Choosing Equipment for Leisure Activities
Choosing Equipment for Leisure Activities
Sponsorship has no influence on our impartial content
- Statutory provision and other sources of funding
- Countryside trips, walks and orienteering
- Sports and ball games
- Board games and Games consoles
- Painting and the arts
- Cooking and food preparation
- Physical relationships
- Useful organisations
- References & further information
This factsheet aims to provide first stop information and guidance on a range of products and services designed to make leisure activities easier for older and disabled individuals. This includes equipment, and some adaptations, to help with a range of indoor and outdoor hobbies including gardening, crafts, cooking, computers, reading, TV, radio and audio systems and sports.
This factsheet outlines the equipment available and is intended as a guide to direct you to other organisations and inform you prior to approaching suppliers. In-depth advice on specific leisure related activities is available from a range of organisations such as AbilityNet, RNIB, Action on Hearing Loss, Rica and Thrive. See ‘Useful Organisations’ at the end of this factsheet for their contact details. The organisations are followed by an option to view references / sources of further information. The print buttons (above to the right) let you choose whether to download and print with or without the references.
For up-to-date product and supplier information, please contact our equipment helpline, open Tuesday to Thursday 10am-4.30pm, Tel: 0300 999 0004 (calls charged at local rate from a landline, if you are using a mobile please call 020 7432 8018). Alternatively, you can write to our letter enquiry service, or contact us via email at email@example.com. To help us give you a concise and informative reply, please provide us with as much detail as possible including the difficulties you are having and any solutions you have considered, including equipment ideas.
Try before you buy
If you decide to purchase equipment privately, try and compare the different ranges first, perhaps in your local Independent Living Centre. There are approximately 40 Independent Living Centres in the UK. They provide unbiased, expert advice and information about equipment, how much it costs, and where to obtain it, and offer the opportunity for you to try a wide range of products. Advice and information about other issues related to daily living is also available. Contact details for your nearest Equipment Demonstration Centre can be found on the Disabled Living Foundation's web page Equipment Demonstration Centres in the UK. It is always advisable to contact the centre before visiting to check whether you need to book an appointment.
Be cautious of sales people who try to persuade you to buy equipment that may not meet your needs fully or is over-priced. Buying from a company that belongs to a trade association, such as the British Healthcare Trades Association (see Useful organisations), may give you some reassurance as members have signed up to a code of practice governing standards of customer service.
Statutory provision and other sources of help and funding
The supply of equipment may depend upon your age, your financial circumstances and the type and extent of your disability. Provision also varies in different parts of the country. In most areas leisure equipment is not regarded as a daily living need and not supplied via Community Occupational Therapist referrals/recommendations.
Many Charitable Trusts provide financial assistance for a number of purposes, including disability equipment. When applying to trusts, it is always important to check that you meet their criteria for giving. Some funding bodies may only accept applications by referrals from a Social Worker or other professional who knows you. Other charities may allow you to apply on your own behalf. A useful resource is www.turn2us.org.uk , a website that allows you to search for organisations that gives grants for equipment, mobility, products and other services. You can also refine your search by specific conditions.
Most libraries hold directories of suitable funders in their reference section, such as the The Directory of Grant Making Trusts
The Grants for Individuals website http://www.grantsforindividuals.org.uk run by the Directory of Social Change lets subscribers search for grants but is intended for organisations searching for funding for individuals.
AbilityNet publish a factsheet Funding for an Adapted Computer System which lists possible grant giving trusts http://www.abilitynet.org.uk/factsheet/funding-adapted-computer-system AbilityNet's factsheet also lists possible sources of second hand and refurbished computer equipment.
This factsheet will now list a number of different leisure activities and equipment that may be useful when participating in them.
Countryside trips, walks and orienteering
Examples of equipment that may be relevant when going on countryside trips and walks include off-road powered wheelchairs and scooters; talking compasses and global positioning system (GPS) navigational equipment, and maps and guides with tactile and/or enhanced visual features.
For details of the latest examples of off-road powered wheelchairs and scooters please phone or email our helpline tel: 0300 999 0004, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For details of accessible Guides, Maps and Navigational Equipment please use the following link.
More information on accessible maps and global positioning systems is available from the RNIB http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/travel/travelhelp/pages/findi...
