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…