Tag Archives: design

Reimagining Accessibility Design Challenge launched – and about time!

AccessSymbol1

Arguing the now 45 year old symbol for accessiblity  is neither inclusive nor welcoming, last week the Honorourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario joined OCAD University to launch Reimagining Accessibility, an international student design challenge to replace the traditional wheelchair sign with a more encompassing and inclusive symbol (or symbols) of accessibility.

Onley, himself in a motorized scooter, challenged post-secondary students to “turbo-charge blue wheelie into the 21st century” by designing a symbol that lets people know “no matter your access needs, you are welcome here”.

Hear hear I agree! That stationary stick figure just doesn’t reflect the lives and dreams of the many people I’ve met with disabilities. We can do better, the possibilities are endless, and I can’t wait to see what the students come up with!

The  competition is open from now until October 25. Winners will be announced on November 1 in the presence of Her Royal Highness, the Countess of Wessex, who will be visiting Ontario. The final designs will be presented to the International Standards Organization for consideration.

A first prize of $5,000 will be awarded, along with two honourable mentions of $2,500 each.

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Personalized Prosthetics – What’s your fancy?

Video: Woman builds prosthetic leg out of Lego - The Globe and Mail

Occupational therapist Christina Stephens designed and built her own lego leg – Cool! You can watch how she does this in her time-lapse video that went viral this past summer –

Personalized prosthetics serve many purposes beyond function – not only can they get people where they need to go, they do so with style, with fun, with flare, and yes with FASHION. Check out the ‘alternative limb project’ where consumers are participants in the design process selecting pieces that either “blend in with the body or stand out as unique pieces of art, reflecting the wearers imagination, personality, and interests”.

Floral SocketChrystalized LegPersonalized prosthetics, like personalized mobility devices, not only delight the eye, they help to break down social barriers by promoting conversation, admiration and interest. 

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Filed under Articles, Barriers, Design, DIY, Inspirational, Personal Stories, personalizing, Photos, Posts, Projects, Uncategorized, Videos

Portable mats make beaches accessible – about time!

Now here’s a COOL design for those HOT summer days! Mobi-mats are lightweight, durable, portable mats that can be rolled out onto sandy beaches making them accessible to wheelchairs, walkers, canes and strollers.

Mobi-mats in action at Rockaway Beach NYC

These mats are being used on beaches around the world including Rockaway Beach in New York and beaches in Rio de Janeiro.

Recently, Wasaga Beach just outside of Toronto purchased some mobi-mats making their beach one of the most accessible in the province. CBC Metro Morning interviewed town clerk  Twyla Nicholson about the town councils decision to purchase the mats, and the impact its having on residents and visitors to the beach.

Simcoe-Grey MP Kellie Leitch pushes Frank Nunnaro, Wasaga Beach resident and Accessibility Advisory Committee member, down the new Mobi-mats towards the water at the ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday, July 11, 2013

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Chinese DIY Inventors ROCK!

These inventions are incredible! Why? Because they are based on lived experiences (like old age) and needs (like the need to get out of a building fast). Because they function so well for the places and activities of daily life. AND because they are so beautiful! The combination wheelchair foldable bike is genius (exercise for the caregiver)! And who doesn’t want (need) a bike that is able to carry us over water as well as land as we commute to work? And that evacuation slide? It’s a work of art! Wouldn’t it be awesome in the MOMA?

83-year-old Zhang Yongqing shows off his invention, a combination of a wheelchair and foldable bicycle.  Zhang said he invented the multifunctional bicycle so that care-givers can take better care of wheelchair-bound elderly people.

Lei Zhiqian rides a modified bicycle across the Hanjiang River. The bicycle, equipped with eight empty water containers at the bottom, was modified by Lei’s instructor Li Weiguo, who hopes to put his invention into the market.

70-year-old inventor Zhou Miaorong tries out an evacuation slide he built himself in a building in Shanghai,. Zhou took over two years to design and build the mechanical slide which uses no electricity to implement in a domino effect, while also triggering a sprinkler system to fight a fire. 

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Filed under Accessibility, Design, DIY, Inspirational, invention, Mobility Aids, Photos, Posts, Uncategorized

The Samsonite Micro Suitcase Scooter – Smart AND Sexy!

Our ability to get where we need to go is an essential part of life . Getting there WITH our STUFF is critical to this! I mean who doesn’t need to at least carry their wallet, sunglasses, keys, phone and book while out and about? Occupational and physiotherapists tell me that the NUMBER ONE reason why people refuse a motorized wheelchair and instead choose a scooter – even if their healthcare provider is recommending the wheelchair – is because “THERE IS A BASKET ON THE FRONT”! Are you telling me we can’t figure this out?

Check out the suitcase scooter in action – fun, fashion and function at its best!

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Wei Yen – function and FUN

Wei Yen uses her foot horn to let people know she is coming - so smart!

Wei Yen hand stitched her wheelchair cover and added many other accessories that make her mobility device more functional AND fun. Check out her foot pedal horn!

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Lady Gaga’s Pimped Up and Personalized Gold Wheelchair: A 24-Karat ‘Chariot’

Lady Gaga's Pimped Up and Personalized Wheelchair

Recovering from recent hip surgery for an inflammatory joint infection called synovitis, the superstar was originally given a more traditional wheelchair which she affectionately named ‘Emma’. Not wanting to give up her style however (who does?!), Lady Gaga commissioned jewelry designer Ken Borochov to design the leather-tufted chair that features a removable canopy.  Now THAT’s more like it girl – “P-p-p-poker face, p-p-poker face – Mum mum mum mah”…

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Good Design Meets People IN their Lives

Mosses, Uganda

Mosses, Uganda

Good design meets people within the context of their lives.  It prioritizes the social as well as the physical circumstances and needs of the individual.

The folks at Motivation – an international development charity supporting people with mobility disabilities –  get this. With a focus on SURVIVAL, MOBILITY, EMPOWERMENT, and INCLUSION, they design and distribute high-quality, low-cost wheelchairs, tricycles and supportive seating products specifically for use in developing countries.

In North America we spend a lot of time and resources developing mobility devices that function – mechanically – really well. We spend far less time however, considering how well these same devices function within the social and cultural spaces of people’s lives.  There is much we can learn from organizations like Motivation.

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Art-a-Ride ~ Creating personalized wheelchair experiences

Benja loved showing off his newly pimped up chair to his friends. He now has a dragon snake tattooed all around that opens its mouth as the wheels turn, and several customized-by-friends accessories using velcro, and other material, enriching his wheelchair experience! His mom simply posted a message on Facebook saying “I’m starting a new project for Benja’s b’day, want to contribute to an art-a-ride project?”. It’s this simple and easy, help us spread the word.

Art-a-Ride connects creative people with kids with disabilities to turn their factory looking – medicalized – wheelchairs that highlight their limitations, into interesting, meaningful, and in the case of Benja here – super cool – “rides”.

The final co-creations, according to founder Eva de Lera, have a profound impact on the kids, their lives, and the lives of their families.  How amazing!

I’ve talked about this before, personalizing mobility aids is a form of self-expression that is not only good for our health and the health of those around us, its also really fun!

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Overcrowding on public transit is NOT a new problem – Let’s FIGURE IT OUT!

20120711-TTCAds-MoveDown

The recent debate about stroller crowding on the TTC in Toronto highlights ongoing problems with both the TTC AND with US. This is what I see needs doing:

1. Increase the capacity of the system

2. Improve the design of transit vehicles

3. Be nicer!

The TTC is working on the first two – the third is up to us!

An accessible, efficient, and FRIENDLY public transportation system is a sign of a great city. Let’s figure this out TO!

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