My life as performer with a learning difficulty

Guest post from Cian Binchy, a 25-year-old writer and performer from London who has autism. His one-man show, The Misfit Analysis, premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe festival last month.

If somebody asked me, ‘Can you describe autism?’ I would say that question doesn’t make sense. Everyone experiences autism in a different way, and at the end of the day, I can only really describe my own autism.

Cian, a young man wearing a Beatles T-shirt, on a London street
Cian in Dalston, London, last month

When you have Asperger’s syndrome, you are on the very, very able end of autism and in many ways you’re almost like everyone else. But there’s just something little in you that is stopping you, and singles you out from other people. It’s very frustrating.

People think if you’ve got ‘high functioning’ autism you can cope in any situation, and that’s not true at all. I’m always struggling.

I became a performer because I want to educate people about the struggles that people in my position go through.

I want to entertain people, but I also want to make them think. I want people to really experience some of my art and some of the stuff that goes through my mind – and for people to be a bit more understanding of the kind of issues that people with autism have.

My show at the Edinburgh Fringe

The Misfit Analysis is basically about the struggles that I’ve had with autism, particularly as a young adult between 16 and 20 – not having much luck with going to colleges or getting work; failing to have a relationship.

It’s not really a straightforward play; it’s more of a performance, if that makes sense. There is audience participation, there are some videos, but predominantly it is a one-man show.

It’s humorous. It’s dark. It’s a bit twisted. It’s unorthodox. It’s funny. It’s a bit sad. It’s a bit scary. It’s educational. It’s thought-provoking. And it’s all based on my own experiences.

You’re either going to be laughing your head off or be freaked out!

I hope it’ll help people learn that autism is quite unpredictable and complicated, and that you can never be an expert on autism. I would like them to do a bit of research on autism and maybe get more involved in it – and take autism out of the ghetto, bring it into the mainstream.

Because a performer with a learning difficulty, I am in a minority within a minority. There are many disabled performers, but hardly any that actually have a learning difficulty.

Disabled people in the arts

Unfortunately, the performance art world is a very tough place for anyone, especially people with learning difficulties.

Cian sitting on the floor next to a wheelchair, holding a toy windmill and a tragedy mask
Cian in a promotional shot for The Misfit Analysis

I was a consultant on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time at the National Theatre, basically teaching the lead actor, Luke Treadaway, how to behave like someone who is autistic.

He was really good, but the sad thing is that often people who actually have got autism don’t really get a chance to perform. They don’t get a chance to go to a decent drama school; they don’t get the right education for that kind of performance. I actually wasn’t even getting paid for doing this work.

Whereas when you see me perform, it’s real. In my show I am actually performing my own disability – so when you see me, and when you see the kind of stuff I do, like spinning a tin opener, it’s real. It’s not just an act.

Cian is working with Access All Areas, a theatre company which produces work by disabled artists. Read a review of his show in the Guardian here.

Yep, my brain’s not normal… I’m in Mensa – #EndTheAwkward

Sheena smiling at camera in the countryside

A chance encounter with a bullying ex-boss, gave Sheena the opportunity to challenge his definition of ‘normal.’

Sheena, who has Asperger’s syndrome and fibromyalgia, shares her awkward moments in support of our End the Awkward campaign.

In the early 1990s I had a manager who I got on with in many ways but who would delight in telling me, in front of other staff, that I was ‘weird’, ‘abnormal’ and that my brain didn’t work like a ‘normal’ person’s.

This was before the Disability Discrimination Act and the Equality Act gave disabled people more power to challenge discrimination. I felt powerless to do anything about his behaviour.

After a few years, I was moved to another building within the same organisation so I no longer had to suffer his torments.

In 2004, I found out I had dyslexia. It was a revelation. Because I couldn’t spell, I would stumble when reading certain words, and mix up words when speaking. I thought I really wasn’t very intelligent, despite getting through university.

But the dyslexia diagnosis debunked that myth. It gave me the courage to apply for membership to a certain well known organisation for people with high IQs. I was accepted and so was my son.

