Mary Gulick, Kansas City, Missouri
"Oh my gosh, Mark, I think I love you! If you are ever in Kansas City, let me cook you dinner .... you have been such a help to me as this is new to us. My son (Ron) will be going to Craig in two weeks for his six month re-eval... [he will use the Comfort Carrier] for that transfer to the airplane. Thank you for the Web links to the toys ... this is such help coming from someone who knows what my son is going through." [New comment six months later] "My son loves his sip and puff play station to play with his son....you have no idea how happy it makes him when he can play games like that with his (5 year old) son!"
Matthew Koob - Technolo
gy Coordinator, United Cerebral Palsy of Central Minnesota
Philip Watters - Spartanburg, South Carolina, USA
"I have to tell you though, I remember lying in a hospital bed 3 years ago thinking that i'd never be able to play games ever again with my PS2. Now I can thanks to you."
Gregory Dancel - Canada
Gregory is really enjoying the PS3. He can handle most of the controllers functions but has more limited use of his left hand with CP, and so operates the L1 & L2 buttons with simple head switches instead.
Michelle Hinn, Chairperson International Game Developers Association's Accessibility SIG, Doctoral Candidate, National Science Foundation Fellow
"I just started working with Mark on a game industry project for gamers with disabilities and was quick to provide so many alternative solutions that I didn't know about. I will recommend him to my colleagues in the video gaming industry without a doubt. In just a short phone call we had the project mapped out, which went way beyond my expectations and is far and above any customer service I've received from any other company!"
Mary Gulick - Kansas City, Missouri, USA
"My son loves his sip and puff play station to play with his son....you have no idea how happy it makes him when he can play games like that with his son!"
July 16, 09: Quadriplegic Comedian Chuck Bittner from New England was caught mentioning his desire for GimpGear Accessible Video Game Controls in his Comedy Routine! Enjoy!
"Mark was the guest speaker at UCP’s annual meeting last fall. He showed us several of the assistive technology products he’d been developing, and later advised the purchase of several devices to add to UCP’s demo and loan library. Those items have been used extensively by the community, and therefore I conclude that the recommendations he gave me were very intuitive. Mark always takes the time to follow up either by phoning after a transaction is complete to be sure setup was as easy as promised or, on occasion, stops into the office to help with setup and inform me of new technology that will soon be available. His good advice and excellent follow-through exceed the normal scope of customer service."
Steve Freier, Belmont, California
Center for Independence of the Disabled - Assistive Technology Coordinator
"BTW - I took a look at your website. You are quite a fine inventor! You have a lot of innovative solutions. I encourage everyone reading this to take a look!" - Post on Alliance for Technology Access e-mail list for AT Professionals
Renée, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
"Thank you for bringing your equipment and presenting on the DNR stage at the State Fair! You're an excellent public speaker!"
Jeffrey Brown, Pennsylvania
"I do use it a lot [Vocalize]! Thanks again for all your wonderful support and help! You're a Giant among Gimp's!" Jeff also uses our VoiceIR, & Computer Head Mouse Controller, & Wireless Microphone
"I've attached a picture of Creed - the mighty hunter - using his favorite new Joystick. He really does love it and it is easier for him to use than anything else we've tried - and we've tried LOTS of stuff!!
Creed just had his birthday this weekend so I just gave him the new Joystick Mouse. He really loves it. He is able to do it much better than the -----[another manufacturers] one. He said "I love the big buttons" and he seems to be able to be more accurate with it. I got him a hunting game that we were able to do enough programming of the controls that he could do most things on his own (the ultimate goal).
Thanks for your help and your great products. Oh yes - I LOVE the CD that came with the Mouse. I have been looking at several of the accessibility programs and I've even sent some links to the computer guru at Creed's school!"
