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.
With their body as the joystick, these hands free wheelchairs allow dancers with disabilities to soar –
- 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 –
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!
Filed under Accessibility, Design, Inspirational, invention, Mobility Aids, Personal Stories, Photos, Posts, Projects, Recreation, Videos
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
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!
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!
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.
Jeseok Yi produces powerful messages for social change that not only stop and make you think in that moment, but will follow you long after that…
Toronto’s MANY mountains include this entrance to the Yorkdale Subway Station
A GREAT laugh and a fantastic way to point out some the challenges our seniors face everyday!
Check this out on YouTube!
“I love being on a bike. It helps me feel free. I get it from my dad.”
Guillaume Blanchet lives on his bike for a year and dedicates this video and his love of cycling to his 64 year old father who has been riding his bike over 120,000km!
The good news? We’re getting better about recognizing, supporting and celebrating paralympic athletes!
The bad news? We have a LONG way to go for equal coverage. Case in point – Canadian newspapers printed 332 front page stories on the London Olympics and just 22 (!) on the Paralympics. Come on Canada – we’re better than that! To see other stats on our poor showing check out the post from Senator Mobina Jaffer.