Wheelchair lap tray blog

User-Centred Design and Wheelchair Hacks Top the Curriculum at NuVu

NuVu Wheelchair Lap Tray Team

NuVu Wheelchair Lap Tray Team

Creating a Wheelchair Tray

Described as an ‘Innovation Center for Young Minds’ NuVu offers education with a distance and students at this unique learning centre have been in the news thanks to their focus on user-centred design in some of their latest projects.

Based in Cambridge Massachusetts the students at NuVu were given a project focusing on the needs of their classmate, wheelchair user Mohammed Sayed. After a crash course in user-centred design and design for all principles the students had one task: hack Mohammed’s wheelchair to make it more user-friendly.

Students got to hear what Mohammed wanted from his wheelchair, with over 50 different wish list items considered, and in the end it was just two that were brought forward, conceptualised by his classmates and then prototyped to a condition in which Mohammed could test drive them.


Solving the Need for Speed


Vertical Handle for Propelling a Wheelchair

One of the ideas which reached the test driving stage was put together by a group who focused on Mohammed’s need for speed. An innovative gear and lever system, which locks onto one of the wheels of the chair (pictured) was the end result. By pushing the vertical handle forward, the chair too was propelled forward thus saving energy and effort which comes from the need to manually turn the wheels by hand. The lever itself was constructed using innovative 3D printing software and technology.

Wheelchair Lap Tray (Where have we heard that before?)

The second of the inventions piqued our interest as Mohammed told his colleagues he’d always wanted a handy place for his cup and his computer but hadn’t been able to find a suitable attachment to his wheelchair online. Fellow students designed a wooden wheelchair computer tray which slides into place over the arm rests of the chair.

NuVu Wheelchair Lap Tray Design

NuVu Wheelchair Lap Tray Design

The tray has been described as much like an aeroplane tray but it’s hinged with an opening within where space has been created to store an iPad, a book and conveniently, hand sanitiser. The pieces are designed to snap together and apart with ease.

The work of the students at NuVu is commendable, seeing any institute focus closely on universal design principles and ideas which can suit people with a range of needs is a real positive. However, the creations of the students are of course not available for general sale and can’t be enjoyed by other wheelchair users – they were designed as a class project. Instead, a viable alternative, at least for the lap tray, is our Trabasack Mini. Providing the same functionality as the NuVu students’ tray, you benefit from a tray and a secure bag in a single unit, which you can keep on your lap or hang from your chair when not in use. The universal design means it isn’t solely designed for wheelchair use so anybody can enjoy one.

We’d like to congratulate the innovative thinking and design ability of the students at NuVu and with talent like this, there is hope for even more user-centred design products in the future.

Find out more here https://cambridge.nuvustudio.com/studios/iip-fall-2014/wheelchair-tray-table#tab-final


Wheelchair Lap Trays – the competition!

The Gloves are off: a Wheelchair Lap Tray Comparison

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As inventors of a wheelchair lap tray, we only thought it fair to compare our product to others on the market. Now, when Trabasack was first designed our main aim was to create something  unlike the clinical, clunky look of wheelchair trays. We wanted to invent something easier to use and with a wheelchair user in mind. The result was our ergonomic, light-weight, stylish and versatile Trabasack lap tray and bag.

We thought it’d be worthwhile having a tongue-in-cheek look at some of our competitors and why exactly Trabasack is your best wheelchair lap tray choice!

The Competitors

A wooden tray fixed to red manual wheelchair Follow Me on Pinterest

1. The Wooden Laptray – available for around £99.00 and well as the photo shows, not the most comfortable looking product. Secured to your wheelchair with hook and loop straps, this product is reminiscent of a school desk and although functional, has a bit of a retro sideboard feel!

A white plastic clinical looking tray for food and drink Follow Me on Pinterest

2. Moulded Laptray – available for around £49.99 and is made from moulded plastic and features and moulded cup holder. Designed to look like a child’s high chair tray and from the photo looks extremely clinical and not ideal in a social situation. It could feel like a social barrier or be a little too reminiscent of hospitals. Not really the image one wants to portray!





Laptray which is a half tray and swings out like an airplane tray Follow Me on Pinterest

3. Flip Away Half  Tray – available for around £99.99 and also made from moulded plastic featuring a cup holder and can be easily flipped away. This design is clearly a step up from the others, it does have a bit of an “I’m just about to have an in flight meal” look. Although it doesn’t trap you behind a piece of plastic quite as much s the one above and it can be moved away when transferring from your chair. Difficulties come in attaching it to an armrest, all chairs and people are so different, you will be lucky if this suits you. The hard edges of the tray surface and the corner may also catch door frames and maybe even other peoples groins!


