Variety of auxiliary means enables independent living


Whether wheeled walkers, gripper tongs or wheelchairs – auxiliary means are diverse and come along with quite different possibilities of usage. They can promote mobility, maintain the independence of people with disabilities in everyday life and support communication, both privately and at work.

Photo: Robot gripping arm pours in some water in a cup; Copyright: Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann

There are still a lot of technical solutions when it comes to auxiliary means; © Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann

The prevalance of technical solutions can still be observed in all these areas. For example, robot based aids support communication by animating autistic children to increased interaction. Or they help – in the form of a robot arm – to grip objects. Of course there are also people who have no relation to this type of aids, but who are generally not averse to try technical solutions anyway.

In this case, various apps might be a welcome alternative. Again and again new mobile applications for smartphones and tablets enter the market which are supposed to make life easier for people with disabilities. Meanwhile, there are for example many apps which boost the ability to communicate with the help of simple image sequences and contribute to facilitating the exchange with the environment.

The free app LetMeTalk offers several small images on various everyday situations, which can be combined. Communication in all areas of life is supported by forming sentences this way which express requests for spread at breakfast, for example. These and other similar apps have the potential to facilitate communication for many people with speech, language, and voice problems. It could be a possibility for people with autism, mutism or mild dementia, for example.

In the area of mobility aids many apps are supposed to help to simplify locomotion and orientation for people with different disabilities in their environment as well. Be it a global map for wheelchair-accessible places or a navigation app for blind people.

Photo: Braille smartwatch; Copyright: Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann

The Braille smartwatch makes it possible to send and receive messages in Braille; © Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann

But also for people with learning disabilities a navigation system for public transport is planned. At the project "Mobile - Mobile Geeks" a smart watch makes sure that these people can use the bus and train more independent and self-determined. And by using a Braille watch blind people can receive messages and notifications easily and answer directly in Braille.

Also elabortate technical approaches consistently have a high approval rating when it comes to prostheses: high-tech forearm prostheses can be controlled by smartphone and associated app. This way, an uncomplicated access to different functional programs is made possible which perfrom preset typical handles for the office, for example.

But it could also be technically easier with the wheelchair towing machine "MySlave" of the Rehability GmbH, for example. Whether on a shopping tour or on a leisurely stroll through the city – the e-drive which can be attached to the front of the wheelchair is supposed to be a lifestyle product with a simple design and low weight in the first place.

Design and contribution to a better life are also important components in many eating and gripping aids. While functionality in existing products cannot really be improved further, the manufacturers are increasingly working on appealing designs of everyday helpers. So that self-determined living does not only work, but also makes fun.

Photo: Nadine Lormis; Copyright: B. Frommann

© B. Frommann

Nadine Lormis

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