BCIT researcher receives NSERC funding for staircase lift design

BCIT researcher Dr. Jaimie Borisoff receives funding for an integrated staircase lift.

Dr. Jaimie Borisoff

Living in multi-level homes has always been a barrier for people with physical disabilities. Fortunately, BCIT researcher Dr. Jaimie Borisoff is working on a practical and innovative solution.

Jaimie, who works in collaboration with both the BCIT Products and Process Applied Research Team (PART) and Technology and Product Evaluation Group (TPEG) and is a recent recipient of the prestigious Canada Research Chair award, is developing an integrated staircase lift design. In April, Jaimie was successful with his application for an Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Idea to Innovation (I2I) competition, which will support the prototype development and evaluation of the project over the next year.

Jaimie, himself a wheelchair user, came up with this concept a few years ago when he and his wife were looking at houses in Vancouver – all of which had stairs.

“When we were looking, I thought to myself, ‘how can I make this accessible?’” said Borisoff, who also received support from BCIT SoCE’s Green Value Strategies Fund for the staircase. “The idea had been sitting there for a few years until the opportunity at BCIT arose.”

The design of the staircase is inclusive, that is it will work for someone who can take the stairs or someone who needs a lift. It is also possible that the design will be much quicker than alternatives and be able to operate without power when necessary.

“We began this project to address a gap that exists in accessibility products on the market, especially around inclusiveness and usability,” Borisoff said. “We hope this device bridges that gap and results in a new option for people needing accessibility solutions.”

While Jaimie is the lead in this research, he will be partnering up with the School of Construction, TPEG, and PART. The Applied Research Liaison Office (ARLO) will also provide assistance to this project. Other partners that support his work include UBC’s Occupational Therapist program in collaboration with Dr. Bill Miller, Canada Research Chairs, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI).

Jaimie aims to have a full functioning prototype complete at the end of the one-year NSERC funding period in April 2013. The staircase will then go through a series of testing with occupational therapist students and volunteers.


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