The Walks with Wheelchairs website lists walks which are wheelchair accessible by county. The site allows searches by the total walk distance, gradient or terrain and users can add their own walks. www.walkswithwheelchairs.com
The Fieldfare trust list 'Millennium Miles' routes in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Millennium Miles are accessible countryside paths for disabled people. www.fieldfare.org.uk/?page_id=76
Disabled Ramblers enjoy being in the countryside and get about using paths and trails of all kinds. There are websites for England www.disabledramblers.co.uk/ and in Scotland www.forthandtaydisabledramblers.org.uk/ and www.highland-disabled-ramblers.org/
Rough Guides and Motability jointly publish a book called the Rough Guide to Accessible Britain. www.accessibleguide.co.uk/
The Jubilee Sailing Trust own and operate two tall ships designed and built to enable people of all physical abilities to sail side-by-side. They make use of a talking compass and other equipment on deck to help crew members with low vision steer the ship. http://www.jst.org.uk
The Wheelyboat Trust is a registered charity dedicated to providing disabled people with the opportunity and freedom to enjoy waters large and small all over the UK. Their role is to help and encourage venues open to the public to acquire Wheelyboats for their disabled visitors and to help groups and organisations acquire Wheelyboats for their own use. www.wheelyboats.org
The British Disabled Angling Association was formed in 1996 to ensure people with disabilities of all ages could access the sport/leisure activity of angling. Members are emailed regular updates detailing specialised angling equipment which may include devices for holding rods, reeling in lines, baiting hooks, tying knots and so on. Visit www.bdaa.co.uk and navigate to Services > Training > Adapted Angling.
Bicycles are available designed, and with features, which may make them suitable if you have a disability, such as:
- hand propulsion, if you are unable to use your legs to propel a cycle
- extra support through additional wheels, trunk supports or adapted seating
- power assistance, if you have reduced power or function in your legs
- passenger or tandem models, if you are unable to pedal, or are able to pedal but need another person to operate the brakes, steering or gears
There are a number of cycling organisations that may help you get on your bike including Cyclemagic, Cycling Projects, Get Cycling and the Tandem Club. They may organise cycling sessions, provide training, build or adapt specialist machines. For more information see 'Useful Organisations' at the end of this factsheet.
Sports and ball games
A range of carefully designed and adapted games equipment is available including:
- balls and ball game equipment, including balls which emit sounds or have textured surfaces
- quoits, rings and discs for throwing games
- equipment to help with playing billiards, pool or snooker
- bowling equipment and accessories
- floor and wall games
- handgrips and attachments that may be used with sporting equipment such as golf clubs, snooker cues, and fishing rods
If you are blind or partially sighted, you may be interested in obtaining the RNIB Leisure Ideas factsheet. It has a section on sport and fitness with suggested activities and details of other organisations or clubs that work to enable blind or partially sighted people to participate in various sports.
If you are interested in cue sports, you may wish to contact the British Wheelchair Cue Sports Association. The Association runs coaching sessions around the country, as well as social and competitive matches. Membership is open to anyone requiring a wheelchair to compete, as well as others directly involved in the administration of wheelchair cue sports. Alternatively if you are interested in playing bowls, you may wish to contact the British Wheelchair Bowls Association (BWBA). They provide advice to bowls clubs as well as individual bowlers, and organise events and competitions throughout the year.
Doing Sport Differently is a guide written by and for people with lived experience of disability or health conditions and covers the benefits of sport and fitness, how disabled people can get involved, whether playing, watching or coaching. http://www.radar.org.uk/publications/doing-sport-differently/
Board games and games consoles
A wide range of games and puzzles are available on the market which have been designed or adapted to be more accessible including playing cards and accessories, puzzles, and board games.
Some games may be brighter, more tactile or have larger print than standard games, and some include Braille. Thus these games may be suitable if you have reduced dexterity, or if you are blind or partially sighted.
A range of playing cards and accessories are available designed to assist with the playing of cards. Larger than standard playing cards, tactile playing cards or cards with large print may facilitate identification and manipulation of the cards.
Card holders may allow playing cards to be held securely but discreetly if you experience reduced manual dexterity and are unable to hold an entire hand of cards. Free standing, table top playing card holders provide an alternative to holding a hand of cards.
A range of accessories and adaptations are available for games controllers including:
- switches and switch interfaces for use with games consoles
- alternative controls for use with games consoles, including controllers for one-handed use or foot operation
Games consoles designed for use by blind users are also available with audio output of all the actions and selections.
SpecialEffect is a national charity with a simple aim - to help everyone with a physical disability to find a way to play the games they love. Choosing the right console and adaptations, setting them up, and making sure that everything works could be an expensive process of trial and error. SpecialEffect address this need with their loan library scheme. Their Loan Library of adapted gaming equipment is backed up by their advice and support service. It's loan kit you can put through its paces to ensure that it's suitable before purchasing - you can find out more at: www.specialeffect.org.uk/library
For information on using computers if you are Blind or have low vision please refer to our Communication and vision factsheet http://www.dlf.org.uk/factsheets/vision
A range of adapted gardening hand tools are available. These tools are designed for digging the garden, weeding or cultivating the soil. Some of the tools are multi-functional and can be fitted to a range of handles from the same supplier. Cultivators are used for aerating, breaking up the soil and weeding before sowing or between plants, once they are established.
