How will Amazon Echo help disabled people?

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo brings the digital assistant that most people have in their smartphones to their home and it makes a wide range of useful actions and activities much easier than before. From the perspective of disability, the Amazon Echo opens a whole new world of opportunities and can in fact may some day-to-day activities much more affordable than before. The devices and gadgets designed specifically for assistive and adaptive use are always expensive, but the Amazon Echo offers an affordable, versatile alternative.

The Amazon Echo or the newer version, the Echo Dot is a small yet effective device for managing your home and your lifestyle. It is voice activated and designed to do practically anything you can ask. To activate the Echo you need to activate Alexa, and sentences starting with ‘Alexa’ are instantly picked up by the clever device. From ordering groceries (from Amazon) to playing music and audiobooks, the Echo has many basic functions but it can be used in many more effective and potentially life changing ways too.

Amazon Echo and Environmental Controls

The Amazon Echo Dot

The newer Amazon Echo Dot

Living with disabilities may mean you have many adapted accessories and gadgets in your home. Very expensive gadgets have been created for individual tasks such as opening the curtains. Instead of investing in these Environmental Control devices, the Echo has the ability to connect with The Internet of Things.

Certain devices pair up with the Amazon Echo with ease and the list of items which pair is growing by the day. You can team the Echo with Philips Hue lights, the Nest thermostat and other household items such as specific brands of Wi-Fi speaker. In fact, if you fit a Wi-Fi-enabled switchbox, or get someone to do it for you, you can control any electrical device in your home.

It isn’t a replacement for a smartphone or computer but it can handle many everyday tasks and it becomes smarter by the day as developers look for new ways to make more from it.

Amazon Echo Skills

To further enhance your Echo experience, the creators regularly launch new ‘Skills’ for Alexa. These skills are like mini apps which allow you to give even more abilities to Alexa. Skills such as ‘the National Rail skill’ will let you plan journeys and find out about any rail delays. There are hundreds of Skills to explore which can again, make life easier and planning getting out and about less of a struggle.

Amazon Echo and Your Voice

There have been concerns over whether the Amazon Echo may struggle with artificial voices and synthetic speech but tests so far suggest Alexa has no problem understanding most commands from most voices. Using a communication aid should not limit what anyone can do with their Echo.

Affordable, Universal Design

The Amazon Echo offers an affordable alternative to the expensive assistive technologies usually available. It may not have been designed with disabled people in mind but the Amazon Echo is highly versatile and can bring real independence and ease to many people’s lives. Like the iPad it may be another disruptive technology that shakes up established healthcare companies that have been creating environmental control systems.

This video review gives a good overview of what the Echo can do and how it can become a key accessory in your home:

Zec Reviews – Trabasack Mini Connect

The following is a wonderful review of the Trabasack Mini Connect, kindly written for us by fellow blogger Zec.

Zec has been a wheelchair user for a number of years, and we’re glad to say that his Trabasack Mini Connect seems to have provided the perfect perch for his tablet computer whilst not only out-and-about, but at home, too!

Please read on for Zec’s review and you will find further info about his blog at the end.

I have on my lap a bag/tray called a Trabasack© that was sent to me to try and review, I always review honestly. I have seen a Trabasack on Facebook and Twitter before but and here is a confession, I thought it’s something I wouldn’t need as I thought it might be for someone who has higher needs than me.

Photographic overview of the Trabasack Mini Connect in its packaging, which lists the benefits and features of the lap tray bag

A brand new Trabasack Mini Connect in packaging – ready to be tried and tested!

The one I have on my lap is the Mini Connect, it’s the smaller of the two that I was sent but I have immediately decided it’s my favourite.

It’s about 14 by 10 inches with two very sturdy fabric carry handles; on one side is a flat tray that is covered with a fabric that the hook side of Velcro will attach to. A zip with a double open zip with rings attached to the zipper that allow very easy opening even if you have poor grip, manual dexterity and arthritic hands would be able to open it easily.

