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Keyboards

This section includes keyboards with assistive features.

Keyboards with larger than standard keys. The keys may have large print and/or high contrast (e.g. black letters on a white or yellow background) lettering, and/or multi-coloured keys to provide distinction between the different areas of the keyboard. The keys may be laid out on the keyboard in the standard QWERTY format or alphabetically (ABC).

Keyboard panels are overlays that are placed on a touch sensitive panel and allow you to create your own keyboard by choosing the number and size of keys that best meet your needs.

Keyboards with large print or high contrast lettering are the same size as standard keyboards, they just have a larger print on each key. High contrast lettering means that the keyboard may have (for example) black lettering on a white or yellow background, or white letters with a black background to improve visibility.

Computer keyboards with Braille keys replace the traditional QWERTY keyboard keys.

Keyboards with integral keyguards. Keyguards guide the user’s fingers to the keys and limit multiple key presses (i.e. accidentally pressing two keys at the same time) resulting from tremor or reduced dexterity.

Keyboard stickers and removable keyboard gloves with large print, high contrast (for example, black lettering on a white or yellow background) and/or Braille lettering. They may be suitable if you find standard keys difficult to see. Keyboard stickers are designed to be stuck onto individual keys on your computer keyboard, whereas flexible keyboard gloves fit over specific keyboards.

Controls operated by hand movement or touch sensitive panels. Touch sensitive panels or pads are a mouse alternative and can be placed on your desk or held in your hand. The pointer is moved across the screen by sliding your finger across the surface of the panel or pad. Clicking is done using buttons or by tapping lightly on the surface of the pad. They are suitable for people who have very limited hand movement but still have accurate control.

Head/chin pointers are worn on your head and have an extending piece that allow you to reach and engage with the keyboard using your head. They are designed to enable close proximity to the keyboard and to not interrupt your field of vision. They come in different sizes and are adjustable for your comfort.

Accuratus 260 Keyboard And Metal Keyguard
Combined USB keyboard and guard. Accessories: PS2 adaptor.
Accuratus Monster 2 High Visibility Keyboard
Big button keyboard, can benefit those new to using a computer, are visually impaired or have manual dexterity problems. Comprises: QWERTY keyboard la...
Accuratus Monster 2 Lower Case Childrens Keyboard
Keyboard designed to help children familiarise themselves with a keyboard. Comprises: standard case size with larger than standard keys; QWERTY layout...
Alphabet Keyboard Stickers
High contrast vinyl keyboard stickers in lower case and upper case. Five sheets with a range of styles available. Alphabet letters only, or every key.
Big Keys Lx Uppercase Keyboards
Large key USB or PS2 keyboard. Comprises: large keys; function keys (f keys); USB or PS2 connection. Options include: QWERTY or ABC layout; white, hig...
Bjoy Ring Wireless
Adaptor for a wheelchair joystick so it can be used to access a computer or communication aid. Comprises: software adjustment of the computer cursor ...
Braille Keyboard Cover
Flexible moulded Braille keyboard cover with keyboard. Comprises: moulded polyurethane film with Braille characters; made to fit a specific Black USB ...
Braillekey Ueb
Braille keyboard, designed as a replacement to the standard keyboard when using a personal computer, laptop and tablet. Comprises: slope faced case; c...
Clevy Keyboard
Keyboard with larger than standard colour coded keys. Comprises: keys are arranged vertically to help improve the positioning of hands; letters are di...
Compact Keyboard & Keyguard
Keyboard and keyguard combination. Comprises: keyguard is manufactured in steel; key guard can be removed; keyboard has a shortened space bar; black c...
Dolphin Large Print Keyboard
Large print QWERTY keyboard with high contrast keys. Comprises: large and varied sized buttons; 18 tactile quick keys giving access to manufacturer's...
Early Learning Keyboard With Uppercase Black & White Keys
High contrast USB or PS2 keyboard. Comprises: simplified layout with 63 keys; large multicoloured keys with white lettering; consonant keys are green,...
Expanded Keyboard
Larger than standard size, heavy duty keyboard with integral keyguard. Comprises: steel construction, nylon coating; labels black on white for alphan...
Full Keyboard Stickers
Labels for keyboards in large print for all keys of standard keyboard. Available with black letters on yellow, black letters on white, white letters o...
Head Mouth Stick Keboard
Keyboard designed for use with head or mouth stick. Comprises: shape and keyboard layout designed to minimise head or finger movement while keying; p...
Helpikeys Programmable Keyboard
Programmable membrane keyboard. Comprises: designed to memorise up to five customised keyboard layouts; Helpikeys Layout Builder software; programma...
High Contrast & Visibility Keyboard
High visibility contoured keyboard. Comprises: QWERTY layout; yellow letters and numbers on black keys; finger-tip shaped keycaps; fold-out feet; LED ...
High Contrast Keyboard
High contrast USB keyboard. Comprises standard size yellow keys, and black lettering. Optional lowercase or uppercase keyboards.
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Buying equipment

There are several factors to consider when purchasing equipment.

