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Disabled Student Becomes First to Drive Using New Joystick System

Vancouver, BC  (CBC News) – Most everyone who lives with a developmental disability, regardless of the unique nature, shares a common goal — to be independent.  Often that can entail participating in a sport, engaging in his or her community or even just browsing the produce section at the local grocery market — activities that are take for granted by the rest of the population.  But with technology constantly advancing, those goals continue to become a reality.

The open road appeals to everyone, with or without a disability, and while there are many different adaptive driving equipment available, including automatic transmissions, steering devices and electric turn signals, a new technology has helped a disabled Canadian teenager fulfill his dream of sitting behind the wheel.

18-year-old Shaan Lail suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy, which causes muscles to progressively weaken as an individual grows older.  While Lail usually uses a wheelchair to get around, last summer he became the first person  in Canada licensed to drive with the joysteer electronic driving system.  The new system grants individuals with compromised hand function to operate a vehicle via joystick control.

Lail said he developed a passion for cars at a young age.

“When I was younger, of course I thought I would always be able to drive but as my disability progressed – the disease does progress – then I started to think I liked cars all my life but it would be a shame if I couldn’t drive,” Lail said.

You can check out Shaan traversing the road in the video below, via CBS:


Lail’s mother says Shaan’s new found freedom will grant him new and exciting opportunities including increased social interactions and transport to employment and educational opportunity.  Though he continues to learn how to operate the system while waiting for his own, modified automobile to be completed, both Lail and his instructor continue to advocate for more individuals with disability gaining the “opportunity for the excitement and independence that comes with driving.”

Aspire is excited about the opportunity technology has, does and will continue to offer individuals with disabilities.  We know that first rate support is a multipronged approach and whether it be community services for the developmentally disabled, housing or vocational skills en route to real, tangible jobs, we continue to work hard, hand-in-hand to help the disabled community prosper, persevere and break boundaries.

For information on placement in school aged, transitional, or adult programs in Western New York, please don’t hesitate to contact Aspire of WNY!.

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