Inside a zipped pocket contains a bean bag that allows the bag to mould to your legs, this means it’s not only very comfortable and this is important because my legs are very sensitive, it also means the bag is level on your lap. I use a Sony Xperia Z tablet because a laptop hurts my legs; I spend a lot of time laid in bed or on the settee and the tablet is ideal.

Photograph shows the back of a white tablet computer case, with two parallel strips of black adhesive hook tape on the back.

Securing items such as tablet computers or iPads to the surface of the Mini Connect is quick and easy, using our adhesive velcro tape.

Now that I have the Trabasack Mini Connect it’s even better, I used a pack of Trabasack Hook sticking tape, a pack contains four 2.5 x 30cm pieces and I used two pieces on my tablet case and attached it to the tray, in hindsight one piece cut into two would have been adequate because it is more than secure. I’m laid slightly to one side but the Mini Connect is still sat straight and secure, inside I have my meds for today and my mobile phone, although there is room for it on the tray and that is what I have just done now I have thought of it.

I keep my glasses secure when not wearing them by sliding an arm through one of the D rings. Laid in bed the tablet can sit on the Trabasack on my stomach or on the quilt and doesn’t slip and slide about. I have hung the Trabasack on the back of my wheelchair next to the settee to watch a film and there must be many more ways that I haven’t used yet. It is also ideal for when I have an outpatient appointment; I take my tablet along to pass the time because quite often it’s a long wait.

Now I’m not a slim person, some may even go as far as to say I had a big belly and I guess they are right. So sat in my wheelchair, my lap space is at a premium, having the tablet on my lap is awkward and I have to make sure I hold it, in between I have to put it in my rucksack on the back of my wheelchair and its almost asking for someone to steal it, but now it can sit on my lap secure and I can put it inside the Trabasack when I’m finished and know it’s in sight and safe.

Photograph of a tablet computer and iPhone attached to the tray surface of the Trabasack Mini Connect wheelchair tray bag

Here Zec’s phone and tablet computer sit safe and secure upon the tray surface of the Mini Connect.

I have had the Trabasack Mini Connect for a good few weeks, my tablet is always attached to the front and when I am not using it, I just flip the tablet case closed and it stays there. All I do when I want it is to pick up the Mini connect by the handles and onto my lap and open the tablet, it then sits on my lap so naturally, it even sits on one leg without a balance problem. Yesterday I took the tablet off of the Trabasack for the first time and honestly I didn’t like it and put it straight back on, it’s perfect and my in-laws were talking about getting one for their iPads.

The Trabasack can be carried by the handles, over one shoulder with one strap or worn like a rucksack. In a wheelchair a strap can go around your waist (unless you are a biscuit eater like me) or two side straps can attach to the wheelchair or buggy. I slide a strap around my thighs and it is secure. The thing is, the Trabasack Mini isn’t just handy because I have a disability, it would be useful on the train or in a car, its handy storage for a tablet or notebook and some extra items that you need to take along. The design is perfect and the optional media mount attachment can be used to hold an ipad, tablet or kindle at the right angle or wrapped to hold a bottle in place.

All in all a great product that serves as a bag and a surface to work on and connect your tech.

Thanks again Zec for such a fantastic and positive review of the Trabasack Mini Connect! If you’d like to read more about Zec, please visit his blog “Sat on My Butt” for lots of insightful life stories, and his journey living with chronic pain.

New Greeper Thomas the Tank Engine Laces

Greeper Thoman the Tank Engine Laces

Greeper Laces and The National Autistic Society have teamed up to offer Thomas the Tank Engine Laces

Greeper Laces have recently launched a new collection of Thomas the Tank Engine laces to appeal to young fans of the hugely popular TV and book character. These new Thomas the Tank Engine Laces use  the same technology as all other products in their range but have the added bonus of raising money for charity and appealing even more to young wearers of Greepers.

