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A Puck for the Blind
In recent years sports for people with disabilities have boomed. Adaptive skiing and wheelchair basketball are now commonplace. But some ideas, like ice hockey for the blind, have been slower to catch on. A group of Dartmouth students is hoping to change that. NHPR?s Trish Anderton has our story.
IT?S A WEEKDAY AFTERNOON, A LAZY WET SNOW IS FALLING IN CONCORD, AND AN UNUSUAL EXPERIMENT IS GETTING UNDERWAY AT THE CITY?S EVERETT ARENA.
SCOTT STEWART AND THREE OTHER DARTMOUTH STUDENTS BEND OVER WHAT LOOKS LIKE A BIG ROLL OF MASKING TAPE. IT?S ACTUALLY AN OVERSIZED PLASTIC PUCK WITH A TANGLE OF WIRES AND ELECTRONICS INSIDE. THE PUCK EMITS A BEEPING TONE AND A FLASHING RED LIGHT.
001 117 today we?re testing different frequencies to see which works best, which echoes least and what levels of sound are going to be most useful
ROSS DOERR OF THE NEW HAMPSHIRE ASSOCIATION FOR THE BLIND SKATES AROUND WITH A HOCKEY STICK. DOERR LOST HIS SIGHT TWENTY YEARS AGO TO A DEGENERATIVE EYE DISEASE. NOW, AS HE CIRCLES ON THE ICE, HE AND THE STUDENTS PASS THE PUCK BACK AND FORTH. SOMETIMES DOERR ZEROES IN ON THE BEEPING TONE PRETTY WELL. OTHER TIMES, ESPECIALLY NEAR THE EDGES OF THE RINK, HE CASTS ABOUT IN CONFUSION.
003 120 Ross: the echo coming off a building with this configuration causes a problem ? it sounds like its coming from everything bc its coming off the ice, coming off the boards ?
THE STUDENT DESIGN TEAM TESTS SOLID VERSUS BEEPING SOUNDS AND DIFFERENT TONES. THEY FREQUENTLY HUDDLE WITH DOERR AT CENTER ICE.
006 50 ? I?m just guessing here, but maybe a lower frequency, kind of a growling sound ? (student) I?ll go get the other puck with the lower tones
A FAST-PACED GAME LIKE HOCKEY MAY SEEM LIKE AN UNUSUAL CHOICE FOR PEOPLE WITH LITTLE OR NO EYESIGHT. BUT CANADA HAS BLIND HOCKEY LEAGUES. LINDA ANDERSON IS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ALBERTA SPORT AND RECREATION FOR THE BLIND IN CALGARY. SHE SAYS THE TEAMS MIX PLAYERS WITH DIFFERENT LEVELS OF VISION.
What you do is you?ll have so many sighted players who wear one color helmet, the totally blind players wear black helmets, and the partially sighted players wear a red helmet.
BLIND PLAYERS FAMILIARIZE THEMSELVES WITH THE SIZE AND SHAPE OF THE RINK SO THEY WON?T RUN INTO THE WALLS. THEY CAN HEAR THE SCRAPE OF AN APPROACHING SKATER, AND THEY TALK TO EACH OTHER A LOT IN ORDER TO COORDINATE THEIR MOVEMENTS. THE PACE OF THE GAME IS SLOWER THAN USUAL, AND THERE?S NO DELIBERATE HITTING. ROSS DOERR HAS NEVER HAD A CHANCE TO PLAY BLIND HOCKEY, BUT HE?D LOVE TO TRY IT.
15 238 you bet I would. You bet I would.
DOERR HAS FOND MEMORIES OF GROWING UP PLAYING HOCKEY IN DURBIN, MICHIGAN.
15 142 my father taught me how to play hockey on the Detroit river when I was a kid. it?s a heck of a lot of fun. Its competitive, its great exercise.
BLIND TEAMS IN CANADA USE A HOLLOW METAL PUCK FILLED WITH BALL BEARINGS. THE STUDENT DESIGN TEAM TRIES PASSING ONE AROUND TO SEE HOW IT COMPARES. DOERR CLEARLY HAS AN EASIER TIME TRACKING THIS LOW RATTLING NOISE ? AT LEAST, WHEN THE PUCK IS IN MOTION. STUDENT JOSH NAVAKONYS.
008 26 the problem is it stops, and the sound stops, so he can?t tell where it is ... when its moving its actually fine
THE STUDENTS ARE MEMBERS OF JOHN COLLIER?S INTRODUCTION TO ENGINEERING CLASS AT DARTMOUTH. THEY WERE ASSIGNED TO COME UP WITH AN INNOVATIVE SPORTS PRODUCT. SCOTT STEWART REMEMBERED TALKING TO A MAN AT AN ADAPTIVE EQUIPMENT EXPO ABOUT THE NEED FOR A HOCKEY PUCK THAT WOULD MAKE A CONTINUOUS NOISE. THEY DECIDED TO TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE. TEAM MEMBER ANANTHA KRISHNAN IS OPTIMISTIC THEY?LL SUCCEED.
009 210 anantha: who knows how many other guys like mr doerr just want to get back on the ice and take a slapshot and this could make that dream come true ? it?s a very viable solution, we just need to work out some of these problems
THE STUDENTS WILL TAKE THE INFORMATION GLEANED FROM THIS PRACTICE SESSION AND TRY TO IMPROVE THE DESIGN. THEY HOPE TO COME UP WITH SOMETHING THEY CAN PATENT ? AND SOMETHING THAT WILL GET PEOPLE IN THE U.S. EXCITED ABOUT HOCKEY FOR THE BLIND. FOR NHPR NEWS I?M