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Accessibility Aids: Easy Ways to be More Independent

By Catalog Editor Staff

If you have any sort of disability, you may be facing limitations in mobility. Thankfully, whether you’re looking for modifications to your home or office space, or need an assistive device for movement, accessibility aids can help.

It’s important for those who don’t know much about independent living aids to understand what they are and how they might benefit from them. This piece discusses the top 10 accessibility aids and important things to consider when purchasing them.

What are Accessibility Aids?

Accessibility aids are independent living adaptations that help individuals who have physical or cognitive disabilities.

These can decrease the risk of accidents and increase safety in public spaces. They also improve one’s quality of life by allowing for more independence.

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The devices come in various types, including mobility aids, independent living aids for the home, and healthcare equipment.

Top 10 Accessibility Aids to Make Life Easier For You

There are many different types of independent living adaptive equipment on the market today. However, these ten accessibility aids stand out from the crowd, offering a wide range of benefits at an affordable price.

1. Wheelchair tray

Wheelchair trays are designed to help individuals move from their wheelchair into another seating surface. This allows users extra space when sitting beside other people in chairs at tables or desks.

You can also place items on the trays while you sit on a chair. They can be attached to either side of most wheelchairs.

• Features

These accessibility devices come with a built-in cup holder. It is durable and can support up to 35 pounds of weight, making it functional for anyone. The tray attaches to the wheelchair with Velcro straps that are included with each purchase.

ProsCons
Push-trays make it far easier to eat and drink.  They may require sitting at a distance at the table.  
They are great for those with a limited range of motion in their arms or shoulders.  May require assistance to attach and detatch

• Price

The price ranges from $30 – $75, depending on where you purchase it and if additional shipping charges apply.

2. Mobility scooters

Mobility scooters help those with physical disabilities get around with minimal effort. Users who have trouble walking or have completely lost the use of their legs often find them invaluable.

• Features

Mobility scooters come in various sizes, so you can choose one that will fits specific needs. Furthermore, they provide storage space underneath. Some of them can be folded up when needed.

They also have large tires, so riders can go over uneven terrain without worrying about getting stuck or tipping over their device.

ProsCons
Drastically increases ease of mobility.In some cases, these can be expensive.
Improves mood, attitude and boosts energy levels.Occasionally their ease of use can decress the incentive for exercise and physical activity.
Can use customized, attachable add-onsAccess to some buildings and cars can require extra effort.
Note that some mobility chairs require a license for use. While this does require some effort to get, at least in many cases it helps prevent accidents with pedestrians and vehicles on public roads.

• Price

The price can range from $300 – $2000.

3. Stairlift

This handicap aid allows disabled individuals to move up and down a flight of stairs easily. It’s convenient as it does not require any complex installation.

• Features

Stairlifts feature an armrest, footplate, and safety railings with head cushioning.

They are powered by electricity or can be manually operated. They have the look of a chair on sidetracks and move as you shift your weight forward or backward, in most cases, while sitting down.

The device also comes equipped with multiple speed settings, depending on how quickly you need to move from one floor to another. Some models even contain heaters for cold days!

ProsCons
Easy access to multiple floors for those who have difficulty ascending and descending the stairs alone.  Some people feel embarrassed about using one. In this case, however, it’s important not to let their opinions bother you, as they don’t understand what it feels like trying to maneuver the stairs safely.
Mitigates the risk of a potentially dangerous fall on the stairs.  The cost can be expensive for some.

• Price

The cost is between $12,000 and $19,000, both for the equipment and for installation.

4. Modular ramps

Modular ramps are extremely useful for people who have mobility issues. Unlike other handicap supplies, professionals can install these ramps quickly because they are not permanent structures.

Modular ramps are used for more than just daily life. They are often used before and after construction to allow people with disabilities access to their homes while the building is being completed.

• Features

These devices come with several features that make them the perfect daily living aid. They include a slip-resistant surface, secure handrails for support, and a durable design.

ProsCons
They are simple to install. Once you remove the ramp from its carry bag, you can open up the locks on each side and lock it into place.  They are not the most aesthetically pleasing disability equipment.  
The portable nature also allows these daily living aids to be used in multiple places.  They may be difficult for a handicapped individual to transport without assistance.
They won’t take up any extra space when not in use! So, you can use them without worrying about where you put them last time.   Some people prefer disability aids with a more traditional design that seamlessly blends into their surroundings.