Features to look for when choosing these hand tools include large easy-to-hold grips, right angled fist grips, longer handles and lightweight tools.
If you have reduced hand grip you could consider using a handle or arm support that attaches to your garden hand tools.
Options and techniques to consider when gardening include using a weed-suppressing membrane / mulching to reduce the need for digging and raised beds to reduce the need for bending when gardening. Kneeling stools and pads provide cushioning for your knees.
When choosing pruning equipment features to consider include 'cut and hold' type secateurs which grip the cut stem so you don’t have to bend down and pick it up, single-handed operation of the safety catch, 'soft feel' or telescopic handles, and the colour contrast of the tools. Ratchet secateurs reduce the amount of pressure you have to apply as they cut in stages rather than requiring a continuous grip force. You should ensure that your hand span is wide enough to operate them.
Equipment for lawn maintenance includes long handled, cordless and lightweight shears, trimmers and mowers as well as robotic lawnmowers.
If you are blind or partially sighted, you may prefer to use hand tools rather than long handled tools which are worked further from the ground. Try to source tools with bright handles and good colour contrast. The RNIB have a factsheet on gardening ideas. RNIB factsheet on gardening ideas http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/leisureculture/homeleisure/Pa...
Thrive, the national gardening charity, have a range of advice and further information on tools and disability on their website. For example:
- Digging http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/digging.aspx
- Weeding Tools http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/shop/weeding-3ac67970/default.aspx
- Choosing Hand Tools http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/shop/hand-tools-40977c34/default.aspx
- Pruning Tools http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/search/toolfinder.aspx?job=pruning&dis=
- Lawn Maintenance http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/search/toolfinder.aspx?job=%20and%20l...
If you experience difficulty bending or kneeling, garden kneeling stools are available which can also be used as seats. You can sit on these stools or turn them upside down and use them as kneelers. They provide arm supports to assist you standing up again. These products are usually padded for comfort and protection from cold and damp.
Thrive have a useful section on their website called 'when you can't bend easily' which includes tips, techniques and equipment.
Raised beds can be used to reduce the need to bend. They can be purchased in a range of shapes and sizes as kits or fully assembled. Thrive recommend that the ideal height of a built raised bed will vary from 60cm to 100cm depending on whether you are standing, sitting or using a wheelchair (Thrive, 2008). Consider how you will water the beds, as they tend to dry out sooner than flower beds - it may be worth considering using an irrigation system.
Relevant web links from Thrive include gardening sitting down, which includes:
- a factsheet on raised beds http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/files/documents/Raised%20beds%20final...
- advice on growing plants in containers http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/growing-in-containers-when-you-cant-b...
Wheelchair accessible picnic tables and swings with additional seat supports are also listed on our database.
If you spend a lot of time working in your greenhouse and find standing tiring you could consider keeping a perching stool in your greenhouse. Perching stools, as their name suggests, position the user in a semi-standing position. This helps to position you closer to a worktop / bench.
If you find moving heavy items around your garden difficult and find standard wheelbarrows too unstable or heavy you may like to look at light weight, two wheeled or motorised wheelbarrows.
There is a small range of equipment that can be used to help with sewing or knitting including needle threaders and tactile tape measures. The RNIB sell a range of Braille knitting patterns.
If holding a knitting needle has become impossible you could try using a knitting loom or board.
You can clamp the loom to a table or place it on a non-slip mat for ease of use.
If you have difficulty seeing the measurements on a tape measure you may like to consider tactile, rulers and tape measures which have tactile bumps at regular intervals. Talking tape measures are also available
A range of scissors with features to enhance ease of use are available including roller cutters and electric scissors, self-opening and table-top scissors. Roller cutters and electric scissors reduce the need for the user to squeeze or close their hand. Table top scissors require the user to push down, depressing the handle. Self-opening scissors have a spring fitted which automatically reopens the scissors after each cut or when pressure is released.
Task lighting, such as a desk or floor lamp, can be useful for sewing as general lighting from a ceiling mounted light may be insufficient. Task lighting directs light where it is needed for detailed activities like knitting, sewing, or reading. Thomas Pocklington Trust (2011) state that a task light 600mm (2 feet) from a book will give you 25 times more light than a ceiling mounted light that is 3 metres (10 feet) away.
Keeping both your hands free to work with the needles may help. Hands-free magnifiers are available that hang from your neck and rest on your chest so you can use them without using your hands. Alternatively try using a mounted magnifier. Clamps to secure items while you work on them may also be useful.
