Technology. Nothing in this world changes as fast as technology does. With each passing day, technology is propelling us toward a different, better and more advanced tomorrow. The same can be said for accessibility. Each passing day brings us closer to more and more independence for wheelchair users.
When you have been in the wheelchair van business as long as we have, you can see how far accessibility has come and how technology plays a big role in the way that accessibility has changed over the years. With these changes in mind, we thought it would be fitting to put together a list of some of the latest assistive technologies and how this technology is helping wheelchair users become more independent.
Dating back to the 1500’s, wheelchairs and their parts are much more sophisticated today than they were even a few years ago. The history of wheelchairs has included everything from manual chairs to chairs with three or four wheels to the introduction of the motorized wheelchair in 1916. Luckily, the advances to wheelchair technology did not stop there. Here are a couple of the latest technologies for wheelchairs:
● SoftWheel Wheelchair Suspension
SoftWheels, a wheel design company, created The Acrobat SoftWheels for wheelchairs. Utilizing SoftWheel suspension technology, these wheels absorb more impact than traditional wheels. This is because they were designed with three shocks utilizing what the company refers to as “adaptive rigidity” which stays perfectly rigid while encountering bumps. Available in 24 or 25 inch aluminum or magnesium wheel versions, the wheels have a load capacity of up to 300 pounds and start at $2,250 per set.
● Whill Model Ci Electric Wheelchair
Designed with freedom for wheelchair users in mind, the Whill Model Ci electric wheelchair features a narrow frame, tight turning radius, stability, durability and brings wheelchair users into the technological future. The Whill Model Ci also comes apart into three pieces in under 10 seconds, allowing wheelchair users to stow their wheelchair quickly and more easily than other wheelchairs on the market. And, users can control their chair right from a smartphone application. The app allows users to track their chair’s battery life, lock or unlock their wheelchair to keep it secure when in use or pick their drive mode. Available in a range of different colors (from pink to blue or black and white), this wheelchair is not available direct from Whill and is only available for purchase through a few certified resellers.
Now, There’s an App for That
Speaking of smartphone applications, we have witnessed the rise of this technology from the first few simple apps that appeared on our phones, like Snake and a calculator, to the first 500 apps that were introduced with the Apple store back in 2008. Now, more than a decade later, more than 6,000 app are released for iPhone and Android devices every day. It is clear that apps are here to stay. So, which apps are the latest and greatest for accessibility? Here are a few recently developed apps (or app features) that we found:
● Access Now
Created by Maayan Ziv, a woman living with Muscular Dystrophy, Access Now allows users to search for locations in any of 35 countries to get information on accessibility at that location. The location will populate on a map and be marked with a color coded pin based on accessibility level, green being completely accessible and red being not accessible. Using a crowdsourcing model, users can add or edit information within the platform about the location’s accessibility. To date more than 24,000 places have been added.
Created by the University of Washington, AccessMap is a map-based app geared towards accessible routes for pedestrians. What makes this map different is that it allows users to view a route from point A to point B with street inclines. A green route means there is no incline and no major difficulties for wheelchair users and a red route means there is more than a 10 percent incline which could pose difficult for wheelchair users. Additionally, they are working on adding information like pavement widths and the location of handrails.
The app utilizes data that is crowdsourced from users and also from a partnership with the city’s Department of Transportation. Currently the app is only available for the city of Seattle, Washington, but they are hoping to expand to include additional cities in the future.
● The Google Maps Wheelchair Accessibility Feature
Featured on the Rollx Vans blog last month, the Google Maps wheelchair accessibility feature helps wheelchair users map out routes and accessible locations in six major cities around the globe. Currently available for London, New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, Boston and Sydney, this includes finding accessible sidewalks, transit stations, restrooms and more. You can learn more about this app, how it works and the future goals for the platform on our blog here.
Paving the Way for a Better Tomorrow
While advances for wheelchair technology and advances in apps available for wheelchair users do not even begin to encompass all the changes happening to help better the lives of wheelchair users, these are some of the exciting technological advances we have seen in recent months and years. With each passing day, the changing of technology is furthering independence for wheelchair users. We have seen this happen more and more in recent years and we are looking forward to what advances will come our way next.
At Rollx Vans, our team stays up to date on changes in technology and how this technology is helping to better the lives of our customers. And, we love nothing more than to chat with our customers about how technology is bettering their lives or how it could better their lives and lead to more independence. Contact your Rollx Vans sales representative today to learn more about the technology we utilize in our wheelchair van conversions and how a new or used wheelchair van can bring more independence for you, your family and your caregivers.