How can blind mums safely navigate around with a pushchair? This was the task set by
Ramona Williams to a group of Imperial College, London, Biomedical Engineers
Photography kindly supplied by Thomas Angus- Imperial College, London :
The prototype will be showcased at the imperial College festival on the 28th – 29th April 2018.
here is a link to the main Imperial Festival website: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/festival/
And here are links to the event programme listings (for Saturday and Sunday) for the ‘Enginuity Zone’ (where the Baby Buggy will be showcased):
- Saturday: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/festival/whats-on/events-programme/activities/enginuity-zone- 2.php
- Sunday: http://www.imperial.ac.uk/festival/whats-on/events-programme/activities/enginuity-zone.php
Blog written on Ramona Williams by Laura Horton.
85% of visually impaired people in the UK are out of work, I was one of them until I had an idea that sparked a process of building a charity to help people with sight loss. I was born with a rare eye condition, Congenital Toxoplasmosis, but my parents encouraged me to be confident and independent about it so I took part in regular school activities and learnt to ride a bike, rollerblade and feel assured going to the shops on my own, something I know is not the case for many people.
As one of only 15% of visually impaired people in workin the UK today, I know it was this support and encouragement that ensured I made my own way, but looking at the workplace today there is so little in place to support the needs of people with sight loss and I work to change that on a daily basis. At the charity I started we provide visual impairment consultancy services to schools and companies in London and we have an independence coaching programme where we advise adults and children living with a visually impaired person on how to help them lead a more independent life.
I think one of the important things is identifying what is missing in the world, what needs to be in place and what needs to happen to make that possible. I want the option to have children but I know there are barriers to that, including travel. When I have tried to navigate my nephews and nieces in a buggy with a cane I realised how inaccessible it was to use both. I’m always looking at what’s going on in my local area and In 2017 I found out about a local innovation session being run at Imperial College London’s new White City campus through my local council and went along.
I got chatting to the community engagement team and explained my ideas for a buggy that would be able to be used by people with sight loss. Within a few months my idea had been chosen for a design engineering student project. I met with the students to discuss my invention and I was astonished at how willing they were to take themselves out of their comfort zone in order to understand the boundaries faced by those with disability so they could best design this new technology.
Very soon the Smart Baby Buggy was born and now there is a pushchair in the world that can sense its surroundings and an app which links to your camera’s phone and can see features on the ground like braille bumps, corners, and drop-offs. The prototype will very soon be presented to the public at Imperial Festival and then coming home with me, but my hope is that will be marketed so it can be affordable for those who need it.I’m excited about having a product that will help, not just those with sight loss, but also work towards people understanding the difficulties faced.
I never thought I would be an inventor of anything that would get actually made, but now I have, I’ll be thinking about my next ideas that could help people day-to- day. I’d encourage anyone reading this to do the same, it all starts from an idea.
For more information on Ramona’s work please visit Eyes For Success