In general, when you buy Christmas presents for less able friends and family, they don’t have to be much different from those you’d buy for anyone else. Less able people don’t just want a boring pile of pills, grab rails, beakers and dull mobility aids waiting for them under the tree. Having said that, sometimes it is worth considering their disability before you buy and if something is cool and helps make their disability easier then that’s a good thing! An obvious analogy is buying a kid school shoes for Christmas when a new pair of trainers is what they really want?
There are some basic issues of common sense when shopping for less able people. For instance, it would be a bit useless to buy CDs for anyone who’s deaf and your blind friends won’t be too grateful if you get them a picture. As a wheelchair user I once got a huge Tote handbag that was impossible to carry and wheel at the same time. Even though it was well on trend at the time it was a bit of a problem. Thank god cross body bags are back for this Christmas (just perfect for your less able fashionista). So it’s helpful to try and make sure that the person you’re buying for can use the gift you get them. As long as they can, then you’re ‘golden’.
Secondly, it’s worth noting that there are some useful and desirable products out there for less able friends and family. As much as we’d say that we just want to get something that anybody would want, there are some brilliant things targeted specifically at disabled people. These products can make everyday life not only a bit easier but also a little less GAP (Grey & Plastic). Increasingly we’re seeing that potential gifts are being designed with more of a ‘nod’ to what is on trend & stylish or even exciting.
From fashion conscious mobility products to accessories for the discerning less able and even some experiences you’d never think were accessible, here’s our first list of gift ideas :
Reachers can be a really helpful item for grabbing items around the house. They extend your ability to reach items, helping put the out of reach within reach. The small amount of extra reach might not seem like a big difference but it really is a brilliant way save effort for people with limited mobility. There are loads of different reacher grabbers out there for around ten to twenty pounds.
One option I’d particularly point out is a PikStik which costs £12.99 at Able World or you can look for their designs on Amazon or Ebay. These are to my eyes the most aesthetically inclined reacher grabbers out there, even if all it took to reach number one was a little splash of colour.
Cunningly disguised as the most boring thing in the world, these Can Pops are actually quietly brilliant. They help get the tough ring pulls on cans open, which have become a great source of annoyance for anyone, able or not. They’re a simple design, useful to anyone who gets annoyed by tricky ring pulls but are particularly handy for anyone with limited dexterity. They’re a cheap little stocking filler costing just a few pounds from many mobility aid websites like The Disabled Shop, Mobility.co.uk and many more.
This is a really cool stainless steel clock which has BSL hand signs instead of numbers. The clock would fit well in any home but would be a particularly nice idea for anyone with a hearing impairment or anyone wanting to learn sign language. It’s good value, costing £12 at Cafe Press. They sell lots of other attractive clocks there including one where the numbers are replaced with maths symbols – they do say geek is the new chic.
Sabi have recently launched the THRIVE range of stylish, easy to use pill organisers and accessories. They’re ergonomically designed and discreet enough to use anywhere. Sabi pill boxes and organisers are a stylish, less clinical way of looking after your pills. They have ‘modern and intelligent designs which blend in with the world around them’. Their FOLIO pill organiser is designed to look like a moleskin notepad and their stackable drinking CARAFE design is perfect for allowing you to take pills on the go. A whole range of Sabi pill boxes are available at Designed 2 Enable. Look out for Sabi in the future as they are bringing out new ranges of disability products in 2014 – Stylish I hope.
For anyone who needs an arm getting into and out of cars these Handybars are an excellent solution. They can be inserted into the U-shaped ‘striker plate’ (read ‘thingy’) on your vehicle door frame – the strongest part of the car – and then provide support for up to 350lbs. It’s such a small little item but it packs a big punch, being incredibly helpful every time you go out of the house! I use it when I have to transfer into a car as it gives me a strong arm to hold and makes a massive difference. They’re £19.95 on Amazon.
Wheelchair gloves are always a good idea for a Christmas present which offers a bit of comfort and style. There a lots of nice leather wheelchair gloves available online and if you want more choice you can always go for cycling gloves which are essentially very similar. We’ve mentioned previously the Tanni gloves , from Designed 2 Enable. They look like any other gloves whilst actually providing some protection for your hands. However, a problem I have with all of these styles is that they leave your forearm unprotected. I’ve found that when I use them, the dirt on my wheels still gets all over my arms. So, to avoid the mud, I’d perhaps recommend some longer gloves. Just any pair of stylish gloves from the high street would be a good gift idea.
These from Temperley at John Lewis cost £69 & are on my wish list!
I’d always recommend giving a trendy mobility aid to anyone less physically able. Recently there’s been a strong move towards making mobility aids that look more stylish than the standard fare. An example is Strictly’s, Craig Revel Horwood’s sticks from Essential Care.
Another company to look at if you want to get somebody a real statement crutch or stick is GlamSticks. They take the best aids, ergonomically speaking, and give them a glamorous makeover, decorating them with Swarovski Crystal in a range of colours and designs. They’re the perfect present for somebody who likes to flash a bit of bling. So many people tell me how much they love their GlamSticks and you really can’t get a much better endorsement than that.
The latest GlamSticks designs are Ombre crutches, which use only the best Ossenberg crutches, from The German Crutch Company . They come in either closed or open cuff and have a two-tone decoration which is glitzy without being too overstated either. Very stylish! These retail at £71.99 each but if you mention BBS they will offer a 10% discount.
Another option would be one of these OMHU Sports Canes (Which are now owned by Sabi). They’re so easy on the eye and look fantastic. They cost £39.95 and I’d say that’s a very good deal. They’re a cut above old fashioned takes on walking sticks. Another version is the Sabi ROAM Classic, will be available from mid December on Designed 2 Enable. They’re a Scandinavian inspired birch wood model in the same shape as the sports cane. Like Glam Sticks these really are an accessory as much as an aid. It might be cutting it a bit fine to be in time for Christmas. But if you think you can wait it out then it could be worth it.
These are also quite trendy and have a cool colour range – I like the clear/invisible stick with bubbles myself – The Neo-York range of lucite sticks, ranging from £49.99 to £59.99:
Finally, if you want to go down the increasingly popular path of spurning physical gifts and giving somebody a special day out to remember instead then why not take them for a Red Letter Day? They offer all sorts of exciting experiences and outings, many of which are accessible for less able people. As we found out last year, accessible Red Letter Days include some truly adventurous activities like indoor skydiving.
Alternatively, for something a little more sedate but a stylish and accessible experience you could make a reservation at one of our 3 BBS Tick Restaurants & Venues. We gave BBS Tick Awards to some of the Best Restaurants in the country in terms of style and accessibility and they would be a true treat for anybody this Christmas.
If you have any other ideas for less able Christmas presents please get involved in the comments section below! What are you getting for less able friends/family or asking for yourself this year? If you’re at a loss we can advise with other ideas & lets hope this is not the face of Xmas 2013: