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What’s the issue?

Children love to make a mess and get their food just about everywhere. And if your child happens to have a disability then the challenges of letting them eat independently can get even messier!

The Giddy Bowl helps kids have fun whilst they eat, without the mess. Sometimes it’s a tough choice between letting children feed themselves against mopping up the spillages from the floor afterwards.

Giddy Bowl is a perfect great solution for parents who want to let their kids be kids.

What is Giddy Bowl?Child with the Giddy Bowl

This is an ingenious non-spill bowl. It has a simple quick release lid; carry handles and a rotating  inner bowl. It uses a simple idea to keep the inner bowl level no matter what angle your child decides it should be held at! It comes apart with an easy snapping action to make cleaning easy and hassle free. The outer part is a colander too, great for straining pasta or veg.

What does it aim to do?

The Giddy Bowl helps kids who need a little extra help to keep their food on their plate – or in this case in the bowl. Its kid proof 360-degree technology is of course really useful.

How does it work?

The giddy bowl is 100% kid proof. It is made with food-safe plastic designed to be rotated 360 degrees without spilling its contents. The outer bowl can rotate, flip and twist – but the clever inner bowl stays upright.

What are the main benefits?

It is 100% dishwasher safe made from food safe plastics – that let’s kids eat their food how they want to without the spills. Great in the car, airplane, picnics or where ever you choose to take it.

And of course it doubles as a nifty little carrier for those little things around the home and office – no more dropping those fiddly things like nails, coins or paper clips.

In a nutshell?

It’s virtually indestructible – versatile and clever and fun!

This is a must have product for anyone with kids to feed.

This Gr8 product helps children feed themselves, but there are many other great solutions from Gr8 that help make life a little easier which you can view in their online shop.

The team at Really Useful Stuff have designed a prototype App that we hope will enable people to tag like and share anything that is useful or useless in relation to inclusive design.

Take a look at our short YouTube video and let us know if you ‘like’ it: Please do like, comment and share with your friends and networks as we would love your feedback.

The Really Useful App

Many young disabled people feel empowered to speak for themselves when their access needs are not met. The law is on their side and there should be no excuse for business failing to provide an inclusive customer journey.

Young people are much less inclined to turn to the traditional ‘charity’ route to do their campaigning – they want to act for themselves.

The Really Useful App offers an instant voice to anyone wanting to share anything that is either REALLY USEFUL or REALLY USELESS

By tapping the app the user can record what ever they find useful or useless, they can take a photo and share out their message on their favorite social media network.

The data from the app will feed into our home page creating unique new content in two feeds useful and useless. RUS will then promote great ideas and useful feedback and will nudge organisations providing anything less that a useful service.

This use of social media empowers the voice of young disabled people who are more than savvy enough to shout out for themselves. The advantage of doing it through a single App is that it aggregates the power of the consumer voice behind a hash tag (#) creating momentum for social change.

The Really Useful Application is simple

  •  Load the app for free
  •  TAP on one of two button options USEFUL / USELESS
  •  TAP on one of 5 options what you are reporting on
  •  Stuff
  •  Service
  •  Solution
  •  Attitude
  •  Experience
  •  Something else
  •  Say what you are reporting on in 140 characters
  •  Add a photo or video
  •  Share

We hope you like our idea and think it is ‘really useful’!

RUS Bookworm‘The Reason I Jump’

By Naoki Higashida and David Mitchell

I read this book because I have a nephew who is on the autistic spectrum. For 36 years we have struggled to understand his often bewildering behavior and he himself has been unable to explain it.

‘The Reason I Jump’ offers a window into the life and thoughts of 13 year-old Naoki Higashida. At last we have some insight into the life of albeit one person with autism, which, for us, has unlocked a number of mysteries. Through a series of questions such as: “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “Why do you line up your toy cars?”, Naoki Higashida responds using an alphabet grid because he is unable to speak out loud.

David Mitchell’s introduction explains how the book has helped him and his wife to feel a greater understanding of their own autistic son: “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jump allowed me to round a corner in our relationship.”

I too found that whilst it was very much the insights of one person with autism, it did suggest possible answers to many of our questions in respect of my nephew. Even though no two people are the same, this book provided some reassurance to our family and the insights we gained have allowed us too, to turn a corner. It’s a book everyone should read.

