Tag Archives: mobility

IRIS APFEL and MOBILITY – UNCONSIDERED or UNACCEPTABLE?

“I don’t dress to be stared at. I dress for myself.” – Iris Apfel

Iris

Meet Iris Apfel.

Iris is a highly successful and eccentric 94-year-young American businesswoman, interior designer, and fashion icon who has recently gained celebrity fame. Iris is also the founder of Old World Weavers, a textile company that she launched with her late husband Carl Apfel. Through their textile business, they travelled around the world and participated in unique design restoration processes, including work on the White House for several presidents. Her bold approach to layering big jewelry and her oversized round glasses make a lasting iconic impression that landed her a star role in a documentary by Albert Maysles about her incredible life and career.

I recently watched this delightful documentary – Iris – which included several segments of Iris using mobility devices including a cane, walker and wheelchair.

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What struck me immediately when viewing these segments was the stark contrast between Iris’s  ‘over the top’ accessorizing – on herself, her house and even her husband and the mobility aids that were left completely untouched! Not a splash of colour, not a jewel or bead, nothing… I have to admit I was disappointed… and couldn’t help thinking, “REALLY?! IRIS?!! You of all the people would have the know how to “pimp your ride”!

Unconsidered OR Unacceptable?

I believe one of two things are going on here. Either,

  1. These devices are ‘unconsidered’ – i.e., it doesn’t occur to Iris (or those around her) that it’s even an option to accessorize these devices…or, and I imagine more likely…
  2. The devices are ‘unacceptable’ – meaning Iris (like others) just can’t reconcile herself with these medicalized impersonal machines and as such wants to distance herself from them. The way these devices look, feel and are understood in our culture in other words, is completely unacceptable to Iris and as such she does not want them to – in any way- be a part of her.

“There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self-expression and, above all, attitude.” – Iris Apfel

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Filed under Art, Mobility Aids, personalizing, Posts

Designing for Life

Technological innovation and advancement is helping us to re-imagine assistive devices in our everyday lives as new designs challenging previous limitations in amazing ways!

In 2013, a focus group of seven mechanical engineers and one electrical engineer from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland teamed up with two industrial designers from Industrial Design at Zurich University of the Arts to create a wheelchair unlike any other. Adopting Beni Winter’s idea of creating a robot that climbed stairs, the team worked together to create a wheelchair that could do the same thing.

Electrically powered and strategically designed, this incredible piece of technology can climb stairs and possesses the ability to balance on two wheels to keep the occupant level at all times. VERY cool! See it for yourself!

Another great example of innovative technology that challenges us to re-imagine the scopes of assistive devices is Patrick Dougherty’s invention known as the “FreeWheel“. Slightly less complicated than the previous example, the FreeWheel is an attachment that makes navigating certain terrains substantially easier in a wheelchair. The foldable, removable wheel attachment significantly expands the user’s scope of movement, allowing them to travel through gravel, over grass, and even persevere through the snowy sidewalks during the winter. The FreeWheel is helping re-define what it means to live an active life in a wheelchair.

These are great innovations however research and innovation costs money, and high price tags can pose a huge obstacle for a lot of people. Which brings us back to the real barrier for people with disabilities ~ society’s inability and unwillingness to provide fully accessible environments for all citizens.

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Filed under Accessibility, Barriers, Design, Mobility Aids, Posts, Videos, Wheelchairs

Hung Ho

Hung Ho, a retired computer programmer, ingeniously reinvented his wheelchair! Equipped with a basket, welded bicycle tire, handlebars, and a headlight, Hung is cruising the city streets like no other.

Hung Ho, a retired computer programmer, ingeniously reinvented his wheelchair! Equipped with a basket, welded bicycle tire, handlebars, and a headlight, Hung is cruising the city streets like no other.

 

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July 23, 2015 · 4:51 pm

“ALL technology is assistive technology” ~ Sara Hendren

Sara Hendren’s a ROCKSTAR! An artist, writer, activist, and design researcher – Sara creates and writes about adaptive and assistive technologies, prosthetics, inclusive design, and accessible architecture from a critical disability perspective.  Her projects include the Accessible Icon Project a grassroots initiative that provides supplies and services to transform the original International Symbol of Access into this active, engaged image –

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In an interview with the Atlantic, Sara explains why we need to stop using the terminology ASSISTIVE technology and instead call “adaptive devices” what they are – TECHNOLOGY –

“Scholars and people who are activists for disability rights have spent a lot of energy in the last decades showing that disability is not about the state of a human body; it’s about the built environment, structures, and institutions that make life possible and meaningful—or conversely, impossible and meager—for certain kinds of bodies and minds. In other words, disability studies has worked to transition an understanding of disability from a “medical model” to a “social model.” A social model of disability opens up the discussion to consider how design and technologies might be re-imagined for all kinds of bodies, not “assigned” to those with medicalized conditions.

By returning “assistive technology” to its rightful place as just “technology”—no more, no less—we start to understand that all bodies are getting assistance, all the time. And then design for everyone becomes much more interesting.”

Sara has a blog Abler where she tracks and comments on art, adaptive technologies and prosthetics, the future of human bodies in the built environment, and related ideas. She also runs works on lots of other cool projects including designing ramps for skateboarders and wheelchair users –

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See what I mean? ROCKSTAR!

 

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Filed under Accessibility, Articles, Barriers, Design, invention, Mobility Aids, Posts, Projects, Sports

Dr. Who, Halloween, and the most awesome wheelchair costumes!

How does all this fit together?

1. It’s the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who! The long running BBC science fiction tv series about the adventures of a time-traveling humanoid alien known as the Doctor. My brother and I seriously loved this show when we were kids – it has great characters and some seriously creative low-tech special effects!

2. Dr. Who travels in this super cool ship – the TARDIS – a time machine that is bigger on the inside than the outside.

The TARDIS used from 2005 to 2010

The TARDIS used from 2005 to 2010

3. It was Halloween a few weeks ago and I’ve started to notice an awesome trend toward Wheelchair Costumes (what a great idea!).  There are lots of great ones out there, but one of my all time favourites is from the UK of Dr. Who and his TARDIS!

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Filed under Design, DIY, Inspirational, Mobility Aids, Personal Stories, personalizing, Photos, Posts, Recreation, Uncategorized

From the mind of a dancer comes a new kind of wheelchair

With their body as the joystick, these hands free wheelchairs allow dancers with disabilities to soar –

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Dancer Merry Lynn Morris teaching one of her students in the hands free wheelchair – that expression says its all…

The soul of the chair comes from Morris experience with her father who was in a wheelchair.  Finding it difficult to get close to him, to hug him, she felt the chair  ‘caged in’ her father.  Combined with her passion for dance, Morris later began to re-imagine a hands free wheelchair that was more ‘open’ to the world.

The science of this chair – which is controlled by the body – comes from a collaboration with a team of engineers at the University of South California –

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The potential of this – of hands free chairs that respond to the body and are designed in a way that facilitates interaction and inclusivity (physically and socially) – blows my mind! Bring it on!

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Filed under Accessibility, Design, Inspirational, invention, Mobility Aids, Personal Stories, Photos, Posts, Projects, Recreation, Videos

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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