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Accessibility breakthroughs in 2014

20th February 2015

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.

As technology gets more advanced and scientists continue to develop new and exciting methods of treatment and other such breakthroughs, restricted accessibility as we know it could soon be a thing of the past.

The numerous accessibility breakthroughs both in technology and awareness have seen hugely positive steps taken in the past year, with many showing signs of accessibility to effectively be revolutionised for countless individuals in Britain in the not-too-distant future. While reconditioned stair lifts and other such home mobility devices have been making accessibility around the home easier for individuals for some time and new developments in this area such as backup power and innovative designs are making accessibility even safer and more affordable, there have been a number of other significant breakthroughs that have happened in the last year.

Here we look at some of the most important; from overcoming paralysis to events specifically for people with disabilities, 2014 and the beginning of 2015 has been a great period for accessibility.

March 2014 Euan’s Guide

Another great project that launched in the past year was Euan’s Guide, making disabled access reviews readily available in one place. The project was set up by Euan MacDonald who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2003. His work in the attempt to improve accessibility for those with disabilities across the country has now manifested itself into Euan’s Guide, the disabled access review website and smartphone app with the help of BT.

Created by disabled people and their friends and families, it is hoped that the project will help give other such individuals the confidence to get out and about and explore new places without the worry that they might not be accessible to them. See the below video for more information.

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August 2014 Driverless cars

Similarly, driverless cars made headlines in 2014 with it being announced in this previous article that they could be on British roads as early as January 2015. While the vehicles in the cities of Greenwich, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry, who all secured the trials backed by government funding, were a bit behind schedule, it is thought that the projects will mean that the UK is a world-leader in this field, according to business secretary Vince Cable in this recent article.

It has been reported that there are still technical obstacles for this technology, but one thing is for sure; driverless cars and the other breakthroughs mentioned in this article come only as good news for those with mobility difficulties and act as a positive sign of more to come.

October 2014 Cell transplant

Perhaps one of the most astonishing accessibility breakthroughs to have taken place in 2014 was the pioneering therapy that saw paralysed Darek Fidyka of Poland take his first steps after becoming paralysed in 2010. The incredible treatment involving transplanting cells from his nasal cavity into his spinal cord meant that Fidyka, who had not been able to walk since an incident that saw him stabbed repeatedly in the back, could now walk using a frame. This was made possible after two operations carried out by surgeons in Poland in collaboration with a team of scientists based in London.

The event was described by Prof Geoff Raisman, chair of neural regeneration at University College London's Institute of Neurology and leader of the UK research team involved in the procedure, as “more impressive than man walking on the moon”, as reported in this BBC article.

It is hoped that this breakthrough might be the start of a revolution for accessibility and paralysis where, alongside such assistance as walk in shower facilities, more such individuals may be able to recover their mobility.

January 2015 Disabled Access Day

While 2014 was a great year for accessibility, the beginning of 2015 is shaping up to be too good not to mention. Starting things off in early 2015 was the first Disabled Access Day. The event, which was hailed a success when it took place on the 17th January, looks to highlight disabled access, improve awareness of accessibility and get those with a disability to visit somewhere they haven’t been before.

Individuals, charities, venues and corporations can all get involved in what is hopefully set to become an annual event that helps improve disabled access rights across Britain.

February 2015 Why Not People?

While Why Not People? is yet to host its first gig and launch its membership area (which is set to launch on the 16th March), the newly set up members’ club for disabled people started its journey in 2014. Planning to host accessible live gigs exclusively for disabled individuals and their friends, the project, whose Indiegogo campaign is to close on the 19th February, aims to make great events accessible for those with physical, sensory and learning impairments, and introduce new technologies that will enhance such experiences for these individuals. The first gig is set to take place in May later this year and acts such as Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Tinie Tempah are already confirmed to make an appearance.

The project was founded by former Radio 1 chart show presenter Jameela Jamil who, having lived with a disability at a young age, wholeheartedly relates to people in such a situation and actively wants to make the country a more accessible place both physically and socially.

Image Credit: BU Interactive News (flickr.com) changes made from the original. Sam Churchill (flickr.com)

This content was written by Emily Bray. Please feel free to visit my Google + profile to read more stories.