A Deep Sea Dive in a Self Propelled Wheelchair

Wheelchairs are changing all the time as innovations make our handicapped seniors’  lives better, but now they can go scuba diving.  Sue Austin, who has been wheelchair bound since 1996 has helped invent the new self propelled underwater wheelchair.  The exciting new wheelchair is being introduced this week at the Cultural Olympiad Celebration and is already creating a  lot of buzz.

Ms. Austin’s  performance with the new chair  is called ‘Creating the Spectacle’ and frankly, it is breathtaking.  She is performing this week at the Osprey Leisure Centre in Weymouth, England and will be there through Saturday.

As we get a closeup of the new self propelled wheelchair, we can see something about how it works.  It has fins, and can be controlled by the feet.   It proves there is no reason why people who use wheelchairs should not be able to scuba dive.  That’s why I’m stunned by some of the criticism Ms. Austin has received.  However, I think there’s a practical aspect that needs to be explored before it’s marketed.

For instance, I’m trying to understand how the foot controls work for someone who may be crippled and can’t use their feet.  I’d also feel more comfortable if there was a safety feature for escape, just in case the wheelchair gets stuck on something.  But I guess swimming with a buddy helps because you’d have someone there who could assist if needed.

One reader wrote the Mailonline that this project is a waste of money.  Someone else asked why there is a need for wheelchairs underwater since people are weightless.

Ms. Austin’s own reply sums it up.  “My studio practice has, for some time, centered around finding ways to understand and represent my embodied experience as a wheelchair user, opening up profound issues about methods of self-representation and the power of self-narration in challenging the nexus of power and control that created the “disabled” as other.”

The idea is here, so more features will come as the self propelled underwater wheelchair takes off.  After all, it will be helping to open up more of the world for everyone who wants to explore.

Here’s more information  from around the Web


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