A Paralympian from Albania recently set a Guinness WorldGuinness World Record:
123 Floors,
1,821 Feet,
2,917 Stairs

A Paralympian from Albania recently set a Guinness World when he wheelied down the 2,917 steps of South Korea’s tallest building. Haki Doku completed the feat in 49 minutes using a regular manual wheelchair outfitted with SoftWheels to cushion the impacts. Next up? He has plans for a speed run to descend 100 stairs in 30 seconds. Check out his “Gravity Tour” at hakidoku.com.

IKEA Promotes Accessible Furniture Hacks

The international home furnishings giant IKEA has teamed up with an Israeli nonprofit to design accessibility add-ons for its most popular furniture pieces. The project is called “ThisAbles,” and there are currently 13 products available, from oversized switches and handles, to curtain grippers, to a snap-on bedside cup holder and more. IKEA has posted free design schematics for the objects online so they can be 3D printed by users. The company is also soliciting ideas for new accessibility hacks from the disability community. For more information visit: thisables.com/en/help-us/.

Wheelchair bumpers for glass doors and handles for sleek cabinets may make IKEA products more usable.

Wheelchair bumpers for glass doors and handles for sleek cabinets may make IKEA products more usable.

Para Makes Off-road History

At Dakar 2019, Italian racer Nicola Dutto became the first paraplegic to ride a motorcycle in the world’s most famous off-road endurance rally. Speeding over the sand dunes of coastal Peru, Dutto was able to complete four of the rally’s 10 stages riding a KTM motorcycle with modified controls, a custom seating system by Vicair and roll cages to protect his legs in the event of a crash. Despite a controversial disqualification following mechanical issues with his support bikes, Dutto is confident his team has what it takes to complete the full event. For more on Dutto’s story and how he handles the planet’s toughest terrain, check out: youtu.be/_dnpM00DIQg

Access is Coming

Access is ComingAfter the new season of Game of Thrones premiered in April, the internet decided it was time to do something about the access issues in everyone’s favorite fantasy world. Bran might be the Three-Eyed Raven now, but he still uses a wheelchair, and as one Reddit user noted, “Bran is kind of stuck in the courtyard. It seems Winterfell isn’t exactly wheelchair accessible with all those stairs.” Let’s hope the GoFundMe campaign is successful.

Listen

dating podcast

The latest United on Wheels podcast shares a strikingly frank conversa­tion between three women with quadriplegia as they discuss casual dating, intimacy and long-term rela­tionships. If you listen to one podcast in May, make it this one. Available for free at: unitedonwheels.blubrry.net

United on Wheels

Watch

Following members of the Miami Heat wheels wheelchair basketball team as they seek to win their first NWBA championship, The Rebound centers on three of these compelling ath­letes’ lives. “That chair you’re roll­ing in is your story. Don’t be afraid to tell it,” says point guard Jeremie Thomas. Available at reboundthe­film.com, as well as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Vudu and more. Members of United Spinal Association can receive 20% off the rebound online shop using code: unitedspinal20Rebound documentary

Human Support Robots to Assist Wheelers at Tokyo Olympics

If you use a wheelchair and need help finding your seat or carrying a drink at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, there’s a chance that you’ll have a robot assisting you. Toyota will be deploying Human Support Robots at competition venues to provide assistance for wheelchair-using spectators while showcasing the technology’s potential for wider application in everyday life.

Human Support Robots to Assist Wheelers at Tokyo Olympics“Toyota hopes to provide ‘the freedom to move for everyone’ throughout the Games and has developed various mobility solutions, including robots. We believe that the robots will help spectators in wheelchairs to enjoy watching the events without any restrictions,” said Nobuhiko Koga, Chief Officer of Frontier Research Center at Toyota.

The HSR, the development of which was first announced in 2012, is designed to provide personal assistance for everyday tasks, including picking up objects off floors, retrieving items, and opening doors or window blinds. To do this, the cylindrical base uses a retractable arm with finely calibrated pincers that can grab items like clothes or a small water bottle, while a suction cup can retrieve thin items like a piece of paper. With an integrated display, cameras and microphones, the HSR also provides remote video connectivity. It can be controlled by the user via voice or tablet, or by a care provider remotely. In a year and a half, we might finally get a glimpse of whether it has advanced enough to provide real world assistance.

Outrageous Airline Stats

Outrageous Airline StatsMajor airlines lost or damaged an average of 23 wheelchairs per day from December 2018 to February 2019, according to reports by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The numbers may not come as a surprise to many disabled travelers, but thanks to accessibility reforms included in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, we now have hard data to confirm what is known to be an industry-wide problem. “I know from personal experience that when an airline damages a wheelchair, it is more than a simple inconvenience — it’s a complete loss of mobility and independence,” said Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, who uses a wheelchair and championed the new regulations.

According to the reports: from December to February airlines lost or damaged a total of 1,975 wheelchairs or scooters. Of the major carriers, American and Southwest consistently had the highest incidence of mishandling, while Delta and United had the lowest. The numbers are likely to change as more monthly reports are issued and there’s a larger sample size to analyze, but wheelchair users now have some valuable information when choosing which airline to fly.