Revenge – a dish best served cold

Fast forward to the summer of 2006 and after leaving work one evening, I bumped into my ex-manager, the one who said I was ‘abnormal.’

Now they do say revenge is a dish best served cold and I’d waited a long time for this opportunity, so I called out to him in greeting and after exchanging pleasantries, the conversation went like this:

Me (as if an afterthought): “Oh, by the way, you’ve not heard which society my son and I were invited to join… well, actually we were ‘cordially invited’ to join, have you?”

Him (warily): “No…. which society?”

Me: Mensa.

Him (with a rictus smile on his face): “Congratulations.”

Me (playfully punching him on his arm, my voice bright and breezy): “You see, you were right all those years ago – my brain really doesn’t work like a ‘normal’ person’s.

And with that I walked away, floating on air, without a backward glance.

“Can you pass me that, please?”

I was in a sports shop and needed something from a top rail that I couldn’t reach from my wheelchair. The first member of staff who happened by was the store manager. I asked him if he could pass it to me: he said, “Of course, but where is your carer?” I replied: “They do let us out on our own sometimes you know!”

“Poor you”

I’d reverse parked into the designated spot on a bus. The elderly lady sitting opposite me said in a voice loud enough to be heard by the entire length of the bus, “poor you, fancy being in a wheelchair at your age.” The man sitting next to her, her son I assume, looked mortified. I responded in an equally loud voice: “Not at all, I have the disability anyway; having the chair has given me back my freedom. Without it, I’d be housebound.”

She then apologised and said she hadn’t thought about it like that. Incidentally the entire bus had looked shocked at what she said, and I got nods of approval and smiles. I didn’t take it to heart, she said it without thinking and there was a compliment in there somewhere – I was over 40 at the time and hardly a whipper-snapper!

Magic moments

It’s important to mention positive moments as well as awkward ones. I’d like to share a couple with you here.

At Christmas, I used to decorate my wheelchair with tinsel round the spokes and lights around the arms and side panels.

Waiting at the bus stop one evening in the dark, I heard a man’s voice behind me – he was talking to a child. “Look at all the pretty tinsel. Can you see it, isn’t it pretty? And look at the lights around the arms.” I started to turn them on and off to make them flash. “Look they’re flashing now, aren’t they pretty?”

I didn’t say anything, but did turn round and grin at the man who smiled back. It was wonderful that he had taken time out to show my decorated chair to his son. Hopefully with parenting like that, his son will grow up to be totally accepting of disability.

On another occasion, I wheeled past the entrance to a long drive way that had a big arch at the end. As I was going past, a teenage girl dressed as a goth was coming down the drive through the arch and so saw my chair side-on, “Wow that’s one cool chair,” she said. I grinned and thanked her.

Do you have an awkward story to share? Submit your awkward stories, and we’ll publish our favourites on our blog and social media.

Find out more about how Scope is ending the awkward this summer.

‘I feel like a gladiator’ – disabled strongman competitor Gary Clarke

A guest post by Gary Clarke, who has cerebral palsy and is a support worker for people with learning difficulties. He is holding the UK’s first Disabled Strongman Competition in Stoke on Trent this weekend. 

Since taking part in my first strongman competition back in 2011, I’ve had ambitions to set up a Britain’s strongest disabled man competition.

This Saturday (29 July) my dream is set to become reality as 10 disabled competitors take part in Britain’s Disabled Strongman 2015 in Stoke on Trent.

I’ve always wanted to bring the event to the UK. My inspiration is Arnar Már Jónsson, who started the disabled strongman movement in Iceland, where it has been running for 15 years. He was a pioneer and has made all subsequent events possible.

The movement is growing worldwide now with competitions being held in America, Hungary and of course the UK this year.

The UK event consists of:
• The truck pull – stationed at the top of a hill in a harnessed down wheelchair competitors have to pull a 4×4 up the hill
• The Hercules hold – holding 80kg in each hand on a pulley system, you have to hold on as long as you can.
• The crucifix hold – 7.5kg sledgehammers held in each hand for the maximum time possible
• The giant dumbbell press
• Atlas stones ranging from 40 to 90kg in weight have to be transferred between oil drums
• A log lift of 75kg on an incline bench

At the moment all the disabled athletes compete together, but eventually I’d like to implement standing and sitting categories.

