The other day (27th of April) I went to Naidex at the NEC in Birmingham. For those that don’t know Naidex is the U.K.’s largest disability, rehabilitation and home care event. There are hundreds of exhibitors showing all sorts of cool stuff, from the latest disability gadgets and adapted vehicles to wheelchair accessible holiday destinations.
I love seeing all the cool gadgets that are available now to help disabled people be more independent. There was loads of interesting stuff to see but I don’t have room to write about everything. So here are my five favourite things I saw at Naidex.
GlassOuse is a headset that enables people with no hand or arm control to use the computer or smart phone. It works with any Bluetooth enabled device (but not Apple products) and is incredibly easy to use. I tried it out at Naidex and once you are wearing the headset, you can literally go up to a computer and start moving the mouse. You don’t need to install software or anything. You can click by biting on the blue bit you can see in the photo, which hangs by your mouth when you’re wearing it. I tried it with my smart phone and it works just as well with that as it does with the PC. I’ve never seen anything that can control a smart phone as easily as this before, so I’m definitely thinking about buying one. They are raising money on indiegogo to fund the further development of GlassOuse. They currently have raised $4000 of a $10,000 target.
Here is the link if you want to donate money to them: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/glassouse-the-world-s-first-assistive-mouse#/
Have a look at their website for more information: http://glassouse.com/
This is a really cool way to keep warm. Basically they are plastic pads containing salt water and a metal disc. The magic happens when you click the metal disc and the saltwater instantly crystallises and produces heat. It can produce heat up to 54°C and can be reused again and again. You just need to place it in boiling water to return it to its liquid state, so you can use it again. They told me it will last about 10 years and can be used thousands of times, which I think is really cool (or warm, as the case may be). Here is a video of it happening:
Check out their website for more information: http://www.clickheat.eu/
Wheelchair Accessible Motorhomes
I had a look in a wheelchair accessible motorhome which would be really cool to own. Imagine being able to drive around Europe without having to worry about accessible hotels or carting loads of equipment around. These motorhomes have hoists, profiling beds, wet rooms and pretty much everything you need. Yes, it might be a little cramped, but they can customise them for your needs to maximise space if needed. They are quite pricey though, with the smallest ones costing about £50,000, and the biggest RVs up to £100,000! If I win the lottery I’m definitely going to get me one of these bad boys!
Check out their website for more information: http://www.coachbuiltgb.co.uk/
Re-Walk Robotic Exoskeleton
This exoskeleton lets people with Spinal Cord Injury (paraplegics specifically) walk again. It’s a good example of how technology is starting to change the lives of people with disabilities. Although it’s a really cool piece of kit, it won’t be any good for me unfortunately. You need to have trunk control and also be able to hold the sticks with your arms to support yourself. Both of which I can’t do. So until they develop a full body exoskeleton for quadriplegics like me I won’t be walking again any time soon.
Check out their website if you want to find out more: http://rewalk.com/
Wheelchair accessible holiday destinations
There were lots of disabled holiday companies at Naidex which was great to see. I was most interested in one’s that offered holidays abroad, or those that provided wheelchair accessible accommodation. The following are the ones I found most interesting:
HausRheinsberg Hotel, Germany: a hotel specifically designed for disabled people built next to a lake in Rheinsberg, Germany. The whole hotel is completely barrier free and guests can take part in many activities such as swimming, bowling, or sailing on the nearby Lake. It sounds a great place and I hope to visit there in the near future.
Safe Hands Holidays: This company owns two hotels, one in Blackpool and one in Llandudno, Wales, both of which are fully accessible for disabled people. They have in-
house carers so can provide care and activities for disabled guests if needed. It is good way to see different parts of the UK without worrying about where to stay.
Flat Spaces: this is a wheelchair – friendly luxury holiday bungalow in rural Hampshire. It has room for up to 6 people so would be a good place for a family holiday. I believe they have plans to build more bungalows in other parts of the country such as Kent and Surrey in the near future.
I Need a Holiday Too: A family run company who have converted an old cotton mill in Brittany, France into six wheelchair friendly apartments. They also offer support workers,
adapted transport and equipment for disabled people to use if needed.