Thirty years ago, New Mobility itself was a big idea. A lifestyle magazine for wheelchair users? That’s crazy talk. And yet this month we celebrate three decades of the little ingenuity that could — and did — change disability journalism.
As we look forward to the next 30 years — or even the next three — we asked thought leaders in technology, transportation, culture, community and function research: What are the Big Ideas on how to make the world better for wheelchair users? Here’s what they said. We hope you’ll join the conversation at newmobility.com.
Big Ideas In …
Engineers and designers are getting people with disabilities involved on the ground level of product design, and the results are promising. Dean Kamen just rebooted the iBOT, Andrew Slorance is redesigning the manual chair and Rory Cooper is rethinking everything.
The future of transportation is being built now, and if the disability community can hold the industry to its promises, the revolution might just be accessible. Henry Claypool gives an overview of the autonomous vehicle landscape, industry-leader Volkswagen is designing a fully accessible, self-driving van, Uber says it’s finally investing in access, and robotics company Nuro already has bot-mobiles roaming American streets delivering groceries.
People with disabilities are more visible in mainstream society than ever, but the battle for full integration rages on. Tony Award winner Ali Stroker shares her hopes for future disabled performers, International Paralympic Committee classifier Anne Hart explains how classification system changes could improve sporting competitions, and media pundit Lawrence Carter-Long tackles the language around what it even means to have a disability.
The more accessible our built environment is, the more autonomously everyone can go about their business. Sidewalk Labs is rethinking public space design, architect Karen Braitmayer works for obtainable wheelchair-ready housing, disaster relief guru Marcie Roth strives to accessibly rebuild stricken cities, and lawyer Josh Basile advocates for employment policies that enable disabled people to find and keep satisfying jobs so they can reinvest in their communities.
There’s no miracle cure on the horizon, but there is a lot to be excited about when it comes to regaining function after SCI. Dr. Wise Young is rewriting the narrative around SCI recovery with cutting-edge research, while exercise-intensive centers like Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Empower SCI and NextStep are helping many regain function despite ever-shortening rehab stays.
Illustration by Reveca Torres