So how does Trabasack compare?

The Trabasack is portable, light weight and functional and has even won a style award! You can strap it around your waist or hang it from the back of your chair when not in use and it doesn’t restrict movement at all. In comparison to

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the older tray designs, you can clearly see how much more functional the Trabasack design is. You never have to worry about transfer issues or having to screw the tray to your chair, your Trabasack lap tray is extremely easy to move and much more comfortable due to its beanbag cushion for comfort.

The Trabasack is also a handy bag so instead of becoming another thing that you have to carry around, you can actually carry things inside it.

I hope you also agree that our Trabasack products at between £35 and £45 are much better value for money!

There really is no other wheelchair tray in comparison!


title Rolyan Economy Moulded Wheelchair Tray Adult Wheelchair Tray Able2 Lap Tray – hook & loop straps fasten to wheelchair) Trabasack Mini – Lap Desk Tray and Bag Wheelchair Tray Rolyan Flip Away Halftray Right Translucent
price 34.99 31.69 116.64 26.95 152.50
reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews
link More Info More Info More Info More Info More Info
  • Durable and lightweight wheelchair tray
  • Features moulded rim and recess for a cup or a glass to prevent spillages
  • Tray measures 600mm x 550mm (231/2
Title Rolyan Economy Moulded Wheelchair Tray Adult Wheelchair Tray Able2 Lap Tray – hook & loop straps fasten to wheelchair) Trabasack Mini – Lap Desk Tray and Bag Wheelchair Tray Rolyan Flip Away Halftray Right Translucent
Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews Read Reviews
Link More Info More Info More Info More Info More Info

The Trabasack – your new wheelchair backpack

Wheelchair Backpacks – A Trendy Trabasack

If you’re a wheelchair user, you know how difficult it can be to find a bag which easily stowed and accessible. Wheelchair backpacks have been specifically designed to use with your chair but most of them are boring, bulky and look like they were made in the 1970s. It’s a sad truth but the area of the market which deals with wheelchair accessories is very small and the range of wheelchair backpacks is not very stylish.

Need a Wheelchair Backpacks – try a Trabasack.

Set up the straps as rucksack straps to hang on the back of a chair Follow Me on Pinterest

Trabasack have created a fantastic alternative to standard wheelchair backpacks which are functional and smart enough to win a Style Award. As well as acting as a practical wheelchair backpack in which you can fit in all your essentials, it can also be used an innovative lap tray, for eating, drinking or laptops. There are many occasions where you find you need a surface to write on, hold your drink, or occasions where you cannot find an accessible table or one at the right height to get under.  These are problems that wheelchair users encounter on a daily basis. The Trabasack has a fantastic tray surface which lets you do any of the things you need. Your multifunctional bag can be easily placed on your lap, the soft bean bag cushion makes it comfortable so there is no danger of pressure marks or sores.  You then have a surface right there in front of you, to use for anything you want.

Trabasack lap tray bag – additional features

In addition, the trabasack was designed by a wheelchair user so it has many features that make it easier to use. Such as large ring pull zips, grab handles and a range of straps and D rings to give each person the most flexibility to attach it in the best way for them. The original Trabasack has a tough PVC and easily cleaned surface. With the Trabasack Connect version there is even more functionality. Trabasack have developed a fantastic

wheelchair backpack Follow Me on Pinterest

“Connect” surface which is super soft and uses Velcro technology so you can attach anything you want to your tray! You don’t have to worry about dropping your mp3 player or phone, as by adding a small piece of velcro, they will stay firmly attached to the tray top surface. For an extra splash of colour and style you can also opt for a coloured trim to your Trabasack Curve Connect and finally own a smart and practical wheelchair backpack. There is absolutely no reason why there shouldn’t be a fashionable and functional alternative to the standard bulky wheelchair backpacks and we believe Trabasack is it. The Trabasack is user designed award winning wheelchair accessory.  

Choosing your battles – Blogging Against Disablism Day 2011

Today I have read a few posts from others as part of Blogging Against Disablism Day. It has made me reflect about some of the challenges to do with access,  I have faced in our small village. I do not have a disability but since getting married to a wheelchair user and having a child with Dravet Syndrome I have seen some shocking things!

When my wife became pregnant we moved to Quorn in the East Midlands. I was very happy to move and generally it was a much safer and more pleasant place to live than my home town of Gt. Yarmouth.

Village of Quorn, East Midlands

Village of Quorn, East Midlands

One thing that did surprise me was the inaccessibility of the local shops. My wife, Clare, is a wheelchair user because of a spinal injury. Most of the shops had heavy doors and steps, so she could not get into them on her own.

