A world’s first is something that’s hard to come by nowadays but Sue Austin has done just that by creating a wheelchair that allows the disabled to propel themselves underwater, just in time for a spectacular demonstration at the Paralympics!
Sue, a professional artist who has been in a wheelchair since 1996, got the idea for an underwater wheelchair after learning to scuba dive in 2005, and, with much criticism from some engineers, worked together with several diving professionals to make this idea a reality.
The technological wonder is made up of a National Health Service wheelchair, two dive propulsion vehicles, a bespoke fin, and foot-operated acrylic strip around the bottom of the chair. One of the greatest difficulties came from finding a proper propulsion system, as most of them are hand operated and many of the chair’s users would not able to hold them, so they eventually found a vehicle specifically for disabled divers and attached two to the chair.
Many organizations and universities, such as the Oceanography department at the University of Plymouth, are excited for this innovated invention to allow more handicapped persons into their diving programs and give them a similar experience to everyone else. The only real improvement from the prototype that Sue is looking for is a titanium frame, as the current one is too susceptible to rust. Would you go for a ride in this unnamed submerged wheelchair? Let us know in the comment what you think.
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