Equipment


2 Disability aids and equipment tips

Mobility aids

Lease a powered wheelchair or scooter via the Motability scheme

If you’re receiving a mobility allowance, such as higher rate mobility on DLA (Disability Living allowance) or enhanced rate mobility on PIP (Personal Independence Payments), you may be able to join the Motability scheme. This will enable you to exchange your mobility allowance to lease a scooter, powered wheelchair or even a car. You can find out more about the scheme and check your eligibility on the official Motability website.

See if your local NHS service has a wheelchair voucher scheme

From the NHS Choices website: “Some NHS wheelchair services offer a voucher scheme so that you can have more choice of wheelchair. You receive a voucher to the value of the chair you would have been offered after your assessment (which is determined locally in each individual case). You can then put the voucher towards the cost of a chair that you buy privately or in partnership with the NHS.” 

Enquire at your local NHS wheelchair service to see if they offer a voucher scheme.

Get a portable ramp

Access to public spaces and buildings for disabled people still often leaves a lot to be desired. As one community member points out though, you can take a certain amount of control over the situation by purchasing a folding wheelchair ramp, such as those available from the Ramp People or on Amazon.

Consider buying a handbike 

Photo of a hand bike up against a wallBiking is a great way of getting around and keeping fit, but is generally not possible for disabled people who do not have use of their legs, or have only limited leg mobility. Fortunately there is an alternative that may suit – hand bikes, which are powered and steered by hand-power alone. You can even buy ‘clip-on’ versions which easily attach to the front of your wheelchair when needed, and many models are suitable for both on and off-road riding. You can find a useful guide to handbikes at Ethos Disability.

Consider the carer too

When buying specialist equipment (bath aids etc) ensure that it also suits the carer, because carers are not all the same height, are not weight lifters or have the ability to unscrew bolts with their bare fingers! If the equipment doesn’t work for the carer it just won’t get used, so make sure it suits everybody.

Equipment and tips for everyday life

Install a fob door entry system

If you’ve got limited use of one or both hands, or have impaired motor skills, unlocking and opening doors can prove difficult. Fortunately it is possible to install a wireless fob entry system, so that all you need to do is press a button on your keyring to open the door.

Buy electric choppers for food prep

Image of electric chopper with chopped veg insideIf you find it difficult or impossible to chop food, you might want to consider getting an electric food chopper or food processor. At the lower end of the market these can be bought for around £10, and they can help you to ensure that you have a healthy diet, whilst also making food preparation much easier and more manageable.

Convert your lights and appliances to work via remote light control

For people who have difficulty operating switches or who have mobility issues, remote control-operated power sockets and light switches can be very useful. These are often sold as ‘eco’ solutions or standby savers, but can make life easier for people who find getting up to turn the TV or other appliances off difficult.

Take your own changing facilities

If you often find there’s nowhere suitable to change teens or even adults when out and about, a great solution can be a portable camping bed. Get one that folds up rather than needing to construct it each time you use it and you won’t need to change directly on the floor. - DEMAND Design and Manufacture for Disability

Use environmental control products to assist you

Possum offer a range of control panels which can enable you to control many different aspects of your home (from the door to your phone or hi-fi) from a single source. These solutions can be configured to be table-mounted, wheelchair-mounted or floor-standing, as needed.

Get to grips with your TV remote

Image of an accessible remote with large buttonsIf you struggle to operate regular TV remotes, there are more accessible versions on offer. Living Made Easy’s website offers information and links to a range of non-standard remote controls, including switch-operated versions, extra-large button remotes and simplified remote controls.

You can also find a handy buyers guide on eBay, while Sky offer an accessible remote on request which is suitable for people with limited dexterity and for people with visual impairments. 

DIY it! 

“Save your money and see if there’s a way to repurpose household items or make something from scratch to suit your needs, you might even find it works better than something you buy in a shop. Cracked-it.org has lots of DIY assistive technology ideas and you can challenge the community to solve a new challenge or submit your own idea.” – DEMAND Design and Manufacture for Disability 

Use a simplified mobile phone

There are circumstances in which you need to be able to contact certain people, such as relatives or carers, at the press of a button. But if you’re not up on modern technology or have limited dexterity you can miss out on the opportunities provided by mobile phones. Ownfone provide a simplified mobile phone with just a few buttons on it, which can pre-programmed with up to 12 numbers that can be instantly dialled. You can also receive calls from people who have been given the number.

Disability aids and equipment for children

Use a gym ball to cope with the fidgets

One community member says,”My daughter, who has autism, is extremely fidgety. I've bought her a gym ball, which she loves. We keep it in the living room and she bounces and rolls on it pretty much constantly. I recommend one for exercise and keeping out of mischief.” Thera sensory balls can also be used, providing additional stimulation and tactile sensation.

Consider getting a foldable wheelchair

If your child uses a wheelchair, one community member says that “It’s useful to have a foldable wheelchair if you need to use an ordinary car.”

Give children with autism a visual timer

Children with autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can often struggle to deal with activities ending, or with having to endure a time when they are not being paid attention to. Giving them a highly visual time tracking device can help to hold their attention and give them forewarning that an activity may soon end.

Convert a bike to a balance bike

photo of a yellow balance bike“For children or adults looking to develop coordination and balance, but who aren’t able to pedal a bike, most bikes can be converted into balance bikes just by removing the pedals. Use stabilisers for added stability and the bike can be pushed along with feet rather than by pedalling.” - DEMAND Design and Manufacture for Disability
Looking for advice, support and friendship from people in a similar situation to you? Join our online community today.

Organisations and websites that can help

Obtain custom-made equipment from Remap

Remap work with disabled people to tailor equipment to their needs and abilities, ranging from equipment to carry out everyday tasks to leisure and sports equipment that makes previously impossible abilities possible.

Get free equipment for disabled children from Newlife Foundation

The Newlife Foundation has a wide range of donated equipment available for disabled children. To see the range of equipment and get more information, call 0800 902 0095 (Monday to Friday 9:30am to 5pm), or email nurse@newlifecharity.co.uk.

Find it on eBay

A community member says: “There are many shops on eBay selling resources for children and adults with autism, such as symbol cards, handmade visual supports and sensory toys. Just put ‘autism’ in the search box and start shopping!”

Buy and sell second-hand disability equipment online

If you have items to sell like a special needs trike or you can't afford to buy new, DisabledGear.com is a free-ads website for buying and selling second-hand disability equipment. 

Ask the engineers

If your challenge can’t be solved with off-the-shelf equipment, the team at DEMAND Design and Manufacture for Disability can adapt, modify or make something completely new that suits your needs. See DEMAND’s website for examples of their work.