We’ve got about 100 spectators due to come along on Saturday and we’re expecting more on the day. There’s always a great atmosphere at these events, the athletes are really supportive of each other and the audience really gets behind the competitors. Everyone spurs each other on. Everyone understands how difficult it is.

I feel like a gladiator

Disabled strongman competitor Gary Clarke
Disabled strongman competitor Gary Clarke

It’s been a long time in the planning, but I always knew it would happen. You’ve got to make things happen, just because it hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean you can’t be the first to do it.

I’m not sure what appeals so much about strongman competitions, but I’ve always loved them. I’ve been a fan of strongman since the days of Geoff Capes and Jón Páll Sigmarsson. I can still hear cries of “I am a Viking” to this day. I remember saying to my grandmother at the time: “One day I’ll be doing this.”

It’s just quite a bizarre concept and I’m quite eccentric. I think everyone involved is a bit mad. It’s not a sport for people who want to sit indoors. It’s a real do-er, warrior-type sport. I feel like a gladiator!

I’ve competed in five World’s Strongest Disabled Man events in Iceland. They’re great events and I push myself further in what I can achieve each year. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet Magnus ver Magnusson – the four-time winner of the World’s Strongest Man competition and strongman icon.

There is definitely an aspect of challenging attitudes to disability. We are doing these competitions to a high standard; there is nothing light about them. It’s about pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved.

My hope is that the UK competition will be annual event and that it continues to grow.

Gary is supporting Scope’s fitness fundraising challenge Steptember. Participants are challenged to take at least 10,000 steps a day for the month of September. A huge range of activities, including swimming, cycling, wheeling and weight-lifting, can be converted into ‘steps’ via the event website. There still time to sign up on the Steptember website and get active while raising money for a great cause.

“Does he need a high chair?” Things you hear when you’re a person with dwarfism – #EndtheAwkward

Guest post from Phil Lusted, a web and graphic designer from north Wales. He blogs at his website LittlePhillz, and is supporting our End the Awkward campaign.Full-length photo of Phil, a man who has dwarfism

I am 31 years old and stand 3ft tall in height due to the fact I have diastrophic dysplaysia, a form of dwarfism. Because of my short stature, I have experienced many odd situations in life – from awkward moments to somewhat embarrassing ones.

These are just some of the awkward things I experience as a person with dwarfism…

“Does he need a high chair?”

Once I was going out on a dinner date, and the waitress asked my date if I needed a high chair before we got to our table. Needless to say, I do not.

As you can imagine, this was an embarrassing situation for me and my date – but also for our waitress, who felt really bad and apologised. I didn’t take any offence, though; in fact I had a giggle about it afterwards.

Speaking to the person I’m with, not me

When I am out with a friend or family member, people who don’t know me sometimes ask questions to the person I’m with, rather than directly to me. For example, someone might ask, ‘Does he want a drink?’ I am quite capable of speaking for myself without any trouble.

Getting spoken to like a child

Another common awkward moment for me is being spoken to like a child. Sometimes, people – especially teenagers – will say things to the effect of ‘Awww, look at him’, as if they’re feeling sorry for me being short.

In all honesty, I don’t really want people feeling sorry for me. I lead a happy life just like anyone else – the only difference is that I am a bit shorter. It doesn’t mean I am not living a good life!

Children who stare and sometimes laugh

I do come across this a lot, children who stare and laugh. To be honest, this does not upset me at all – what does upset me is the way some parents handle the situation by yelling and punishing their children.

I think there’s a better way to handle it: by simply explaining to the child who I am and educating him or her a bit more.

