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Garden Tool (Hand Tool) Features and AT for People with Upper Body or Sensory Impairments

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Peta Add-On Handle
Peta Add-On Handle
Peta Fist Grip
Peta Fist Grip
Radius Garden Tools
Radius Garden Tools

Gardening can be a very relaxing and enjoyable activity. However, current designs for gardening tools can hinder one from properly performing. Many tools lack the necessary details in order to accommodate those with Upper Body or Sensory Impairments.

Get a Grip
Many issues related to those with Upper Body Impairments involve grip. While working, it is very important to keep the wrist in a neutral position during work. Keeping a straight wrist helps prevent any injury or harm to the user during repetitive or strength-required tasks.[1]

Some ways to fix this problem with current tools is by adding on special types of handles that have arm straps and a pistol grip. The Peta add-on handle can be connected onto many existing tools. There are many other tools that are already ergonomic: the Suregrip (similar to the Peta Add-on Handle), the Peta Fist Grip, and Radius Garden Tools.

Handle size is important for all users. A too short handle could pinch nerves in a hand. [2]
Image:Hand1.jpg VS Image:Hand2.jpg

Extension Tools V3000
Extension Tools V3000
Gardena Combi-system
Gardena Combi-system

Therefore one must choose the right length before purchasing. Longer handles are good for those needing help with reach. One can add on telescoping handles to their tools so that the user never has to bend down. [3]A good example of this is the Extension Tools V3000. However, those with a Sensory impairment prefer shorter tools to be closer to the soil in order to feel everything that is growing. A good tool for those visually impaired is the Gardena Combi-system which allows one to change tool heads with only one hand. [4]

Thicker diameters in handles are helpful to gain a better grip. A good diameter ranges from 1 ¼ to 2 inches depending on what is most comfortable for the user.[5] Materials can help with grip too; gel or rubberized handles provide a good and comfortable contact surface. Also, adding grip sleeves increases the diameter of the handle. [6]

Choosing the Right Material
While some tools are made of high-quality steel (which can become heavy), there are newer versions made of alloys, aluminum, and plastic. While the metals are safe in durability, the plastic can have some issues. Unless the plastic is of high quality and high strength, it may not be the best choice, despite its lightness. If strength is a worry, aluminum would be the best alternative and plastic next if even aluminum is too heavy. [7]

Other Issues to Consider with a Sensory Impairment

Right Angle Guide
Right Angle Guide
Bulb Planter
Bulb Planter

While there are many existing products that directly help those with those with Upper Body Impairments, visually impaired gardeners can make their own helpful tools. One item that will help in digging, forking, raking, planting, and measuring is a right angle guide. By building this guide, all the guesswork can be taken out of these tasks. Another helpful trick is taping off a handle to every 6 inches to help as a measuring tool. There are already companies that include depth indicators on the spades to help with digging, like Radius. In addition, by simply buying brightly colored handles or painting handles white will help contrast tools from soil. Other household items like an egg carton can become a useful tool for planting seeds in a straight line.[8]

One product that can help anybody in gardening is a bulb planter. This tool works with those who have less strength in their hands as well as those who would have trouble digging the right depth. The tool is pushed straight into the ground and squeezing the handle pulls out a cylindrical chunk of soil.[9]

Conclusion Remember these main points when buying any hand tool:

  • Go for a handle that keeps your wrist in a neutral position.
  • Choose a well-cushioned handle that is comfortable.
  • Use an extend-able handle if bending down is an issue.
  • Use an shorter handles or an interchangeable head system if visually impaired.
  • Lighter weight does not always mean better.
  • Preparation and planning goes a long way.



Notes

  1. "Select the Tool." http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/handtools5.html
  2. “How to Choose Small Garden Tools” http://www.lawnngardentools.com/small-garden-tools.php
  3. “Peta add-on handle.” http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/shop/peta-addon-handle-dfb2ded2/default.aspx
  4. "Getting ready when you have sight loss." http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/getting-ready-when-you-have-sight-loss.aspx
  5. “How to Choose Small Garden Tools” http://www.lawnngardentools.com/small-garden-tools.php
  6. "Select the Tool." http://www.dir.ca.gov/dosh/dosh_publications/handtools5.html
  7. “Better Garden Tools Make for Better Results.” http://www.lawnngardentools.com/better-garden-tools.php
  8. “Tips for Gardening when you have sight loss.” http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/digging-when-you-have-sight-loss.aspx
  9. "Bulb Planter." http://www.carryongardening.org.uk/shop/bulb-planter-6d4d1f31/default.aspx