Making Technology Accessible for Wheelchair Users

People with mobility issues often have difficulties using smart phones and other common electronic devices.

In an attempt to meet this need, a small Toronto technology start-up has developed a set of open software and hardware tools called Tecla that facilitates access to electronic devices for people with mobility impairments. Komodo Open Labs (KOL) envisioned a user-friendly Bluetooth interface device that would give individuals with special needs access to commercial smart phones. But the goal went further: the company wanted to make it smaller, mountable, and lower-cost, letting more people join the conversation.

The device had to be easy to access, simple to install and maintain, and still affordable. For help with this, KOL came to George Brown College’s Centre for Construction and Engineering Technology (CCET). The students were challenged to design a device that allowed someone with limited mobility to join the same communication network that able-bodied people access easily.

After many rounds of prototypes, CCET students developed a product that is a compact and less costly version of KOL’s initial prototype. The result was an aesthetically pleasing, unobtrusive device to mount on a wheelchair. Students gained much from the collaboration, learning that ultimately, accessibility is something that all good design should accommodate.

“George Brown’s students bring more ‘out of the box’ thinking,” said Mauricio Meza, head of Business Development at KOL. “They try to find more creative solutions to the project.”

Partner(s): Komodo Open Labs
Funded by: Innovation Enhancement (IE) Grant

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