Naidex 2016 Highlights

A few highlights of Naidex 2016

This year, Naidex proudly played host to a range of sporting representatives from across the spectrum of disability sport. International athletes from GB Wheelchair Basketball, Boccia and Powerchair Football engaged visitors in Q&A sessions, introducing many to the sports on offer. David Gardener, a Wheelchair Tennis player and Paralympian from Athens 2004 spoke to visitors about his role as a member of the British Paralympic Association as well as his formidable sporting career. With the 2016 Paralympic games now fewer than a hundred days away, there’s a strong buzz in the para-sporting world and Naidex was glad to share in the excitement of the coming games in Rio.

As well as the impressive list of well-known faces, Naidex exhibited the latest sporting equipment and technology. Roma Sport, the best British manufacturer of rugby chairs, displayed their latest designs, alongside big names in para-sport such as Wheelpower, CP Sport and representatives from the English Federation of Disability Sport (EFDS). Marketing and communications manager of EFDS, Courtney Perks, confirmed that Naidex was a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about the rising participation in disability sport and to reach out to those who have not yet found their niche. EDFS supports a large number of disability sport associations, including LimbPower, British Blind Sport, Dwarf Sports Association UK and UK Deaf Sport.

Other exciting new technology on show included the Genny, winner of the Best in Show Award, which is designed not only to provide extra day-to-day comfort to the chair user, but also to allow a revolutionary level of access. Off-road tyres, self-balancing technology and weather-proof controls give to user more freedom, opening inaccessible grounds such as beaches, woodland or rocky terrain. The Genny also promoted the advantages of its steering-handle over traditional pushing. Gloves and jumpers, normally made damp or muddy, stay clean and dry, and the user is able do ‘the little things’ that a walker may take for granted – holding a dog’s lead, holding a drink, holding a partner’s hand.

All three days were packed with exciting new innovations and the enthusiasm was evident, in both the visitors and the exhibitors! Inspiring Q&A sessions, engaging seminars and dynamic displays once again captured the public’s imagination and helped Naidex maintain its atmospheric ‘People’s Choice’ ratings in the independent living and assistive technology sector.

Over the course of the exhibition, the selection of speakers ranged from the sporting stars previously mentioned, company directors, leading healthcare professionals and decorated keynote addressors. Martyn Sibley, CEO of Disability Horizons expressed perfectly the sentiment of the event – “Everything is possible … when you believe”. Naidex has released the dates for next year’s show, and this will take place, again at the NEC in Birmingham, on 28-30th March 2017. With the mass of positive reviews and the exciting promise brought to the stage this year, it is certain that next year’s exhibition will be just as innovative, moving and educational, if not more so! Be sure to pencil these dates in the diary and see what you could discover at Naidex 2017.

Man ignoring woman on phone - Dare To Be Purple Blog

“A vision of Hell” – Guest blog

This week we have from our Purple Community a guest contributor. Boxy is a retired teacher now living in Cornwall. He is very active, healthy and extremely fit. He owns no technology apart from a phone connected to a landline and an ordinary television: no microwave, computer and certainly not a smartphone. Read his blog to find out why he thinks we should all put our mobiles away to avoid turning to a mushy Beige!

If you want to challenge this view; if you believe the genie is out of the box and can never be put back; that mobile technology is a Purple boon to modern life, then use the reply function or email contact@daretobepurple with a 1000 words on why a mobile is an essential aid and we’ll post it on your behalf.

Mobile Phones: A vision of Hell!

I have never owned a mobile phone and cannot imagine that I ever will. It is not a Luddite stance against the march of technology and the explosion of social media. It is a lifestyle choice and I can remember vividly the moment when this resolve first manifested itself.

My wife and I were on holiday in Tuscany and Umbria nearly 20 years ago. The mobile phone was not common in Britain then; I’m not even sure if I’d seen one ever used, but it was the last word in cool sophistication in Italy, particularly amongst the affluent young. It was the Rubik cube for twenty something fashionistas, the loomband for the electronic generation.