Ending the Awkward

If I’m honest, we all go through embarrassing situations in life, disabled or not.
I think the best way to tackle these awkward moments is to be mature about it – explain and educate those who don’t quite know what to do, so that these awkward moments can be prevented from happening again. And remember that the awkwardness comes from both sides!Portrait shot of Phil wearing a football shirt

I think it’s important that we as disabled people need to start spreading awareness about what it is like to have a disability, and I strongly believe that educating people through campaigns such as this is a great way of doing so.

So please remember to handle those awkward moments with respect and understanding. That way, we can all help and educate each other.

Watch our comedy shorts on how to end the awkward, made in partnership with Channel 4. And we’d love to hear your awkward stories – email us on

The UK’s first ever ParaTri

Remember Kris from Wheely Good Fitness? Not only is he supporting us with Steptember 2015, at the beginning of August he also took part in the UK’s first ParaTri event. 

Held at Dorney Lake in Windsor, it was the first ever mass-participant disability sport event in the UK. And not just any event – the triathlon. Kris was part of two Wheely Good Fitness teams who entered the Sprint Relay and the Half Para Relay on what was a fantastic day! Here’s their story.

Team one was made up of John, Susie and Chrissie – John and Susie have been attending our Wheel-Fit class for 18 months and Susie also attends our Wheel-Spin class. Chrissie is a Support Worker for Scope. Team two was made up of two more of our Wheel-Fit and Wheel-Spin clients, Julie and Elliot, along with our class instructor Kris.

The day was not only about bringing people of all abilities together, but about demonstrating that you don’t have to be a paralympic athlete to take part. Our teams were able to challenge themselves beyond their comfort zone by not only having to work against the clock, but also in a different environment.

In addition to the team were the support staff involved in not only encouraging and verbally supporting those taking part, but some ran side by side to provide guidance and comfort. Behind the scenes they ensured everyone was able to attend by arranging transport and attending to individuals needs.  In total there were fifteen of us, all in our bright purple Team Wheely and Scope shirts.

Everyone taking part raced to the best of their ability, resulting in the sprint team taking 37th place and the Half Para Relay team taking 6th place. Whilst everyone shone there was one team member whose journey has to be mentioned because not only should it inspire others to keep aiming high but also because a life long dream was achieved.

Susie’s story

Susie was in the sprint team  and her contribution to the relay was a 1km wheelchair push which she managed to do in just over 11 minutes.

When Susie came to our classes 18 months ago she was unable to open her one hand adequately to push her wheelchair properly and was generally pushed in her chair. As time went on her movements improved and she was able to open her hand enough to grab the push rim and asked to attend Wheel-Spin which wasn’t at that time possible.

Instead we agreed she could attend the 10 minute cool down section of Wheel-Spin and we would see how things progressed. Susie couldn’t get enough of it and started arriving earlier and earlier, and slowly the abilities in pushing and the use of her hand improved.

Now, 12 months on, she actively takes part in Wheel-Spin and has become quite independent and confident which is why she was entered into the Sprint Relay. What is so special about this is that not only did she challenge herself to improve, but as a result she also achieved a long standing ambition on Sunday of being an athlete and all at the age of 60.

The day at ParaTri was yet another proud day for us, seeing the benefits of the work we do and seeing how different lives can be when you believe in yourself and your abilities.

Read more about Wheely Good Fitness on their blog.

Disabled people aren’t delicate! Why we’re getting fit this #Steptember

Guest post from Kris Saunders-Stowe of Wheely Good Fitness, who runs exercise classes for both disabled and non-disabled people in Herefordshire. He’s helping us promote Steptember, the fun fitness challenge where you can raise money for Scope.DSC_0153

For some people exercise is a dirty word, conjuring up images of sweaty, unfriendly gyms, intimidating perfect physiques and lots of hard work, sweat and tears. This can be true! However, it’s just one side of the fitness world, and not at all reflective of what it’s all about.

Every movement we perform in daily life, from carrying shopping and lifting a wheelchair into the car to opening a door or cleaning our teeth, is exercise.

And the definition of success is different for every person – one person’s desire to lift a 40kg dumb-bell is just as valid as another person’s desire to lift and hold their cup of morning coffee.