The new Greeper Laces have been launched with The National Autistic Society and their launch coincides with the 70th birthday of the popular engine, who is a big hit with young children around the UK and beyond. Each pair of Greeper Thomas the Tank Engine Laces raises money for the National Autistic Society. They are popular with parents of children with Autistic Spectrum disorder but many other people too, as they offer independence to children with a range of motor disabilities.

Greeper Laces have previously featured in Your Autism Magazine and have a great relationship with the National Autistic Society so supporting their work through a new product is a positive move forward.

 Thomas the Tank Engine and Autism Spectrum Disorder

Thomas the Tank Engine Laces

Thomas The Tank Engine is 70

Research from the National Autistic Society, via a survey in 2001, found evidence to suggest the perceived ‘special relationship’ those with autism spectrum disorder have with Thomas the Tank Engine is common. It found that people with autism spectrum disorders relate more closely to Thomas than other characters. The research found that 57% children on the autism spectrum related to Thomas before any other children’s character.

With this in mind it is with great timing and due to research and understanding that Greeper made the move to launch their Thomas the Tank Engine laces.

Greeper Thomas the Tank Engine Laces

Greeper Thomas the Tank Engine Laces

Greeper Thomas the Tank Engine Laces

The Greeper Thomas the Tank Engine Laces are designed to provide a fun and appealing option for younger children. They work in the same way as regular Greeper laces. Once they are applied to the shoes, they never come undone and they have the appearance of regularly tied laces. They remove the need to always choose Velcro shoes, which can feel babyish and awkward for children as they get older.

Each pair of Thomas the Tank Engine laces is black and they measures 100cm, making them suitable for up to six pairs of eyelets in children’s shoe sizes. They feature a Thomas the Tank Engine toggle at the point laces would naturally be tied and ensures they are instantly recognisable for fans of the popular train.

How do Greeper Laces work?

Greeper Laces are designed to provide a no-nonsense way of wearing shoes that require laces, with no need to tie them by hand. They are designed to be easy to loosen or tighten without untying them or needing to fiddle with their design. This video from shows exactly how they are fitted:

Once in place there is no need to mess with the fitting and as the video shows, they can be tightened and loosened via the attached toggle, which in the case of the new special edition Thomas the Tank laces, features the little Thomas charm.

Who wears Greeper Laces?

Greeper Laces for Triathletes

Greeper Laces for Triathletes

As mentioned Greeper Laces are a great choice for anybody who has difficulties with their fine or gross motor skills but they are also worn by triathletes, and have received a Best Triathlon Laces Award by 220 Triathlon Magazine. Consumers voted for Greepers as the best choice due to the strength, their polyester construction and their innovative locking system.

Greeper Laces come in a wide range of different styles and colours to ensure there is a pair for everybody. There are specific sports and hikers laces as well as those designed for everyday wear. They come in both flat and regular styles to ensure the range provides something for every individual who needs or wants to wear them.

Greeper even provide the Greeper Assist. This allows for one-handed adjustment, ideal for individuals with a weaker side or with one hand. The products have been designed with the aim of providing an easy to wear and adjust solution. It means people can stop relying on others or only wearing Velcro shoes. Greepers allow people to choose their own shoes and not have to think about making sure they only choose the ones that are easiest to wear, without thinking about personal style preferences.

Thomas the Tank Engine Laces Available Now

Greeper laces with a thomas tank engine toggle

The new, limited edition Thomas the Tank Engine Greeper Laces are available now, Their fun design is bound to be popular with children up and down the country, as a chance to enjoy their favourite character and celebrate his 70th birthday, whilst also supporting the National Autistic Society.

Buy now! We have 50 pairs of these special laces. Postage to UK only.


How many pairs?



Buy with confidence, this site is owned by Trabasack. Postage will be by Royal Mail 1st class within 2 working days.