I believe that our adoption of products and services, comes with our personal acceptance of our condition, illness or disability.
Guest blog by Lucy Pullicino
I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was two years old – I’m now 38.
Looking back over the last 36 years I can see that I have been through many stages and levels of acceptance; all of which were dictated by my age and how I wanted to appear (or not appear) to friends, family, colleagues, and total strangers around me – The general theme being that I didn’t want to stick out like a sore thumb or look ‘disabled’.
I avoided adopting any kind of aid throughout my teenage years and early twenties, despite the constant efforts of my mum to get me to use things that would “make life easier”. She would bring home some hideous looking contraptions and plead with me to give them a go. Begrudgingly, I’d use them for a couple of days and then ‘lose them’ at the back of my wardrobe.
It wasn’t until I properly left home that I realised that asking my friends or (even worse) colleagues to put my socks on for me, or pick something up from the floor wasn’t very normal. I was dependent on others to help me with everyday tasks, which meant that I was drawing attention to my disability.
My house isn’t full of contraptions but I do have a few gadgets that make life easier. I am always on the look out for stuff that will help make my life easier. I also have particular appreciation of mainstream products that have not been made specifically for disabled people, but due to great design they have (perhaps accidentally) incredible accessibility benefits, for example, I have recently bought the new hand held Dyson vacuum cleaner, which is excellent if you, like me, are unable to drag a heavy cylinder vacuum around the house. Another advantage of the Dyson is that my husband loves it so much that he actually offers to vacuum the house!
In fact many of my so-called ’gadgets’ are simply well designed household items with accessibility benefits, such as;
My electric tin opener – just pop it on the tin, press the button and off it goes
WeMo – An app that I use to turn the lights on and off, using my iPhone. It can also be used remotely, and to set up activation timers, which is useful if you don’t like coming home to a dark house or want your house to look lived-in if your on holiday.
Another very useful app that I’m looking into is Hive Active Heating by British Gas. Again, using your mobile you can control your central heating thermostat and timer.
George – Although I’d never describe my dog as a gadget, I did get a dog because of my Arthritis. As anyone with Arthritis will know, moving is a necessary evil. I would happily lie in bed all day or sit watching TV but that wouldn’t do me any favours so I bought George to make me walk. This routine has made a big difference to my physical fitness.
George’s bowls – I found this at my local garden centre. The bowl has a high edge so that I can put it down and pick it up easily without spilling its content or having to bend down too far.
Dog poo grabber – a handy gadget my husband found in a pet shop but they’re also available from Amazon. Folds up to fit into my bag and means I don’t have to bend down very far.
Panoramic rear view mirror – Many a passenger in my car has commented on how great this mirror is. Essential if you can’t turn your head to look over your shoulder when reversing or turning.
The usual suspects:
I also have several of the more common, not so cool, aids including an extra long shoehorn, a sock aid, a grabber, jar opener and a good grip potato peeler. Despite their more obvious role as an aid for someone with disabilities, they are essential; enabling me to carry out life’s more mundane tasks quickly and easily, so that I can get on with my day without the stress of frustration of feeling disabled.