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Liverpool Mi Smarthouse

Liverpool Mi Smarthouse

Mi Smarthouse Kitchen Area

Mi Smarthouse Kitchen Area

At the Museum of Liverpool there’s a small, unassuming exhibition which looks like the recreation of a normal house. When you get inside you realise it has been setup with every possible gadget and gizmo to support independence. The Mi Smarthouse is a project put together by More Independent (Mi).

More Independent is a Government-funded initiative that is being piloted across four UK regions. As there website says the scheme exists to:

  • enable you to take charge of your health, wellbeing and lifestyle
  • use technology to allow you to feel safer and live more independently in your own home
  • give peace of mind to yourself and your family
  • reduce the amount of time you have to spend on appointments, by supporting you to manage better at home

The Mi Smarthouse at the museum is kitted out with a wide range of equipment covering all the key areas of the home. Here we’re taking a look at some of the gadgets they’ve highlighted and used in their perfect, accessible home.

General

These gadgets could be useful at any place in your home and can make it feel more safe and secure.

Fall Detector

Fall Detector

Fall Detector

A fall detector can be worn around your neck and it connected to a system which will alert your carer if you do fall even if they’re not on the premises.

Large Buttons Picture Telephone

Phone keypads can be hard to use and it can also be difficult to remember phone numbers. This phone has spaces for photographs of those people you call regularly as well as large, clear numbers for when you need to dial out.

Home Safety Alert

The Mi Smarthouse has a bonus caller panic button installed by the front door, giving the residents the chance to press the button if anyone arrives at the door who they’re not comfortable with. Similar home safety alarm system can be found elsewhere too.

Supra KeySafe

Supra KeySafe

Supra KeySafe

The Supra KeySafe is the UK’s first police approved key safe and is the perfect place to store your emergency keys. You choose a combination number and you can share this number only with somebody you trust implicitly.

Carbon Monoxide Sensor

Carbon monoxide can kill. It’s odourless and can’t be seen so the only way to sense it before it is too late is with a dedicated carbon monoxide sensor. Sensors can be easily installed and can save your life.

Fingerprint Lock

A fingerprint lock is a great option if you struggle with keys. You can add the details of your carer and friends as authorised ‘pad-pressers’ so they can get in and out with ease when necessary too.

Kitchen

We’ve talked regularly about the importance of gadgets to make access to the kitchen easier. It’s potentially a dangerous environment so anything to make it less so is a good invention in our book. In the Mi Smarthouse they demonstrated a range of kitchen-specific gadgets.

Talking Microwave

The controls on a microwave oven can be difficult if you have difficulties with your vision or dexterity. A Talking Microwave Oven can help guide you to the buttons you need and it will also tell you when the door is open or closed and let you know whether the food needs stirring or left to stand.

Induction Hob

An induction hob only cooks the pot upon it. There is next to no danger of being burned by it and they’re becoming a common installation in supported living environments to aid independence. This type of hob is also energy efficient and reaches top temperatures in record time. In the Mi House the hob was fitted but they can also be bought as separate electric units .

One cup Kettle

one-cup_kettleWe’ve talked before about how useful the one cup kettle can be. Never worry about spilling boiling water as the kettle will dispense the exact amount you need with the simple pressing of a button.

Entertainment and Living Area

Many of these items listed below could be used all around the house but are most useful when you’re relaxing in front of the TV or lounging on the sofa.

Big Switch and Remote

Big Switch Remote

Big Switch Remote

A Remote Control Big Switch can be positioned wherever you need it to avoid bending to switch off items which have plug sockets uncomfortably out of reach. The big switch can be used with any electrical appliance in the home.

Voice Recorder Switches

If speech has always been or is becoming difficult then these small voice recorder switches can be used to record key phrases. They can have messages such as ‘I’m hungry’ or ‘I want to go home’ ready recorded for when you’re home or out and about when speech has become difficult.

Chair Occupancy Alert

This item is extremely useful if you have an outside care team supporting you as it allows them to monitor the time spent out of your chair. If it seems exceptionally long they may phone you or come around the check everything is OK.

Big Jack Controller

Big Jack Multi-Controller

Big Jack Multi-Controller

The Big Jack can replace all your smaller, fiddly remotes and switches. It can be programmes for a whole range of jobs and can be used to change channels on the TV, switch off lights and even use the telephone.

Personal Care

The personal care element of the home is the most private. Both the bedroom and bathroom are places where you want to maintain as much independence as possible and some of these gadgets are designed to guarantee this as well as ensure you can get the help you need, when you need it.

Epilepsy Sensor

Epilepsy Sensor

Epilepsy Sensor

Living with any form of epilepsy or convulsions can be extremely frightening – especially if you’re alone when one occurs. This epilepsy sensor will alert an outdoor care team if a seizure is taking place, allowing them to provide the right support ASAP.

