Andy Healey is an aerospace writer and published author. He blogs on mobility and disabled travel at JohnnySombreroRides.com.
Andy flew helicopters in the Royal Navy and subsequently for an air-taxi operator near London, before breaking his back in a 1985 flying accident.
Since then he has written for most UK national newspapers and presented for the BBC and Channel 4.
He wrote ‘Leading from the Front; Bristow Helicopters, the first 50 years’ (Tempus) and ‘The Rough Guide to Accessible London’ (Rough Guides); he is currently editing a book for a major aerospace manufacturer.
In our conversation, Andy shares his thoughts about his travels and the equipment he uses to make getting around that much easier.
If like him you’re a bit of a globetrotter take a listen
Our summer holidays are over and we review our respective trips.
Gran Canaria, Brussels, Berlin, Twinwood Festival 2019 and a trip around the UK all get a mention.
A rarely seen public refusal, Dominos Pizza is asking the US Supreme Court to allow them to ignore the needs of sight-impaired people regarding the accessibility of their website, all because they say they don’t have any guidelines.
Another refusal comes from the Royal and Ancient Golf Club who banned an Open Champion, John Daly from using a golf buggy because it would ‘break with tradition’.
One person who managed to get the rules changed in his favour is Billy Monger. After becoming disabled from a racing car crash, he is back in Formula 3 racing having had the regulations excluding disabled drivers racing revised to include him and others.
We wrap up with some comments from our listeners and a sort of book review “The Longevity Economy by Joseph F. Coughlin” which suggest we need to view ageing and disability differently.
Dr Alice Maynard CBE is an experienced Non-Executive Director having worked since the early ‘90s as a Trustee of several Charities and a member of two Housing Association Committees. Alice was Chair of Scope for 6 years, a £100m turnover charity providing services to disabled people with high support needs and campaigning for disabled people’s equality. Alice is a Chartered Director (Institute of Directors) and has worked in the private, public and third sectors and she has established two successful businesses of her own (Equal Ability and Future Inclusion). Alice has spinal muscular atrophy and uses a powered wheelchair to get around. She lives in Milton Keynes.
Here are the links to the products and services Alice mentioned:-
In this Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos episode from the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RIDC), I’m in conversation with Vivek Gohil who has managed to find ways to enjoying gaming by bending technology to his will.
Vivek is 29 and from Leicester, he lives with the muscle-wasting condition Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, he uses a ventilator to help him breathe and is a powered wheelchair user.
He is a Blogger, Speaker, Accessibility & Assistive Tech Consultant and Freelance Writer for the gaming website Eurogamer.
Vivek primarily writes about disability representation in all forms of media, assistive technology, gaming, mental health and his lived experience.
He’s worked with Microsoft testing their Xbox adaptive controller, Logitech reviewing gaming mice and game developers to improve accessibility and disability inclusion.
Comics, Sci-Fi, Robotics, Superheroes, Space and Psychology interest him so if you’re not busy then he can talk your ear off about those topics.
Rate it! is a product review website by and for disabled people. It’s an online space for you to share views of products (specialist and mainstream), hacks, and tips to make life easier. If you’re a disabled or older person living in the UK, use your knowledge and experience to do consumer research – Join the RiDC research panel
Born in 1960, Rosie’s impairment is four-limbed Phocomelia caused by the drug Thalidomide.
After graduating with a BSc., (Hons) Degree in Psychology through Cardiff University in 1985, Rosie joined the Civil Service and remained with the Department of Trade and Industry at Companies House Cardiff until 1993 at Executive Officer level.
In 1995 Rosie formed the RMS Disability Issues Consultancy, out of a genuine desire to deliver first-class training in the field of Disability Equality and Disability Issues.
Rosie received an OBE in the Queen’s New Years Honours List in 2015, “For Services to the Equality and the Rights of Disabled People.”
Rosie was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from Cardiff University in 2017.
Married, with one son, Rosie has a particular interest in radio, television and the arts. Rosie has been the subject of several documentaries. She has worked with the BBC, Sky and ITV, and can be heard regularly on BBC Radio Wales. She is a freelance TV and Radio Presenter.
Rick Williams runs his own business based in Brighton. The company have been around for about 20 years and supply consultancy and training services to organisations that want to improve their employment and services provided for disabled people.
Rick went blind in his mid-40s as a result of retinitis pigmentosa and this explains his lifelong commitment and passion for ensuring that disabled people, particularly those with sight impairments, lead as independent and inclusive a life as possible.
In this edition of Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos Rick discusses a variety of things which enable him to have a very full and active life.
Hello everyone and welcome to this the inaugural edition of the Gear, Gadgets and Gizmos podcast.
We’re delighted to welcome as our first guest Geoff Adams-Spink one of the trustees of Research Institute for Disabled Consumers (RiDC).
Geoff was born with multiple impairments as a result of thalidomide. He has shortened upper limbs, a missing right eye and extremely restricted vision in his left eye.
He left the BBC in 2011 to set up his own disability equality consultancy and to Chair an international federation of organisations for those affected by congenital limb difference (EDRIC).
As a trainer and public speaker, he has worked extensively in the UK, many EU countries, Ukraine, China and Thailand.
He has an outward-looking world view and seeks to help international business, public and third sector organisations to learn from each other by spreading best practice in the field of disability equality.
