Bertie is a pupil at Chailey Heritage School. He is a bright, intelligent eight-year-old with a love of Harry Potter and David Attenborough. He also has complex physical disabilities and health needs which create barriers to his learning, independence, and communication.
Thanks to research developed in collaboration with the University of Portsmouth, Bertie has been given a chance to enhance his autonomy through driving using a voice-activated powered mobility platform.
Bertie has always wanted to be able to move forward and turn his wheelchair independently but has been restricted due to his physical disabilities. Now he can do that by using his voice and his head switch. It is an incredibly effortful process for Bertie to make these vocalisations, which tells us that he is motivated to keep trying again and again, and his perseverance amazes us every day.
This video exhibits the powerful impact technology such as this can have on day-to-day activities for people like Bertie.
All of us at Chailey Heritage Foundation extend our thanks to Professor David Sanders, Dr Malik Haddad, and Dr Giles Tewkesbury from the University of Portsmouth, our very own resident engineer Dr Martin Langer, and their teams for their incredible work in this life changing field of research.