My next project is a rel­a­tive­ly sim­ple light­ing instal­la­tion for a dis­abled man.

For a while now I have been involved with TADACT (Tech­ni­cal Aid for Dis­abled, Aus­tralian Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­to­ry). Dis­abled peo­ple don’t come off assem­bly lines and have unique vari­ances with­in their broad dis­abil­i­ty cat­e­go­ry. The stan­dard equip­ment is tar­get­ed at the most com­mon issues but this often isn’t quite what they need. TADACT is a group of vol­un­teers that mod­i­fy or man­u­fac­ture spe­cial­ty equip­ment for dis­abled peo­ple where there isn’t an ade­quate com­mer­cial solu­tion.

Late last year I vis­it­ed a quad­ri­pleg­ic man and talked about installing a cus­tom light for him. Due to a vehi­cle acci­dent he has no con­trol below his chest and only crude move­ment of his arms and one thumb. He is also unable to exert any force with his arms.

He want­ed a light he could con­trol from his bed. The bed­side lamps he was using were dif­fi­cult for him to con­trol due to the small switch­es. He didn’t like sleep­ing in the dark at night so it had dim while he slept but be bright enough to read by. He also moves his arms around at night and there’s a risk he could seri­ous­ly burn him­self with the bed­side lamps, he had actu­al­ly burnt him­self just before I met him and received third degree burns again last week.

Tak­ing those require­ments (and a few more) I came up with a pro­pos­al. I would mount three halo­gen bulbs on the wall, one point­ed at the bed and two at the roof with each set inde­pen­dent­ly con­trol­lable. The wiring will be secured to the wall. There were two options pro­posed for the switch­ing, using two slid­ing foot dim­mers or jelly­bean switch­es and cus­tom con­trol cir­cuit­ry. The sec­ond option was con­sid­er­ably more expen­sive, the jelly­bean switch­es are spe­cial­ly designed for dis­abled pur­pos­es and cost over $100 for a switch with almost the same func­tion­al­i­ty as a $2 switch at Jay­car. The almost is of course the slight mod­i­fi­ca­tions that make them bet­ter for dis­abled peo­ple.

Ini­tial­ly they decid­ed that even the cheap option was too expen­sive. Yes­ter­day TADACT con­tact­ed me and said a local char­i­ty had pro­vid­ed fund­ing for the foot switch option. So this month’s project is to com­plete this for TADACT. The aim is to install it by the week­end of the first or sec­ond of May, prefer­ably the week­end before.

This prob­a­bly won’t take all of my time so I’ll use the rest to clean up some oth­er stuff I should have done a while ago, might even do last year’s tax return…