Israel-based company FreeWill Ltd. set out to make life a little easier for parents with physical disabilities who are wheelchair bound, by designing a customizable universal adaptor that can connect any wheelchair to any baby stroller.
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FreeWill was established in 2016 by industrial designer Dana Yichye Shwachman, whose father was wheelchair-bound. The company’s adaptor allows parents in wheelchairs to independently push a child’s stroller while keeping their hands free to move their wheelchair.
The few solutions currently available for parents in wheelchairs are both pricey and inflexible, and include adaptors that connect to one type of stroller only or specially designed strollers. This means wheelchair-bound parents must purchase additional products, Ms. Yichye Shwachman said in a February interview with Calcalist.
Ms. Yichye Shwachman says she first came up with the product five years ago when she was approached by a wheelchair-bound woman who was eight months pregnant and planned on raising the baby alone. Ms. Yichye Shwachman joined forces with industrial designer Jonathan Bar-Or, and together they developed the first custom-made prototype to answer the woman’s request.
After participating in A3i: Accelerating Inclusion in Israel, an accelerator program aimed at developing assistive technology products, and securing initial funding from the Israel Innovation Authority, a government investment arm, FreeWill is currently starting a testing stage in Israel.
Ten people have tried the product so far, each of them with a different set of abilities and challenges, Ms. Yichye Shwachman said. “Our challenge is to develop a product that will be compatible with the widest range of abilities,” she said, adding that the basic product would be more suitable for people who have relatively high capabilities, while people who are more limited will use a customizable product with leverages and additional functionalities. The goal is to distribute the product in baby supply shops so that parents could test its functionality with the exact stroller they are interested in even before making a purchase, Ms. Yichye Shwachman said.