As we discover more about empathic design, I begin to recognize the need and the use of items designed to give an individual the ability to carry on with daily tasks. Today, I will reflect on something different. Have you ever thought of what it would be like to enjoy a vacation on the beach without the ability to walk? Imagine how you would get around. Now think of pushing a stroller through the sand. It’s extremely frustrating and for the majority, it does not seem worth the effort! With this in mind, consider how difficult it would be to use a standard wheel chair on the beach sand.
This particular thought came about as I was browsing my newsfeed on Facebook. A high school friend of mine was anticipating her mother’s wedding by the beach. She has been in a wheel chair for about 14 years. As she lay to rest after a exhausting day of “accommodations” leading to frustrations during travel, she felt even more defeated when she couldn’t join her family on a leisurely stroll on the beach that evening. How disheartening. When the morning came she looked outside her window to enjoy the view, as she had done for two days and noticed a wheelchair designed to navigate the barrier of sand. Her family members went out and bought her this chair so she could be a part of making memories as a family. THAT FOR EMPATHIC DESIGN! She was so thrilled to have the opportunity to be on the shorefront, laughing and talking with her family. The only drawback was that she wished she had been able to push herself around, to have some private moments of her own and spare the person pushing her of fatigue.
I browsed for a photo of this sand capable wheel chair on her profile and found that most of her pictures were taken from the balcony, overlooking her family’s playful adventures. Although I know she had a wonderful time, I can’t help but to feel motivated to change the travel challenges that so many people with disabilities face.