Whether they are smart and connected or simple and low-tech – the market offers many different types of tools and resources that make everyday tasks easier for people with disabilities. They also increase self-determination and promote participation in all areas of life.
Everyday aids of all kinds will also be on display at this year's REHACARE from 18 to 21 September in Düsseldorf.
Everybody talks about smart homes these days. The connected home is designed to bring conveniences and comfort to our everyday life, monitor and preferably optimize various processes. According to the IVAM Association for Microtechnology, nearly 30 percent of Germans already use smart home components in various areas of life. The use of voice-controlled and gesture-based elements is also gaining momentum. This made us wonder how smart technical solutions can also make everyday life easier for people with disabilities and promote participation.
Support in many areas of life
Many REHACARE exhibitors that specialize in the Product Categories Daily Living Aids and Communication offer solutions that facilitate access to different types of environments. After all, self-determined actions to manage one’s personal environment help improve a person's quality of life. Having said that, some diseases may limit or take away this ability. This is where assistive devices that are voice or switch-controlled can offer great support. They allow users to control doors and windows, as well as technological devices in everyday life.
Simple and reliable assistive home and nurse call systems are critical tools in domestic care settings. Depending on physical abilities, solutions include suction/blow sensors, switches or adaptive acoustic sensors. Christoph Jo. Müller reveals the different options that CSS MicroSystems GmbH has to offer in an interview with REHACARE.com. He emphasizes their importance and says, "an assistive home and nurse call system provides security and protects privacy."
Technical solutions can also assist people in eating independently. Electronic eating tools help users to overcome dependency on others for support. Neater Solutions Ltd provides a variety of assistive eating technology, including the Neater Eater Robotic V6. "This is a compact and lightweight robot that offers many programming options for cognitively able operators. Alternatively, it can be operated with a single command for less cognitively able users," says Stephen Hill of Neater Solutions. Find out more about assistive eating and drinking aids in our "Self-determination thanks to eating and drinking aids" article.
The fact that it doesn’t necessarily have to be technical solutions that can make a difference in everyday life is evidenced by the so-called Gripoballs. These small PVC balls can widen the handles of standard eating utensils to allow a stronger and better grip. They can also be applied in bathroom or even office settings, where they ensure a better grasp of toothbrushes or pencils.
As large as Ikea's product range may be, only a few pieces of furniture are truly accessible and can be used by people with various disabilities. Add-ons from the 3D printer are now intended to help.
Better usability through add-ons
The online company Grace Beauty wants to address better usability. The company plans to launch add-ons for beauty products this year, which are designed to make them more usable for people with disabilities. Even though Grace Beauty has so far only posted a few photos on Instagram and Facebook, it has already received lots of positive feedback. Initially, the retailer focuses on mascara add-ons. The attachments come in special shapes, sizes or feature a ring that is designed to ensure a better grip without physical exertion. At any rate, the countless comments and reactions on social media illustrate the great need and want of this target audience when it comes to this type of solution.
While we're on the subject, Ikea came up with the idea of retrofitting its furniture with add-ons to make the products usable and accessible for people with disabilities. The company teamed up with Milbat NGO and Access Israel and offers various special handles and switches on ThisAbles.com, which can be easily made with a 3D printer and then attached to cabinets, shelves or lamps. You can even print out a cane holder for your bed. The website also offers the chance to give feedback to Ikea and request any additional add-ons users might need.
The steps companies like Ikea and Grace Beauty are taking might be small, but they send an important message and signal approaches that make it possible for people with disabilities to be more independent and self-determined. The customized products also play an important part in this setting. After all, whether you put on makeup at home or eat out at a restaurant – equality, self-determination and participation are basic human rights.