We were in a smart restaurant and at a large circular table next to us were some of the beautiful people. They should have been flirting, flaunting their wit and repartee or engaged in a heated political debate. Instead, they ignored each other, preferring to play with their new phones, which rang constantly. It seemed they only wanted to interact with those who weren’t there. It was a glimpse of the future. It was a vision of hell.

Now, many years, later, I am unable to call home when I’m away. My wife doesn’t worry. She knows that the handful of public telephones still on the street are either vandalised or out of order. No-one reports this state of affairs because everyone has a mobile. Sometimes friends say, “I couldn’t get hold of you”. That’s OK, I don’t want to be at your beck and call. I don’t want to answer a phone when I’m fishing or watching day three of a cricket match or walking along a coastal footpath. Ah, but what would happen if I broke my ankle on such a walk? I don’t know, but we didn’t wait to enjoy a little solitude until the mobile phone was invented. Would I get a signal anyway? And let’s face it, a life without risk is no life at all.

Think of the benefits I enjoy. I do not demean myself by taking ‘selfies’. I will not step in front of a lorry whilst I’m tweeting some inanity. On trains and buses I will actually speak to people or I can read a book or newspaper instead of receiving news that someone I’ve never even met has just added a second spoonful of sugar to his latte. No one will show me their disrespect by texting to say they are “running late” and will arrive 15 minutes after the time we had prearranged for our rendezvous. That of course is another function of the mobile. It is a licence to never have to be on time.

As these devices become smarter and smarter they facilitate our descent into a state of childlike ignorance and helplessness. Hurray! We no longer need to know anything. There’s an app to help you find the pub, identify a bird, tie a shoelace. If you don’t know something don’t bother trying to work it out, don’t think about it or even discuss it – GOOGLE it! You don’t know the capital of Venezuela or who played in goal for Brighton in the Cup Final, well, racking your brains is so last century. Google it for instant satisfaction and, then, forget it. Next time South American capitals or The Seagulls crop up in conversation – if you are still having conversations – you can Google it again!

You don’t have to attend a Buddhist retreat to realise that it might be a good thing to live in the moment as far as possible. While you’ve got that electronic toy in front of your face you are preventing yourself from doing so. Put it away. Get a real life.

Woman angry and frustrated with bad packaging - Dare To Be Purple Blog

Black Friday can lead to a Purple rage!

Today, Black Friday, the latest American fad to be imported here to the UK, will see thousands of us buying presents for our loved ones which they will struggle to open. I’m not just talking about our elderly and less able friends and relatives; everyone struggles to open the electronic equipment or gadget sealed in the hard plastic container that can only be opened with the help of the sharpest implements in your cutlery drawer or your toolbox!

Commonly found entombing electronic goods, razors and even toys, this packaging is called the clamshell or the oyster and rightly so because you’ll certainly need something to prise it open with – bare hands won’t do the job.

With a hard sealed plastic back and front, the clamshell requires sharp scissors, a knife or tin snips to open. Some websites even recommend using a tin opener!

Once you’ve made your incision, the fun doesn’t end there – it’s all too easy to cut or scratch your fingers on the sharp plastic as you try to retrieve the item from inside. When you buy something it should be yours – you shouldn’t have to get into a knife fight with it!

This packaging is often used to deter shop lifters (why else wrap up razor blades with this impenetrable shell?) and I feel, to a lesser extent, to protect the goods inside but it has created another problem for us all – ‘wrap rage’!

Most of us have experienced it, frustration, anger and sometime injury! The latest figures I could find were from 1997 when over 67,000 people visited A&E due to an accident involving packaging and this was only 35% of the injuries. The other 65% were treated by their GP or through home remedy. Nearly 20 years later I suspect the figures are not moving South!

Whilst it’s an issue for everyone the most affected are the elderly, people with a disability and those who may have particular problems with reduced eyesight and hand strength.

What can we do? Well perhaps it’s time for some Purple protest and a good place to start a discussion with those who could change things is The Packaging Federation . Secondly support initiatives such as Amazon’s Frustration-Free Packaging where goods are free from wires, plastic and the usual trappings and shipped in a plain brown box with minimal protective filling and finally until things change, consider buying one of these Package Openers and post it with your present.

This Black Friday help everyone to avoid a Purple Rage and a hospital visit at Christmas!