Step away from the stereotyped image of exercise, and you see that it’s about looking after your body to ensure that it is healthy and able to support you in your daily life.

Disability and fitness

Disability and exercise aren’t usually seen as going hand in hand. Yet for disabled people, getting the right exercise is all-important – otherwise, you’ll lose strength and flexibility and become less and less active.Wheelchair fitness class taking place

Another reason for the negativity around exercise and disability is one forced upon us by society. Disabled people are delicate, we should be careful, we’re not allowed to do this and that. Health and safety!

We only have to look at Paralympics to see that that’s not true. But lots of disabled people can relate to being turned away from a gym. Or they’re only allowed to take part in an over-70s class or similar (which is silly in itself – older people resent being pigeon-holed by their years rather than their abilities!).

At Wheely Good Fitness, we like to challenge these preconceptions by running modern, proactive and high energy classes for people of varying abilities.

We do this because there’s a severe lack of suitable multi-ability classes out there – classes where disabled people actively take part with the group and have the same experience as the rest. There is a huge need for leisure facilities to start making disability fitness an integral part of their programmes.

Get involved

Whether you’re disabled or not, we’re all the same – our muscles need maintaining, our hearts need looking after, our minds need challenging and our weight managing. I want to encourage more people to take part in exercise on any level, and that’s why I and some of my clients are supporting Steptember.

Man lifting weights while sitting in a wheelchair, another man with a prosthetic leg behind him
Kris with disabled model Jack Eyres, who’s also supporting Steptember

This month of activity is about increasing the amount of physical activity you do, in whatever way you prefer, whilst also raising money for Scope. You might want to take 10,000 steps a day, or the equivalent using a wheelchair, but there are dozens of other activities that also count.

We’re also releasing our first ever Wheel-Fit home exercise DVD for Steptember, with £1 from every copy sold going to Scope.

Remember, we all have something we can do to get fit – and we can all improve our abilities, mood, energy levels and fitness through exercise. Whether you’re lifting dumbbells or tins of beans, doing a marathon or wheeling to your front door and back, it all makes a difference!

Sign up for Steptember to get fit this autumn – and raise money for Scope! You can do it alone or with friends or colleagues.

Meet our £4000 Jackpot winner Audrey

Audrey was the lucky winner of Scope’s £4,000 Summer Jackpot prize. Below she tells us how the prize money will make a big difference for her family, and why she is proud to be a supporter of Scope.

How did you feel when you found out you won the top prize?

I was highly delighted! I have not won anything as valuable before. I am always buying raffle tickets to support charities. I actually buy the tickets then forget about the date of drawing the winners!

What are you going to spend your winnings on?

I am giving £1000 each to our son and daughter and I think the other £2000 will go towards a holiday or updating our car.

It is greatly appreciated – our son and daughter are equally delighted!

What does Scope mean to you?

We always support Scope. We donate things to our local Scope shop as well as buying the raffle tickets.

Our son (who’ll get £1000 of the prize) has cerebral palsy. Mostly his legs are affected and in the past he has had major surgery to help him.

We try to help him as much as possible.  He still falls quite a lot and it is not easy for him, but he is getting on and doing well in his job.

If you have been inspired by Audrey’s story, you can enter the Super Jackpot today for the chance to win £10,000 while supporting disabled people and their families.

Get a little more activity during the day for Steptember

This September, we’re challenging people across the UK to get a little bit more active while raising funds to support Scope. These suggestions will help you get a little more activity into your day just in time for Steptember.

One great way of making sure you get a little more active during the day is by changing your route to work up just a little bit so that you get more active. You can do this by giving our exercises to do at your desk a once over or, you can try adding a bit more to your journey in the morning.

I know what you’re thinking. “My commute is long enough!”, but taking a break and walking between stops, getting hopefully some fresh air, can actually improve your mood. And once you get used to it, you’ll find it’s just as natural as your commute now.

Walking more in London

Around the Scope head office, we’ve found ways of getting a few more meters into our routines using an application that tells you the distance between Underground stations.