For more information on magnifiers please refer to our Communication and vision factsheet http://www.dlf.org.uk/factsheets/vision
Techniques specifically to enable a blind or partially sighted person to learn, or continue, to sew include using (Texas school for the Blind, 2010):
- adapted sewing patterns e.g. a Braille sewing pattern
- tissue paper which contrasts in colour with the fabric as a guide when using a sewing machine
- pins with large coloured heads
Photography equipment listed on our database includes switch-adapted or adaptable cameras, camcorders and accessories to mount cameras.
With some of these cameras the switch just takes the picture, with others switches can be plugged in so that certain functions such as focusing and taking pictures or zoom can be controlled. The camcorders may have switch selection of functions such as play, delete and record.
The OneSwitch website focuses on 'fun' ideas and assistive technology and has a blog on switch-adapted digital cameras from around the world, including mounting solutions. The website includes a switch accessible art page. www.oneswitch.org.uk
The Disabled Photographers' Society provides technical advice or help with modifications, can supply camera supports on loan and have a list of camera accessories for members. They publish a magazine titled 'In Focus'. www.disabledphotographers.co.uk
Age UK have a basic factsheet on digital cameras getting in the picture which may be particularly useful if you are new to digital photography.
Mencap the national charity working with people with a learning disability have a range of photography factsheets in an accessible format for people with learning disabilities including:
- How to Get the Best from Your Camera
- Top Tips for Taking Photos
- Ideas for photo or film when entering their annual photography exhibition
Painting and the arts
If you have reduced hand grip or hand tremor and are finding it difficult to grip paintbrushes or other art tools you may wish to view a range of brushes with large or differently shaped handles or materials to modify standard brushes. You may also wish to view large handle and adapted pens, pencils and grips.
The RNIB has information on painting and sight loss and sell a book titled ‘Painting from a new perspective’ which tells how six artists with sight problems paint without sight.
The Living Paintings Trust charity works for adults, young people and children with sight loss to enjoy works of art. They produce a range of touch and sound albums which explain pictures to people with sight loss. These albums consist of at least ten works of art each, and are available to blind and partially sighted people through a free library service.
The albums have tactile raised images and an audio recording describing the pictures with information about the artists and their style. Tel: 01635 299771 or visit www.livingpaintings.org
Disability Arts Online is a web journal that gives people with disabilities and deaf artists, performers, film-makers, writers, and critics a place to talk about developing artistic practice and accessing the arts. There is a directory, including resources, events, opportunities and reviews. www.disabilityartsonline.org.uk
Art Spider is Mencap's learning disability arts website which includes a gallery, resources, projects and events. www.mencap.org.uk/art-spider
Stagetext is a registered charity which provides captioning and live speech-to-text services in theatres, museums, galleries and other arts and cultural venues. Theatre captioning is similar to television subtitling and gives deaf and hard of hearing theatre-goers access to live performance. They also work with museums and galleries to make their talks and tours accessible to deaf, deafened and hard of hearing visitors through live speech-to-text technology. www.stagetext.org
Cooking and food preparation
If you experience difficulty turning control knobs on kitchen appliances 'contour knob turners' have an extended handle and spring-loaded pins which, when pushed against a contoured knob, retract and form a grip. If you find it difficult to see the settings around the control knobs of kitchen appliances you can use tactile or visual markings. These are available in a range of colours so you can choose a colour that contrasts with the appliance.
The RNIB have more information on adaptations and the value of colour and contrast. http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/athome/practicaladaptations/P... For ideas on accessible recipes, useful information & tips on cooking and food preparation if you are blind or have low vision please refer to the web site Sue's Kitchen http://www.tafn.org.uk/kitchen/cookery5.htm
There are battery operated talking food thermometers which use a synthesised voice to give an audible indication of the temperature of food or the degree of cooking. For example, "well done" or "rare". Talking microwave and combination ovens have a range of speaking controls and reminders - for example, advising when the door is open or closed and when to stir food.