Susan McClure, MS, OTR/L via Alliance for Technology Access (ATA)
Mark, I always appreciate your replies, the excellence in your work, and checked out the various equipment you mention. In the late 60s, early 70s, I was an occupational therapist on the neurosurgical service of a large teaching hospital. I can remember one summer when there were a large number of patients (about one fourth of the service) that were new quadriplegics with tracheotomies that prevented them from speaking. I so wished there had been the availability of something [other than using an alphabet board that we had to painstakingly go through each letter to enable our patients to spell out one to two words to communicate basic needs. And of course those possibilities did come years later and are now affordable even within small OT departments. Granted there is a learning curve with many devices but to be able to do some early training would have given these patients a positive hope for their future and a way out of the horrendous boredom they felt when they could do nothing but lie in bed (we didn’t even have bedside TVs then). When smoking was allowed in hospitals, we could at least offer a smoking robot so they could enjoy their addiction without us holding the cigarette .
Steve Freier, San Mateo, California
Assistive Technology Coordinator, Center for Independence of the Disabled
"I just wanted to let you know that we have successfully installed and programed a VoiceIR unit for my client George Dill who is a quad. Even though there is a lot of room noise produced by his bed and other mediucal equipment, it works well enough that he can control his HDTV, TIVO and sound system using his voice. His voice is very weak, so this is a miracle of sorts."
Georzetta Ratcliffe, Winchester, Virgina
President of the Board of Directors of Access Independence, an Independent Living Center (testimonial from herself as individual)
VoiceIR with Infrared Phone by Michael McLean, Santa Rosa, California
Ruth Ann Rahal, Greeley, Colorado
"Now that I've gotten some things working with the Voice IR it's already given me so much freedom and I'm very happy to be able to control things on my own even if it's just the TV and stereo [adding control over bed, deadbolt, & door opener]. Thank you for making these available."
Lori Russell, Golden BC, Canada
[Lori is a High School Special Education Adaptive Technology Professional]
"Just wanted to let you know that I set up M.G.'s VoiceIR QuickStart Package today, and it works like a charm!!! Very very easy to program, easy to change commands, great for him (being blind) because he can tell if it's recognized his command. What I was also happy about was that his voice recognition was the same no matter what position he is in in bed. We got all the TV commands programmed, and they work beautifully for him. He's thrilled with the independence this affords him. Next week we will do the stereo and satellite radio, as well as his assistance call chime system. Thanks again. It's a wonderful system for someone who is blind and paralyzed -- he can finally have a bit of independence, which is hard to come by in his situation!"
Mr. Robin D. Walls, Brunswick, Maine
"The VoiceIR Infrared Voice Controller has been a great addition to making me more independent. Before the VoiceIR, I had to keep calling on my wife to change the TV channel or volume, which became rather annoying after a short period of time. I also have the Vocalize! Cell Phone Complete Voice Control System, and at times the TV would be to loud to answer my phone, now I can turn it down before answering the phone. The Vocalize bed mic makes things even better to control the phone.
I am now able to watch TV when I'm alone; my wife works full time so I am alone a lot. I have started out slow with the VoiceIR to get use to it, and can't wait for hot weather to use it on my air conditioner. I'm planning to put my stereo in my bedroom along with a DVD player. The tube that's close to my mouth is for me to get water and to hold the bed microphone that goes to my wheelchair cell phone system."
Cele Donahue (Mom), Hyattsville, Maryland
"The VoiceIR device has given my son, Tommy, back some of the much needed control over his life that he had lost. In addition, this has uplifted his spirits and moral and improved his interactions with the nursing staff at his long-term facility home. He is able to do things without their help. This, of course, increases his independence thus decreasing his complete dependence on them.
We were able to utilize a multi-step macro which enables him to turn on & off several devices with just one command (TV, cable, DVD, and surround sound). We, also, use one for Volume control so one command can increase the volume in intervals of three not one. My son's quality of life continues to increase daily. Thanks, again for all of your help as well."
