Underwater Wheelchair Diving

Sue Austin, the founder and artistic director of Freewheeling, an initiative aiming to further the genre of Disability Arts, took her wheelchair to the sea for an underwater diving adventure.

The idea:
Austin started using a power chair 16 years ago after an illness affected her mobility. The idea for an underwater wheelchair came to Austin after training as a disabled diver using fin gloves. The use of fin gloves underwater gave her extended mobility just as her wheelchair does on land, and she wondered what would happen with the two ideas combined.

– Can it be done?

Austin spoke with engineers who said her idea couldn’t be done. So, she developed a team of specialists, volunteers, supporters and sponsors to assist with creating this challenging concept.

In the end, Austin created a wheelchair with a double set of propellers on the back, custom fins in the front and an air tank. This gives her 360 degrees of freedom underwater to experience the sea in a way she wasn’t able to before.

The underwater wheelchair supports Austin’s body and she’s able to use a combination of the motors and swimming-like motions with her arms to perform acrobatic movements and glide through the water.

Check out the video of Sue Austin experiencing the underwater world and let us know what you think about her innovative experience in the comments section!

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