Washing machine access board for visually impaired – useful information

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Oct 182018

Some useful information from Remap in N Ireland regarding washing machines .


A client rang who has an old Hotpoint washing machine, and Hotpoint had fitted it with an access board so that she could use it although she and her husband are both blind.

To cut a long story short, the machine has broken down. It is not repairable because it is 20+ years old and parts are no longer available.

Hotpoint said at first that the access board could not be fitted to modern machines.

The woman wanted to know if Remap could supply or make an access board to fit a Bosch – it has the functions that she wants in a washing machine.

I said no, we can’t, because there are no identifiable buttons to press or knobs to turn – only contact areas on a perfectly smooth face. These contact areas have to be selected visually, not by touch. To select a setting the user has to choose a function – program, temperature, spin speed – and then repeatedly press the area until the machine toggles to the desired setting.

The enquirer has come back to tell me that Hotpoint have now told him that they can, in fact, supply a new machine that their engineers will fit with an access board.

Unfortunately it’s an  entry-level machine; she wants something more advanced, but it’s not feasible to fit an access board. This is the best that Hotpoint can do.

Case closed.

The point is that if any other Panels come up with this problem, here’s a solution – contact Hotpoint.

ps – I’m now told that Miele do a washing machine that can be used by blind people.

Apparently it costs around £900.


Derek McMullan,

Secretary, Remap NI

Sep 102018

Remap members may be interested in an innovation by a client of Isle of Wight panel. Their client, Matt was a lecturer in engineering and welding at the Isle of Wight Technical College before he sustained a spinal cord injury which now prevents him from standing, walking or sitting for long periods.

He was given a reclining wheelchair, which he found unstable and impossible to self-propel for anything over 50 metres, because of his position in relation to the wheel rims.

Matt first designed some stabilisers and had these fitted, then turned to designing levers so he could propel himself. Matt says “The original design concept came from a boiler valve spanner, that locked the drive wheel and extended the amount of leverage in a ratchet like motion”.

These levers enable him to propel the chair for up to a mile on flat ground as well as 4 inch curbs with the result that he can now get out and about independently. David Potter of IOW panel helped him improve the design which now has a braking system included. Although lever driven chairs are available, Matt’s lever adaptations are interchangeable between all chairs with between 450mm and 500mm diameter drive wheels. Matt is happy to share technical details if anyone is interested – contact Central Office.

Aug 282018

Remap Barnet have a modified triwalker that’s looking for a new owner. It’s been modified to carry a 10kg oxygen tank and I believe it also comes with a pulley system which can be mounted over the front door so that it can be lifted over the doorstep. Full case notes available on request!

If you’re interested, please contact Luciana on Barnet.Enquiries@remapgroups.org.uk

Aug 232018

Help required in the Tyne area.  Please if there is any chance of solving this from a distance get in touch.

This message has come from the girl’s speech therapist. Jenny.VanNiekerk@nuth.nhs.uk



Jude Pullen from Inventing the Impossible/Big Life Fix suggested that I contact you in regards to a plea for help with a young girl who is locked in and needs to be able to communicate via BCI.

I have put out a lot of enquiries and to be blunt, I just need this to happen! She is an only child, 12 years old and we feel has some understanding of what’s going on around her. She has no reliable and consistent movement we can make use of except perhaps, moving tendons in her forearm when attempting to activate a sensor switch.

Please see my original email below.

Jude suggested I mention key words such as – ‘must be good at making stuff, basic electronics, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and can 3D print / design’. I hope that makes sense to you!

Again, I can’t begin to express how grateful I would be if you could help – we are completely stuck. I’m sure the family would support any TV/media coverage to promote yourselves?!?

Thank you,

Jenny (Speech Therapist)

Hi Jude,

I am a Speech and Language Therapist working in the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. I’ve been glued to the programme Inventing the Impossible and have been bowled over by the clever engineering used to improve people’s lives.

I am working with a 12 year old girl who presents as being ‘locked in’. She has been with us since November 2017. We cannot make use of her eyes or any form of consistent movement for communication.

I feel she at least understands yes/no questions and could make choices from 2. There is significant atrophy on her brain so we don’t know how much she understands beyond that – we just don’t know.

I wondered if you had any in-roads in regards to using Brain Computing Interface (BCI) technology for communication? She is an only child and I am desperate to give her parents some good news re communication but I feel I have tried everything I can. Obviously, I am really, really hoping that you and your team could please help us to tailor-make some technology to help us access her understanding (through auditory feedback and prompts and voice output) to help her express herself and at the very least, take some ownership of her care via yes/no responses and basic choice making.

