Ford's innovative wheelchair ramp image

Automotive giant Ford has creatively reinvented its car mat into a lightweight, portable smart ramp for disabled drivers to navigate previously inaccessible public spaces.

Called the ‘Accessibility Mat’, the prototype was designed through a collaboration between Ford Brazil, GTB Brazil and Code Studio to help residents in the South American country negotiate formerly inaccessible areas, such as pavements with no drop curbs or particularly worn, potholed-filled roads.

The device provides a new function to an already existing car part, redesigning its Ecosport boot mat into a dual-purpose ramp which can be easily carried on the back of a wheelchair.

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Notably, the ramp/mat innovation also incorporates an element of “smart” technology, with the Accessibility Map connecting to the wheelchair user’s smartphone via Bluetooth and a microprocessor embedded in the ramp.

Each time the device is used by a wheelchair user, the Accessibility Mat gathers data on the location and highlights places where disabled access needs to be improved on an app and website, flagging to local authorities where action is required.

Although not currently available in the UK, the project outlines a growing trend for greater inclusivity and accessibility in society, with the needs of disabled people gaining more prominence in the media.

Recently, the multi-million-pound global Mobility Unlimited Challenge has challenged designers to create new innovations to improve the lives of disabled people, unveiling five recently announced finalists with unique, life-changing designs.

Watch the video below to find out more about the new Accessibility Mat:

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