Woman in her fifties using her laptop with a coffee - Dare To Be Purple

Don’t talk to me about sophistication, I’ve turned 50!

Everyone in the UK enjoys the benefits of a modern society. From the infrastructures built to move us between our homes, places of work and to and from our leisure pursuits, the technology we use to communicate further than we can shout and the appliances that help us eat, wash and generally live our lives. The list of modern aids we employ is endless. But through the labels ‘assistive technology’, ‘assisted living’ or ‘enabling aids’, these products or services are marked out as special, something for those that need help to live; the incomplete, the deficient, the elderly!

Why would any of us want something that inferred we were less of a person than our peers, no longer part of mainstream society?

Throughout life we all face changes in our circumstances, from leaving home, getting our own place, becoming married, starting a family, navigating a career and finally perhaps if we are lucky enough, retirement. At every one of these stages we use products, devices, services and structures to help us. None, absolutely none, are viewed as negative, until we call them assisted living this or enabling aid that!

Products and services foisted upon people as assisted living are not the latest smartphone or the newest tablet but narrow designs, aimed primarily at a homogenous population of ‘elderly’ which appear to have the sole aims of marking out users as less able, weaker, not independent or at worst dependent on others!

Then amazingly having designed something to exclude people manufacturers pick up the baton from the designer and market this ‘beige’ thinking to everyone over 50; the 30% of the UK population (and growing) that have been exposed to consumerism the longest: the people that hold 80% of the nation’s wealth and contribute over £300 billion of spending power each year and all set to grow given this same population have over £1 trillion of un-mortgaged equity and copper bottomed pensions they can now access to invest into personal income generating portfolios of rental property!

Do they think we are no longer sophisticated consumers with a taste (and an expensive one if we so choose) for the aesthetically pleasing and the well-formed, eye catching design?

Designers and manufacturers need to understand that the meaning and desirability of a product is important to everyone, especially the baby boomers those of us out there (born between 1946 – 1964), who invented consumerism. Not only did we invent it, we developed it into the animal it is today! Yes, a product needs to be functional and at a reasonable cost but the fundamental point is that it has to be inclusive – designed from a point of view that this is something everyone might use who has a need for it, something desirable, not just for a perceived population of elderly and incapable pensioners! This will however be a challenge as a recent report suggested that designers and manufacturers don’t even think a market exists below the age of 70!

If the design process is to be inclusive, a person with a shared need will be at the centre, resulting in the design, development and delivery of products and services that everyone with this need will want, regardless of age. But far from creating a desirable life enhancing image and something people may want to purchase and give house room, what we would call a Purple product, designers and manufacturers just jazz up walking sticks with flowery designs and feature young people holding ‘beige’ designs in their marketing brochures – why do we accept these token gestures, this patronising approach?

We all have a part to play if we want to change this. If designers don’t radically rethink who they are designing for and manufacturers don’t change their view of customers, from the frail and elderly and the volume hospital buyer then we’re only going to see a small market place of niche designers and manufacturers who get it. Those who value ‘Purple’ design and their customers but have to sell at the high end of the market due to a lack of consumer awareness and therefore demand. Whilst the majority create neglected beige products all with the pervasive whiff of discrimination and the stigma of hospitals and disability.

This won’t be good for anyone!

If we don’t all have access to Purple products more people will be injured through falls or other accidents because they will refuse to use their beige aids. This consequently means NHS resources expended at GP surgeries and hospitals, recuperation and recovery services being employed and the bitter twist; more beige products being dispensed to the recesses of our homes!

We all need to shape up and start to help each other learn more about what is out there. A lack of awareness coupled with a lack of influence means we are letting the uninformed lead the most sophisticated and commercially aware consumers ever in existence to social exclusion from a society that needs us, our spending power and our pathfinder approach, as night follows day they will follow us!

Purple is the colour of protest and celebration so join our Purple Community and whether you agree or disagree it doesn’t matter – just join the debate. Together we can bring to light and celebrate great Purple designers and awesome Purple manufacturers and together change the thinking of not only providers but perhaps ourselves; reclaiming our sophistication and daring once again to be Purple!