Inventors are constantly working at making life easier for people living with disabilities. Naidex, the UK’s largest disability, rehabilitation and home care event, is where they came to showcase the latest high-tech ideas.
Among the exhibits on show are all-terrain wheelchairs, smartphones adapted for people whose fingers will not cope with a normal device, wheelchairs that allow the user to rise up to the level at which able-bodied people operate and exercise bikes adapted for those with limited use of their legs.
The theme of the event was independent living, which is what Paralympic double gold-medallist Hannah Cockroft was there to speak about.
“For me, independence is really important, and for disabled people, something that is taken away quite easily and is something that you really have to fight to have,” she said.
“I think it’s really important that people actually believe they can have it and that’s the first step to getting it. So this place (Naidex) is great because people can come and see what they need for their independence,” she added.
Her own story is one of grabbing chances with both hands as she went from wheelchair racing novice to London 2012 gold medal-winner in the space of five years.
Around one in five adults in the UK – more than 11 million people – have a limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability, but many more are indirectly affected by it and experts believe the figures are often under-reported.
And the number of exhibitors catering to disabled children quickly reminds you of how it impacts the most vulnerable in society.
Just getting basic services and appropriate facilities is enough of a challenge, according to another keynote speaker, Paralympic legend, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson.
Last month she launched the National Wheelchair Leadership Alliance, a campaign group whose aim is to ensure wheelchair users get the right chair at the right time.
There are around 1.2 million wheelchair users in England, roughly 2% of UK population, and she claims too many have to wait too long for a wheelchair or receive a wheelchair that is suitable for their needs.
For the 11-time Paralympic gold medallist it’s a simple matter of economics: “Without a good chair, I can’t work, I can’t pay taxes, I can’t contribute to society.”
Contributing to society and living independently is the big challenge facing those with disability.