A Universal Canoe Seating System

Period of Performance: 09/15/1999 - 04/15/2001


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Beneficial Designs, Inc.
Minden, NV 89423
Principal Investigator


Bench-style canoe seats do not provide users with padding or support for the pelvis or lower back. Existing cushions and backrests for canoe seats do not meet the needs of individuals without independent sitting balance. This project will design and evaluate a universal canoe seating system. A base module will provide padding and pelvic support to enhance the function and comfort of all paddlers, with and without disabilities. Additional supports will provide trunk and leg stability. In Phase I, a prototype seating system will be designed, fabricated and evaluated for safety and compatibility with common canoe designs. At least 24 people will evaluate the seating system to determine its effectiveness and identify the need for any additional modifications. Safety, anthropometric measurements, and user stability will be assessed. The long term objective is the development of a mainstream, commercially viable canoe seating system, for use by rental, outfitting and instructional programs, which will enhance the comfort and function of paddlers with and without disabilities. The ADA has established the right of all Americans to have equal opportunities to participate in recreational activities. A universal canoe seating system will significantly enhance access to canoeing for people with disabilities. PROPOSED COMMERCIAL APPLICATION: In the United States, 24 million canoes are used through ownership or rental annually. Each commercial canoe operator will require access to at least one seating system in order to ensure that their services and facilities are accessible to people with disabilities. In addition, the basic module will function independently as a canoe seat with additional padding, pelvic and low back support that will enhance the comfort and function of all paddlers, both with and without disabilities.