Project Natasha – switch accessible sailing

We recently received an invitation from Sailability, the group at the Royal Yachting Association that focuses on sailing for the disabled, to present the work we did to enable Natasha to sail a radio controlled Micro Magic model yacht.

Keith Coxon from the Model Yachting Association presented “Project Natasha” at the RYA Sailability annual conference in February.

This is what the project was about:

Natasha is a 13 year old young lady with a cerebral palsy condition. Her dad, Gary, wanted to introduce her to sailing and thought a radio controlled yacht would be a good starting point. But, Natasha needed an adapted transmitter she could control with two Sipp/Puff switches. Unfortunately nothing like this exists as a commercial product.

So, Gary contacted Mike Weston at RC Yachts, he contacted Charles Fox at Traxsys Ltd to ask about their assistive technology joysticks. Charles directed them to me and I agreed we would figure something out.

We needed to devise a system which allowed Natasha to control the rudder and sail using her two Sipp/Puff switches. A month or so later we had a “black box” and we send it off for trials. It worked very well and now she’s thinking about sailing a full size yacht. Why not indeed!!

If you would like to know more about this project I’ve posted a short presentation on Slideshare or copy this url into your browser..