In my conversation with Geoff he talks about the things that he uses to overcome the difficulties that his impairments put in his way. Some are simple devices others more complex but all provide a solution.
I’ve posted below links to the products and services that Geoff mentioned.
Don’t forget to take a look at the RateIt website hosted by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers where you will find a whole host of products and gadgets which might be useful to you. https://rateit.ridc.org.uk/
Finally, if you are a disabled person and would like to join the RIDC Consumer Panel please email Chris Lofthouse at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 7427 2467
How often do you hear, ‘what do the young people want?’ Perhaps not often enough. Certainly not as often as ‘how things have changed since my day!’
We wanted to hear from the next generation so we invited the multi-talented Abbi Brown on to our show. She works for the ad agency behind the now famous Malteser adverts on Channel 4.
With Abbi we explore whether you can make more of a difference from the inside or outside, who her (disabled) role models were when she was growing up and does she think there’s a disability movement these days. Indeed, what is activism these days, what are the next generation ‘fighting for’ if anything and does social media help or hinder? We also talk about using the bus and not thinking twice about it.
Abbi has personal experience of disability with OI (brittle bones) deafness and mental health problems.
How many of you reading this think about the cutlery you might use when you go out for a meal? The chances are you’ll be much more interested in the menu, the prices, the people you’re eating with and the restaurant’s ambience.
A similar situation arises when considering going to the seaside on a gloriously hot summer’s afternoon. If you’re fastidious, you’ll check your car tyres, the oil, you’ll fill up the windscreen washer bottle, and you’ll make a list of things to take that will make the trip more enjoyable. I doubt that you’ll think to check on the availability of toilet facilities at motorway services on route or at your destination!
For many disabled people, particularly those with severe or complex mobility impairments, the exact opposite applies. The availability of appropriate toilet facilities will be uppermost in their minds, and the lack of certainty about whether the necessary facilities are available may be enough to prevent the trip to the restaurant or the seaside.
What’s ironic is that accessible facilities have not kept pace with the increasing availability of personal transport through programmes like the Motability Scheme. The motor industry and, in particular, mobility vehicle adapters have continued to design and develop all manner of gizmos that enable even the most severely disabled person to either own and drive an accessible vehicle or to be safely and comfortably carried in one as a passenger. The variety of electronic devices now available is mind-boggling. Vehicle tail lifts make it possible for extremely heavy powered wheelchairs to be lifted and secured; seat transfer systems assist people to move from their wheelchairs into the driving seat, electronic hand controls take the strain out of steering, braking and changing gear. All these innovations, of course, come at a price but what is the point of spending thousands of pounds on an accessible vehicle if you can’t enjoy an accessible environment on the route to and at your journeys end?
It’s not all bad news. Wheelchair users have seen significant improvements in the provision of accessible toilets. The National Key Scheme better known as the Radar key began in 1981. Since then, more than 400 local authorities and thousands of businesses have joined the Scheme. Some 9,000 toilets are now listed as being accessible via the Radar key, but the figure is probably much higher. Wheelchair accessible restrooms are far more common, most motorway services, mainline railway stations, shopping malls and theme parks have had these facilities for a very long time.
A study in 2009 by the University of Dundee found there were 250,000 people in the UK for whom a standard accessible toilet does not meet their needs. Accessible restrooms are great for those who can get themselves out of a wheelchair unaided. However, lots of people can’t do this, such as people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and some older people. John Lewis, the famous high street retailer, recently made headlines for all the wrong reasons when a mother complained that she had been forced to change her severely disabled child on the toilet floor. John Lewis defended itself by arguing that it didn’t have enough space to provide bigger toilets but promised to review this when it refurbishes or builds new stores.
The Changing Places campaign (http://bit.ly/2E9Dc8X) begun back in 2003 seeks to ensure that the most severely disabled person has access to appropriate toilet facilities thereby enabling them to do what most of us do without even thinking about. As a result of the Campaign’s activities, there are now well over one thousand Changing Places toilets across the UK. These toilets provide not only, as you might expect, a w.c. and wash basin but also offer a hoist, a sizeable drop-down table for changing purposes and plenty of space to enable carers or support workers to assist the person where necessary. It is becoming increasingly possible to plan a trip using the Campaign’s route planner to identify suitable toilet facilities on your journey. As an example, I plotted a route from Hertford in Hertfordshire to the Brighton Marina in Sussex and found at least seven facilities that meet the Changing Places criteria.
A more recent exciting innovation which began in 2014 is the development of the Mobiloo. (http://bit.ly/2H1JfQk) The concept is very similar to the Changing Places facilities, but with a significant difference. The toilet equipment is fitted inside a small van or lorry which means it can be located at just about any outdoor event, space permitting of course. Mobiloo is a social enterprise that now has a fleet of seven vehicles across the UK. The vehicles are for hire and come with a volunteer driver who shows people how to use the equipment onboard. The Mobiloo opens up all manner of fascinating travel possibilities; gymkhanas, craft fairs, sports events, music festivals, Glyndebourne and Glastonbury here we come!
We’ve come a long way since the days of institutional care for the most severely disabled people in our society. Independent living, autonomy, accessible housing, personal transport are not just pipe dreams; they are becoming the norm. We will know we’ve cracked it when those with the most complex disabilities can travel around the country without worrying about whether they can find and use the loo!