As the Christmas rush goes into top gear for the final week of shopping, spare a thought for those who have a disabled child to buy for: many of the hi-tech toys available are unsuitable – or at least they were until now.
AbilityNet – a charity whose mission is to make technology accessible to people with all sorts of disabilities – has launched a range of toys suitable for children whose motor skills and dexterity are limited.
They range from a collection of soft toys that sing songs and move in time to the music to a head-mounted controller for games consoles and battery-powered cars and boats.
There is also a range of arcade-style computer games that can be played using a single key or an external switch.
AbilityNet has formed a partnership with Excitim Ltd – a company that uses technology originally created to help a young boy who was paralysed from the neck down in a car accident.
The Dream-Products range is being marketed through the charity’s website, and it uses any money it makes to subsidise its free services for disabled people.
“For many children, play options are severely limited by their condition,” said AbilityNet’s development director, David Banes.
“Play is critical to the social, psychological and educational development of our young people, as well as their well-being and self confidence.”
Mr Banes – a former special school headteacher – says that he hopes the toys will create “a truly inclusive Christmas for disabled youngsters”.
The soft toys – which cost just under £40 – are brought to life by using an external switch.