University of Victoria

Together we CanAssist.

Umbrella Holder for Wheelchairs, Walkers and Strollers

Now Matthew can get out in any weather.The story behind one of CanAssist's most popular devices began in the spring of 2004 , when caregivers of an elderly lady living in Victoria contacted us.

The woman, who used a walker, loved to get out and about. But she usually found herself stuck indoors on rainy days because she'd never found an effective way to use an umbrella and her walker at the same time.

So CanAssist engineers got to work. They created an umbrella holder that clamps onto a walker, wheelchair or scooter and is highly adjustable, with parts designed to rotate and extend. For example, users can rotate the umbrella down and out of the way when they go indoors so the device doesn't bump into things. In dry weather, the base clamp can remain on their walker or wheelchair, while the umbrella can be left at home.

"It started with one request, and that one request led to another," says CanAssist's Hardware Manager Darcy Lane. "It's been one of our hottest items since then." He says that although umbrella holders for wheelchairs are available commercially, these aren't adequately adjustable for many people.

One young woman who uses the umbrella holder with her wheelchair is Vanessa, who has cerebral palsy.

Aizlyn has an umbrella to project her video equipment.Vanessa spelled out the following phrases when we asked her to describe her umbrella holder: "amazing product," "useful for protecting from rain and sun" and "practical to carry."

Vanessa often uses the umbrella to provide shade on hot, sunny days. Because she uses a headrest on her wheelchair, it can be difficult to keep a hat on her head.

"Now, with the umbrella over my head, I don't have to wear my cap, hat or sunglasses all the time," Vanessa and her parents, Nuria and Paolo, wrote in a letter together. "I like to go to Barb's place at Fishermen's Wharf, and I can sit anywhere without having to look for a shady area or a shady table because, hey! I carry my shade with me, and everyone is looking at me with surprised and amazingly happy looks on their faces."

Matthew, who volunteers at CanAssist, uses his umbrella holder with a walker, which he and his family affectionately call "Wheely."

Shira and her dad at the strack with the new Umbrella Holder for Stroller."Getting out and about with Wheely in Victoria can be a soggy affair," says Matthew's mom, Pat Steeves. "Imagine how excited Matthew was to discover he could request an umbrella holder for Wheely from CanAssist."

Meanwhile, 10 high school students with special needs have received our umbrella holders as part of a pre-employment initiative. The program provides the B.C. teens with customized video camera technology that lets them test their interest in journalism. The initiative, sponsored by Special Education Technology BC, includes umbrella holders for each student, to keep both the young journalists and their camera equipment dry.

In addition, a youngster named Shira recently received an umbrella holder for her stroller - a great device that lets her and her dad go for a spin in all types of weather.

(CanAssist has been providing this device to clients for many years. It has been updated several times and continues to be one of our most requested items.)

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