Not too long ago society’s expectations of a person with a disability and their potential was pretty limiting. Mobility equipment inched along with adaptive aids slowly advancing in design and function. Then in 1990 the Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted opening up the world for the disabled to get out and enjoy their community and country. Part of this important law refers to equal access to transportation and public and commercial facilities. The demand began to increase for equipment that would provide a way to integrate into everyday life of travel, grocery shopping, camping, football games and other activities previously very limited for people with disabilities. The medical equipment industry begin to see money in this new demand. As it always has been, profit is the real mother of invention. Money being the motivating factor led to more inventions, improvements and options of medical equipment than ever before. We began to see things like stair lifts, portable and permanent ramps, motorized lift chairs, mobility scooters, hand controls for vehicles and all kinds of computer technology as well as huge design improvements in power in manual chairs. These improvements in medical equipment have become so lucrative that new inventions develop constantly. I’ve included a small list of some of the most intriguing ones below.
- IBOT STAIR-CLIMBING WHEELCHAIR
DEKA Research designed this for rough terrains but it can also climb stairs up and down with it’s self-balancing technology and even “stand”.
- DYNA VOX EYE MAX
Dyna Vox EyeMax uses eye-tracking technology for computing, tv watching, reading and speak for people with limited mobility. It tracks users eye movements by blink or gazing.
Neil Harbisson invented EyeBorg because he can see only black and white. Strapped to the head EyeBorg can identify 360 hues and send audible tones through bone conduction.
- BRAILLE SMARTPHONE
Touchscreens are not user friendly for vision loss. This phone has a screen comprised of grid pins. When the user receives a message, the pins form shapes and characters using “Shape Memory Alloy”technology.
- KAPTEN PLUS NAVIGATION DEVICE
Traveling alone foe visual impairment is a challenge. This device has a ver small GPS locator into it. As the user walks down the street, it speaks the direction and location the user is going. It can also sore routes in it’s memory.
ORCAM recognizes text and products and speaks through bone-conduction earpiece.it can read newspapers, books, signs, labels on products even text or computer screen.
- SPEAKS FOR ITSELF RIGHT?
- IROBOT HOME ROBOTS
Some items designed for the general public also assist people with disabilities in cleaning their homes.
There are so many more inventions on the horizon. These technologies have opened a world not accessible to the disabled before. If you would like more information on these or other technologies check out the website under Assistive Technology at www.swcil.org.