Skate Chair

Theo Stoppels, Carleton University

A wheelchair for public ice surfaces.

The inspiration came from the Rideau Canal in Ottawa — it freezes over every winter, it’s a big part of the Winterlude festival.

But every day wheelchairs aren’t well-equipped for travel on ice obviously, so it’s just about giving them something that kind of allowed them independent travel.

When you’re in it, it’s like a standard wheelchair. It’s equipped with studded wheels which allow for traction — it works great for when you’re propelling the vehicle, but when you stop propelling the studded wheels actually slow you down a lot quicker, they add a lot of rolling resistance.

There’s a powering mode and then a gliding mode. So the wheels can actually come up off the ice; the whole chair kind of tilts back and then the whole unit is resting on skate blades and there’s actually a handle bar as well for steering.

It’s important that everyone gets treated equally. So it’s sort of about making everything accessible to them and treating them as equals.