In 2012 four seniors at Arizona State University got together to design UP, an elevating wheelchair they hoped would simplify life for people with disabilities. Though each graduated that year, the team continues to meet once a week to work on the design and hopefully get it to the people who could benefit from using it.
Peter Georgiou, one of the original designers, graduated in 2013 but continues to work on the project.
“With this wheelchair we hope to give people independence and re-establish a sense of normalcy,” he told The State Press.
To better understand the difficulties someone in a wheelchair faces on a daily basis, Georgiou spent time using a wheelchair to move about campus. During his “test” drive he noticed that vending machines, bar counters and other locations most of us take for granted are located too high for people in wheelchairs. Someone in a wheelchair is on average two feet lower than someone who is standing.
“You begin to realize that things are out of reach, everything is meant for people of average height,” Georgiou said.
The UP wheelchair can elevate by as much as 10 inches so people with disabilities can choose the height that makes situations more comfortable for their specific needs.
During their research, the UP team also came across another social problem that people in wheelchairs have to deal with. Because of the height difference between an able-bodied person and someone using a wheelchair, it is inevitable that the person in a wheelchair is continually being looked down upon.
“People are literally looking down on them (people in wheelchairs) and that’s a problem we want to solve,” Georgiou said.
With the elevation feature of the UP wheelchair, a person in the wheelchair can easily elevate to the height of the person they are speaking with and have normal eye-to-eye contact during conversations.
The project is made possible through Arizona State’s Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, which provides student ventures with workspace, resources, legal and website discounts and funding.
Tracy Lea, a venture manager at ASU Entrepreneurship and Innovation group, is impressed with the team’s idea and goal.
“I think the project has the opportunity to give anybody greater mobility and greater freedom and to be able to have an active lifestyle. I think it’s fantastic,” she told the State Press.Read More
Photo exhibits are nothing new to New York City. It seems every day a photographer or artist is showing off new work at galleries and museums across the city but with Raw Beauty NYC the focus of the work is quite different from most projects.
Formed from a partnership with mobileWOMEN.org and the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, Raw Beauty NYC is attempting to improve access, education and outreach to women with disabilities.
According to the Raw Beauty web site, this innovative visual arts project is designed to inspire the public to create new perceptions, transform stereotypes and breakthrough personal obstacles by expanding awareness of women with physical challenges. The project kicked off on September 20th with a special showing at Chelsea’s ACA Galleries.
The exhibit is a collaboration between photographers and twenty women living with disabilities that showcases their beauty, empowerment and sensuality. According to the exhibitors, getting the public to see women in wheelchairs as sensuous and sexy is a real challenge and photographers and models who worked on the project agreed that the subject made many viewers uncomfortable at first. But Shelly Baer and Vanessa Silberman, the pioneers behind the project, were determined to change people’s perceptions through their photographs.
Funds raised by the exhibit will support the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. The first Raw Beauty exhibit actually took place in Miami in 2006 and organizers hope that they can bring the exhibit to rehab centers around the country. HDS MEDALLION® thinks it would be beneficial to also exhibit at galleries in other major cities in addition to rehab centers.
Since starting our business making fashionable and functional carryall bags for wheelchairs and other mobility devices we have had the good fortune of traveling across the country, meeting many people and enjoying the kind words many people have had to say about our bags.
Nothing speaks quite like a testimonial so we want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the feedback we’ve been getting from our customers and fans.
These people come from all across the country, with different backgrounds and stories about what led them to use a wheelchair, power chair, scooter or walker. We find it fascinating and very rewarding how our bags have been able to help and uplift so many people. We look forward to hearing more as we continue to grow.
We met Leslie at the Abilities Expo in Boston and she was the lucky winner of one of our bags. An accident two years ago left her a quadriplegic but she has refused to let the incident deter her from an active lifestyle.
