Travelers With Disabilities Get Help With New Inventions

Getting in the air and to a destination has its challenges for even the well traveled. We hope weather will cooperate and flights will be on time. On the plane we might hope for ample overhead bin space and a neighbor who is either chatty or not, depending on our mood. Thoughts like “will I be able to find the lavatory?” probably never cross our minds … unless we are a challenged traveler, impaired in some way.

When we think of travelers with disabilities, thoughts often end after they board the aircraft first, along with upper-class passengers, those who carry the airline’s credit card, those with small children, the elderly and military members in uniform. But to blind or visually impaired travelers, simply getting to the lavatory can be difficult.

BrailleWise is changing all that, giving visually impaired people greater independence and comfort when using the lavatory on airplanes.A product of the School of Design at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the new BrailleWise aircraft lavatory brings an organized system for reading Braille and other tactile information. Using BrailleWise, visually impaired air travelers can quickly find and use lavatories on planes.

Once in a cabin lavatory, a visually impaired traveler can feel Braille “beams” at waist level, indicating the location of the toilet bowl, the flush handle and the washbasin. While those things might seem easy to find in the small confines of an airline restroom, a visually impaired person struggles with even this simple task in total darkness, often with the aid of a crew member or friend.

With the good bearings provided by the BrailleWise system, visually impaired travelers can move around freely and independently without the need to feel around and risk touching unsanitary areas.

Travel companies try hard to accommodate those with handicaps of all sorts and each has their own specific concerns.

Those with serious mobility issues, for example, have a lot more to be concerned about than getting off and on aircraft. Enter the Tek Robotic Mobilization Device (RMD), which enables paraplegic people to sit or stand with no outside help, opening up travel that such limited mobility would have prevented in the past.

Watch this amazing video:

[Photo credits: Flickr user Fidenaut and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University]