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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 September, 2004, 23:03 GMT 00:03 UK
Gadget 'restored my independence'
Image of the Intellec device
The Intellec device can operate over 2,500 functions
Anthony Whitehead, 37, became tetraplegic over 20 years ago following an accident.

His injury means he is no longer able to use his arms and legs.

A remote control which enables him to operate everyday household appliances has meant he no longer has to rely on his parents.

Such devices are available free of charge on the NHS, or from social services or housing trusts, in the UK on a discretionary basis.

It's the difference between being independent and not
Anthony Whitehead, a user of the Intellec device

The Intellec and Lite devices, by Tunstall and SRS Technology, are designed for people with impaired dexterity or reduced mobility.

When a key is pressed, via a joystick or the blink of an eye, the devices send infrareds signal to the appliances the user wishes to control.

The Lite device, which can be carried in the pocket, can control up to 65 different functions and dial and recognise 25 phone numbers, and is designed to be used outside as well as inside the home.

Multiple functions

The Intellec system enables the user to operate over 2,500 separate functions and can be mounted on to a desk or other object in the home.

As well as controlling household appliances such as computers, heating systems and blinds, the controls can be programmed to activate alarm calls to 24-hour response centres in case of an emergency.

For those with visual impairments, both can be programmed for voice annunciation.

Mr Whitehead said the Intellec device was "wonderful".

"It's the difference between being independent and not.

"I'm paralysed from the neck down so, particularly at night, I can't move anything and you can imagine what that stops you doing - just about everything.

Image of the Lite device
The Lite device is designed to be mobile

"With this [device] I can do pretty much what I want.

"You can press one button and it will turn the TV on to the video channel, switch the video on and press play in one go.

"The system I have got at home will control a mobile phone now, which is a huge step forward.

"My parents, who are my carers, can now go off and leave me and know that I can call if I need them," he said.

George Robertson, 52, has the progressive disease multiple sclerosis and uses the Lite device, which is attached to his wheelchair.

"It's given me a sense of security that even if things get worse I will be able to do things in the house. It's really improved my life," he said.

Richard Parnell from the charity Scope, said: "Scope is a firm advocate of independent living for disabled people. In principal, these products give disabled people the ability to fully control aspects of their domestic environment."

"However, many similar products are conceived every year.

"Scope would need to be convinced that the product works, is available to as many people as possible and is cost effective before welcoming it wholeheartedly," he said.

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