Mobility Impairments

How do people that use a wheelchair know where to go during an emergency? This is the question the director of Egress Group Pty Ltd, Lee Wilson, asked as he was writing an evacuation guidebook for people with disabilities.

Realizing that existing exit signage does not cover people with disabilities, especially those that cannot use fire escapes or stairs, Lee developed the “Accessible Means of Egress Icon,” which can be used to help identify accessible egress routes, exit doors, refuges, elevators and other means of egress. The signs combine the Running Man image and the Accessible Means of Egress Icon working together to escape the building.

The Accessible Exit Signs website has ideas for accessible exit signage and example accessible exit signs.

Monday China Disabled Persons Federation (CDPF) and China Banking Association issued a guideline requiring China’s electronic banking service to provide easier access for people with disabilities.

The guideline focuses on three types of disabilities in order to promote accessibility for the E-Banking services such as phone and online banking:

  • Vision Disabilities – E-Banking will provide a specially designed shortcut menu, ID recognition and easy verification codes.
  • Hearing Disabilities – Offer multiple visual facilities and instant short messaging service.
  • Mobility Impairments – establish a long-distance self-service system allowing accounts that traditionally require a physical presents to be open from home.  

Information on accessibility assessments

The DynaVox 15, a powerful speech-generating tablet with a 15” display has been introduced by DynaVox Systems, LLC. The new tablet is part of the groundbreaking T-Series of touch-based speech-generating devices, which includes the DynaVox T10. The DynaVox tablets are intended for people who have aphasia, autism, cerebral palsy, cortical visual disabilities, early ALA, Locked-in syndrome, stroke and anyone else who can benefit from speech-generation.

The T15 was carefully developed to provide quick, simple communication and ease of use. It boasts a vibrant display with high-contrast PCS symbols that enhance clarity and target size benefitting those with vision disabilities. 

Ian Burkhart, 23, is a quadriplegic from Ohio that is the first patient to use Neurobridge, which is an electronic neural bypass for spinal cord injuries. The revolutionary technology combines algorithms that learn and decode the user’s brain activity and a high-definition muscle stimulation sleeve that translate the impulses from the brain and transmits signals to the paralyzed limb.

The Ohio State and Battelle teams collaborated to figure out the correct sequence of electrodes to enable Burkhart to move his fingers and hand functionally. Burkhart was paralyzed 4 years ago in a diving accident and volunteered for the project viewing it as an opportunity to help others.

First Exoskeleton that Helps People with Disabilities Walk Approved by FDA

ReWalk Robotics out of Marlborough, MA announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved its ReWalk Personal System for at home use. The robotic wearable exoskeleton provides powered hip and knee motion enabling people with Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) to stand and walk. ReWalk is the first and only exoskeleton with FDA clearance and is now available throughout the United States.

Larry Jasinski, CEO of ReWalk Robotics said, “This revolutionary product will have an immediate, life-changing impact on individuals with spinal cord injuries.”

TabAccess from Zyrobotics is the first assistive device of its type to allow easier access to Android and iOS tablet devices. It allows people with challenges moving their hands and arms.

“Unfortunately, most applications for smartphones and tablets are not designed with accessibility in mind, especially for people with motor disabilities,” explains Dr. Ayanna Howard, founder and Chief Technology Officer of Zyrobotics. “Our strategic launch of TabAccess is both a technology game changer and life changer for so many.”

TabAccess provides access through multiple accessible devices such as sip/puff, button switches and grasp switches.

Learn more about mobile accessibility with Kathy Wahlbin’s Mobile Accessibility on the Move Slides.

The Brain Gate neural interface system allows a person to control a robotic arm with their brain. A person without use of their arms can move the robotic arm simply by imagining moving their own arm. Two paralyzed people were able to make complex reach-and-grasp movements with this assistive technology using their thoughts. The trial is funded in part by NIH.

Read about DEKA’s mind-controlled robotic arm.

Users perform better in a tongue controlled wheelchair than a wheelchair controlled by sip-and-puff devices. A tiny magnet on the tongue allows sensors on a helmet to detect the tongue’s movement allowing users to operate devices traditionally controlled by assistive technology like a sip-and-puff devise. The tongue drive, a new innovation in assistive technology for people with severe physical impairments developed at Georgia Tech, can be used to operate electronics like smart phones and computers as well as wheelchairs.

The DEKA Arm System is the first prosthetic arm that performs multiple, simultaneous powered movements controlled by signals from Electromyogram (E.M.G.) electrodes. The E.M.G. electrodes detect electrical activity from contracting muscles near the attachment area of the prostheses.   The electrodes then send those signals to a processor in the prosthesis that in turn translates them to movement or movements.

The arm can convert the signals in up to 10 powered movements and weighs as much as an adult arm. It can be configured for people with limb loss occurring at the shoulder joint, mid-upper arm, or mid-lower arm.

No one can deny the power and persistence of a father’s love. Paul McCarthy’s son, Leon, was born without fingers on his left hand due to a complication during gestation. The now twelve-year-old Leon sports a new prostatic hand made by his father with a 3-D printer. Mr. McCarthy is a special effects artist who, realizing the potential of 3-D printing, searched the Internet for two years for blueprints for a new hand for his son. He finally found Iva Owen who had successfully created mechanical fingers for a carpenter and a 5-year-old boy in South Africa. This enabled him to create the hand for his son. The 3-D printed hand cost a fraction of what it would for a traditional prosthetic.   

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