 The Really Useful Stuff team would like to thank Becky B from Haslemere, Surrey for writing this excellent blog for RUS.

 

 

Calling all Twitter account holders!

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Is it useful?We would like your help with sourcing ‘really useful stuff’ for our online shop via Twitter.

If you find something that is ‘useful’ for #IndependentLiving we would like you to tell us about it.

We would also like to hear about anything you have tried and found ‘useless’ for #IndependentLiving.

Why? Because we want you to start using the following hash (#) tags to warm you up for something MUCH BIGGER!

So how does it work?

Well that’s simple, you find something useful that helps you live more independently and tweet us (@RUStuff) with a link to the product you find ‘useful’ and include the hash tag #RUSeful in your tweet.

Similarly, if you find something really useless just include the hash tag #RUSeless within your tweet to @RUStuff with a link to your ‘useless’ product for daily living.

The Really Useful Stuff team are putting something top secret together at the moment and you are going to find it ‘really useful’ – Watch this space and get tweeting.

If you don’t already follow Really Useful Stuff on Twitter you can find us here.

 

 

There’s no such thing as can’t

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Kevin Ergs

Kevin is 20 and has Cerebral Palsy with Dystonia. In October he completed the Marine Corps marathon with his Dad. Two statements that you would not expect to see together – but this is Kevin Enners and can’t is not a word he likes to use.

From a young age he told his father, Rich, that he wanted to race but this was not straightforward due to the nature of Kevin’s disability. Together they modified a three-wheeled recumbent bike enabling Kevin to participate in road races (Kevin steers and pedals, Rich pushes). But Kevin’s Dystonia (involuntary limb movements) kept him from maintaining a firm grip on the handlebars.

His Dad, Rich, says: “We tried lots of different devices and found things that helped but nothing that really solved the problem, which was frustrating for Kevin. But as he is such a determined young man it spurred us on to try and find something that could help him feel more comfortable”.

Kevin Enners on the MarathonThrough the years, we have worked to develop adaptable solutions for the bike and erg. For his hands we initially started with bandages around his wrists to help him grip, then progressed to using wrist supports and lots of Velcro. This worked for a while, but they always wore out eventually and I needed to keep making new ones for Kevin. Once we had tried the gripping aids from Active Hands we never looked back, and have been using them ever since.”

Kevin said: “The gloves are great; they give me control and confidence.” Rich added: “We are big fans of the grips. We have told as many people as possible about them because they have made such a big difference to Kevin’s sense of control. They are well-designed and high quality and can help people to undertake challenges they might not have thought possible”.

Having found a solution for his grip Kevin and Rich got stuck into their training for the Marine Corps Marathon. Kevin was sponsored by the Push America Team, a non-profit organisation who provide financial support for disabled people enabling them to participate in challenges.

Kevin and Rich competed in the Marine Corps marathon in the autumn. They successfully managed to complete the course, even though the last uphill stretch was a challenge. In Rich’s own words “Kevin and the gloves did awesome – there was never any doubt.”

Kevin continues to compete in road races alongside indoor rowing and cycling with his Dad. He has just completed a 2000m indoor rowing race and beaten his personal best – not satisfied with that he resumed training the very next day!

Kevin Enners with his Award

Kevin doesn’t use the word ‘can’t’. His determination has lead him to pursue his love of racing. What about you?

Could Active Hands gripping aids help you to pursue something you would love to do?

 

What’s the issue?

Social isolation is at epidemic levels among over 65s in the UK, with more than 3 million older people going more than a week without seeing a friend or family member – and more than a million going more than a month.

Lack of social contact has been found to be as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day – increasing the need for costly and often inefficient care from the state.

Speakset want to revolutionise the way older people can engage with easy to use technology to stay in touch.

What is Speakset?

Speakset is a new easy way for the older generation to engage with technology using video calling through the TV. It is ‘really’ easy to use. Being designed specifically for older people, it plugs into any TV and is operated by a simple remote control.

What does it aim to do?

Speakset aims to boost well being and reduce social isolation among this group by giving older people a video link to the outside world.

How does it work?

SpeakSet

It arrives with contacts and settings pre-loaded. Just plug in and make a call.