Vocalize! Wheelchair Cell Phone Voice Control System Cell Phone System
Kenley Steeg, Houston, Texas
"My Mother recently passed away, but was able to significantly increase her quality of life through the use of your product. Since the phone worked so well for us, I plan to donate the phone to TIRR (Texas Institute for Rehabilitation and Research), as this product seems to have more functionality than any they knew of." [his mother utilized the Vocalize Portable with Advanced Voice Control and the VoiceIR]
Noel Zugay, Chagrin Falls, Ohio
"I have had my Vocalize Telephone for about three months. I changed the command "telephone" to "COOKIE". I am driving everyone crazy, referring to COOKIE as if she is my best friend. I can talk to friends, conduct daily business, and feel safer when alone. COOKIE has changed my life. Thank you. Thank you."
Joe Sendon, Randolph, New Jersey
"I really like the Vocalize system. It's really amazing! I thought there would be some problem that wasn't advertised but there isn't! It works great! In fact, I'm shocked at how easy and reliable it actually is!
A friend of mine installed it for me in an afternoon. The installation was a matter of connecting a few wires to the wheelchair batteries and positioning the Vocalize components. Mark was even available to answer questions during and after installation!
I'm a quad that drives and had an old analog phone installed in my van over fifteen years ago. I rarely talk on the phone but need it for safety reasons, like if I break down on the road, need to call my nurse or family members for whatever reason, etc.
With all this new technology, I thought it would be easy to find a truly hands-free cell phone, but it's not. Vocalize is the only system I found to fit all my needs. Plus, with it working right off my wheelchair, I can make a call from anywhere, which is an added bonus I didn't have with my previous van phone. Now, if I get stuck in the backyard, I can call someone for help without lifting a finger, which I can't do anyway! I'm amazed how this works and adds to my safety.
I'm very happy with the Vocalize system and recommend it to anyone who wants a truly hands-free cell phone."
"The [Vocalize] system has been working pretty good overall. Because I live alone, answering calls at night, or just for emergencies is vital to my independence. The system seems to work quite well on picking up on my voice. I can have the TV going, as long as the volume is low, it still seems to work ok. The recognition of my voice is pretty darn good overall. At night I park my chair about 12 feet away from me and off to the front right. I am not using [the bed kit]. The microphone is about 10 to 12 feet from me [on my wheelchair] when i lay in bed and it still works pretty darn good. I'm using the [Lapel] mic that has a base that lets it swivel and I have it mounted right in front of my joystick, pointed towards my face, probably about 18 inches away from my mouth. I use the same mic during the day [and at night] so i don't have to change anything. It's pretty cool!"
1 Year Later... "Thanks for your help the other day trouble shooting the reinstallation of my Vocalize cell phone system. I also wanted to thank you for the Comfort Carrier, it works really good. You have some great inventions that are really helping a lot of people and making big differences in their lives. I imagine my next purchase will be the new IR system [VoiceIR]. Thumbs up on all your great inventions!!"
I want to thank you for the information about the phone program. I now have one. It's the same phone that I purchased two of so I'm familiar with it. I really appreciate what you did... Again I thank you and I will definitely let people at the MS Achievement Center know about you when I get back there.
(Editorial Comment: Sometimes our solutions may not be the best fit for everyone, but were not afraid to tell you or where to find the most appropriate products to fit your needs!)
"I would love replace my cell phone with the new iPhone 3G but the absence of voice recognition is big. I could actually use the iPhone perfectly fine when in my chair with my hand splint on [using the TenOne Pogo Stylus]. But I would need pure voice-activated dialing to make calls from my bed at night (for emergencies). There is a new program waiting for approval for the iPhone App Store called “Voice Dial” that will add a level of speech recognition to the iPhone. But as with other cell phones you still have to press a button on your phone to bring up the voice prompt which kind of defeats the purpose, at least for me.
