Clever thinking volunteers are helping give back independence

With a lot of thought and know-how, John came up with a solution that turns the pages of an ebook with just a very gentle puff or sip of a drinking straw

Posted on: 20 March 2017

Sometimes the most challenging situations have the simplest of solutions.

That’s the starting point for any task taken on by South Devon Remap who, through skilled volunteers, are helping disabled people achieve independence and a better quality of life by designing and making bespoke equipment to help with their individual needs.

Tailor-made by volunteer engineers and people who are good at making things, the equipment is helping people carry out daily tasks without having to ask for help.

It’s also helping people be more active in their communities, to take part in leisure activities, or to have a job if that’s their goal, where otherwise it would be impossible.

But behind each design, there’s a lot of skill and engineering know-how. Remap’s volunteers are adept at working through a problem, understanding what wants to be achieved, and designing and making a solution that works.

The products aren’t off the shelf. If there’s a solution already available on the market that can help with a person’s needs, well, that’s the answer.

Remap’s expertise is in making equipment that doesn’t already exist, and in that it’s pioneering.

Devon County Council Occupational Therapists, Tracey Thorneywork and Liz Riley, are panel members for South Devon Remap.

Liz says:

“The engineers use their skills and knowledge to help make or adapt pieces of equipment that helps people overcome barriers to independence, helping people participate more in things they want to do.”

Even the simplest of tasks can make a world of difference to a person’s outlook and wellbeing.

For one Tavistock lady, her severe MS meant that she was unable to turn the pages of the books she loved. She contacted South Devon Remap and was introduced to Dr John Cole, retired physicist and engineer.

With a lot of thought and know-how, John came up with a solution that turns the pages of an ebook on her tablet with just a very gentle puff or sip of a drinking straw.

It doesn’t need batteries, or special software. It just plugs into the tablet via its USB.

It meant that the lady was able to read again without requiring help from someone else.

In other circumstances, the e-page turner could also help people read other things, including study materials.

Other challenges might require less technical solutions; a tray for carrying cups that can be carried easily using just one hand, for example.

“The potential to help people could be harnessed if we had more volunteer engineers in our area of Teignbridge, Torbay and the South Hams,” says Liz.

“We’d love to help more people with disabilities regain or achieve new skills and occupations, so we’d like more engineer-minded volunteers to help us.”

If you’re good at making thing and can turn your hand to a challenge, then please contact: or telephone 01626 358659. Or visit Remap’s website

Posted in: Health and Wellbeing