This is a follow-up to my last post about tools.
I was thinking about my wife’s Nan (Hi, Anita!), and I thought I would expand the post on tools for gardening, but this time for those with accessibility needs. Not just the elderly, but the disabled too.
Gardening is well known as a form of both physical and mental therapy. Getting outdoors, into the sun on a nice day is great for us. Everyone – no matter their disability, impairment or age – can benefit, and with a few tweaks we can all enjoy ourselves with some time out in the garden, pottering around and getting a bit mucky! B-)
Working the soil often means being on your hands and knees. But for some people that’s not always possible, so there are alternatives. Kneelers and caddies are a great idea, sometimes essential and will make some jobs just plain easier.
Also, keep your tools close to hand so you don’t need to keep bending down for things. A belt or apron that can hold hand tools will help with that. If you are in a wheelchair then armrest pouches can be really helpful!
Gripping aids are also a good idea. Most people that need these will likely already have them. But others may not know it’s an option.
Trabasacks or wheelchair lap trays, are also a good idea. This allows you to use your lap as a workspace. I would really suggest that if you use a lap tray to get one with an edge to hold in any spilled soil or water.
The idea of a raised bed is not new, it goes from the simple idea above to much deeper and sturdier ones like this. But what about wheelchair height? A bed like this would allow a wheelchair to be brought right up to the edge allowing good access.
Another kind of raised bed is this one above. With access through the gate it can be used by both walking and wheelchair users. Obviously the height could be altered depending on individual needs and in reality would need to be made wider to allow for a full turning circle, but it allows access to the whole bed from one position. No need to move around.
Or, for someone with mobility issues that don’t require a wheelchair then a bed at chair height may be better suited.
The important thing here is to make the environment available to the person.
Now in the last post I talked about choosing tools that fit you. In this instance some of the tools in the last blog won’t be suitable for everyone, and prospective gardeners may need some specialist equipment.
The two images above are an excellent alternative to the standard. The handle is better suited to those with difficulties holding a straight handled trowel. Not only that but the cuff you see on the right can be fixed to it to give better control, balance and leverage. long handled variations also exist!
One thing to note is that if you already have tools you like you can use this adaptor rather than buying a complete new set.
Another idea is this. You will note that the handles have a softer strap rather than a harder ring. I dare say these would be more comfortable for extended work.
Another point on this kind of tool. These are by necessity very light weight, but this also brings its own problems. Costs may be higher than you would pay for normal tools.
People with certain impairments might also benefit from using long handled tools like this lopper. Useful because not only does it cut, but it then holds onto whatever you just cut allowing you guide it where you want it rather than simply letting it fall.
And then we get to power tools. As with the last blog post these can be the most difficult to look into. Everyone will have different issues using power tools but they do make many jobs much easier.
Here are some links that may be able to help you further.