All you have to do is pick where you are and then try your hand at walking to a few stations on a daily basis to add to your overall step count! Since the Tube map doesn’t reflect accurate distances, this app can help you get a better idea of which stations to walk to.

Or, if you’re looking to spontaneously walk a journey, save the redesigned Tube map that Joe Watson and Aryven Arasen created after the 48 hour Tube strike and use it even while you’re underground.

Walking more outside of London

Finding your walking distances outside of London might not be quite as simple, but don’t fret.

The WalkIt app, available in the Apple Store and Google Play, allows you to search any major city and find the walking directions and distance by individual stations. You can even plan and save your routes with your own account.

Or, if you just want to take an extra stroll, you can use WalkIt to plan a circular path using the length of time you’d like to move. You can also plot your own route and figure out how much distance you’ll rack up doing it.

There’s still time to register your team on the Steptember website, so get a few friends, sign up, and make a pledge to get a bit more active while raising funds for a great cause.

Being funny helped me fend off the bullies! #EndTheAwkward

Guest Post from YouTuber, vlogger and actor Jack Binstead, who is supporting Scope´s End the Awkward campaign and stars in our Awkward Moments film. Jack has brittle bones and uses a wheelchair.

When I walk, it is very staggered, very messy. Normally I sit in a wheelchair, I can only take a few steps at the time. So I’ve come up with a phrase: I’m a penguin on drugs“.

At school I figured out that if I made jokes about myself first, then the bullies can´t say anything, because I wouldn´t be offended. I found this out when I was younger – turn an awkward situation into a humorous one.

I laugh it off, I switch it round. The strategy still works for me: A lot of my acting in the last few years has been based on comedy.

I will challenge your assumptions

Awkwardness comes from people assuming things. They assume that there are many things I can´t do. It´s always been a big thing for me that I don´t want to look any more disabled than I have to. If there is a slight chance that I can do something, I´ll try.

Especially as a kid there were a lot of situations where I got it wrong: I wanted to impress my mates, I wanted to be no different and the consequence was I fell out of the wheelchair, or I´d bust a finger in a wheel.

Meanwhile, though, I can do amazing things: I can get up and down an escalator. When people see it, their jaws drop, they can´t believe what they are seeing. If I let go, that´s it, I´d be falling down the escalator. There is only a few of us that can do that.

Vloggers are the new celebrities

YouTube is a big thing, vloggers are the new celebrities. I am such a sociable guy, I so enjoy it. Thousands of people subscribe to my channel on YouTube.

Tweets come in every couple of minutes and I have no problem answering all sorts of questions. I have told my followers about my condition: They know that getting out and about is risky for me, because my bones break very easily.

My message to my followers is: You´ve got to get out there, you´ve got to be motivated, you´ve got to be you. There is no point in being anyone else.

Bullying isn’t harmless banter

I am also involved in theatre, I’m doing a big play with school kids which focuses on bullying. They might not know they are bullying, they might think it is harmless banter with their mates – they don´t understand that what they are doing is hurtful.

There is nothing that limits me

Jack smiling and looking at camera
Jack at the shoot of our awkward moments film

For people who are not sure whether to offer help to someone who is disabled, my advice would be: Wait a bit longer, don´t rush into offering help. If I´m struggling, then come and approach me.

Generally, if someone with a disability needs help, they are going to ask. Chances are they want to bump down those stairs by themselves.

I believe that disability shouldn’t limit us. There is nothing about being in a wheelchair which would limit me.

Look out for Jack’s film coming out in Autumn, Bad Education, which is based on the TV series. Follow him on Twitter and You Tube.

Disability Innovations: So, what do you think?

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field.

From the outset we’ve been hoping that by showcasing ideas and innovative products, this blog will help inspire and encourage other people in this field. We are passionate about how we can help share the news about innovative products, to allow all you lovely people to hear about, and hopefully benefit from them.

Since starting this blog series we have received emails from a number of people who are involved in making innovative products for disabled people. They are often looking for direct feedback to help them design the most exciting and useful product possible.