Saucepans can be heavy, especially when full, and their handles difficult to grip. Techniques, accessories and features to consider include:
- saucepans with a handle on either side which allow you to evenly distribute the weight between both hands
- saucepans with angled handles may help you to hold the pan with your hands in a more natural position and use the strength of both your wrist and your arm
- heavier saucepans may have more stability and thus be easier for people with a tremor to use
- some saucepans, available on the high street, have a straining system incorporated within the design which avoids the need to use a separate colander
- using a cooking basket can help reduce the effort required to drain a saucepan as it splits the combined weight of the saucepan, water and food. You fill the saucepan with water and place it onto the hob. Then put your food into the wire basket and place the basket and food into the saucepan. When the food is cooked the basket can be lifted out with the food and served. When cold, the water can be drained out of the saucepan. Thus you do not need to lift the combined weight of the saucepan, water and food at the same time
- saucepan handle holders fix to the cooker or hob, stabilising the pan. This allows you to stir the food in the saucepan with one hand. The cooker top surface needs to be grease free to allow the suction feet to stay in place (Abledata, 2012)
Chopping and slicing
Chopping and food preparation boards are available with features that may help when peeling, cutting or spreading food. They may have one or more of the following features:
- spikes (or studs) sticking up from the board which are used to secure food. Small spikes close together tend to be used for potatoes and carrots, larger more spaced out spikes tend to be used for larger food items such as a cabbage, bread or a joint of meat. Some spikes can be removed for washing
- a food collector consists of angled raised rims to guide the contents of the food when you transfer the contents of the board to a pan/bowl/container
- colour contrast boards, and/or those with tactile markings may be useful if you have low vision.
- a pivot-mounted detachable knife to aid chopping
- a clamp system to stabilise food, bottles or tins
If you have difficulty spreading butter, jam etc you may wish to view bread spreading boards which hold the slice of bread in place while you spread.
When purchasing a peeler consider the type of handle on the peeler. A soft cushioned and slip-resistant handle may make the task more comfortable and reduce pain, and an enlarged handle may be easier to use if you have reduced grip. Most manual peelers are either swivel action peelers with a blade at the end of the handle like a knife, or Y-shaped peelers. Swivel peelers require more strength and rotation of the wrist than Y-shaped peelers. They suit thin-skinned vegetables like carrots. Y-shaped peelers have a blade perpendicular to the handle, they do not require rotation of the wrist and so tend to be easier to use if you experience pain or reduced strength in the wrist. Peelers are readily available on the high street, we list peelers with wide or padded handles or other non-standard features to aid ease of use.
You may find it easier to use a table top peeler. These have a heavy slip-resistant base or are clamped to a table edge, and secure the item to be peeled so that peeling can be carried out one-handed.
This section includes a range of equipment that may help when reading including stands, bookrests and tables for positioning reading materials, page turners, magnifiers and text-to-speech equipment.
Positioning the book
Book holders and reading stands are available, they can be free standing (placed on a table or bedding) or floor standing. Models that can clamp to a convenient support such as a chair are also available. The free standing book holders can often be adjusted at different angles, can accommodate different thicknesses of book and may fold away for storage. As book holders are available from high street stores we only include those with non-standard features.
If you find it difficult to read letters, newspapers, books, recipes, or labels easily, consider using a magnifier to enlarge the print. Before purchasing a magnifier consider the magnification and size of the lens, generally a larger magnifier will have lower magnification and a high powered magnifier will have a small lens. Magnifiers with higher magnification tend to show you less of what you are looking at, perhaps only a word or few letters at a time.
Handheld magnifiers may be round, square or rectangular and some have a battery operated light. If you have reduced grip or shaky hands then handheld magnifiers may not be appropriate as they need to be held steady. If possible try the magnifier before purchase. When using a magnifier, if you hold it too close or too far away from the book/item, the writing will look blurred. To find the correct distance hold the magnifier near to the page and then move it away until the print becomes focused and clear (The Partially Sighted Society, 2011) . To limit light reflecting on the lens, and to maximise the magnified area, place your eye closer to the lens whilst still keeping the magnifier the appropriate distance from the page.
Magnifiers for use directly over a subject have a small stand and maintain a fixed distance from the book/object. The stands may make them ideal if you have reduced grip or shaky hands.
Magnifiers with a cord that can be worn round the neck and magnifiers which attach to spectacles or a headband will free your hands to hold a book, do crafts or other tasks. Some spectacle-mounted lenses are designed so they can flip away from the eyes when not in use.
Video magnifiers consist of a camera which magnifies an image onto a display screen which may be part of the video magnifier or an attached television or computer screen.
Pocket handheld video magnifiers provide a magnified image on an integrated screen. Most offer a choice of contrast modes and may also enable image capture so you can view the magnified image without having to keep the magnifier on the original image. Some models have the option of attachment to a monitor or television screen.
Video magnifiers requiring connection to TV or PC provide you with a magnified image when connected to a television or PC screen. They usually consist of a handheld camera, similar in shape to a computer mouse, that rests on the original image and can be moved across the paper or object, or may resemble a desktop lamp, the head of which contains the camera and can be angled to sit above the document.
Video magnifiers can be an expensive investment. If you have not used them before we recommend you try similar models first before purchase. You can obtain further advice from the RNIB and may wish to visit their equipment centre in London to try this equipment.
Text-to-speech scanning machines (also called stand-alone reading machines) are units that combine a scanner, optical character recognition (OCR) software and speech output. A printed document or book can be scanned and read by the machine. For users who have a PC with speech output software, it may be a cheaper alternative to buy a scanner and some optical character recognition software.
