a secure shopping basket.
Storage is a breeze. Rollators fold up easily and quickly, and because it stays on its wheels your stored rollator will take up a minimum of floor space. Being so light, it's also simple to put in a car boot when you're out and about. The Medline rollator weighs only 20lb.
Medline Rollators on Amazon
Essential in the kitchen: flexible jar openers
Have you ever struggled to open a jar or bottle because of weak grip? Your struggles will be at an end with flexible jar openers.
Openers' textured rubber surface grip the lid and are easy to hold, while they also fits any size of jar or large bottle. They're also remarkably simple to use.
The conical opener even helps with jars far bigger than its own size. Get a grip on one part of the lid, and the rest will follow!
They're not just useful for jars. You can also use them to turn on taps, or even to change bulbs in hard-to-reach places or that are "sticking" and difficult to remove. Flexible jar openers will become essential tools in your home.
Flexible jar openers on Amazon
Low-tech Lifesavers: Denham Brush
Brushing and styling your hair can be extremely difficult if you have limited dexterity, weak grip or live with a spinal column injury. With the Denham Be-Bop brush, you just need to be able to slip your hand through the grip on the back of the brush.
As well as normal brushing, you can use your Denham brush to apply shampoo and make sure it gets right through your hair. Its soft plastic pins can even be used to massage your scalp.
Truly multi-purpose: designed for the mainstream but can be invaluable for a disabled person.
Essential Items: Reacher and grabbers
Reachers are a great, simple invention that can avoid so much frustration if you have problems bending and getting into tight spots!
They come in a range of lengths and have a magnetic head. Everything from your glasses to the remote control to your keys will be in your reach instead of completely inaccessible. Some even have attachable dressing hooks to help with your clothes.
The trigger grip makes the jaw extremely easy to open and close without a huge amount of pressure. The jaw can also be rotated, meaning it turns instead of your wrist, if that is a problem.
Reachers are of use anywhere, at home or out. I use mine while shopping, to get things off high shelves. You can even use it in the garden or yard: to pick up fallen leaves, for instance.
There are many different reachers on the market. Finding the right one for you is a personal decision, based on length, grip type, and whether you need it to be folding. The box below shows two of the market leaders.
Reachers and grabbers on Amazon
Low-tech Lifesavers: Baby Boa Constrictor
Not Snakes On A Plane but a Baby Boa in your kitchen! The Baby Boa is a clever strap wrench that will have loads of uses around your home.
In the kitchen it's great for opening tight jars without causing scratches or damage. You just put the loop around any lid from 1 to 10 cm across, tighten, and turn using the comfortable soft grip handle.
And think of the other ways a Baby Boa will be useful around the home. From DIY to gardening, it will quickly become indispensible.
The Baby Boa is an excellent example of a product made for the mainstream that can aid independence for people with weak grip or dexterity problems..
Baby Boa Constrictor on Amazon
Ingenious Ideas: Porcelain Coffee Cups
Porcelain coffee cups are a great alternative to disposable takeaway cups. They're cooler to hold, reduce waste, and you're also being green! Many coffee bars wil be happy to put your drink in your own cup, and of course they fit into the cup holder in your car.
The silicone lid not only keeps your drink warm, it also protects against spills if you have tremors, spasms or hand problems.
They come in a huge variety of designs.Sagaform make a range of colourful porecelain cups- there's sure to be one that takes your fancy! From bright flowers to smooth zigzags, there's something for everyone. Alternatively, you can make a statement with DCI's plain white "I am not a paper cup".
Cheap, simple and attractive: porcelain coffee cups are a must-have.
Ceramic coffee cups on Amazon
Page Holders, useful for any book
Have you ever REALLY wanted to read a book, but couldn't because your grip is too weak or it's too heavy for you?
Page holders were originally designed to hold cookbooks upright and open, keeping them available and clean. But as so often, a mainstream product turns out to be really useful for disabled people too.
Using a page holder means your book will stay in place, and you won't need to hold the pages open. When you finish the page, it's simple to turn over and clip the page in place again.
Some page holders are stands, to be used on a table. Others are clips for the top of the pages. It's a personal decision which is better for you. The box below has two possibilities for your consideration.
Essential Items: Liquid Level indicator
A liquid level indicator is an essential if you have limited or no sight. Having one means you can make your own drinks without the need for help and without risking spills and scalds.
You just clip it over the lip of your cup or mug and start to pour. Because it has sensors at two different levels, it first starts to beep and vibrate when the liquid is nearing the top. When the cup is full, the beeps speed up and the vibration becomes continuous. Easy!
The Liquid Level Indicator is battery powered and is happy with being in the fridge. It's extremely simple to use - why not get one as a gift for someone you know?
Liquid level indicators on Amazon
Essential Items: The Bed Lever
If you find it difficult to sit up in bed or get out of it, a bed lever could be just what you need. It gives you the independence to move around according to your own timetable and needs, and not have to wait for help from others.
A bed lever can be fixed to either side of virtually any bed, whether it's a single, double, or king size. It's well finished, and the end of the high grade wood is virtually invisible, meaning that it doesn't look too clinical.
Using it is simplicity itself - all you have to remember is not to put your wrist through it. Grab the lever and pull yourself up to a sitting position, or lean on it to get to your feet. A really essential bit of kit.
Bed levers on Amazon
Low-Tech Lifesavers: Long Handled Shoe Horns
You're up, dressed, and ready for your day - but you can't put your shoes on without help, because of pain or problems bending (or getting back up again!)
