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More DisAbility Friendly Christmas Present Suggestions

December 17, 2008

AbilityNet are back in the news. This time, I agree with them completely, and thank them very much. They have launched a range of toys suitable for children whose motor skills and dexterity are limited. Just in time for Christmas, too!

The toys are called Dream-Products and 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.

The soft toys – which cost just under £40 – are brought to life by using an external switch.

I totally agree with former special school headteacher, David Banes, who is now AbilityNet’s development director.  He says he hopes these toys will create a truly inclusive Christmas for disabled youngsters.

Assistant head teacher at the Willow Dene special school in South East London, Claire Barnes, says the soft toys are a welcome addition for the children in her nursery class because almost all of them can gain something from the responses the toys make when they hit the switch.

The computer game range includes PC titles Frogger, Whacka Monty Mole (which should appeal to those who like hitting things) and an “on rails” space shoot-em-up called Aurikon.

DisAbled children can now also access games consoles such as the PlayStation, with able-bodied players using the regular controls while they use the specially designed switches.

The Dream Gamer incorporates tilt switches into a baseball cap to provide a joystick-type interface for the Playstation. With the right adapter, it can also be used with other consoles.

And the same concept is behind the Dream Racer: a tilt of the head – up, down, left or right – will operate a remote-controlled model car or boat.

At around £160 for the Dream Racer (depending on which radio-controlled model is chosen) and £120 for the Dream Gamer, these are certainly not cheap options.

But for disabled children who have had to watch as friends and siblings enjoy the fun, there is now an alternative.

And that alternative is truly priceless. As I said about audiobooks, I wish that this range of toys had been invented years ago. Now that they are here, I’d like to encourage you to buy them for any DisAbled children you may have in your life. Accessible presents are for life- not just for Christmas. So if you know any DisAbled children, please allow them to feel included, this Christmas and always, by buying them toys that they can use. 

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