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High Tech Art

For many years, Inglis resident, Will Parker created stunning works of art using a pencil affixed to a mouth stick. Today, Will is using a high tech device, known as a LipSync, to create art with ease. Will says he’s enjoying the challenge of learning the new technology, although it’s taken some adjustment. “I feel good about my progress,” he says. “I got this!”

LipSync is a mouth-controlled “sip and puff” device that, combined with the computer art program, Corel, gives Will greater control, access to vivid color and the ability to work without the neck and jaw fatigue he experienced with a mouth stick.

Will, who lives with quadriplegia, recently sold one of the works created using LipSync at Bryn Mawr Rehab’s Art Ability exhibition. Sip and puff technology, which uses calibrated air pressure, was developed in the 1960s and has enabled people with limited mobility to control their motorized wheelchairs. Now, the sip-and-puff input device, when combined with computer accessibility software, makes keyboard and touch screen devices accessible in a new way.

Will didn’t know that he had artistic talent until he came to Inglis in 1998. “Since I had no use of my arms or hands, they put a pencil in my mouth and asked me to draw something. I made a line…then two lines,” he recalls. Over the course of many months Will progressed to squares and circles. “Eventually the shapes formed a wheelchair. I kept refining the drawings and eventually began working on ovals, faces and finally, portraits and landscapes.” Now, LipSync has taken Will’s talent to a new level.

Art work created by Will Parker using LipSync

Will's LipSync device was built by Inglis Adapted Technology Therapist, Charles Sammartino, pictured to the right, during a Buildathon held by Makers Making Change. This Canadian organization connects technology to people with disabilities who need adapted technologies. 

The Buildathon was held at NextFab, a high-tech workspace offering cutting edge tools, workshops and professional consulting services. During the event, NextFab became interested in applying the talents of their design community to the needs of Inglis consumers. 

NextFab will host a hack-a-thon on April 28th, dedicated entirely to the technology needs of Inglis House residents and community consumers. Members will also collaborate to design prototype solutions to meet some of these needs. The event is part of Philly Tech Week, April 27th-May 5th.