I was a frequent letter writer in those days! I dashed off a letter to the local Chemist, quoting the Disability Discrimination Act and complaining that due to the steps, my wife was is a wheelchair user, anyone with mobility problems or parents with pushchairs really struggled to get in. The absurdity was, that they were the people who had to use the chemist shop the most!

My letter coincided with plans for a refit and they had a ramp and an automatic door fitted. I was pleased about this and confident that the others would now follow. I started to ask at the Post Office and the local Deli when they would get their ramp. However other circumstances in my life, became much more urgent.

My newly born son developed Dravet Syndrome and I had much bigger worries. My son’s epilepsy and and the ketogenic diet became my full time occupation. I still wrote a few letters to the local hospital over carparking charges, lack of disabled spaces, and access to new drugs, and complaints over my son’s treatment in hospital. Access to the local shops became much further down our list of worries.

Seven years on since my letter to the Chemist, the Post Office and Deli next door still do not have access. I frequently ask them when they are getting a ramp. I get excuses, they go quiet and often blame the parish council! Maybe if I had written to them at the same time something would have been done.

We have also experienced discrimination at a local Chinese Restaurant. It was early on a Tuesday night. We were shown to a table away from the other guests. My wife found she could not get her legs under the table to get near enough to eat comfortably. The table was too low. As wheelchair users will know this is a very common problem! We asked to move to a taller table further inside the restaurant. They flatly refused saying that all the other tables were booked, they also refused to swap any around. We got the message! They didn’t want our custom and have lost eight years of regular trade because of it. Of course this was before Clare had created the Trabasack.

I find that I am the one who gets angry over these things, my wife sees the injustice but would rather save her strength for getting on with daily life. The point I am trying to make is that people with disabilities face so many instances of discrimination that they get tired of fighting and have to choose their battles carefully. My wife would rather forget that she is disabled and get on with life rather than let it consume her time. I wish that people had more awareness and consideration so that she didn’t have to make that choice. For every one person that does there are many that cannot.  To those who do have the strength to shout out about discrimination I applaud and will support you all I can.

New Assistive Technology Publication Launches

At this weeks Naidex tradeshow I bumped into David Russell who is the publisher of a new magazine:

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Trabasack at Naidex NEC, International Heathcare Tradeshow

AT Today, a new publication focussing on developments in the world of Assistive Technology has been published for the first time and is free to access online.

Published in partnership by the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) and The Homecare Industry Information Service (THIIS), AT Today is designed as a resource for professionals working in the marketplace. The magazine is being distributed both as a traditional ‘hard copy’ version and also made available online, where visitors to the site can read it on screen using a simple page turner system or download a PDF version.

There’s a wide variety of content in the first issue, from the most sophisticated new products and research to the simplest new items around. The plan is for AT Today to cover the whole spectrum of the latest Assistive Technology developments with the latest robotic products appearing alongside the simplest items. For example, in the first issue there is a toilet seat from the USA which incorporates expandable seat arms that can be adjusted outward up to 12 inches to provide more room for greater comfort and support and can support up to 1,000 lbs.

On the AT Today website there is a sign up for an alert when the latest issue becomes available and details of how to send your own news to be considered for future issues.

The website is at www.attoday.co.uk


Another Happy Customer

I was very pleased when my fb friend and twitter follower Mark decided to order a trabasack.

We had a short tweet exchange about which one would suit him best. He did not know from our site whether a Curve would be too big and a Mini too small. Mark uses an HP tablet and wanted to carry it inside his trabasack.

I advised him that the Mini was probably best for him. It is just slightly bigger than an A4 note pad, which is an easy thing to measure against. “I carry my tablet all most everywhere. I am hoping to get a new Android Tab soon so the Trabasack will be handy for that. ” he said.

“plus with the amount of leaflets and stuff you get at places like Naidex and gadget show live it be handy to keep those in as well as somewhere while sitting down to put a drink or dinner on when in my wheelchair.”

@trabasack main places I want to use it is in bed and when i attend conferences for my wheelchair. I need it to keep my phone and laptop in.
@trabasack main places I want to use it is in bed and when i attend conferences for my wheelchair. I need it to keep my phone and laptop in.
Mark also tweeted

@trabasack my spasms are tenst not involuntary but think velcro would be useful as sometimes I hit bumps in road and laptop falls off lap

So we decided on the Mini Connect which has a velcro receptive surface (that is you stick things to it with the ‘hook’, rough velcro tape). Mark has cerebral palsy and thought the velcro would be helpful.

