Pasadena, California resident Zebreda Dunham (pictured left) is the winner of RESNA’s “DIY” Assistive Technology Design Contest with the “Zkey Turner,” an assistive technology tool designed for anyone with limited mobility, strength or fine-motor control of their hands. Unlike many commercially available key turners, the Zkey Turner provides an accessible horizontal plate that can easily be leveraged for anyone who cannot easily grab and twist a key in a lock. With its low-tech design, the Zkey Turner can “open doors” in any geographic region by all ages and backgrounds. First place came with a $300 prize and recognition at RESNA’s annual conference, which took place in Denver, Colorado, June 10-14.
Zebreda Dunham is an assistive technology user and advocate who specializes in adapting tools for daily living. Her website, www.ZebredaMakesItWork.com
, features videos about the tools that she has created, including the Zkey Turner. Born in Washington, D.C. with a rare condition known as Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita – a disability typically characterized by deformed joints and very weak muscles – she does not view herself as “disabled,” rather “differently-abled.” Her design philosophy is to view obstacles as an opportunity to troubleshoot an adaptation or design a new tool using found objects and low-cost materials.
The second-place winner was Mark Weber, an engineer with Cummins Power Generation in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN. He designed a low-cost latched laser pointer that ALS patients and others who cannot communicate with their voice could use. Weber donated his $150 prize to Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute
, a part of Allina Health and the fifth largest rehabilitation provider in the nation. He volunteers for the organization’s annual Christmas toy drive, where he helps to modify 500 to 600 toys for children with disabilities.
Third place was awarded to Randy Geile, a retired mechanical engineer from Meridien, Idaho, for the OBOW-C sport utility wheeled chair. This device is a user-designed wheeled chair and hand cycle combined that is intended to facilitate home, yard and community mobility, and improve productivity and lifelong personal development for users. The OBOW-C uses widely available materials, including bicycle parts, a chair, wood, bolts and screws, and the design can be uniquely customized to each user. Geile volunteers for the Idaho Assistive Technology Project
, and enjoys being outdoors, gardening, beekeeping, volunteering and being a part of the Maker Movement. Geile received a $50 cash prize, and traveled to the RESNA conference to exhibit his device.
“We were pleased to see the creativity and innovation in the designs that were submitted,” said Maria Luisa Toro, Co-Chair of RESNA’s International Special Interest Group. “These designs can definitely be shared and replicated in other countries.”
Videos of and drawings of the prize-winning entries are available at the following links: