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Moving towards Independence

18 February 2015


You may have heard of the saying ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’, well there is an amazingly diverse range of assistive equipment and technology out there to support people to undertake tasks they may otherwise find impossible or difficult to do. How can you know about it all?

Read Jason Lewis’’ story about what equipment and technology he uses, from a Go-Pro camera through to an electric fishing rod, all suited specifically to Jason’s needs allowing him to be more independent and live the life he chooses.

man on an assistive technology device (wheelchair) in the beach fishing at sunset

I’m Jason and I live with my family in Perth’s northern suburbs. I have a spinal cord injury resulting in quadriplegia and use assistive technology to maximise the support I receive from family, friends and carers.

It’s very important for me to be able to use the computer because it’s my way of staying in touch with friends and family. I also use the computer to study; I’ve completed a Certificate IV in Training and Assessing and a Diploma in Community Services.

As I don’t have functional use of my hands, I use speech recognition software where I speak into a microphone and am able to dictate and control the computer. This includes direction of the mouse, as well as writing emails and conducting research. This is my primary method of communication because I’m able to use it independently and it’s easier to use. I currently require help to use my mobile phone and some other technologies and would like to work towards operating these devices completely by myself.

I live in an accessible home which has recently been modified to include an electric door in my room. This is operated by hitting a button on the wall or a button on my wheelchair. I have an electronically adjustable bed and a hoist to help me to get in and out of it. I also use a CPAP machine as I have sleep apnoea and have a baby monitoring system so I can call out for help at night if needed. These technologies will help me as I move towards living independently.

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For transport, I have a powered wheelchair and use a rear-entry van for traveling longer distances. I have a Go Pro camera in the front window of my van which is connected to a monitor/TV screen in the back so I can see the view out the front window and where we are driving as I sit up too high to see out the windows properly.

In my spare time I like to get out and about using my electric four-wheel-drive wheelchair. It’s great for getting down to the beach, through the bush and in almost any rough terrain. I enjoy fishing and so I can do this as independently as possible I use an electric fishing reel. Someone needs to put bait on the hook and cast out the line; but then I can retrieve the line by using a jellybean switch that is connected to the motor on the fishing reel.

I also enjoy catching up with friends and going to the football because I’m a big Eagles fan! I am in the process of acquiring a purpose-built Strike Force sports chair to play electric wheelchair sports such as power chair football, hockey, rugby and balloon soccer.

Ultimately, I’d like to be more independent and my goal is to have a place of my own.

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