What you need is a long-handled shoe horn to give you that extra helping hand. There is undoubtedly a knack to using a long-handled shoe horn,but once you've got it, you'll wonder how you managed without.
There is a wide range of long-handled shoe horn styles on the market - the box below shows a few. The wide variety of lengths means you can be sure to find one that's right for you. Some come with extra features, so read carefully!
Long handled shoe horns on Amazon
Ingenious Ideas: Theraputty
There's the putty you use for putting in window glass - and then there's Theraputty.
Theraputty is a fun and practical way of strengthening your hand and wrist dexterity and strength. It will help you maintain or regain grip and flexibility, working out both your fingers and your wrists. It makes therapy sessions so much less boring!
You can use it when you're watching the TV, on the bus - wherever you are. Theraputty comes in a range of colours, strengths, and tub sizes, so you're sure to find the right one for your needs. As your hand power improves, you can move up to the next strength level.
The plastic containers are easy to open and convenient for storage. All in all, Theraputty is a really ingenious product.
High-Tech Helpers: Hot Water Dispensers
You may be used to using a kettle tipper to make your cuppa, in which case you'll know that they're not ideal. They still need quite a bit of hand control and strength, and can cause real problems if you get spasms.
Here's the solution: a hot water dispenser. Hot water dispensers boil and dispense one cup of water at a time, at the touch of a button. Because it's boiling only one cup at a time, your hot water dispenser is very fast, and saves electricity too! The fuel savings will pay for the cost of purchase in no time at all.
With some models you can choose different cup sizes, so read the descriptions carefully to get the right hot water dispenser for your needs! The box below has three possibilities.
Hot water dispensers on Amazon
Essential Items: Hands Free Toothpaste Dispenser
You might have an electric toothbrush, or one that's specially shaped, to help you brush your teeth. But what about the problem of getting the toothpaste onto the brush in the first place? Perhaps you only have the use of one hand, or don't have the strength to squeeze the tube?
A hands-free toothpaste dispenser is the thing for you! A single light touch dispenses the correct amount of toothpaste onto your brush. The dispenser uses every last inch of toothpaste from the tube, reducing waste and expense.
There's a wide variety of designs, so you're bound to find one that fits into your bathroom without looking clinical. There are even specially designed kids' character dispensers, to encourage your children to brush their teeth.
Low-Tech Lifesavers: The Knork
Knorks are a brilliant idea. Designed by a guy who wanted just one piece of cutlery to eat his pizza, knorks are real hit with many people with impaired use of their hands. For anyone who only has the use of one hand or who is not able to use a knife, they combine the prongs of a fork with the cutting ability of a knife.
The weighty stainless steel Knork is satisfying weight to hold and looks stylish and of good quality. The edge for cutting isn't serrated or too sharp to put in your mouth. You use to cut with a rocking motion that divides the food as the edge of the fork prong rolls back and forth. This makes cutting food very safe and easy for those with limited dexterity. The Knork is sturdy and weighty, making its cutting more effective.
The range of Knorks has now been expanded to include foam handled Knorks to aid gripping, and steak knives. They also have plastic cutlery for picnics or any sort of outdoors meal.
The Knork really helps to give independence in eating, and it just looks so ordinary. There will be no need to get someone to help cut up your meals for you! A truly inclusive design that does not look out of place with even the finest dinner service.">
Knorks on Amazon
Low-tech lifesavers: Sock aids
Sock aids are a brilliantly simple design which help those of us who have problems bending down to put on socks, tights, or stockings, or have chronic pain.
The best way to describe a sock aid is like a half-drainpipe on strings. You put the sock onto the drainpipe, put your toes in, and pull the sock up using the strings. Some designs use a stick or plastic frame rather than strings.
Sock aids really are a great way of increasing independence, minimising pain, and avoiding the risk of falls. The box below has some examples.
Sock aids on Amazon
High-tech lifesavers: The Lightscribe Smartpen
A Lightscribe Smartpen could be your best purchase ever if you have problems with writing, auditory processing difficulties,concentration problems, or any number of other disabilities.
Your Smartpen will record the lecture or meeting you're attending: later you can transfer it to your computer or play it back at your leisure by tapping on your notes.
The Smartpen will store hundreds of hours of audio and tens of thousands of pages of notes. You can even write down an addition, subtraction, multiplication or division problem with your pen and the answer will show up on the built-in screen!
Despite the high-tech gadgetry, Smartpens are lightweight and easy to use. Truly a brilliant tool, for business, education, or pleasure.
Lightscribe Smartpen on Amazon
Low-tech lifesavers: folding walking sticks
Folding walking sticks are great for people who may not initially need support, but might do as the day goes on. Alternatively, you might be getting round on a mobility scooter, and need a stick to get around shops and stores. They not only fold, but adjust for a range of different heights.
There is a wide range of folding sticks on sale, so check that the one you're looking at is suitable for your height and weight. Some have ergonomic or "glove" handles which are very comfortable but only fit one hand or the other.
As well as standard black or plain wood, some brands come in a variety of patterns. Why not buy more than one? That way you can make sure you always have one to match your outfit.
Lets have a bit of discussion here!! - Duel debate, for or against?
Products for people with disabilities should be:
Purpose designed so they are exactly what is needed. Tested and checked so they are safe and only for a specific impairment.
What do you think of the things we like? Any ideas for more?