My name is Leslie H. I was at the Abilities Expo in Boston, and although it has taken awhile for your message to reach me (not your fault); apparently I am a winner of one of your lovely bags! I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to get such great news! While at the expo, I had been admiring your beautiful, fun bags. I am just very surprised to find myself so lucky!
Two years ago I was out walking my dog on a dark night and stumbled over some construction materials placed in my usual path. This one wrong step resulted in my quadriplegia. I was a very active person who now relies on a large wheelchair navigated by use of my head. I used to carry a fairly large pocketbook. It will be nice to have something more fashionable again than the sack that has been hanging off of my chair.
From what I gleaned from your email, you want me to choose something from your website. I have had fun perusing through all of the great bags. My favorite of the bunch is the Premier Black Damask. My chair could use a little glamour…
Thank you so much for the random act of kindness.
– Leslie H. from Maine
Cindy is another bag winner and she wrote in to let us know how much she enjoyed browsing the selection of available bags and why she chose the Metro Silver Black Reptile.
Your bags are surely wonderful! Very pretty, very sassy and eye- catching! I have been on the website
and the metro silver- black reptile suits me best!
Thank you so much for such a great treat.
– Cindy of Chatham MA
We met Claudia in Houston two years ago and she now owns two HDS MEDALLION Bags. She was in a horrific automobile accident in which her young baby died, her husband was burned and she was paralyzed. She has been the subject of a documentary and a book, Unshaken Faith. She is the proud mother of 5-year old twin boys with a very active life. She wrote to us on our Facebook page to let us know that she puts her wheelchair to the test everyday and how impressed she was that our bag was able to hold up to the rigors of her daily life.
I have had one of these bags for a year now and it still looks just a good as the day I bought it. I am a wheelchair user and very ROUGH on everything- and so are my twin boys! If it can hold up to me, then it can for anyone. When the time comes for a new bag, I know where I will be going!
– Claudia Salley of Louisiana
Ashley also wrote to us on Facebook and made mention of the fact that her designer carryall bag was both functional and fashionable. This is something we strive to get across to customers and Ashley hit the nail on the head with this response. She is also a good example of the bag’s flexibility relative to placement on the mobility device to fit the user’s needs.
I received my HDS medallion bag today, and I absolutely love it!!! Fits perfect under my wheelchair yet extremely fashionable. If you haven’t ordered one, you should!!!
Thank You again for the wonderful bag!!!
– Ashley OrrRead More
The Little People of America (LPA) are on a mission to have October be recognized as National Dwarfism Month. While the month of October already is dedicated to causes such as Breast Cancer Awareness, the LPA believes it is important to be proactive in encouraging public awareness of positive stories of the dwarfism community.
The LPA began in 1957 when actor Billy Barty got together with 20 of his friends for a meeting to discuss how little people were mislabeled and misunderstood by society. Often the butt of jokes in movies and real life, dwarfs felt it was time that they be recognized for what they are, people.
Lois Lamb, the LPA President, said in a press release, “People with dwarfism are no different than any other person. We may just need a well-placed stool. Our members are children, college students, business professionals, doctors, engineers, mechanics, artists and teachers. We can do anything an average-height person can do”.
Here are some interesting facts about the LPA and dwarfism:
- There are over 200 distinct forms of dwarfism and skeletal dysplasia
- The typical height range for a dwarf is 2’8” to 4’5”
- It is estimated that 30,000 people in the United States have a type of dwarfism
- In July of 2009 the term “midget” was declared inappropriate and offensive
- The LPA has 6,500 members across the U.S.
The following states have passed resolutions calling for October to be Dwarfism Awareness Month: Delaware, Missouri, Indiana, Oklahoma, Illinois, Massachusetts, Kansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, Rhode Island, Maryland, South Carolina, Maine, New Hampshire and Ohio.
If your state is not on the list, contact your local state legislature and help get October declared National Dwarfism Awareness Month. Before the US Government can make the declaration is needs to be declared at the state level.
