Skip to Content
A project by the
Inclusive Design Research Centre
Inclusive Design Research Centre
Picture of the Tecla Access Shield prototype

The Tecla Access Shield enables connection of powered wheelchairs and external switches to electronic devices, via Bluetooth.

Tecla Access Shield

The Tecla Access Shield is a device that enables connection of powered wheelchairs and external switches to Bluetooth-enabled devices. Hardware manufacturers and software developers may implement compatibility with the Tecla Access Shield in their products in order to make them accessible to people with mobility impairments.

How does it work?

Many powered-wheelchair users are prescribed with an Appliance Control Unit (ACU). An ACU (also known as ECU) is a device that provides information on the actions users perform with their wheelchair driving control (e.g., joystick, head-switches, etc…). When an ACU is present in a wheelchair, the user can easily select between controlling the wheelchair or controlling an appliance connected to the ACU.

The Tecla Access Shield connects the wheelchair’s ACU and/or up to two standard ability switches, to most Bluetooth-enabled devices, allowing them to receive instructions directly from the highly customized interfaces that people with mobility impairments are already familiar with.

Mobile Accessibility

Together with the Tecla Access App, the Tecla Access Shield may be used to access and control Android-powered smartphones. Once the mobile device and the powered-wheelchair are paired, the possibilities are endless: make a call by blowing on your sip & puff switch, play your favourite song by ‘going forward’ with your joystick, etc. An on-screen keyboard facilitates access to most of the device’s features, including emerging access to other appliances through technologies like Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and Android @ Home.

Supported Devices

The Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure

We are working to make sure the Tecla Access Shield is compatible with as many devices as possible. As part of the Global Public Inclusive Infrastructure, our long-term goal is to make the Tecla Access Shield a universal interface for people with mobility impairments that not only enables access to personal electronic devices, but also to public terminals such as automated teller machines (ATMs) and ticketing kiosks. Currently, the Tecla Access Shield is compatible with Bluetooth devices supporting the Serial Port Profile (SPP/RFCOMM), these include:

  • All major desktop operating systems (Windows, Mac and Linux)
  • Symbian smartphones and feature-phones
  • Blackberry smartphones and tablets
  • Android smartphones and tablets

A simple and open application programming interface (API) is available for device manufacturers and software developers wishing to implement compatibility with the Tecla Access Shield. Details on this API are available on the project’s wiki page.

How can I get one?

Make It

All the designs and schematics required to build your own Tecla Access Shield are available from the Tecla Shield github repository. You can even get the CAD drawings for the 3D-printable or laser-cut cases!

For a complete assembly, the Tecla Access Shield also requires an Arduino board. Designs and schematics for the Arduino board can be downloaded from the Arduino gitHub repository.

Buy It

The Tecla Access Shield is being commercialized by Komodo OpenLab. For more information, or to purchase the Tecla Shield, please visit the Komodo OpenLab Tecla Shield page and the Komodo OpenLab store.