By combining a simple technology box with a person’s TV set, Speakset allows older people to keep in contact with friends and family. The TV is a familiar household appliance and one that holds significantly less fear that a computer for many older people

What are the main benefits?

The set-top video-calling device allows older people face-to-face contact with anyone anywhere in the world using the TV in their own home. Speakset subscribers’ friends, family and professionals can connect with the individual for free via the internet.

Over 65s are less likely to be online than the rest of the UK population and the SpeakSet set-top box and user-interface were developed following user-feedback with over-65 year olds, after trials in care homes and private homes. As well as letting family members call from anywhere in the world, Speakset means medical professionals can deliver remote health consultations in the home, and organisations such as Age UK can use the tool to provide support services such as ‘social phoning’ befriending schemes to isolated residents.

In a nutshell?

Speakset combats loneliness and isolation in old age by turning an older person’s TV into a really simple video calling device giving face to face with their loved ones and carers wherever they are in the world.

This is a must have product for anyone with elderly family members and is available from our ‘really useful stuff’ shop.

 

 

Emily Ladau in vehicleWhether you’re an experienced adaptive driver or you’re just getting started, it’s important to stay up to date on all the latest technology that’s available. Speaking from the perspective of a new driver, I found that learning about adaptive driving equipment and accessories can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know where to start looking for information. So, as I embark on my driving adventures, I thought I’d share a round-up of some of the most awesome adaptive products and resources that are available to help you travel on four wheels with ease and style.

  1. Getting in and out of the car can be difficult. If all you need is a little boost rather than more high-tech adaptive modifications in your vehicle, then the Handy Bar may be a good solution. My mother, who also has a disability, sometimes uses this to give her just the right amount of support to lift herself up onto higher van seats. All you have to do is hook it in to the doorframe of your vehicle, and then remove it when you’re inside. There’s no complicated hardware or installation involved. Simple!
  2. If transferring from one seat to another poses a challenge for you, don’t worry, because there are plenty of other options to help you get in and out of your vehicle. While doing some research, I came across a unique system known as The Carony. Instead of getting out of your wheelchair and hoisting yourself or being hoisted up onto a car seat, the seat of The Carony is both the car seat and the wheelchair seat. How cool is that? You can go from rolling in your chair to rolling on the road in a few easy steps.
  3. Would you rather roll your wheelchair directly into a vehicle so you can either sit in it or transfer to a regular seat? You have several options to make that work. Whether you prefer side entry or rear entry vehicles, a ramp can be installed in your van to provide easy access.
  4. There are several ways for getting inside a van, but if you don’t have a ramp and you choose to sit in a regular seat, how do you get your wheelchair in the car? Unfortunately, much of the available technology assumes that wheelchair users can take a few steps from their chairs to their cars. Though that isn’t ideal for many people who use wheelchairs full time and still want to be independent, if you do need assistance, then it’s important for friends and family members to be able to get your wheelchair inside of the vehicle. Leave all the heavy lifting to the Bruno Curb-Sider and save your loved ones a lot of backaches.
  5. Now that you and your wheelchair have made it into the vehicle, it’s really important to keep your wheelchair secure. In my current adaptive minivan, I have tie-downs from Sure-Lok. Specifically, I have the FF600 Retractor Series System. Sounds fancy, I know. But it’s really just a simple system that keeps wheelchairs from sliding around or moving while the vehicle is in motion.
  6. Once you’re safe and secure, if you’re in the driver’s seat, you’re ready to ride. It’s amazing how many options disabled people have for adaptive equipment to meet their needs and allow them to drive safely. I was overwhelmed just learning about all the different ways there are to accelerate and put on the brakes. Because of my short stature and limited leg strength, I use hand controls to drive. This means that to apply the gas or brake, I use a mechanism that I hold in my left hand. To accelerate, I push down, and to stop, I push forward. It’s easy once you get the hang of the motions.
  7. Since I control the gas and brake with my left hand, I steer with my right hand. In order to make it safer to turn, I hold on to something called a spinner knob, rather than directly grasping the wheel. When I first started driving, I used to grasp it so tightly that I had trouble opening my hand at the end of my lessons! Thankfully, I’ve been able to loosen my grip as I’ve become more experienced.
  8. Although I don’t need this technology, the van that I practiced driving in had an amazing electronic control panel. This is especially convenient for people with very limited upper body mobility, because they don’t need to move very far to turn the car on and off, change gears, and operate all other major functions of the vehicle.
  9. Because I use both hands to drive, it wouldn’t just be dangerous if I broke the law by using my cell phone while on the road – it would be pretty much impossible. I want to be as safe as possible, and luckily, there are several hands free options that will allow me to use my phone if need be. Thank goodness for Bluetooth headphones.
  10. One of the most interesting feelings that I experience while driving is that no one on the road knows you’re using adaptive equipment. When you’re behind the wheel, you’re just as much a driver as anyone else. Of course, if you want a fun way to show off to everyone that you’re a proud member of the disability community, then you can put a bumper sticker on the back of your vehicle to represent!