On October 9th, two former Ms. Wheelchair Texas contestants will join other models on the runway during Houston’s Fashion Week. Deborah Grayson Carpenter and Meena Outlaw both competed in the Ms. Wheelchair Texas pageant and were also both selected to participate in this year’s couture show.
The Ms. Wheelchair Texas Foundation said in a statement it was “grateful to see glass ceilings being broken at this year’s events”.
“To have two of the Ms. Wheelchair Texas ambassadors represent our organization is a testament to our mission to eliminate architectural and attitudinal barriers to help us continue to educate Texans on disability issues.” Board of Directors member Bryan Evans said.
At this year’s show, the Bayou City Fashion Institute will celebrate women living with a disability while spotlighting local fashion professionals on the runway. Carpenter and Outlaw will join other models in showing off the latest in women’s haute couture.
“We are able to better celebrate the pleasure and diverseness of beauty in many forms,” Evans also said about the inclusion of two wheelchair models.
Houston Fashion Week begins on October 2nd and culminates on October 12th with a Ready to Wear Fashion Show. The Haute Couture Fashion Show is on Thursday, October 9th at the J.W. Marriott.Read More
Depending on whom you believe, Kanye West, a Grammy award winning singer and songwriter, may or may not have singled out wheelchair bound fans at a recent concert in Sydney, Australia. During the show, which was captured by many fans on their phones, West took a long pause before starting a new song and said the only way he would continue is if everyone stood up. This is not an unusual request at concerts and many rock stars and rappers encourage the audience to stand up and dance.
However, some camera angles appear to show West berating a wheelchair-bound fan who obviously could not stand up. Rumors have it that West even sent his personal bodyguard, Pascal Duvier, into the stands to verify that one person not standing was in fact in a wheelchair. When it was confirmed, West is quoted as saying, “He is in a wheelchair? It’s fine!”
There was also an amputee in attendance that raised his prosthetic limb to prove to West that he had good reason for not standing.
Those familiar with West surely know of his argumentative nature, brash attitude and habit for attracting controversy. West responded to the criticism by telling the press to “pick a new target” and his wife, Kim Kardashian, took to Instagram to defend her husband by saying the incident was a misunderstanding.
But some members of the media wouldn’t let it go. Huffington Post contributor and stroke survivor Harshada Rajani, who happens to use a wheelchair, sent an open letter to West berating the singer for his insensitivity and lack of respect. Rajani points out that West’s actions humiliated two disabled fans and that his insistence on having their disabilities verified was undignified and classless. He asked for West to apologize and donate money to a disability charity.
West has refused any further comment on the incident. We’d like to get your opinion on this incident and if you think West’s actions warrant an apology.Read More
While most people were tuned into the major announcements taking place at Apple on Wednesday, including the new iPhone and the Apple Watch, chip maker Intel was letting the public in on a device they have been working on that makes a wheelchair a data-connected device that can take biometric information from the user and display it on touch screens.
The device has the support of world renowned scientist Dr. Stephen Hawking, famous for his quote that “there are no black holes”, who took part in a promotional video in which he explains the impact of the new technology.
The wheelchair has been designed by a team of engineering interns through the Intel Collaborators program using the Intel Galileo Board and the company’s Internet of Things expertise.
During the promotional video, Hawking says, “A wheelchair can now monitor important information about their health, the status of their wheelchair and the accessibility of the places they visit, significantly improving their day-to-day life”.
Hawking went on to note how technology is becoming more of a life-changing force for the disabled. “Medicine can’t cure me.” Hawking said, “So I rely on technology. It lets me interface with the world. It propels me. It’s how I’m speaking to you now.”
While the device is still a work in progress it can already measure body temperature, blood pressure and heart rate. The project has been in the works for over a decade and though there is no availability date or word on when a prototype will be ready, the endorsement from Hawking was a major PR coup. The goal is to design a custom platform that can transform standard wheelchairs into data-driven, connected machines.Read More