Speak to your GP if you need equipment at home or to help you get around. They can tell you about local sources of help or refer you to your local Social Services or NHS.
Your local disability advice line can tell you where you can hire wheelchairs and mobility scooters. It may also be worth exploring grants.
VAT relief on equipment
You may be able to get tax relief when buying certain items for the sole use of disabled people, such as a wheelchair or adapted computer keyboard. Most disability equipment dealers can explain this. Or you can ask about VAT relief for disabled people on 0300 123 1073.
Choosing the right equipment for you
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Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) provides guides for daily living. You can borrow simple electronic aids such as adapted phones and magnifiers for 2 weeks so you can see if the device works for you before buying it. (You only pay return postage and a refundable deposit.) The DLF also maintains the Living Made Easy website, a directory of assistive products, from clothing to personal care.
The Research Institute for Consumer Affairs conducts research into products and services used by disabled people. Rica publishes free research reports covering many aspects of everyday life, from central heating controls to mobility.
The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) offers advice on accessible computers, laptops and tablets. RNIB also has a Technology Support Squad of 800 volunteers who offer advice over the phone or in person on setting up and maintaining equipment.
Aidas Trust provides free and impartial advice and support on technology for disabled people.
Remap matches disabled people who need pieces of specially designed equipment with volunteers who can do so. Projects focus on mobility and independent living.
There are 3 main sources of government funding available for disabled adults to purchase enabling technology.
Disabled Students Allowance: Disabled people in higher education can access £5,212 for the purchase of specialist equipment throughout the course plus a general allowance of up to £1,741 each year.
Access to Work Scheme: Support for disabled people to remain in or enter the workforce can be used to fund the purchase of equipment or payment of support staff. It’s available to anyone who has an impairment that affects their ability to work, or the cost of doing so.
Personal Budgets: With the approval of a social worker or care manager, you can pay for technology to support a disabled person’s support plan.
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