New Chair Expands Access

More than two million people in the United States use a wheelchair or some type of mobility aid to move […]

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More than two million people in the United States use a wheelchair or some type of mobility aid to move from place to place. While the Americans with Disabilities Act has helped to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, there are still many places that aren’t accessible to people using standard mobility devices.

Curbs and stairs still represent significant barriers to wheel-chair users. In addition, users of standard mobility devices face day-to-day challenges associated with being in a seated position. Everyday tasks such as reaching into a cabinet become impossible. Even the experience of having an “eye-level” conversation with a standing person is lost to the users of most mobility devices.

Recently, Dean Kamen invented a gyroscopic wheelchair to address these barriers. The gyroscopic chair, called the iBOT®, uses the same technology Kamen created and used in developing the Segway, a 2-wheel electric transportation device that he first made available in 2001. The new chair encompasses five functions not found in any other single wheelchair. It can climb five inch curbs, go up and down a flight of stairs; travel at “standing eye-level”; easily fit under a table or desk; and can maneuver on uneven terrain, such as sand, gravel, grass or thick carpet.

The new iBOT® uses built-in computers that work in conjunction with gyroscopes. Gyroscopes are motion sensors that help maintain balance. When the gyroscopes sense movement, a signal is sent to the computers. The computers process the information and tell the motors how to move the wheels to maintain stability.

John Yuhas, an attorney who has Lou Gehrig’s disease, has used the new chair to work in buildings that were formerly inaccessible to him. “The iBOT® grants me the physical presence in the courtroom, where I can rise up and look the judge in the eye. Being at eye level turned out to be one of the surprising benefits of this [innovative new technology].”

For more information, please visit: or call the Independence Technology Customer Zone toll-free at: 866-643-4267. Test drive this new chair on June 5th in Bloomington.

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