A few months ago I purchased this device called “Vocalize” which, in combination with the Windows Mobile, Bluetooth enabled, smartphone (I got the Motorola Q9h) [supports any Bluetooth phone] allows you to use the voice commands of your phone without having to press a button. You simply say your magic keyword (like “telephone”, for example) to activate the voice prompt. The device actually hooks up to your wheelchair batteries and mounts underneath your seat. Then you establish a Bluetooth connection between Vocalize and your cell phone [by pairing it like any Bluetooth device] and you’re ready to go. It was somewhat difficult to install on my wheelchair but it was worth it. I don’t actually use it during the day I’m up in my chair but when I’m in bed at night it’s my lifeline. Even recognizes my voice from the other side of the room where I plug my wheelchair in to charge.
So if the iPhone got voice-recognition and it was compatible with Vocalise I would buy one right now. Actually, if the iPhone got voice-recognition that I could activate [without pushing a button] without the need for Vocalize I’d buy one immediately as well, even though that would render Vocalize useless. I don’t know if it’s ever going to happen so I’ll probably buy an iPod Touch instead in the next few months now that I know I could actually use one. Geez, sorry for the long post. I could have made this post an article in itself!"
Jani Nayar - India - Society for Accessible Travel & Hospitality (SATH)
"I can vouch for the effectiveness of Comfort Carrier. We used it at Taj Mahal to carry Scott Rains. More over we used it in our demonstrations in our seminars in India to make TWO from the audience to carry me without too much effort!! That is saying a lot." - Jani
Amanda Neal, Independent Living Center - Homer, Alaska
"We got Comfort Carriers for all of our Independent Living Centers on the Kenai Peninsula here in Alaska. I went on a rafting trip last weekend with a friend who uses a wheel chair. The Comfort Carrier was a lifesaver and worked great! I took pictures although I realize I don’t have any really good ones of the Comfort Carrier in use. You can see that he has it on in every picture though. We used the Comfort Carrier to get Doug on/off the small airplane (an Otter). Then we used the Comfort Carrier to get him in and out of the raft and awesome Kili-Kart chair. I am going to go advocate for this at Grant Air, one of our smaller airlines that currently carries people on and off the airplane with no aids. If you how some Comfort Carrier brochures that would be helpful. Thanks!"
Prasad Phanasgaonka, Mumbai, India
"My Dad [touch wood] has recovered soon..but he's in 70's so am avoiding his help.
I tried Comfort Carrier & its nice.. My attendant & driver who are considerably weak could transfer me in car using it. I had been to farmhouse in floods & vehicle was stuck ..I missed packing Comfort Carrier in bag! :-( I will try clicking some photos next time. btw this video is of Accessible travel seminar in Mumbai..views I gave. ;-) "
Prasad offers wheelchair accessible Van rental and driver services, some of the only available in India!
Mary Schlechty - Washington, USA
Emergency Preparedness - Invaluable when the time comes!
"I was thinking of you this week, In Washington state we had a lot of flooding. Unfortunately I tried to drive through it and stalled out my van and had to be rescued by the fire dept. My son, [Chris] was in the van with me. It damaged his [power]chair. We took a cabulance to a hotel and stayed a few days. Luckily I had Chris's [Comfort Carrier] portable sling with me [to get him out of the vehicle]. (I keep clothes and a small charger in my car in case of bad weather) my daughter was able to come over [to the hotel] and help me transfer him into bed and get him up [with the Comfort Carrier]. I don't know how we would of done it without the [Comfort Carrier] sling. The water has receeded and we are back home now."
Elanie Link (for son John), Illinois, USA
Comfort Carrier made going to Portugal for Stem Cell Surgery Possible!