Enuresis Sensor

Enuresis Sensor

Enuresis Sensor

Designed to fit comfortable under the top sheet, an enuresis sensor will alert your carer to the fight signs of dampness whilst in bed – ensuring you’re not left uncomfortable for a long period of time. We have looked at these aids previously for helping children but they can be equally useful later in life.

Flood Detector

A flood detector will guarantee you never forget about another bath. It’s very easy to forget the bath is running but with the installation of a simple detector, it will be safe and you can avoid the risks of damage to your home and the even higher risk of slipping.

The Mi Smarthouse in Liverpool is one of the first examples of how all this technology can come together and successfully be used to help people remain in their own homes independently. You can take a virtual tour of the Smarthouse here. We recently visited the £D printing exhibition at the London Science Museum and will cover the potential benefits in a future post.

Greeper Laces featured in Your Autism Magazine

Greepers featured in Your Autism Magazine

An endorsement of Greepers shoelaces has appeared in Your Autism Magazine. A brand new review of a top product for children with autism.

austism_magazine_02

Your Autism Magazine

At Living with Disability we have some products we consider our absolute favourites. One of these is Greepers shoelaces. This innovative product range should be celebrated and that’s why we’re glad to see them featured in Your Autism Magazine. We believe in this product and we’re glad to see others do.

Greeper Shoelaces for Autism

Greepers Laces Review

Greepers Laces Review

Your Autism Magazine is the quarterly publication of The National Autistic Society for their members. Their latest issue includes a fantastic, helpful review of Greepers. We firmly agree they are a great investment for children and even adults living with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Your Autimsn Magazine’s review shows off the funky red Greepers Laces but the range is much wider than that. All colours from black to purple to neon green are available. Wearers can match their laces to their personality or simply choose those that complement their outfit best.

The review in the magazine highlights how beneficial Greepers can be for children with autism. It explains that, “one parent said,these laces are absolutely invaluable, especially as my son – who has autism – gets older. They mean we can choose any shoes he likes and can be confident that he can manage them.”

The review also says “Greeper is a special type of shoelace, it looks like a regular bow-type shoelace, but will never come undone. The laces are threaded through a central aperture with four stoppers positioned in strategic places. They can easily be loosened or tightened by the wearer or their parents”.

With glowing reviews it’s clear that Greepers are on the up. Hopefully this feature in Your Autism Magazine will further their uptake and widen their appeal.

Benefits of Greepers for Children

austism_magazine_01

Greepers Laces Full Page

Greepers Laces can be great for children who have difficulty getting to grips with regular laces. They appear identical so there’s no stigma and they give children with disabilities much-needed independence when choosing footwear.

Greepers are universal as the parent above said, they can be used with any shoes of your choosing. They’re also a great solution for children who have that annoying habit of repeatedly untying their shoes. With Greepers it simply isn’t possible.

Your morning routine rush will be halved as the stress of shoelaces is removed. They are a better option than Velcro or elastic-laced shoes as the level of support is much better. We’ve looked previously at the differences between Greepers and Elastic Laces and it is pretty clear which comes out on top.

We’re always pleased when one of our favourite brands receives media coverage. Therefore we are really happy for Greepers and their appearance in Your Autism Magazine.

These are fantastic I bought them for my son who is partially sighted and has Asperger’s syndrome so getting dressed can be tricky for him but tying laces impossible! Now I have found these he had more choice for shoes and trainers and these were for his beloved boots he wears to Uni all through the winter! Fantastic invention thank-you x

Recent feedback for Greepers Hikers Laces.

Inventor of Greeper Laces gets Facebook Feedback for how useful they are for children

Peter Greedy who originally invented Greepers for his own children, gets regular feedback from parents with children with autism.

Just got this note from a customer... "I just want to say that the product is a god send, I have ordered them for my son who has Autism and just can not get the hang of tying shoes laces. As he is tall for his age, he is now in Adult shoes sizes, even though he is primary school. I have been unable to find velcro PE trainers in his size and these laces now mean he will be able to do his own shoes at PE time, without the other children noticing he can not do his laces and he will now not need to have an adult help." Love it!

 

Having just posted the note below ,within about 10 mins I also got this note... "ps Just noticed your job title - fantastic invention - so thank you on behalf of all those like my son who have impaired motor skills and can't tie laces!" Feeling very appreciated!

Two customers giving great feedback today... "ps Just noticed your job title - fantastic invention - so thank you on behalf of all those like my son who have impaired motor skills and can't tie laces! "I just want to say that the product is a god send, I have ordered them for my son who has Autism and just can not get the hang of tying shoes laces. As he is tall for his age, he is now in Adult shoes sizes, even though he is primary school. I have been unable to find velcro PE trainers in his size and these laces now mean he will be able to do his own shoes at PE time, without the other children noticing he can not do his laces and he will now not need to have an adult help."

