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.
There are several factors to consider when purchasing equipment.
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:
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 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.
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.
For large complex items, such as a stairlift, check what kind of maintenance contract the supplier offers.
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.
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:
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:
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:
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/
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