Useful gizmos and gadgets

Useful gizmos and gadgets

Here at Disability Horizons, we regularly keep an eye for any gizmos, gadgets and apps that might help disabled people in their quest for greater independence. In the first of our regular Useful gizmos and gadgets series, we’ll feature useful pieces of technology that our readers let us know of.

Last summer, I began the process of getting assessed to drive a car independently. While I was able to control the vehicle, I did have some concerns about driving. One of those concerns related to what I would do if was on my own and my car broke down and for whatever reason I couldn’t use my phone. It would be very difficult to raise the alarm as I am always out and about and I don’t always keep someone informed as to what I am doing.

One of our readers recently came across and emailed us about an app called Lookout Call, which is apparently widely-used commercially by independent or lone workers, and enables an alarm to be raised if something goes wrong.

The app works in the following manner. Individuals use their mobile phone to provide regular spoken updates describing their location and planned activity. They also input an estimation of the length of time their activity will last.  This causes a timed countdown to begin. At any point during the countdown they can press the safe button and enter their PIN to deactivate the countdown.

If a countdown expires, the protection system phones the individuals to prevent a false alarm being triggered. If the individual fails to deactivate the alarm, the system enters an alert mode.  When in alert mode the system alerts the individuals nominated ‘Responders’ (their friends, family and loved ones) and replays the message left earlier. Responders are prompted to confirm their intention to take appropriate action and the app confirms immediately that help is on the way. The app will alert the friends, family and loved ones, regardless of geographical distance even if the individual’s phone is out-of-battery, lost or even destroyed.

According to Lookout Call Director John Wood  “Lookout Call has already proven itself as an efficient, cost-effective and reliable personal alert system for people who are repeatedly placed in vulnerable situations. As such we are delighted that we can offer this world-class technology and subsequent peace of mind, to disabled motorists.

While we were informed about this app by one of our readers in the context of driving, I reckon it potentially has use in a number of other contexts especially by those whose disability affects them at irregular and unpredictable intervals.

If anyone else has any experience of any other apps which can be used to raise an alarm when travelling independently then let us know!

By Srin Madipalli

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