Functional modifications to power and manual chairs are currently advancing in the areas of rehabilitation, sports and recreation and in the activities of daily living; however, these modification have yet to be directly applied in the field of performing arts. An assistive device was developed at the University of South Florida (USF) during collaboration between the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Theatre and Dance. The project was initiated by Professor Merry Lynn Morris who identified a need for new conceptions of mobility; her work with dancers, with and without disabilities established the research framework in which choreographic vision could be supported with technological applications. Therefore, a device was designed to alleviate the constraints of current wheelchair designs which inhibit the user’s upper-body artistic movement range and capacity for interaction. The main purpose of the design was to create hands-free motion through the modification of a power wheelchair, which make it useful in the performing arts, but also as an assistive device for persons with disabilities. This device is in its first research phase of development as a prototype and is patent pending.

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