Making complaints and reporting unsafe products

In most instances a complaint should initially be made to the supplier who provided you with the item. CAB has a range of guidelines on their website on making a complaint about poor service or faulty goods. These include complaining by phone, complaining in writing and template letters. CAB advice about making a complaint.
If you are not satisfied with the supplier's response then you may choose to complain to:

  • an ombudsman scheme
  • a regulator
  • an independent mediator
  • a trade association (if the supplier is a member of one)

 

Safety incidents involving medical devices can be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on the GOV UK website www.mhra.gov.uk or their Adverse incident centre hotline 020 3080 7080. The MHRA is the government agency responsible for ensuring that medical devices and medicines work and are acceptably safe. Their definition of 'Medical devices' includes devices used for assisting patients and users, thus many daily living aids such as bath lifts, commodes and walking sticks are medical devices. Any incident involving the safety of a medical device (including safety issues with its instructions for use) should be reported to the MHRA, especially if the incident contributed to, or could have caused injury, life-threatening illness or death.

Buying from a private person

Buying from a private person gives you fewer rights. You will only be able to claim against the seller if the product doesn't match its description or if the seller did not own it. Consequently, some firms occasionally pretend to be private sellers to avoid their legal responsibilities towards customers. If you suspect this has happened to you find out about your rights and what action to take on the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) website https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/ or call 0345 404 0506 to speak to the Citizen Advice consumer helpline.

Guarantee

The length of the manufacturer's guarantee does not limit any claim you may make to the seller as if a product develops a fault outside the guarantee period you can still claim against the seller if you can show that the fault was unreasonable at that period in the products life.

 

You may be asked whether you would like to purchase an extended warranty. Remember that your statutory rights exist, under the Sale of Goods Act, whether or not you choose to buy their warranty and whether or not the goods came with any guarantee. Manufacturers' guarantees are separate from the automatic rights you have against the seller, and may be more limited. For more information read the Citizens Advice Bureau guide to guarantees and warranties.

Maintenance and insurance

For large complex items, such as a stairlift, check what kind of maintenance contract the supplier offers.

Membership of trade associations

Some suppliers are members of a trade association. Many of these trade associations have a code of practice that governs their members' customer service, and thus may help to project you from unscrupulous selling practices. For example, some trade associations prohibit their members from contacting people uninvited to try and sell their products. They may also prohibit their members from using high pressure selling tactics such as offering a discount if you order that day, or phoning their manager while demonstrating the equipment to you to agree a 'special discount/deal'. Thus if you have a choice of suppliers for the product you wish to purchase we recommend you consider the suppliers who are members of trade association.

We record suppliers' membership of several trade associations (see a list of these trade associations) and our ratings give greater weighting to trade associations with codes of practice which are approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) (e.g. the British Healthcare Trade Association) or governed by an audit scheme which meets the requirements of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

We also record whether suppliers meet the ISO 9000 series of standards. These standards define a Quality System which certifies that formalised business processes are being applied, and thus may be another indicator to look for if you have a choice of suppliers.

VAT

You may be able to purchase equipment designed for use by disabled people without paying the VAT if you are 'chronically sick or disabled', and you are buying the item/s for your own personal or domestic use. For VAT purposes, a person is 'chronically sick or disabled' if they:

  • Have a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out everyday activities.
  • Have a condition that the medical profession treats as a chronic sickness (e.g. diabetes).
  • Are terminally ill.

 

So, you won't qualify if you're only temporarily disabled or incapacitated (e.g. if you have a broken leg).

Examples of products which are likely to qualify for VAT relief (if intended for the personal or domestic use of a chronically sick or disabled person) include:

 

  • wheelchairs
  • stairlifts
  • computer software or hardware designed specifically for disabled individuals
  • kettle tippers, tap turners, button hooks and similar gadgets or devices that are designed solely to make everyday tasks easier for disabled individuals
  • artificial limbs
  • vehicles that have been adapted for use by a wheelchair or stretcher user

Price

Price is important but, if we list more than one supplier, it is important to look for more than just the cheapest price. Check when the prices were last updated (this should be stated under each price). Consider whether:

  • Postage/delivery is included (if shopping by mail order or online)
  • Is the supplier a member of a trade association? (see below)
  • Is one supplier listing the price with VAT and another without VAT?
  • Check the suppliers' returns policies and any guarantees / warranties (see below).
  • For complex equipment that requires maintenance and/or servicing check what's included in the price and what the ongoing costs will be.

Get advice and an assessment

Experienced therapists or trusted assessors know a lot about products and will help you make sure the product is right for you now and will continue to be suitable in the future. 

 

You may be able to get an assessment and advice from social services. GOV.UK website
Alternatively you may choose to pay for a private occupational therapist. If you wish to request a private appointment with an occupational therapist then you can obtain details of local private occupational therapists from the 'College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section - Independent Practice' (COTSS-IP) website. www.cotss-ip.org.uk or phone their enquiry Line: 0845 129 7699.
You can check whether a therapist is state registered with the Health Care professions Council (HCPC) at www.hcpc-uk.org/audiences/

Try before you buy

You can find out about products and try them out, with independent advice at an Independent Living Centre (ILC). There are about 30 ILCs in the UK. Most do not sell products but they will be able to tell you where to buy them. We recommend you make an appointment before you visit

You could view equipment at an exhibition. They are a good opportunity to see what's available and meet the competing suppliers. The main exhibition of equipment is NAIDEX, held annually at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, and Glasgow. www.naidex.co.uk


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