Japanese Robotics Experts Unveil Sci-Fi Wheelchair

Last updated: January 3, 2016

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From Space Daily, Tokyo (AFP), 26 August 2009

Robotic concept wheelchair
Robotic Rodem Wheelchair.

Robotics and medical experts in Japan on Wednesday unveiled the prototype of a new hi-tech electric wheelchair that resembles a scooter and promises greater mobility.

Users ride astride the four-wheeled Rodem—rather than sitting in it, as in a conventional wheelchair—steer it with a joystick and hold onto motorbike-style handles while the knees and chest rest on cushions.

The design allows users to slide more easily on and off the vehicle, lessening reliance on care-givers to lift them, the inventors said.


Parking Courtesy in Areas for Drivers with Disabilities

Last updated: March 3, 2015

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Press Release from the United Spinal Association, Release: Monday, June 18, 2007

Photo of a car illegally parked in van accessible aisle
Example of a disabled access minivan with a passenger-side access ramp access that is blocked by a sedan parked illegally in the required access aisle.
Photo credit: United Spinal Association.

If you have wondered about the purpose of those blue diagonal-lined areas adjacent to, or between, accessible parking spaces for drivers with disabilities, they are there for a number of important reasons. The United Spinal Association, a national membership organization for individuals of all ages with spinal cord injuries or disorders, urges summer vacation travelers to steer clear of these "access aisles" because parking unlawfully in them can compromise safe use of accessible parking spaces.

Since enactment of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act, accessible parking spaces must have access aisles, and two accessible parking spaces can share a common access aisle. In many cases, the access aisle is 60 inches wide minimum—not nearly enough space to squeeze in an additional vehicle. However, the Americans with Disabilities Act added a provision that one in every eight accessible spaces, but not less than one, must be served by an access aisle that is 96 inches wide minimum, so that drivers with disabilities using vans or minivans equipped with side-loading lifts or ramps would have enough space to exit/enter their vehicle safely. These 96-inch wide access aisles have become more the norm since 1990. Although parking in a 96-inch wide access aisle is illegal, it is used all too often as just another parking space.

In addition, a blocked access aisle of any size can make it unsafe for a wheelchair user, a scooter user, or anyone with impaired mobility to transfer to and from their vehicle. The parking access aisle is also part of the disabled driver's accessible "path of travel" to the building or facility served by the parking area; block the access aisle illegally with your vehicle, and you prevent the driver with a disability from living their life to the fullest.

Photo of disabled person exiting his van using a wheelchair ramp in accessible aisle
Jerome Kleckley of New City, New York, exits his van easily to an access aisle. Kleckley reports numerous occasions when he has returned to his van to find access to it blocked by an unlawfully parked vehicle.
Photo credit: United Spinal Association.

Want to help, or to become an advocate for drivers with disabilities? Download the PDF from https://www.unitedspinal.org/pdf/parkingpad.pdf to print out a flyer(s) which can be placed under the windshield wiper of access aisle blockers as a simple reminder of why accessible parking spaces and adjoining access aisles are the law of the land.

United Spinal Association Tel 718 803 3782 exts. 283 & 282
National Headquarters Fax 718 803 0414
75-20 Astoria Boulevard email hidden; JavaScript is required
Jackson Heights, NY 11370-1177  

