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…