 

The wider appeal of Greeper Laces

As we have said before, the great thing about Greepers is that they are also used by top sports people, so children can emulate their heroes too! This month also saw Greepers worn by Lucy Gossage winning Ironman UK in a pair of purple ones! This is such a fab pic we had to share it here!

Athlete Lucy Gossage celebrates the winning of the Ironman UK competiton.

Lucy Gossage winning Ironman UK wearing a pair of purple greeper laces!

UPDATE: Greepers Still in the Lead Triathlon 220 Magazine

As we mentioned above, Greepers are the best laces for athletes and have just been recommended again in the 220 Triathlon Magazine’s new edition (April 2014). They have a feature “Race Day Kit” essentials and Greeper Laces are one of the chosen products and given the top rating and the award BEST ON TEST.

laces shown with toggle that keeps them tight

Greeper Laces in Triathalon 220 Magazine

'Race day kit' showing vairous products for triathletes

Greeper Review BEST on TEST feature in Triathalon 220 magazine

The review reads:

“We’ve tested Greeper Laces before and, despite fierce competition from French outfit Xtenex and their bobbly efforts, in our eyes – and on our feet – the UK product continues to lead the way.For those new to tri or 220, the traditional lacing system is replaced with a brilliant mechanism that requires no tying. Simply guide the Greeper through eyelets in reverse before clamping in place at the toe end via a miniature plastic connector. Back at the tongue end the ingenious toggle requires a gentle tug of its protruding loops to tighten. Pull the toggle to ease pressure.
Sprinkling your shoe with talc and a modicum of practice will have you T2-ing faster than ever before. But, more importantly, your foot feels secure – unlike other systems that can leave your foot slipping about like Bambi on ice.
Verdict: Still the leader of the triathlon lacing pack. 93%.”

Essential Items: The RADAR Key is being relaunched

UPDATE

The new key has been revealed. It is not electronic and will still be compatible with existing locks but has an improved grip made of silicon. It also has embedded braille symbols.

* New Tactile Covering for improved sensory grip
* Easy Turn Bow shape
* Embossed with International Disability Logo
* NKI markings – National Key Scheme Identification to show genuine key
* Loop for Key Ring
* Braille for Visual Impaired Users
* Strong Red Colour for easy and quick identification on a key ring!

 

red covered key with improved grip for RADAR toilets

The New NKS key

 

UPDATE! CORRECTION, The RED KEY is not a RADAR key after all!

Just received this email from Tom at RADAR.

The red plastic headed key that you show on  is not a Radar key at all.
It is an inferior Chinese knock off, poorly manufactured, poorly cut and with sharp edges to boot -everything that you would expect of a cheap Chinese knock off.
Despite being refused permission for many good reasons, they shamelessly tried launching it as a Radar key-until they were instantly forced to remove from their showstand, all literature and signage which described it as a Radar key.
Please inform sales@radarkeys.org of anyone trying to sell it as a “Radar key”.
The new Radar key is still under development.
Unless it says Radar on it, it isn’t!
Genuine Radar keys genuinely open all the locks.

We still have stocks of the Genuine keys at a market leading price including postage of £4.95

Click below to buy:

 

Click here for a Small head, easy to carry, official RADAR key, £4.95 inc P & P
 Click here for a Large head, easy to turn, official RADAR key £4.95 inc P & P

 

Buy with confidence: call 0800 567 7812 for questions.

 

RADAR Key to be relaunched

The RADAR key scheme has just been reviewed on the BBC ouch blog. It also subtly mentions that RADAR key is getting a relaunch this year (2013). The RADAR key scheme is administered by Disability Rights UK (formed through the merger of Disability Alliance, National Centre for Independent Living (NCIL) and The Royal Association for Disability Rights – Radar). There are few details yet on their website about what the relaunch entails. The reasons cited are the number of fake keys on the market. The RADAR key is obviously a good income source for the charity, and every fake key means they are losing revenue with which to advertise and  administer the scheme. There is also the frustration and bad publicity for the scheme when someone finds they have been sold a fake key that does not work. If you look on ebay, Amazon or google you can find many fake keys. There are even unscrupulous online retailers who sell them, without always making it obvious in the listing that they are not selling genuine RADAR keys. Some people choose to buy the fakes because they are £2-3 cheaper, but personally it does not seem worth taking the risk!

Electronic RADAR keys

Electronic RADAR key

An electronic entry fob. Could this be the future of the RADAR key?

A key that could not be faked would be welcomed. If the key is to be relaunched with a more complicated mechanism or one that is harder to copy, I would guess that it will have some sort of electronic element to it. Any change to the key itself would mean the locks would have to be changed on 9000 toilets and that would cause uproar for the many cash strapped disability organisations, businesses and Councils that own the toilets.

