Off The Paved Path: Redefining Wheelchair Off-Road Accessibility
Urban environments have evolved to accommodate people of different mobility needs, becoming predictable if not optimal. An issue arises however when one leaves asphalt and concrete, segregating people who use wheels at the kerb.
As able-bodied pedestrians, gutters, kerbs and unsealed surfaces are of little consequence. Yet, for people who use wheelchairs the natural environment is inherently challenging. Fatigue is a significant issue, each push of the wheel is compensating for a step of a leg, which, unlike the shoulders have evolved to sustain prolonged use. Human arms however, produce considerably smaller amounts of energy, making minimising fatigue in all types of terrains is of great advantage to daily wheelchair use.
The design intention is to assist conventional wheels to adapt to a wide range of surfaces and geography in a way that is accessible and agile for wheelchair users.
This project explores the way that individuals currently access the natural environment with wheelchairs, identifying and overcoming limitations which are present.
Based on findings from immersive and user-centred research this product has been developed, tested and optimised for serial production. The product is an over-tyre that is easily fitted around the standard on-road wheelchair rear wheels and adapts them to have off-road capability by increasing surface area and grip only where needed.
The proposed solution is an extremely portable and inexpensive product that allows wheelchair users to independently access the previously inaccessible terrains and environments such as the beach, soft grass and snow while using their standard on-road chair. This product enables participation and social inclusion in archetypal summer holiday activities such as camping and hiking.
This project holds a Patent (Pending).