Switch accessible sailing seemed like a big challenge when we first got involved in helping Natasha learn to sail a model yacht. But, it all worked out well. So well that we received an invitation from Sailability, the group at the Royal Yachting Association who focus on sailing for the disabled, to present the work we did to enable Natasha to sail a radio controlled Micro Magic model yacht.
Keith Coxon from the Model Yachting Association presented ‘Switch accessible sailing – Project Natasha’ at the RYA Sailability annual conference in February.
This is what the project was about:
Natasha is a 13 year old young lady with a cerebral palsy condition. Her dad, Gary, wanted to introduce her to sailing and thought a radio controlled yacht would be a good starting point. But, Natasha needed an adapted transmitter she could control with two Sipp/Puff switches. Unfortunately nothing like this exists as a commercial product.
So, Gary contacted Mike Weston at RC Yachts, he contacted Charles Fox at Traxsys Ltd to ask about their assistive technology joysticks. Charles directed them to me at Excitim Ltd and I agreed we would figure something out.
We needed to devise a system which allowed Natasha to control the rudder and sail using her two Sipp/Puff switches. A month or so later we had a “black box” and we send it off for trials. It worked very well and now she’s thinking about sailing a full size yacht. Why not indeed!
If you would like to know more about this switch accessible sailing project I’ve posted a short presentation on Slideshare showing what we did to make it possible.