• Price

Modular ramps can be purchased for $500 – $1000, depending on what you need.

5. Bath lift

Bath lifts are for seniors and individuals with disabilities who have difficulty getting up from the bathtub on their own.

• Features

Bath lifts are similar to wheelchair trays. However, it has arms that wrap around your body instead of resting on top.

Also, they come with a seatbelt for additional security.

ProsCons
Lends the possibility of safely entering and exiting bath thubs without assistance. It tends to be more expensive than other disability equipment.  

• Price

Aproximately $400 – $600 is enough to purchase a high-quality bath lift.

6. Adjustable bed

Adjustable beds are excellent options for those with a disability that prevents them from getting into or out of bed independently.

• Features

They feature adjustable heights and angles, so you can set them up just the way you want them. This ensures maximum comfortability while lying down. They also have an electric motor, which makes operating easier than having to adjust everything yourself manually.

Many models come with anti-decubitus mattresses and positioning belts that provide additional support for your bed. This helps prevent pressure ulcers from developing and is especially useful for people suffering from incontinence issues (urinary or bowel).

ProsCons
VersatilityHigher end models can be expensive.  
It can accommodate many different body weights (and heights too).  There’s the issue of perspiration build-up caused by lying still for extended periods.
Makes it easier for people who cannot move easily to do so. If you feel uncomfortable getting out of bed without assistance, this tool is for you.  
This device offers customization through massage controls, head or foot adjustment capabilities, etc.   

• Price

The price of adjustable beds varies greatly with the model and brand.

A quality queen-sized bed should range between $600 – $1000, while a king would be around $700 – $1500.

7. Chair lift

This device is a must-have for those having trouble getting out of a low bed or chair. A lift attaches to the side, bottom, back, or front of your existing piece of furniture. And it gently propels you up into an upright position without assistance.

• Features

Chair lifts come with features such as a swivel seat, allowing for a range of seating positions. Chair lifts are also designed with safety features to ensure that you are not injured when using them.

ProsCons
Ability to get into and out of chairs without assistance. If there is too much weight (over 300 pounds), they may break down quickly. And this could lead to injuries.  
Once you install it on a traditional recliner sofa, armchair, or even dining room chairs, most users can quickly get in and out by themselves.Some models require permanent floor installation, which is more expensive.

• Price

The price of chair lifts varies greatly. Generally, they can be bought for under $400 and installed in an hour or less.

8. Electric power chair

This is a type of power wheelchair that operates with the help of a joystick. People with limited mobility due to injury, disease, or age-related problems often find these to be life changing.

• Features

Electric wheelchair are powered by a rechargeable battery that either plugs into an electrical outlet or can be charged while you use it.

They have large wheels for greater maneuverability indoors and out, and they come in lightweight models if portability is essential.

You can drive electric wheelchairs with hand-operated controls or via head switches, mouth sticks, sip and puff devices, or joystick controls.

They also have adjustable seats. So, users of different heights can find a comfortable position. Some recline backrests adjust up to 80 degrees, making them great for napping.

ProsCons
Their electric motors are cost-efficient.  They cannot work for extended periods without being recharged. Users must keep track of battery life, especially when away from home.
High customizability in terms of control mechanisms. Some models are not foldable, which can make transporting them difficult.

• Price

Electric wheelchairs’ price ranges from $1500 to over $6000, depending on the model and features.

9. Rolling walker

This mobility aid consists of a frame to push the user forward. The legs are three separate wheels, two front ones and one rear wheel, allowing for extra balance.

• Features

The rolling walker has locking brakes on each leg. So, the legs do not move while you walk along with them. It can also be folded, making transporting and storing easier.

This device comes equipped with comfortable handles and side-to-side handrails if needed for additional support.

ProsCons
Rolling walkers is lightweight, making it easy to transport even in small spaces like elevators or between rooms.This accessibility aid is not great for outdoor use due to its larger size.  
 These have a high turn radius. It has no seat, so this might not be what you are looking for if you need one.

• Price

These can range from $75 – $300.

Rolling walkers are a great option for those who may be suffering from temporary illnesses or who still mostly retain the ability to walk, but need a bit of assistance.

10. Medical Alarm

A medical alarm can be worn or carried by the individual and, when activated, sends help to the desired location. It also lets one speak with emergency assitance, so they are immediately aware, when assistance is need.