I was delighted that Mark got his Trabasack today. We always try to post 1st class on the day of the order or the following day. Mark tweeted

This week is a week of exciting and wonderful things to be delivered by post. What's going to be laying on door mat today when I get home

Awesome told you all going to have exciting stuff arrive in post this week. My @Trabasack bag arrived today.

@veggyboy yeah m8 there is very few products I get straight out the bag that do just what you want them to do & more thanks @trabasack


@savvymum4autism totally agree. I going to dump my wheelchair bag now in favour for my new trabasack it does everything I want

I was thrilled to see how much he liked it and it was nice of Savvymum4autism to join in too

@trabasack @markinsutton @veggyboy sorry for gatecrashing I agree @trabasack are really good and so versatile as well
Wendy Hirst

@Markinsutton thats true and they look so stylish as well . I use mine for a play table for my baby as its nice and light weight
Wendy Hirst

So all in all a big twitterlovefest for trabasack today!

Wheelchair users – this is the bag for you

We were very please to hear that Trabasack has been featured as the ‘product of the month’ by Brighton and Hove Council’s Daily Living Centre.  They were impressed by the Trabasack as a versatile wheelchair tray or buggy tray.

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The council’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, Councillor Ken Norman, said: “This is a very simple but practical piece of equipment. It’s fantastic as a tray for electrical equipment or to eat on.”

The Council’s daily living centre offers expert, impartial advice about all sorts of equipment that can help people who have physical problems or disabilities. It is one of many across the country which can be visited to try out new equipment.

To read the full press release click here.

We just hope it gets picked up and used in a local newspaper now!

One Month Before Heartbreak – Blog swarm contribution

Disability Living Allowance – a personal view 17/01/11

This is my first ever blog post and my contribution to a campaign to raise awareness of the proposed changes to Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Please excuse my lack of formatting. I will improve!

My knowledge of DLA

In 1995, I became a Welfare Rights Advisor for Great Yarmouth Borough Council. It was a very rewarding job and I felt I was really helping people. The officers at Great Yarmouth Housing Dept. had just collated statistics that showed it to be one of the most disadvantaged and deprived areas in the country, with very high numbers of people on benefits; without work, as single parents, or with long term illnesses. We had a very busy ‘drop-in’ service but we were virtually always able to help people in some way, sometimes we could make a huge difference to their lives. Often by helping them to claim DLA.

Great Yarmouth Town Hall Follow Me on Pinterest

Great Yarmouth Town Hall

I learnt about DLA as part of my training. It was a benefit that the public didn’t really seem to know about and that the government didn’t shout about. The forms used to apply for it, are very long and need to be filled in very frankly and without making any assumptions on the part of the assessor. During my time there, I probably completed 600+ applications for people with a huge range of illnesses and disabilities.

Duncan Edwards (as was) Welfare Rights Adviser Follow Me on Pinterest

Duncan Edwards (as was) Welfare Rights Adviser

DLA is a benefit that can make a huge impact on people’s lives. As well as the weekly payment, it can passport you to increased payments from other benefits such as housing benefit and income support. People can also gain access to free transport, blue badges, a car leasing scheme (Motability), and many other concessions. At the time, it could be backdated, leading to some payments of thousands of pounds.

My first experiences, were helping people claim under the ‘Special Rules’. This meant that the form does not have to be fully completed as the person is expected to live less than 6 months. I visited many people in their homes; usually these people had cancer and had been working before the illness struck. They had lost their health and income and were understandably often struggling to cope.
I didn’t always find out if people had received an award or not. I remember an elderly man who couldn’t read or write. He had been a builder’s labourer all his life and this had taken a severe toll on his health in old age. He brought the letter to me to read and sobbed when I told him it had been awarded.
In 2005, I found myself completing a DLA form for my son, who has Dravet Syndrome. A neurological disease that causes difficult to control epilepsy and profound and multiple learning difficulties. I intend to write about this experience on another blog post.

The proposed changes and PIP

The Government proposes to revise DLA into a new benefit called Personal Independence Payments (PIP).  I read the consultation document last December and I became more and more worried and angry. It is obvious from the document that the proposals primary aim is to reduce the amount of money given to people with disabilities.

They will increase the qualifying time for 3 to 6 months and want to reduce the budget by 20%. The changes seem to be about looking for ways to exclude people. I invite you to read it yourself or this summary by rich_w and respond to the consultation. The cost of living with a disability is much higher than many people realise, people with disabilities are poorer, far less able to find work and face greatly reduced opportunities in our society.

We need to contribute to the consultation so that the government knows it cannot make the lives of people with disabilities more difficult.

Duncan Edwards

Co-founder and MD “Trabasack”

Twitter @trabasack



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