For more information read the RNIB's advice about reading machines in their 'Beginner's Guide to Assistive Technology' http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/computersphones/guides/Pages/...
DAISY players play DAISY audible books and replace the old audio books on cassette format. DAISY is an acronym standing for 'Digital Accessible Information System'. This is a digital reading system that can play/show audio, text and pictures. It may help make them accessible to individuals with visual difficulties that affect their ability to read printed material. DAISY material can be played on a stand-alone DAISY player, or by using DAISY software on a computer. Approximately 25 hours of audio can be recorded on a Daisy CD.
Users of DAISY players can navigate through the recording/book by sections, sub-sections, chapter or pages. Bookmarks can be inserted at any point, and there is a 'resume' option which continues playback from the point the reader last reached (rather than going back to the beginning which is what happens with conventional CDs).
For more information read the RNIB's guide to choosing a DAISY player http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/reading/services/talkingbooks...
Talking books, newspapers and magazines services
Talking books, newspapers and magazines services may be available from:
Your local library
Your local library is likely to provide a range of audio books and giant print books to loan for free. Speak to your librarian about how to sign up, what titles they have available, and the length of loan available to you. Find your local library http://local.direct.gov.uk/LDGRedirect/index.jsp?LGSL=437&LGIL=8
RNIB National Library
The RNIB National Library Service provides a wide range of library and information services for people with sight problems. Resources include talking books, Braille and giant print books, maps, music and online reference services. RNIB National Library Service http://www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/reading/services/rnibnational...
National Talking Newspapers and Magazines
The charity National Talking Newspapers and Magazines provides a wide range of newspapers and magazines for partially sighted and print-disabled people. It offers over 200 newspaper or magazine titles in a variety of accessible formats, including cassette tape, CD and DAISY CD. Digital full text formats are also provided via CD-ROM, web download, or MP3 download. The service is available for a small subscription and is delivered free to users who are blind or have low vision. www.tnauk.org.uk
Project Gutenberg is a collection of free electronic books available on the internet. There are currently almost 10,000 books on the site, however, these are books out of copyright, generally pre-1923. Thus they do not include the latest bestsellers but do include classic books from authors such as Conan Doyle, Dante, Dickens, Shakespeare, Twain, Verne and Wells. The books can be downloaded to a computer and read with software, or a selection are available as computer-generated eBooks and will play from the Gutenberg site. www.gutenberg.org
Tablets and ebooks
Ebooks can be read on tablets and ereaders. A growing range of tablet and ereader accessories are available including mounts for tablets such as the iPad, and switches and switch interfaces for use with tablets and ebook readers. These switches could, for example, be used to turn the page of an ebook.
A range of replacement remote controls are available with features that may help enhance ease of use such as large buttons, speech output or switch operation. Depending on the model, the remote control may work with TVs, video recorders, satellite TV, DVD players, or audio equipment. Most will not work with combination devices, e.g.TV/DVD combination units.
Check that the remote control will work with your TV, DVD or other device before purchase. Some of the remote controls listed here come with a list of codes for different models of TV, DVD etc. You enter the code for your model and the remote should control it. Alternatively some of the remote controls listed can 'learn' the code from your existing remote control/s.
Some models can have switches plugged in so that certain functions such as channel or volume up and down can be controlled by a switch/es. Check that the switch and remote control are compatible before purchase.
The RNIB can provide weekly radio or TV listings on a DAISY audio CD so you can hear a list of what is scheduled to be on and what station it will be on. A subscription is required for this service. If you haven't got a DAISY player, there is a link to an impartial list in the above section on reading.
Some TVs or DVD players have a feature called Audio Description. Audio Description is an additional spoken narrative inserted between the dialogue, describing all significant aspects of what is happening visually on the screen. It describes who is on the screen, where they are and what they're doing. Actions, facial expressions and any other important aspect is described to convey the plot of the story. The RNIB have a guide to receiving Audio Description on TV and the TV help website contains a list of audio described TV programmes, DVDs and digital TVs that can receive audio description. www.tvhelp.org.uk
Digital TV set top boxes are available which provide spoken prompts or audible feedback to announce selected functions. Some models have a talking electronic programme guide to let you browse through a list of programmes which are due to be broadcast in the next seven days. Rica has a guide to choosing a digital TV http://www.rica.org.uk/content/digital-tv
Do you experience difficulty hearing you TV? A range of TV amplifiers are available. These may either require a wire to be plugged into the TV, or use an infrared or radio transmitter. Infrared amplifiers consist of an infrared transmitter which plugs into a TV or audio equipment, or is placed adjacent to the sound source. This transmits amplified output to a pair of cordless headphones in direct line of sight of the transmitter (i.e. in the same room). Radio frequency cordless systems have a radio transmitter which plugs directly into TV or audio equipment or is placed adjacent to the sound source. This transmits amplified output to a pair of cordless headphones and can work between rooms, although the actual range will vary between models.
