Adaptive & Assistive Choices for the Disabled
A disability can come about for any number of reasons. It might be hereditary and something you were born with, or perhaps like myself due to an accident where I broke my back. Disabilities also come in many different forms. You may have a physical challenge or an issue with dexterity or it can be relating to learning ability or simply due to your advancing years. Regardless, there are many options out there for those with a disability.
Here I’m going to look at both adaptive and assistive options, both geared around technology as well as equipment.
What’s the difference between Adaptive and Assistive?
In essence, assistive technology is the term used for a device, tool or technology that helps an individual perform the functions they might not otherwise be able to do with their disability. One excellent example is my wheelchair; without it, I would not be able to get around, let alone visit clients and do site building inspections. However, adaptive technology is where the tools which are existing are adapted for the individual. This might be modified driving controls for a motor vehicle.
Whilst walkers and canes assist with mobility, the most common mobility tool is the wheelchair. These have advanced over the decades to become far more lightweight. Millions of people throughout the world use a wheelchair and many are now enjoying the benefits of a computerised control system. Advancements are further happening with research occurring in the defence industry around powered exoskeletons. Whilst aimed to assist soldiers to carry heavy loads, the technology will be adapted for use beyond its original purpose.
Many people have a level of disability around hearing or seeing. Sight ranges from those simply needing glasses to read to someone who is fully blind. Hearing ranges as equally from slight to completely deaf. There is a huge swag of options (both adaptive and assistive) for these people, including:
- Screen readers
- Magnification apps
- Text to speech programs – such as Dragon Naturally Speaking
- Many options with keyboards and mouse
- Larger monitors and larger print – or audio books in lieu of print
- Software and hardware for voice output or visual output
- Sip-and-puff systems
- Wands, stocks, joysticks, trackballs, braille and even software which follow eye movement.
Assistive Learning Tools
When it comes to children and learning, there is also a huge swag of options including:
- Abbreviation expanders – allowing for the use of abbreviations for frequently used text or phrases
- Audio books, CDs and MP3 downloadable files
- Customised keyboards
- Data managers – such as for calendars, tasks, contact information
- Electronic notes – gone are the days of having to hold a pencil
- Graphic organisers which are great for writing projects
- Personal listening systems where the speaker’s voice is directed directly to the ear of the intended
- Speech Synthesizers and speech recognition programs
- Variable Speed recorders which allow you to listen back on a lecture, perhaps at a slower level, without voice distortion.
Home Renovations Created to your Specifications
One of the things that VIP Access does is work with your advisors and OTs (Occupational Therapists) to design and create a home renovation specifically geared to the needs of the people living there. Yes, we are NDIS registered, but we also service individual and private people who are seeking options – whether that be for someone with a disability or for the elderly. The options for home renovations are long. What some people don’t realise is that the finish and quality can be of a very high standard and aesthetically pleasing. Some of the things that we do are:
- Ramps and rails. These can be somewhat temporarily or can be rather permanent and designed to not only be functional with your home but suit the style and look of your home.
- Bathroom renovations. This is a large part of what we do. Depending on your needs and the space available, we will design a solution specifically tailored to your needs. You get to approve the design and once NDIS funding comes through, we can then begin work on your project. Generally speaking, a bathroom takes 3 weeks to complete although, of course, some jobs are bigger (or smaller) than the average.
- Kitchen renovations. Another area of the home which sometimes needs modifications is the kitchen, particularly for those in wheelchairs or other disabilities where they have limitations, but still are able to look after themselves. Home renovations these days mean that more people can stay in their home longer and more often, than having to move to other options. Kitchen adjustments can be anything from bench height to shelving and cupboards that have greater accessibility. For some people, they need catches and handles which are specifically modified for their specific needs.
- Bedroom. Cupboards (and beds) can be modified to meet additional requirements; you no longer have to be limited by your disability. At times, it can be as simple as providing extra lighting (especially at night time to avoid trips and falls) and easy access to bathroom facilities. Does a lip in the bathroom entry create problems? We can provide many solutions to your challenges; it’s purely about expressing a need and then talking to us (or your OT) about it.
- CarePorts. Whilst your bathroom is being renovated, we can even assist you with a temporary shower/toilet hire option which is called a CarePort. This cubicle which has its own hot water system is an excellent option for those having renovations or needing temporary options. Our hires have a minimum of 1 month and can be extended as you need; we’ve had some of our CarePorts out on hire for more than 18 months. Our service is flexible and we install the CarePort for you – all you need to do is book it in.
The industry of disability care and aged care is ever advancing, as is the technology to assist those in these areas. Equipment and home renovation options are becoming more prevalent and available for people who have a need. No longer do you need to persevere. In fact, rather than ‘trying to make do’, consider some adjustments to your life, home or daily activities which will give you a full life and one with more options and opportunities. For the elderly, one of the biggest fears is a fall. A large percentage of our aging population fear falling (more than 40%) so what often happens is that they avoid doing things. This, in turn, can increase their risk of falling, because lack of exercise and movement equates to less muscle tone … it’s somewhat of a vicious circle.
Regardless of your disability or challenge (we all have them in one form or another – no one is perfect) may I recommend that you identify your challenge and then proactively seek out options to find a solution. If that solution happens to be in the area of home renovations, then we’d love to hear from you here at VIP Access. We are licensed and legal builders, with many years of experience and exceptional systems in place to provide a quality service to our clients. More importantly, myself as one of the owners and myself disabled, I know how you feel, your concerns and to a degree your challenges. I’ve experienced first-hand myself what many of our clients experience and so have a strong empathy towards those with disabilities. Give me a call today on 3807 4309 – we’d love to provide you with a quote and discuss your needs further.