Looking at Handicap Accesibility: Pioneers in Mobility

Handicap accessibility is an important issue in the healthcare community as well as in society at large. Laws vary but they’re there for a reason. This is a story about how one man made the world more Handicap Accessible.

Whether you’re born with a disability that keeps you from moving easily — or at all — it’s never easy to deal with. For some people, weakness or paralysis of the legs results from a birth condition. Other times, it results from an accident. For many, it is caused by a degenerative disease.

No matter what the reason is for your mobility problems, your life can be a lot easier than it would have been just a few decades ago. A great deal of credit for this improvement goes to Ralph Braun, the founder of the Braun Corporation.

Ralph Braun was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy in his youth. He didn’t know what was wrong with him until his cousin, who overheard the adults speaking, told him he had a disease and wouldn’t live to be a teenager. By age 15, Braun had lost the ability to walk. At the time, the only wheelchairs he had access to were “iron monsters” that required an exhaustive amount of effort to maneuver around with. Ralph was determined to beat the odds and make life easier for his parents and himself. He soon realized that he would have to invent something much better than the equipment he had access to as a young man.

Since Braun had mechanical talent, he was able to put together a working replacement for his heavy wheelchair. This replacement was revolutionary because it incorporated a motor and was powered by batteries. Now, Bran was able to move without having to contend with the weight of his chair. The motor did all the moving for him.

Soon, people in the disabled community found out about this wonderful new invention, he called it the “Tri-Wheeler.” People began to place orders, and he opened up shop known as Save-A-Step Manufacturing because the demand for his product was so great.

Braun’s next big invention was also born of necessity. He had a full-time job, which he kept along with his growing motorized scooter business. One day, his employer moved too far for him to get to by riding his scooter. Once again, Braun saw a difficult situation as a challenge to step up to and conquer. He developed the first wheelchair lift and attached it to an old postal truck which allowed him to transport his Tri-Wheeler wherever he needed to go.

Now, Braun’s regular job is long gone – he didn’t have time for it after the continued success of his motorized scooters and the new lifts he had begun to produce. He changed the name of his company and devoted all of his time to producing his mobility products.

Today, the company’s name has changed once again, but the renamed Braun Ability Company remains completely dedicated to helping people remain mobile. The firm has expanded its line to include not only scooters and lifts, but fully equipped handicap vans with lowered floors for easier accessibility. Founder Ralph Braun remains at the helm to guide the company.

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