Being able dip your toes in sea water should be accessible for all but unfortunately, sand and wheelchairs do not mix well together. That’s why a company Access Trax based San Diego has come up with Beach Trax, the only foldable, lightweight, temporary pathway designed to increase access over uneven terrain such as sand, gravel, dirt, or grass. We have caught up with Kelly Twichel, Co-Founder and CEO of Access Trax.
What was the inspiration behind starting up Access Trax?
The inspiration for the Beach Trax portable pathway- and subsequently our company Access Trax- came while my co-founder and I were occupational therapy students in 2016. In our Assistive Technologies class, we were challenged to create a product that would help people with disabilities. The teacher had a special request for a team to make something to help her adaptive surfing friends get across the sand in their wheelchairs with dignity and independence. My partner and I decided, “challenge accepted.”
After 3 trips to Home Depot in one afternoon, we felt like we had a working prototype. It was incredible testing it a few weeks later at an event where adaptive surfers were competing. We only had two small sections of the pathway, but it was enough to prove it worked. The surfers were telling us we needed to make much more of it. That’s when we knew we had to take this product beyond just a class project. We could help solve the problem of outdoor inaccessibility for millions of people with mobility challenges. As occupational therapist, we are passionate about improving lives, and that is what we have set out to do.
What research did you carry out when looking to sell Beach Trax?
Just like any business, we had to look at what was currently on the market for outdoor pathways to be sure what we had was an improvement. We found two competitors that both use a roll-up mat system. We identified that these mats were costly, inefficient, and unsafe in many instances. This gave us the confidence that we truly had a better solution for both families and organizations when it comes to portable accessibility for all pedestrians. We also volunteered at countless events, getting feedback from actual users to further improve upon the design. The result is a cost-effective and user-friendly product that we are proud to share with the world.
Do you supply Beach Trax outside America? Where do you receive orders from?
Beach Trax is available world-wide and has been shipped to places such as the United States, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Israel and Japan. We are proud to partner with organizations in other countries that are also passionate about accessibility and inclusion. We recently teamed up with a non-profit in Costa Rica that specializes in the design and advocacy of accessibility features in private and public accommodations.
Are there any other ways that you help improve accessibility issues?
Because the inspiration for our company came from adaptive surfers, we have stayed very involved within that community to help support and grow the sport. Access Trax has been part of the movement since 2016, just one year after the inaugural World Adaptive Surfing Championships took place in San Diego. We are also a sponsor of the U.S. Open Adaptive Surfing Championships, and volunteer at events in Hawaii and Costa Rica as well. Our goal is to promote outdoor adaptive sports and recreation while providing the accessibility tools necessary to dissolve barriers to participation.
Another way we help improve accessibility is to share our knowledge and expertise within the tourism industry. I have partnered with Accessible Travel. Online as their Southern California office to help answer any questions tourists have about accessibility in my region. I can help a family learn features of certain attractions, locations, and businesses, and at the same time educate the same businesses on what potential visitors are looking for. I’m excited that there are many other great organizations that are working to promote inclusion and accessibility in tourism and general business practices.
What are your future plans for Access Trax?
Our ultimate goal is to be a leader in outdoor accessibility solutions. Access Trax is excited to grow as the demand for our product and services continues to increase. This year, we will once again sponsor the U.S. Open Adaptive Surfing Championships. We are also excited to work with the National Park Service as they continue their initiative to make their parks more inclusive for all visitors. Next year, we hope to exhibit for the first time at the Naidex independent living and healthcare tradeshow where attendees from all over the world come to learn about new innovations in the disability community. Lastly, new product designs and projects are in the pipeline over the next few years as we move to serve diverse needs in the outdoor accessibility space.
Thank you Kelly for answering our questions, if your business focusing on accessibility and would like to take part in interview with OOVIRT please get in touch.