What adaptive driving equipment do you find really useful?

Emily Ladau is the Social Media Coordinator and a blogger for The Mobility Resource. Get all the latest from The Mobility Resource on Facebook and Twitter: @SweetMobility. Emily also writes on disability issues for her own blog, Words I Wheel By. Say hi to her on Facebook and Twitter: @emily_ladau!

The Really Useful Stuff team would like to thank Emily for sharing both her experience and advice in this ‘really useful’ blog – Thank you Emily!

The impact of design on disability

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Designed2Enable Products

Accidents, trauma and the on-set of old age cause disabilities that change everything in your life.  Many things become a compromise; the clothes you can wear, the places that you can visit, the way you design your home and the impression you make as you enter a room.  These all have a profound impact on how you feel about yourself and subsequently how you are perceived by others.

designed2enable.co.uk is a new company set up by two people who know first-hand the realities of living with disability. Wheelchair user Katherine Pyne and her husband John wanted to start a business that would enhance the lives of people living with disability, and make every day tasks and chores into a pleasure.

designed2enable recently became the UK  sales agent for the THRIVE range of pill boxes and organisers made by US company Sabi.

Thrive Sabi Family Shot“The design philosophy behind Sabi is very similar to our own,” says Katherine. “They believe that people’s imperfections are what make them beautiful.”

Katherine and John believe that intelligently designed products can help people embrace their vulnerabilities and enjoy doing daily tasks that may have grown challenging or mundane.

The Sabi pill boxes and organisers are designed with just that in mind – they make keeping track of and taking your daily vitamins and pills a pleasure, not a chore,” says Katherine.

Sabi pill boxes are useful, functional but most of all they are stylish in design. There’s a FOLIO pill organiser that could easily be a wallet or notebook. The DAYBOX with eight individual daily pill boxes that clip together to form a great looking weekly pill box and detach easily so you can take one daily pill box with you wherever you go.  The pill cutters and splitters are ergonomically designed and accurate, as well as being pleasant to look at.

The response to the Sabi range has been huge,” says John. “People enjoy using them, and they take away the stigma of having to pop a pill at lunch time or keeping a pill dispenser around the home”.

Daybox

Katherine says the Sabi range does exactly what it should – makes a chore into a pleasure, and enhances people’s environment and their lives.

“That’s’ what our business is all about. We are very pleased that manufacturers like Sabi are answering the needs of so many people.”
You can view this fantastic and ‘really useful’ products in the RUS shop here.
The Really Useful Stuff team would like to thank Katherine Pyne for writing the fantastic blog for us.

Travelling with a Disability

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Disability Horizons logo

Martyn Sibley

To visit an uncharted territory and experience new things, I honestly think enriches us in so many ways. Whilst some people find excuses not to venture far (whether disabled or not), others seek adrenaline and greater personal growth. Whilst we’re all different and entitled to our individual preferences; here’s my top tips for disabled travellers looking to reach new horizons.

1. Never Say Never

Having been disabled since birth I have come up against my fair share of social barriers. From steps to people’s stares, and segregatory policies I have been prohibited access and excluded too many times. However with some wild dreams, stubborn persistence and learned tactics I truly believe anything is possible.

My first independent travel was to Australia. Before that my parents executed a life enriching visit to Disney World in Florida. On both occasions focusing on my wheelchair, hoist and shower needs would’ve resulted in another UK summer holiday (no disrespect Bournemouth, we’ll always have the other summers).