Wheelchairs & Scooters Resources

Last updated: May 21, 2016

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  • Action Products, Inc. makes wheelchair cushions and seating systems; heel and elbow protectors, and full mattress overlays for Rehab/DME markets
  • Armrest Wheelchair Bags bags for your powerchair, wheelchair, or scooter add the ability to store your personal items in an easy to use, and conveniently located place. Secure, and weather resistant, these are the best wheelchair bags on the market.
  • Autochair (wheelchair and scooter carriers). AutoChair designs and manufactures hoists and other aids to assist people with disabilities and reduced mobility to get into their car or van. [UK]
  • Beach Wheelchairs there are so many sand-friendly wheelchairs, you might have a hard time choosing among them.
  • East Coast Rehab, LLC of Alexandria, Virginia custom mobility products: manual, power and sport wheelchairs, as well as custom seating and positioning
  • EV Riders a complete line of powerful mobility scooters for elderly, seniors and disabled customers for every need and every budget: like the state-of-the-art Royale (both 4-Wheel and 3-Wheel versions available), the strong and most powerful SportRider™, the 1-2-3 folding TranSport, the beautiful and transportable RiderXpress and the powerful, fun and versatile Stand N Ride™ scooter for kids and adults wanting to have fun.
  • Emergency Evacuation and Stair Climbing Chairs and Attachments
    • Scalamobil Portable Stair Lift in U.S. and Canada
    • Stair-Climbing Wheelchair
    • iBotfrom Wikipedia. The iBOT is a powered wheelchair developed by Dean Kamen in a partnership between DEKA and Johnson and Johnson's Independence Technology division. As of 2009, it is no longer available for sale from Independence Technology, but support for existing units was available until the end of 2013. In 2010, one organization was trying to revive the manufacture and maintenance of the iBOT Mobility System. America's Huey 091 Foundation is an organization that provides advanced mobility devices, which used to include the iBOT, to wounded disabled veterans. The foundation's goal is to help revive the manufacture of a new generation of iBOT and if possible to manufacture, sell, and maintain some using a veteran owned and operated organization. In 2011, Dean Kamen, the inventor of the iBOT, stated his support of America's Huey 091 Foundation's effort to reinstate iBOT production.
    • iBOT Discontinued — Unfortunate for the Disabled but Perhaps a Budding Robotics Opportunity?
  • Freedom Concepts – Bicycles designs and builds bicycles and other mobility devices to help kids be kids. To let people enjoy the simple joy of movement. To create a cycle of mobility.
  • Life on Wheels Center
  • Ms. Wheelchair America
  • Luggage Tips for Wheelchair Travel – Packing to Carrying A wheelchair user needs significant trunk control to handle the weight of a heavily loaded backpack. So what do you do when you have a lot of stuff to carry combined with a maneuverable but "tippy" wheelchair?
  • Mobility Independent Transportation Systems, Inc. (M.I.T.S.) driving equipment, van conversions, scooters, and power chairs [Mid-Atlantic region]
  • Mobility Outlet Cummings Mobility Conversions & Supply Inc. has been providing automobile conversions and adaptive devices for the physically challenged for over 30 years.
  • Scalamobil Portable Stair Lift wheelchair attachment for climbing stairs
  • Scootaround delivers to cruise ships, conferences, etc.
  • SpinLife SpinLife's customer service staff provides logical buying advice for those who are not yet sure what type of product will work best for them. SpinLife also provides guaranteed low prices for quality products for those who know exactly what they need.
  • The Scooter Store
  • Towson Medical Equipment Company, Inc. scooters, powered and unpowered wheelchairs, seatlift and recline chairs, stairway elevators and wheelchair lifts, home modifications and grab bar installations, portable and permanent ramps, and medical supplies
  • Wheelchair Diffusion Blog Wheelchair and scooter tech guides and reviews This blog is sponsored by the United Spinal Association.
  • A guide to wheelchair selection by Jean Minkel, MA, PT – A United Spinal Association TechGuide publication
  • Wheelchair Manufacturer, Invacare Corporation, provides custom manual wheelchairs, IVC manual wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, top end everyday chairs, and high-performance sports and recreation wheelchairs
  • Wheelchair and Scooter Express
  • Wheelchair Medic wheelchair repair technicians and parts to keep you mobile at all times
  • WheelchairNet
  • Wheels Unlimited
  • Whirlwind Wheelchair International The RoughRider wheelchair makes it possible for every person who needs a wheelchair can obtain one that will lead to maximum personal independence and integration into society. Whirlwind has worked with wheelchair riders around the world to design durable and highly functional wheelchairs that perform well on rough terrain and are built in factories that contribute to local economic development.
  • Lifts and ramps: