Engineering students at the University of Sheffield were putting their innovation skills to good use at the weekend for the annual Hackcessible make-a-thon. The challenge brings together students and people living with disability to collaborate on transformative solutions.
Competition for the Hackcessible prize was strong, with other teams working on a range of projects including a device to minimise tremors and kit to make school life easier for a child with a limb difference. They were, however, pipped to the post by an adapted drum kit for use by wheelchair users.
The idea was submitted by The OHMI Trust on behalf of 11-year-old Xavier whose Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy means he requires adaptations to his drum kit.
Xavier’s goal is to be able to use the drum kit pedals while sat in his wheelchair. The task for the students was to explore how the drum kit pedals could be operated or positioned to allow them to be controlled effectively, as well as explore ways of supporting Xavier’s arms in a playing position.
As Rachel Wolffsohn, General Manager of the OHMI Trust, explains,
“Xavier's team developed a prototype by adding buttons to the drumsticks which operates one drum kit pedal each. This is the perfect solution for wheelchair users, lower limb amputees or anyone who might otherwise lack the strength in their legs to apply pressure on the foot pedals."
"The next steps are to power up the motor so that it is faster and more responsive for the bass drum and also to find a mechanism for operating the hi-hat pedal. If funding can be sourced, we hope that this work will be undertaken by the students during the course of the next academic term."
“We’d like to say a big thank you for Xavier for coming up with the challenge. The resulting solution will offer a wonderful opportunity for him and many others to play the drums in the most effective (and loudest!) way possible.”