I can’t begin to tell you how much this would mean to her family. Hoping you can help.

Thank you,



Speech and Language Therapist Acute and Neuroscience


Level 4 – Block 2

Clinical Resource Centre


Queen Victoria Road



0191 2824701

Tues, Thurs and Fri



Aug 162018

In response to the discussion earlier this year about starting an Arduino community, Remap Physical Computing Community of Interest has now been set up and is looking for new members. It is a Google discussion group for Remap panellists to collaborate and discuss microcontrollers, microprocessors, sensors, powered effectors and controls electronics.

You can apply for membership here by writing a few sentences about yourself to the site’s owner.

Please do come and join us — the more the merrier!

Aug 152018

Would anyone like to recommend some 3D printing software to our members? I know we’ve got people who are interested and not sure where to start. I’m planning an article for the next Panellist, but I don’t have the expertise to rate the different options myself. So far I’ve heard of:

  • TinkerCad and SketchUp — free and designed for beginners. Any good? Too simplistic?
  • Blender — free, but looks like it’s more for graphic design and animation? Useful or rubbish?
  • Fusion 360 — free if you’ve got access to an .ac.uk email. We get 2 x £20 licences as a charity. After that, £££££. Thoughts?
  • Alibre Atom — Derby panel have wrangled us a deal of £168 per licence in return for some good publicity. Worth it?
  • Solidworks — Expensive! Expect this would be out of our budget even after a negotiated discount.

What are you all using? What have I missed? What are your thoughts? Please leave a comment or ping me an email (s.morrison@remap.org.uk). My Panellist article is depending on you guys!

Have you used a single board computer in a recent project?

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Aug 072018

If so, RS Components would like your help. They’ve been in touch with the following request:

We’re in the process of developing an exciting new project for RS Components and DesignSpark that reflects the ever-increasing interest in single board computers from everyone from hobbyists to industrial designers – and we’d love your help. 

We’re looking for experts like you to help us inspire people with the great ideas you’ve been involved in creating. We’ll then promote these stories to our audiences to stimulate their imaginations and encourage them to take their projects to the next level. 

We want to write stories that will be of interest to any of the following groups: 

  • Makers (students and hobbyists)
  • Promakers (Makers taking their first steps into the commercial world)
  • IoT and Industrial Designers (these are self-explanatory) 

The stories will cover the motivation behind the projects, the equipment used, the result and anything you would have done differently. Ideally, a photograph of the finished project would be great too.  

If you’ve used a Raspberry Pi, Arduino, or other SBC in a recent project and you’d be happy to chat with one of the RS team about it over the phone, please drop an email to Sophie (s.morrison@remap.org.uk) and she’ll put you in touch.  Thanks everyone!

Feb 202018

Just wondering if anyone has any additional ideas for a project we have currently. The situation is an elderly lady who side transfers onto a toilet seat which she wants to be padded for comfort. She transfers with some force too.

Original OT supplied padded toilet seat was soft enough – but very flimsy and the hinges would be very likely to break under side transfer. Investigation confirmed that the padding was on a backing of thin plywood about 4mm thick – so any brackets fixed to it, to locate it on the pan would likely pull through the plywood over time. The hinges secure into T nuts in the plywood – but the PVC covering is vinyl welded all around so they can’t be retrospectively fitted in other places without re-covering the seat.

We located and tried a couple of higher quality alternatives – but none of these have proven soft enough like the original. Currently, we are working on the following ideas:

  1. Silicone rubber moulding an entire seat ourselves. We have located a product that is mixed and poured at room temp – but don’t have any experience of this type of material, and wondered if anyone else did?  This seems a lot of effort in creating the mould for something that might not work as well as we might hope.
  2. Creating a seat ourselves (or recovering the original once it has been modified to take T nuts) – but none of us have experience of welding PVC seams, which are needed for hygiene reasons. Anyone with experience of getting something like that done? Presumably there are companies who specialise in PVC welded products but we haven’t found any yet.
  3. Seeing if we can do anything to replace the hinges on the original with something far stronger that will hold the seat in position from the back in spite of the force from the side.
  4. Seeing if we can find something that will anchor into thin plywood strongly enough from one side, such as D nuts. Anyone any experience of those in material as thin as 4mm, or can suggest any alternative?

Thoughts appreciated!




Feb 192018

Ashley appears to have answered his own question with https://www.contactleft.co.uk  . Why is it that Google manages to find nothing one day then exactly what you need the next. You may like to post the answer, I’ve ordered two lockable buckles now I have to persuade the client to let me have the strap for a couple of days so I can modify it.

Thanks for the comments