This paper describes one innovation that has assisted in overcoming some of the physical barriers experienced by our handicapped children in regular schools.
In North Queensland, we have several children using wheelchairs, who attend their local schools, and in the past access to our high set buildings has been a major problem. Our major concerns for these handicapped children have been primarily for their safety, which we consider to be of paramount importance, and also for the provision of access to their total school environment.
In September 1979, members of the Department of Education were involved in the demonstration of a new machine to assist in access for the handicapped — the Stair Aid Stairclimbing Wheelchair Transporter, also known as the Stair Mate. The Stair Aid device was designed by a Sydney man, its concept based on the design of a similar machine that was already in use in the commercial field for transporting goods into high set buildings. As a result of this demonstration and evaluations carried out by various personnel within the Department, two machines were purchased and made available for trial use — one in the Northern Region, the other based in the south.