As someone with cerebral palsy, I ‘need’ to use a range of equipment for reasons wthat may not be obvious nor easy to explain. On this basis, I would argue no one as the right to judge what anyone may or may not need especially when they do not have all the facts.
A clear example of my Lightwriter communication aid. While I can talk well in many situations, there are times I am tired, it is noisy, I want to say complex words and when people just do not understand me, when the lightwriter is very useful indeed. Need does not have to be continuous to warrant a solution, most people wear a helmet while cycling on the hope they never need to use it!
Need also relates a desire to fulfil an outcome. I love swimming but I am a lot of difficulties to overcome, like the cold and being able to float, so I use a lot of equipment that makes me look ‘odd’ but is worthwhile. I wear a swim nappy just in case and as I get cold easily I wear a shorty wetsuit or lycra suit, then a swimming hat to keep me warm and make me easy to spot in the pool, and verruca socks as I always been prone to foot infections. Lastly is clearly a lifejacket, swimming jacket, arm bands or other buoyancy device to keep me safe. With all this together, I am kept warm, comfortable and safe.
So the equipment we need is based on complex, unique and individual choices that should always be supported and encouraged rather than judged by others.