This equipment can be used with headphones if you do not use a hearing aid/s, and with a neck loop or ear hook if you use a hearing aid.
Safety Note: Amplified listening equipment can be very loud. When switching any listening equipment on, always start at a low volume and gradually increase it. Avoid having it louder than you really need. If you are concerned about your hearing, talk to your GP or audiologist.
Induction loop systems for use with the TV
An induction loop system helps hearing aid users hear sounds with greater clarity because it reduces or cuts out background noise. At home, for example, you could use a loop to hear sound from your TV.
An induction loop system uses a loop/cable that goes around the listening area, e.g. your living room. The amplifier receives its signal from a connection with your TV and converts it to an electrical current which is fed to the loop. The resulting current in the loop produces a magnetic field that matches the sound. You can then pick up this magnetic field if you are sitting within the area of the loop and your hearing aid - or loop listening aid - is set to 'T'.
The DVD Subtitles website gives detailed listings of which DVD releases are subtitled. http://dvd-subtitles.com/
The British Wireless for the Blind Fund aim to provide a choice of high quality, specially modified audio equipment to every UK registered blind or partially sighted person, over the age of eight and resident in the UK who is in receipt of a means tested benefit. Their specialised audio equipment has features which may help individuals with low vision such as:
- high contrast, raised symbol controls
- bookmarks to start an audio book or CD from a specific part, or the last played position
- displays that can zoom in
Sets can be purchased from them or supplied if you meet their criteria. Visit their website at www.blind.org.uk or phone 01622 754757.
CD, MP3, cassette players, and radios are available with features that may make them easier to use. These features may include enlarged or tactile buttons; switch input; voice activation; voice feedback and/or spoken menus; large, high contrast or backlit displays, perhaps with a zoom function. Rica has a guide to choosing a digital radio http://www.rica.org.uk/content/digital-radios
MP3 and WMA are music file formats of near CD sound quality. The format reduces CD tracks in size without significantly affecting sound quality so they are quicker to download or stream from the internet. Downloading is when you save a file onto your computer, streaming is when you listen/watch music or videos on your computer over the internet without saving it/downloading. Some music players will play both WMA and MP3 files, others only one or the other. Some will also play DAISY files (see our list of DAISY players).
The RNIB has a guide to Accessible Digital Music Players. For example they explain how you can make certain models spell out folder and individual track names through synthetic speech or by using pre-recorded human speech. They also have a guide to where you can buy/download music players.
The Outsiders Club is a social and peer support network of disabled people. www.outsiders.org.uk They run a Sex and Disability helpline which functions Monday to Friday 11am-7pm on 0707 499 3527 or you can email sexdis@Outsiders.org.uk. Their website includes leaflets giving advice on:
- Physical Disability and Sexual Intercourse
- Continence and Sex
- Sex with a Heart Condition
- Practical Sex Tips for Disabled People
- Sex and the Person with an Ostomy
- Sex after Hip Replacement
- and many more ...
Susan's Sex Support Site also provides information and support around sexuality and disability, education and advocacy. The site includes a forum where questions can be asked. www.sexsupport.org
1-6 Tavistock Square
Tel: 0800 169 6565
Age UK aims to improve later life for everyone through their information and advice, services, campaigns, products, training and research.
9 Yew Tree Road
Tel: 01922 860 912
The British Disabled Angling Association (BDAA) was founded in 1996 to develop opportunities for disabled people of all ages and abilities to access the activity of fishing in the UK.
10 Albion Place
Kent ME14 5DZ
Tel: 01622 754 757
Fax: 01622 751 725
The British Wireless for the Blind Fund provides high quality, easy to use audio equipment which has been specially designed and adapted for listeners living with sight loss.
62 Friday Street
Tel: 0116 262 5551
Cyclemagic is a not-for-profit organisation with projects including training, special needs and disabled cycling, bike recycling, cycling promotion events and consultancy. Cyclemagic hire and sell bikes, trikes, tandems and trailers and build or adapt specialist machines to individual requirements.
3 Priory Court
Tel: 01925 234 213
Cycling Projects is a national charity with a vision to ensure that cycling is accessible to all. They run a project called Wheels for All, with 40 locations around the UK, giving disabled people the chance to cycle. Wheels for All centres are run by groups often led by care workers, physiotherapists or enthusiastic family members.
