Inventors of self-help tools sought for disabled, infirm

Kyodo

A welfare organization has begun compiling a database of “self-help equipment” designed to help elderly and disabled people make use of ordinary everyday items on their own, increasing their independence.

Last December, the Association for Technical Aids, an incorporated public interest foundation based in Tokyo, set up a website for its database of self-help equipment along with instructions on how to make the items. The association, which promotes welfare equipment aimed at assisting the elderly and disabled with their daily lives, collaborated with manufacturers specializing in such equipment for the project.

The database contains about 150 ready-made items, like simple writing boards or spring-loaded chopsticks, and others that can be adjusted to people’s individual needs. The site is updated regularly and the group plans to increase the number of items on the website.

The database will also tell potential customers where they can purchase the equipment. A list of contact information, including about 40 factories across Japan, can be used for those who want to order a new tool or customize an existing one.

The equipment in the database is divided into existing or custom-made products. Customers can narrow the search to specific purposes, such as dining and housework, or excretion support and bathroom equipment. Each entry has detailed information on its features, and the custom-made articles have detailed descriptions of how they were made, based on the know-how at each factory.

Aside from the database, the group is conducting projects aimed at familiarizing the public with the products and its activities. They have organized workshops in Shizuoka, Nagoya and Kitakyushu where residents can learn how to build self-help tools.

The workshops, organized once a month, are held at Kitakyushu Technical Aid Center.

“The level and kind of disability is different for everyone, so it’s very helpful that I can have the equipment customized for my needs,” said Yoshie Arima, 77, who has a disabled limb. Arima attended a workshop at the Kitakyushu Technical Aid Center.

“We hope that the database will popularize the equipment, so that it becomes more accessible,” said Association for Technical Aids member Kiyokuni Kojima. “We also hope that eventually it will help (the elderly and disabled) become more independent.”

The Association for Technical Aids can be reached at 03-3266-6883.