"We returned home from Portugal yesterday. The surgery went very well. Now John will have extended physical therapy and any gains he may have from the stem cell graft may show up over the next months and years. The Comfort Carry worked very well moving John between wheelchair and airplane seat. My husband and I did the transfers with a helper from the airline quickly moving the Roho seat cushion from one seat to another. My husband lifted John's torso using the middle set of hand loops. I lifted his legs... I cannot imagine how we would have accomplished the moves without the carrier. It was especially necessary on the way home when my son had a big incision on the back of his neck and we had to be extra careful. Anyway, I was extremely thankful that I had come across a link to your site and your product before the trip. Thanks for your great invention in the Comfort Carrier. We practiced with it at home a couple of times before we took off, and it definitely made all our lives easier during the transfers. My husband has had back surgery and I'm a 56-year-old woman with a pacemaker, but we could handle the job. In every airport they looked at us with disbelief when we said we would be moving John by ourselves."
Walt Balenovich, Toronto Canada
That transfer sling is quite ingenious...I have scurried across and over many a small aircraft wing in Kenya and Australia and it can be a bit dangerous, and I am a cross between a para and a quad! Nice to see that we have an Edison like you on our side, making life easier!
William L. Bussear - Isla Aguada, Campeche, Mexico (Yucatan Peninsula)
"I purchased a Comfort Carrier from Mark and it has almost eliminated in the extreme hassle of getting on and getting off aircraft! I still have to be carried and I still have to be put on that damn "crucifixion chair" but it has eliminated the "manhandling" and the "accidental dropping" totally! EVERYONE who uses a wheelchair needs to buy this product before you fly again! I am suggesting that all of my clients who fly to Freedom Shores buy one before they leave! It is also wonderful for getting in and out of kayaks here at Freedom Shores. It makes transitioning from the wheelchair to the kayak a simple process. Mark, congratulations on a great product!"
"I am very happy that I met Mark Felling! He is a wonderful example of someone who is waging a furious and courageous fight against quadriplegia! His enthusiasm is contagious and the products he offers the handicap community is impressive and extremely utilitarian! I personally purchased one of his Comfort Carriers and it is an exemplary product. It makes getting on and getting off a passenger aircraft much safer and much easier on everyone involved! I hope to meet him and personally share ideas with him in March of 2008!"
Matt Keil - Iraq Veteran - Parker Colorado, USA
Matt, a quadriplegic from a sniperin Iraq, and his wife Tracy shared these comments as they were preparing to fly to Florida with the Comfort Carrier after recently returning from a flight to Craig Hospital in Denver. They also mentioned showing the Comfort Carrier there with very positive responses! "I am not sure you are using [the Comfort Carrier] to its full potential, and trust me we use it to it's full potential! I bring it everywhere - we even used it to furniture shop so that Matt could try out all the couches in the store. We moved him around the entire furniture store in that thing....we love it! We also took him in/out of the pool with it on vacation. It worked great..." Matt's CaringBridge webpage.
Stephen Trott - Surrey, United Kingdom
"I have just returned from a trip to Florida, which gave me the chance to use the Comfort Carrier to its fullest. I found that with just a little practice it is in place and ready for use in just a couple of minutes. I put it on at the gate just before being called. In the UK the ground crews tend to be shorter and not as strong as in the US, however 3 guys managed to lift me relatively easily from wheelchair to the aisle chair. [The Comfort Carrier's] main advantage in the aisle chair is it helped maintain a good and safe position, they were then able to easily lift me from the aisle chair to [airplane] seat, and then importantly position me easily for the flight. In the US, 2 ground crew found it very easy to do the reverse. On the return flight the ground crew manager remarked that ‘It was the easiest transfer he had done’. The Comfort Carrier made the flight the easiest and most comfortable that I have done."
Judy Roberts, Orlando Florida
"I am forwarding you a photograph taken of my son-in-law on our trip to the beach. The Comfort Carrier worked out beautifully."
Wayne C. Wurtz, PTA, BS, President, Comprehensive Injury Prevention Solutions, Inc.
"I consult for injury prevention with a human services company. The Comfort Carrier has caught on recently through my recommendation with this company. The first one I purchased has been deployed and has been used is a residential setting. It has helped balance the 2-person head and toe transfer. It allows for improved lifting mechanics when transferring from the floor, which is typically the hardest place to transfer someone from."