I think they will introduce some sort of ‘disability oyster card’ or an electronic entry fob to supplement the existing key. An electronic pass card or key fob that will work on all new toilets, The mechanism could be retro fitted to existing toilets as and when they are refurbished. This would mean that existing users can still use the keys they have in most toilets and a card or ‘disability key fob’ would be reasonably cheap to produce. I doubt they will distribute them free to existing owners though, they are probably hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions in circulation.

Easier to Use – A more ‘Accessible’ RADAR Key!

The old keys are quite big and heavy. They are difficult to turn for people with arthritis or poor grip. The existing locks being frequently used and having secure 5-lever mortice locks, can get very stiff to turn. The large headed keys have helped a bit with this but an almost ‘contactless’ key would obviously be a huge improvement for accessibility. I assume the ideal would be to have the new electronic RADAR key electrically open the existing locks so that people who only have old keys could still use them. Perhaps they will operate a tandem scheme for a number of years until the old locks are all gone replaced.

How exactly will the new scheme work and what about existing key owners?

How the new scheme and keys will work for new and existing key owners needs to made clear as soon as possible as it leaves a lot of uncertainty for people who want to buy a key now, or for retailers like myself who have purchased them for sale. I will update this blog as soon as I know more. If you have any ideas or insider knowledge (!) please leave a comment below the post.

 

For more information about the existing scheme and to buy a key, read on:

Essential Items: The RADAR Key

For access to disabled toilets carry a RADAR key at all times. This handy key unlocks 9,000 wheelchair and disability toilets nationwide.

There are some items that you need when you’re out and about and they become an essential item to keep about your person at all times. To aid independence and keep yourself to yourself whilst out and about, a RADAR Key can be a great little investment.

This tweeter agrees that the RADAR key is a great disability gadget:

#DisabilityGadgets RADAR key, collapsible motorised scooter, laptop, qwerty keyboard phone, hugs.
@Becca_Boot
Rebecca Boot

What is RADAR Key?

RADAR Key

A RADAR Key is a specifically designed key which fits the majority of locks for disabled toilets around most city and town centres. Statistics suggest you should have access to over 9,000 locked public and disabled toilets around the country and with your own RADAR key, you can avoid the inconvenience of finding someone to unlock the door for you. You can access locked toilets immediately. It’s easy to appreciate that having to ask permission to use the public toilet can feel embarrassing and so, with your own RADAR key, this will not have to happen in many of the places you may visit on a regular basis.

Why lock a public toilet with a RADAR key?

 

As many disabled people will have experienced, disabled toilets are often used by ignorant members of the public who have no idea of the need to keep them free for people who need them. Even Ian Duncan Smith MP was caught out in this way! They can be used for drugs, people sleeping rough, ‘liasons’ and all manner of other activities if not kept locked! As this comment on the linked blog above states “For many of us waiting outside the door of the disabled toilet, because some oaf thinks his convenience comes first, means acute pain, while many more of us have almost no warning of needing to use the toilet. Disabled toilets are not simply there for our convenience when the ladies or gents are inaccessible, they are there to meet the often urgent needs of our disabilities. They are not there for you to abuse because you lack any sense of personal responsibility.”

Finding a RADAR Key holder

Unfortunately it can extremely demeaning to have to ask for the staff to get you a key and walk with you to the bathroom, especially as in many establishments they cannot hand the key over to you and therefore they may even wait outside for you to finish. This can make the whole experience quite embarrassing but with your own key, you can visit the bathroom at your own leisure and not feel restricted. The same can be applied to shopping trips, visits to public parks and attractions, so that there is no need to track down a key holder or wait until you get home, you can avoid that discomfort by having personal access via your key.

Avoid Fake RADAR keys

There are many fake keys for sale that do not have the engraved RADAR words on the key handle. We must advise you not to buy a fake RADAR key. Most are only 2 lever locks that may not fit all toilets. For the peace of mind and a small amount of money you should only buy official RADAR keys. These are 5 level mortice locks and are guaranteed to fit all disabled toilet locks across the country. Also the money raised from fake keys does not help RADAR publicise and support the scheme. It is not worth saving £2 if you can’t spend a penny!

RADAR keys can be purchased on Amazon clicking the link above. We now have a limited number of RADAR Keys that we can sell to you directly at a market leading price of £4.95 including P + P

 

Click here for a Small head, easy to carry, official RADAR key, £4.95 inc P & P
 Click here for a Large head, easy to turn, official RADAR key £4.95 inc P & P

 

Buy with confidence: call 0800 567 7812 for questions. This website is owned by the award winning laptop bag company Trabasack