My biggest advice is to essentially plan your travels on where you want to go. Do not go where your disability dictates. If someone says otherwise, talk about the weather and remove yourself from unnecessary negativity.

2. Practising the Practical

Whatever your disability there will be some limitations. Mind you everyone has limitations too. Phobia of flying being a strong one.

Once you’ve picked your destination, list what you need to know and what you need to do. Don’t rush it. Maybe do a task a day, and only book it when you’re feeling strong and ready.

I tend to work backwards: So I’d need an accessible hotel and wheelchair friendly resort. A rented hoist and shower chair. An adapted taxi is a must. Pre warning the airline of my needs and wheelchair dimensions is important too. I finally ensure I can get to the airport ok. Checking you can get the usual things like the correct currency, valid passport and sunglasses is helpful too (not being condescending here, it’s a common last minute issue).

3. Go with the Flow

Once you have chosen your destination and carried out your research you’re good to go.

Unfortunately things can and will go wrong. I’ve had awkward airport staff, broken wheelchairs, inaccessible hotel facilities, unreliable taxis and ill suited rental equipment.

Importantly with calm thinking and communication with the right people, there is always a solution. Some trips were tainted, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I learnt from my mistakes and many other clichés are relevant here too.

4. Push the Boundaries

I may be a slightly different disabled traveller in that I’ve ended up flying an aeroplane, I have abseiled, SCUBA dived, hot air ballooned and so much more. I’ve been to USA, Mexico, on a European road trip, Singapore and Australia. I also went from John o Groats to Lands End.

This is my adventuring way. It is also a powerful way of showing the world what is possible.

For you I would say keep doing the next baby step. A novice traveller may try a night in a nearby city. Someone else may go further for a week. In the end you’ll hit the limit and chillax. Just don’t go stale because others say its best and safe.

No matter who you are, whatever your perceived limits are, and wherever you want to go; just do it! Even if takes a lifetime go for it. It’s amazing the things you’ll experience” – Martyn Sibley

The Really Useful Stuff team would like to thank Martyn for sharing these great tips with RUS.
If you are planning a trip abroad you will find lots of ‘really useful stuff’ to make travelling a little easier in our shop.

Budgeting for Seniors and Those on Fixed Incomes

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Piggy BankMost seniors have a fixed, limited income. Even though it may not seem like a whole lot, there are ways to budget and make the fixed income work to your advantage. After all, you know exactly how much money you are going to get each month. You don’t have to worry about losing a job, or not getting a paycheck. Most of the time the money comes in on a predictable date and this is very advantageous because you know exactly when the money is going to get replenished.

Now to the budgeting. Most seniors have essentials such as paying for medications, food, rent and mortgage, transportation and of course incidentals. Figure out how much you have available after your rent/mortgage expense, medication expense, transportation expense and this is the amount you have for food and incidentals. Going out to eat can be a major expense so staying in might be a good idea for some.

Additionally, if you have money left over at the end of the month, you can save up for a vacation, or a one off purchase.

If you have debt, negotiating the interest rate with the bank or credit card company can save a lot of money. Monitoring utility usage and minimizing utility usage can also lead to a big savings. Leaving on the air conditioning or heat during the day when you aren’t home tends to add up over time. Even though this may amount to 50-100.00 per month, over the course of the year this equates to thousands of dollars.

The last piece of advice is to track your not so necessary purchases. Write down each time you purchase something is not essential and you will most likely be surprised. If you are not careful, a large amount of your budget could be going to non-essentials. Whether you use a pen and paper, or are using budgeting software, it is a good idea to keep track of all expenses. This minimizes surprises and will lead to a much easier time getting to the next month’s income check.

Jacob Edward is the manager of Senior Planning in Phoenix Arizona. Jacob founded Senior Planning in 2007 and has helped many Arizona seniors and their families navigate the process of long term care planning. Senior Planning provides assistance to seniors and the disabled finding and arranging care services, as well as applying for state and federal benefits. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys dining out and supporting his alma mater Arizona State’s Sun Devil sports teams. Jacob lives in Tempe Arizona.

Jacob Edward

Jacob Edward

The Really Useful Stuff Team would like to thank Jacob for writing this ‘really useful’ blog for RUS.

While Jacob applies to dollars in his blog – his advice still carries well with the UK pound.

 
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