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TechOWL Wheelchair Repair Shops empowers people with disabilities in Pennsylvania

byMatteo Iadonisi

Wed, March 22, 2023 1:50 PM

Wheelchair repair shops empower people with disabilities

Philadelphia – Izzy Kaufman said, “I have cerebral palsy and my muscles and nerves just don’t function the same way as anyone without it.” “But that’s why I have the wheelchair because it has more freedom.”

Kaufman only started using a wheelchair about six years ago. But with her newfound freedom of movement comes responsibility.

“Wheelchairs are an extension of our body and when something breaks, it’s like we can’t live the same way or I might not be able to go to work,” she said. “So, we’re trying to get bike shop technicians trained to work in wheelchairs.”

Kaufman is the assistive technology program coordinator at TechOWL, Pennsylvania’s assistive technology law program. Based in the Temple University Disability Institute, TechOWL helps Pennsylvania residents with disabilities obtain accessible tools and tools.

One of their latest initiatives is Wheeled Reform Alliance. Through it, TechOWL aims to partner with bicycle repair shops across the state to offer wheelchair repair skills.

“It made immediate sense to us as something we wanted to do,” said Andrew Ciampa, COO of Andrew Ciampa. Neighborhood bike works in West Philadelphia. “Education is a big part of this space and we realize with wheelchairs, bicycles and a number of other vehicles that there are a lot of basic things you can do to keep yourself on the road.”

Neighborhood Bike Works has already hosted two official repair workshops in partnership with TechOWL. But their goal is to open doors for wheelchair users at any time.

“During either shop hours or DIY hours, we want to do our best to help people with whatever mode of transportation they bring with them,” Ciampa said.

Future formal workshops are planned at State College and Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Anyone interested in learning more about the accessible tools and software offered by TechOWL can do so Visit their website.

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