That’s where you come in! We’d love to present a couple of new ideas that have been sent our way to get your feedback. Whether you are disabled, or are interested in this area, your feedback (positive and negative!) is really valuable and could help in designing and perfecting the next great product.

We’d also like to hear what you have thought of other things featured in our blogs so far. We’ll do a round-up of some of them at the end and we’d love to know what you think and if you have any personal experience of any of the products. Have a read of the ideas below and get in touch either by commenting on this post or emailing us at

  1. Accessible, 3D printed products

We recently heard from Luca Parmegiani, an Italian product designer based in London working for Myminifactory. He is focused on creating products that offer solutions for a range of daily challenges that are linked to mobility or dexterity.

collage of 3D products

He has designed 3D printed items so that people who own a 3D printer can download and print them freely. They include key holders, bottle openers, and cup holders. He wants to work with individuals to make products as tailored as possible to the individual.

Luca is looking for constructive criticism, advice and suggestions around his products and idea. Check out his Facebook page to see more about what he is working on.

  1. Brunel University and Blue Badge Style winners

Fiona Jarvis got in touch with us from Blue Badge Style. They asked students at Brunel University to design accessories that would make a standard wheelchair more stylish. Fiona is looking for feedback on two of the three winning ideas.

Backback Pack

The first is the BackBack Pack, which fulfilled the criteria of being universally desirable, not just by wheelchair users. They are currently investigating production of the bag. The aim is that it will be a high quality, well designed item that is remarkable for its superior quality and design.

Cup Holder

The second is the cup holder that attaches to a wheelchair and is suitable for a number of different sizes and styles of glass or cup. Like the BackBack Pack it is also in prototype stage. Check out this video of how it works.

Image of an accessible cup holder

Fiona would love feedback on both of these ideas, what you think of their design and whether you think you might use any of these products. She would also more specifically like to know how much realistically you would be willing to pay for these items and why.

  1. Featured Innovations

Since we started this blog series we have featured 14 different innovations. We’d like to hear about whether you have followed up on any of the things you have read about, and what experience you have with these products. Some of them were still in the test phase and aren’t widely available, but we’d love to know what you think of them. Here is a quick rundown of six of the most popular ideas featured:

Talkitt – a voice to voice app which aims to enable people with motor, speech, and language conditions to communicate freely and easily using their own voice. We liked how it is based fully on the user’s own voice, enabling more natural communication.

RogerVoice – an App that enables people with hearing impairments to have conversations on the phone, by converting speech to subtitles in real time. What interested us was how it aims to make mainstream technology even more inclusive.

Una Tickets a new primary ticketing service that hopes to develop the most accessible ticket system out there. Una’s approach is hoping to improve accessibility at all stages of the ticketing experience, from purchasing a ticket, to accessing the venue. This is a mainstream service that wants to put a real emphasis on accessibility, which made it stand out for us.

Be My Eyesan iPhone app that connects visually impaired people with volunteer helpers from around the world via live video chat, to allow sighted volunteers to ‘lend’ their eyes and assist with tasks such navigating surroundings and identifying food labels. We love the sense of community and the simple pleasure of helping someone out that this app creates.

Andiamo a startup creating healthcare solutions for disabled children, with a mission to see no child ever having to wait more than one week to receive medical device. Their first venture is looking to 3D print orthotic supports, from back braces and wrist braces, to open foot orthoses. We like how this project is driven by parents of a disabled child who are using their first hand experience to find innovative solutions to real problems.

HandSteadya cup designed especially for people with arthritis, tremors, muscle weakness or limited dexterity, to help reduce spills when drinking and increase independence. It’s a simple design, and a nice reminder that innovation isn’t always ground breaking new technologies, but sometimes small tweaks that make a big difference.

Over to you!

So there you go. We hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about these ideas and products. Please send us your comments and feedback and together we can be part of creating innovative products that are centered around the user.

As with all our blogs, this is for information only. Scope does not endorse this product or service. We try to make sure our information is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing.

To give us feedback on these products, or to tell us about another disability innovation you have seen, please either comment on the blog or email us at