In January 2021, Microsoft delivered a new rehabilitation tool to ALYN Hospital – an adapted version of its high-tech flight simulator. Microsoft widened the seating area to accommodate both a wheelchair as well as a second person. The company also created a screen that allows for 180-degree visibility and made the controllers adaptable so that, for example, the foot pedal could be turned off.
When Microsoft launched the original flight simulator in 2020, they knew taking it to the next level meant finding a way to adapt it for use by an individual with disabilities. For three months, Microsoft experimented with the product to find ways to make it more accessible for individuals with coordination, balance and/or motor skill challenges. The goal in presenting the adapted simulator to ALYN Hospital was to provide a new tool for the children at ALYN to work on these skills in a new, fun and innovative way. The adapted simulator was presented to the staff at PELE, the division of ALYN’s Innovation Space that provides case-driven, personalized, affordable solutions for children of all backgrounds and who face physical challenges to independence in their day-to-day activities.
The rehabilitation therapists at ALYN along with the PELE team were able to take the simulator even further, tweaking to improve the accessibility of the hardware. First, several Israel Defense Force pilots came in to demonstrate to the staff and the children how a flight simulator works. There is a PELE volunteer who was a pilot who continues to come in once a week to teach the PELE staff how to take advantage of the functionality of the simulator.
After assessing the simulator’s accessibility, ALYN’s PELE team added a shelf, bringing the controllers a little closer and found a solution to add an additional joystick that would be most similar to the joystick the child uses on his/her wheelchair. Both adjustments improved the functionality of the simulator to allow the children to truly take advantage of the amazing equipment. Hilla Boral, Director of PELE, has been very impressed. “This is a high-level piece of equipment that provides an incredibly realistic experience to the user. The children who have used it have loved it.”
PELE and Microsoft are showing the children of ALYN that everyone can fly!