Friday 19 July 2013

Out and About - At the swings

There is nothing more fun in this hot weather than a visit to some swings according to E (having to push for over an hour I’m not so sure).

Many play parks have a basket swing which they deem as inclusive for all.  E agrees that she enjoys these swings and can share them with some others.  I don’t like them so much.  They feel a bit unsafe, are difficult to lift her in and out of and don’t really give the same experience and benefits of an upright swing.

The alternative that I have seen in a few places in an upright seated swing made by SMP .  This is similar to a special needs swing that you may get for your own garden.  In this type of swing, E can use her standing transfer skills to get in and out, gets a full swinging experience, is able to feel her body in space and has to work on her head and trunk control.
 I’ve spoken to a few park departments who acknowledge that these swings are inclusive for all but there are a number of factors that are stopping their widespread use.  Firstly they are more prone to vandalism as they have a bigger area to damage and also in some cases they cannot share a swing frame with another swing.  They also require a harness for safe use.
 All that said there are a number of them out there.  I’m still waiting to hear back from a number of councils but so far the list is:

  • North Queensferry, Fife.  Top play park.  There is no harness available but you can buy your own from SMP
  •  Edinburgh.  Magnet Play area at the Meadows.  There are two here but I am not aware of any harness.
  • Monifieth, Angus.  Blueseaway Play Area.  There are two harnesses available from the sports centre.
  • Forfar, Angus.  Lochside play park.  There is a harness available from the toilets.
  • Cumbernauld. Palacerigg Country Park.
  • North Berwick.  

I am putting together a more comprehensive list of accessible play park equipment, but in the meantime please add any you know about  either on the blog or the facebook page.

Monday 15 July 2013

Low Tech Communication Approaches – Part 2

As I’m sure with all communication devices, there are occasions when it is not always possible or appropriate for E to use it.  For these situations, a low tech alternative that matches her communication style and skills is required.

As I have mentioned before, E is going into P6 after the holidays and so is able to read and write with confidence.  When using her communication device, she now chooses to use the keyboard and predictive text option rather than pre-programmed words.   So without her device, we needed something that would also let her do this and so E and I developed a way of spelling out words using a combination of her signs and my predictive text.  This works well for us but is quite inaccessible if you do not know her well.  To get round this we are currently trialling a low tech replacement created for us by the local communication team FACCT. 

Letters and colours
In use

This is a two sided grid with the same information on both sides.  E uses eye gaze to first select a colour box and then letter box.  The letter she wants is the colour just picked.  It is a fantastic quick replacement which makes communication possible when the device is not around.

When E was younger this spelling based option was not appropriate.  To ensure she could communication without her device ,she had a communication passport   This gave some key information about her, explained how she communicated and contained both pictures of her signs with their meaning together with some paper copies of key grids from her communication device.  Again this was developed in conjunction with  FACCT.  To use this, I would mimic the scanning process by pointing first to rows and then the columns within the selected row.

Friday 12 July 2013

Out and About

With the school holidays upon us we are travelling further afield and looking for many different things to do.  This is the first of a series of posts on making being out easier or just having fun.


I’m sure we’ve all been there “mum I need a wee” while in a place you don’t know  or travelling to somewhere.  I’ll admit I do little in the way of forward planning for such eventualities but I think there is benefit in knowing where to find  the nearest disabled toilet.  

  • RADAR Key
We got this for travelling as its use is more prevalent away from our local area.  You can purchase one from the RADAR SHOP   They also have an app to help you locate these

  • Changing Places Toilets

For toilets that meet the needs of all with disabilities, PAMIS have a leaflet detailing  all the locations in Scotland .  Also CLOS-O-MAT has a map covering the whole of the UK .  And the Changing Places  website has a really handy post-code search tool. 

  • London

Now it really needs a list all of its own.  The volunteers in London last year were using an app to find disabled toilets for people.  The first time it directed us to a disabled toilet within a COSTA store and we had no difficulties using it without buying anything.  There are now a few available in the app store, Inclusive London  and London Access  being two with good feedback.

Sunday 7 July 2013

An Easy Drink – Part 3

Our final suggestion for independent drinking that  that we have found successful .  The Hydrant

The Hydrant is a sports bottle specifically designed to give those with limited mobility a way to be able to drink independently. 
It looks like an ordinary water bottle with an usual lid.  Not only does the lid contain an opening for a tube to go in, it also has a handle that allows it to be attached securely to any chair, as demonstrated with both a house chair and a wheelchair.  It's surprisingly stable and E has never knocked it off or pulled the tube out.

Once filled with water, E just needs to suck on the tube to get a drink.  It works really well as E brings it to her mouth using the same movement as her sign for drink and she can easily grab the tube.  For those less able to reach, it comes with a clip to attach the tube to clothing, keeping it close at hand.  

The tube and bite valve work in a similar manner to sports based hydration systems but also uses gravity to help the liquid flow and once it is in the tube, it only takes a small suck to get a drink.  We’ve had no problems at all with leakages, other when E spends time removing the bite valve for fun rather than drinking.

I contacted the people behind the Hydrant and they have kindly offered a few free for people to try (although they are really well priced).  If you would like one, please post a comment below asking to be included in the draw.  I’ll do a random selection  at 5 pm on Thursday  11 July and  post the winning names and get contact details then.