• Features

It’s great for those who live alone and are worried that they may not be able to reach a phone in case of an emergency. They run on batteries that last around 24 hours, depending on use.

Another essential feature is an LCD screen type display that is highly interactive.

ProsCons
It can be worn or carried by the individual, and it will alert emergency services when activated.  Battery life varies and should be monitored.  
 Some medical alarms have automated alerts, such as when an individual falls. In some circumstances, this can be a lifesaving feature.Some medical alarms require year-long subscription commitments and can be expensive, so the value of the device and the service should be considered carefully.

• Price

This is a device that costs around $90. Ongoing emergency services sometimes come with monthly fees.

Important Things to Consider When Buying Accessibility Aids

Before purchasing any adaptive equipment, it’s crucial to think about these few factors.

• Does the company you are looking to buy from offer a guarantee and after-sales service?
You should always look into the guarantee and after-sales service offered before making a purchase. Some companies may not provide a warranty, and you could be left with an expensive equipment that is no longer supported by emergency service staff.

• Will you need to buy insurance or a warranty for your accessibilty aids, or is this included in the retail price? What does it cover?
It’s important to know whether your purchase includes any warranties and what restrictions may apply.

For example, some won’t include accidental damage, where others might look at the wear and tear over time. This could mean that an expensive product will no longer work after several years. So, check before buying anything!

• Will the adaptive equipment need servicing? Who will need to do this, and how much does it cost?
Some of the accessibility aids might need servicing. If this is likely to be required over a long period, you’ll want to know how much it’s going to cost.

• If your item needs spare parts, are they affordable? How quickly could you get them?
Spare parts can also become expensive as some companies only produce for specific models. So, check for availability and affordability before purchasing because all those little extras will add up!

• If the adaptive device stops working and you need to call out an engineer, how much would this cost?
What happens when something isn’t quite right with your purchase after buying? Who pays, and where do you go for help?

If there is anything wrong with your purchase, you may need to call out a repair person.

• What’s the return policy if the accessibility aid is faulty?

Faulty products can be a nightmare for anybody, not just those who require special equipment. Therefore, ensure that the supplier’s returns policy will cover you if anything goes wrong. If it doesn’t, think carefully before ordering!

• If you have to order the item, is there a cooling-off or cancellation period if you change your mind?
Some suppliers let people refund their purchase in the first 14 days, no questions asked. Information about how many customers sought refunds can give useful insight.

• Have you calculated the running costs and the costs of any accessories you will need to buy?
It would help if you calculated the running costs to ensure affordability. You also need to consider additional equipment or accessories that may come up. This could mean even more expenses down the line.

How to Pay For Your Disability Equipment

Given the costs of some products, it is likely that you will need help paying for them. Here are some options you might want to consider when making decisions about how to pay:

• Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG)

The DFG provides money towards structural improvements in your home if you have a disability and cannot access necessary rooms without assistance. This service is only available for disabled people who own their homes, who are in housing associations or who have social landlords.

• Motability Scheme

This scheme has been around since 1977. It helps people get new equipment by making financial contributions on behalf of eligible customers toward an adaptable device. This can be through direct payment into your Motability account or through a voucher to use at your dealer. You can also do it by buying out the lease on your existing car.

• Grants and loans

Many councils and charitable bodies offer grants to help with expenditure on equipment. Charities also provide loans that are interest-free for many customers.

• ‘Buy now, pay later’ deals from the supplier

This is where the company allows you to pay for equipment over a while. It also offers interest-free credit.

Buying Second-Hand Handicap Equipment? What to Consider

There are times when you might not have the funds to buy a new piece of equipment and may need to consider buying second-hand. If this is an option for you, you need to think about:

How much money you can afford to spend?

How will any repairs and refurbishment costs affect price comparison?

The age of the equipment – it may be worn out or obsolete. Some companies offer a refurbishment service that ensures that second-hand wheelchairs are up to date with current standards.

You should always check for this when buying used accessibility aids such as wheelchairs and electric scooters etc. Check if there are any warantees included in the sale too.

You Don’t Need Your Handicap Supplies Anymore. What Should You Do With Them?

• You can donate your equipment to a charity.

• If it’s in good condition, you may be able to sell used equipment on sites like eBay or Gumtree. Some charities will buy back wheelchairs as well.

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Takeaway

Accessibility aids are useful for anyone who has difficulty moving around. It’s important to consider your needs and each device’s requirements before buying.

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