With billions of people stuck at home, the Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF) has asked authors from the disability community to imagine a world of unlimited mobility inspired by the five innovative devices that have made it to the final of the Mobility Unlimited Challenge. A $4 million global challenge launched by TMF in partnership with Nesta Challenges in 2017. The aim of the Challenge is to improve the lives of millions, through innovative personal mobility devices incorporating intelligent systems.
Going Further: Imagining the Futures of Mobility is an inspiring collection of three short future fiction stories, set in the near future, exploring the potential impact of assistive technologies on the lives of those with lower-limb paralysis. Now, more than ever, the anthology acts as a timely reminder of how important mobility is to us all.
This unique compilation includes work by authors who are all members of the disability community: John Wiswell, Brianna Albers and Penny Pepper, and offers a hopeful view of the future.
Going Further is currently available on the Mobility Unlimited Challenge’s fully accessible website, as well as being available to download. The anthology is illustrated by Ciara Chapman, who has received media attention and accolades for an illustrated blog chronicling her experience with chronic pain.
John Wiswell’s future fiction romance: Let Me Show You Something, tells the story of Carter who, with the help of his partner Zia, reclaims the wilderness for himself following the accident that left him paralysed.
The Velocity of Freefall by Brianna Albers follows wheelchair user Blaire, accompanied by her partner Jacen, as she overcomes her fears and fully realises her dream of travelling across the world on a life-changing adventure.
Finally, Penny Pepper’s time travel future fiction tale: Skye Finds Her Magic, sees young Skye and her father take flight into a marvellous imagined future where the assistive technology available to members of the disability community means the world is full of new possibilities.
In a time when everyone’s ability to travel has been severely restricted, these stories are evermore pertinent and will leave a lasting impression on audiences.
Julie Ann Burandt, Global Head of Communications at the Toyota Mobility Foundation states:
“It is absolutely paramount that we hear what members of the disability community are saying. Which is why, central to Going Further and the Mobility Unlimited Challenge, as a whole, is the idea of co-creation and the need to collaborate with end-users to find solutions that will genuinely make a difference to the lives of the people who use these devices.
“All of the teams are working closely with people with lower-limb paralysis and engaging in user testing to modify their designs in response to their mobility needs”.
In addition to sharing their aspirations for the future, the contributors have also shared their thoughts where we can find inspiration from the disability community.
US based Brianna Albers says:
“Disabled people have been championing many of the developments – working from home, deliveries, etc. – we’ve seen recently, for years. We know they benefit society as a whole, and it’s up to abled people to lift up our voices and push for greater reform as allies and community partners.
“I would encourage people to follow disability advocates on social media and to remember the difficulties surrounding this pandemic once it’s all said and done.”
This sentiment is echoed by UK-based Ciara Chapman:
“Our current situation is one faced by people with disabilities throughout their whole lives. While the temptation to become angry and frustrated is there, the reality will remain the same regardless. Therefore, it’s important to take each day as it comes and appreciate the minutiae of life – reading, planting flowers and watching them grow, practicing mindfulness and staying connected to the people you love. It’s an opportunity to find out what really matters.”
Thanks to the five finalists (discreet, wearable devices; exoskeletons; ultra-lightweight wheelchairs; and integrated transport systems) the Mobility Unlimited Challenge is bringing the devices into the hands of the users that need them.
The winner’s announcement will take place in 2021, where the winning team will receive $1 million.