9 Jew Street
Tel: 0741 182 4458
Disability Arts Online (DAO) vision is to achieve widespread appreciation for the richness and diversity of disability arts and culture. They aim to do this by transforming and enriching arts and culture through nurturing creativity and discourse from a disability perspective.
1 John Knox Gardens
Forth & Tay Disabled Ramblers (FTDR) aims to promote health and wellbeing through recreational and social activities by enabling people with disabilities to access the outdoors in a barrier-free environment.
22 Hospital Fields Road
Tel: 01904 636 812
Get Cycling offers a special needs try-out roadshow which can be customised to client's requirements.
123 Golden Lane
Tel: 020 7454 0454
Fax: 020 7608 3254
Mencap is the voice of learning disability, valuing and supporting people with a learning disability and their families and carers.
5 The Oaks
Email : info@OneSwitch.org.uk
A resource of fun ideas and 'assistive technology' aimed at people with moderate to severe learning/physical disablity.
Sex and Disability Helpline: 07770 884 985
Outsiders offers support and expertise on disability, relationships and sexuality. They run a uniquely prestigious international private club for socially and physically disabled people, where members offer each other peer support and friendship.
G03, The Wenlock
50-52 Wharf Road
London N1 7EU
Telephone: 020 7427 2460
Fax: 020 7427 2468
Rica (formerly Ricability), the Research Institute for Consumer Affairs, are a national research charity dedicated to providing independent information of value to disabled and older consumers. Their reports are based on rigorous research and provide practical information needed by disabled and older consumers.
105 Judd Street
London WC1 9NE
Tel: 020 7388 1266
Fax: 020 7388 2034
Helpline: 0303 123 9999
The RNIB are the UK's leading charity for information, support and advice for people with sight loss.
PO Box 85
A registered national charity promoting photography for people with disabilities, or their carers, or groups or anyone with an interest in helping the disabled.
The Tandem Club has a Disabilities Liaison Officer who may be able to help with queries related to disabled people and to partially sighted cyclists and a list of organisations offering relevant services.
The Disabled Ramblers exists to help mobility-challenged people get back out into the countryside.
24 Station Square
Tel: 07895 066 965
Highland Disabled Ramblers exists to enable people with disabilities to access the wonderful Highland countryside in a safe, organised, and friendly manner.
12 Hazel Road
Tel: 023 8044 9108
Tall ship sailing holidays with the JST provides everyone with the thrill and adventure of life at sea and you can be involved in almost every activity on board.
The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain, produced in association with Motability, is all about enjoying great days out.
54 Commercial Street
Tel: 0207 7377 0540
A registered charity which provides captioning and live speech-to-text services in theatres, museums, galleries and other arts and cultural venues.
Tel: 01798 342 222
The Wheelyboat Trust is a registered charity dedicated to providing disabled people with the opportunity and freedom to enjoy waters large and small all over the UK.
90 Strand on the Green
London W4 3NN
Tel: 020 8995 0880
Fax: 020 8987 9965
Thomas Pocklington Trust offers people who are blind or have sight loss the support they require to lead an independent life, based on their individual requirements.
c/o Park Manager
Tel: 020 7720 2212
Fax: 020 7720 2212
Thrive is the leading charity in the UK using gardening to change the lives of disabled people. Thrive help people who want to garden at home, on an allotment, in a community setting or who may to access our own structured horticultural therapy programmes, currently available in the South East.
Released December 2013, to be reviewed by December 2016, Version 1.3
References and further reading Show references
Abledata (2011) Folding Pan Holder Available from: http://www.abledata.com/abledata.cfm?pageid=19327&top=11545&ksectionid=1... [Accessed 22nd February 2013] - (Type 2)
RNIB (2010) Magnifiers. Available from: www.rnib.org.uk/livingwithsightloss/copingwithsightloss/remainingsight/P... - (Type 2)
Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired (2010) Clothing Care & Sewing Techniques For Visually Impaired Or Totally Blind Students. Available from: http://www.tsbvi.edu/instructional-resources/1932-clothing-care-a-sewing... [Accessed 20th February 2013] - (Type 2)
Thomas Pocklington Trust (2011) What is the best lighting for close up work like reading or writing? Available from: http://www.pocklington-trust.org.uk/research/lighting/lighting_faqs/task... [Accessed 20th February 2013] - (Type 2)
Thrive (2008) Raised beds. Available from: http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/files/documents/Raised%20beds%20final... [Accessed 20th February 2013] - (Type 2)
The Partially Sighted Society (2011) Hand Magnifiers, Available from: http://www.partsight.org.uk/pdfs/hand%20magnifiers.pdf [Accessed 20th February 2013] - (Type 2)
For more information on the Types of Evidence, please visit http://www.livingmadeeasy.org.uk/scenario.php?csid=276
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