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June 10, 2015

By Mike Epps

Wheelchair bound people obviously have it rough. Cities and neighborhoods are not built for those without the use of their legs. Sure, there are places that will have the occasional staircase accompanied by a ramp, but getting up those ramps with nothing but your arm strength is difficult. It is for this reason, that most people in wheelchairs usually need somebody to go with them wherever they go. A new wheelchair design might change that.

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and the Zurich University of the Arts tasked last year’s undergraduate students with an assignment to build a functional product they could sell using all the knowledge they had at hand.

Ten students originally came together to create a machine that could smoothly carry a camera up a flight of stairs. This concept quickly evolved into a wheelchair that could climb stairs. They came up with several different versions of this wheelchair design.

One was designed to have very large wheels that could climb stairs (the larger the wheels, the more a set of stairs became like a ramp). This design made for a pretty uncomfortable ride as each step climbed resulted in a slight jolt for the driver.


(Source: Scalevo)

The second idea was drawn to have four rubber tracks on the side of the wheelchair. The rubber tracks would be tilted down to climb stairs, and move up to drive around. However, the four rubber tracks would be too heavy and complex to design.


(Source: Scalevo)

They eventually decided to combine both designs and what they created is incredible. While on flat ground, the wheelchair will balance on two wheels like a Segway. To climb stairs, two rubber tracks extend from the bottom and ride up a set of stairs like a tank. There is also a set of small wheels in the back for stability when the chair goes from flat ground to stairs or vice versa. With the two large wheels, the set of small wheels, and the bottom tracks, this cool creation can also raise the individual seated up higher.

Originally, the project (now titled Scalevo was just to have a proof of concept, but now these young engineers intend to bring it to market some time in the near future. They even added a few features like a touchscreen navigational pad and even a backup camera and lights.



Google Putting Up Millions For Disability Initiative - By SHAUN HEASLEY Disability Scoop

 By SHAUN HEASLEY- Disability Scoop

May 27, 2015

  Google announced this week that it will provide millions of dollars in funding to groups that are using technology to change the lives of people with disabilities. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

Google announced this week that it will provide millions of dollars in funding to groups that are using technology to change the lives of people with disabilities. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

Google is looking to address the needs of a billion people with disabilities worldwide and it’s putting big bucks behind the effort.

The Internet search giant said this week that — the company’s charitable arm — is offering up $20 million to nonprofits “using emerging technologies to increase independence for people living with disabilities.”

As part of the initiative dubbed “The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities,” the company is also asking people with disabilities to suggest problems that they would like to see addressed with the grant money.

Google has already committed funding to two groups — the Enable Community Foundation which links people needing prosthetics with volunteers who use 3D printers to create them at no cost and World Wide Hearing which will use the funds to develop a low-cost kit to detect hearing loss using smartphone technology.

“The Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities will seek out nonprofits and help them find new solutions to some serious ‘what ifs’ for the disabled community. We will choose the best of these ideas and help them to scale by investing in their vision, by rallying our people and by mobilizing our resources in support of their missions,” Jacquelline Fuller, director of, said in a blog post.

Alongside the monetary commitment, Google said it will work to ensure accessibility of its own products and add new offerings that benefit people with disabilities. The company cited its work developing self-driving cars as well as Liftware, a utensil designed to help people with hand tremors eat more easily, as examples of its existing work in this space.

“Historically, people living with disabilities have relied on technologies that were often bulky, expensive and limited to assisting with one or two specific tasks. But that’s beginning to change,” Fuller wrote. “Together, we can create a better world, faster.”

Advisers for the new project include autism self-advocate Temple Grandin and Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.

A Mother's Day Wish for Special Needs Moms 

Happy Mother's Day amazing mamas! Today we celebrate YOU. You have made a profound difference in the life of a child.

Mary Hickey 

Mother, family life coach, writer

What I WISH I could give all the special needs mamas for Mother's Day:

  • An advocate to help you obtain an accommodations list and service delivery grid filled with all the help you wish for your child.
  • A personal insurance representative to obtain coverage for the medications and services your child needs.
  • A secretary to take the unsettling phone calls from school.
  • A private chauffeur to and from therapy and doctor appointments.
  • An OT to create a sensory gym in your basement.
  • A SLP to help your child tell you what he needs throughout the day.
  • A professional organizer to file the pounds of paperwork.
  • A private tutor who handles homework meltdowns.
  • A housekeeper who knows what things to pick up and what carefully crafted creations to LEAVE AS IS.
  • A private chef who know that brown marks and green herbs are an absolute NO.
  • A personal stylist who creates a tagless and sensory friendly wardrobe for your child.

What I CAN give all the special needs mamas for Mother's Day:

  • The recognition and admiration that you, my friend, are ALL these things. You are all of this AND the most important thing of all, love.
  • So this Mother's Day I give you permission to be proud of all you are.
  • Permission to say no.
  • Permission to feel -- to laugh, to cry. To not hold it together for anyone.
  • Permission to wear a superhero cape ALL DAY.
  • Permission to cut yourself some slack.
  • Permission to let five other people attempt to do your one job.
  • Permission to rest.
  • Permission to stop feeling guilty that you haven't done enough, because you have done more than you could imagine.

Happy Mother's Day amazing mamas! Today we celebrate YOU. You have made a profound difference in the life of a child.