Story dated 14th May 2002
Images courtesy of U Can Do Inc.

Two enterprising pinball fans have been experimenting to make pinball more accessible to disabled players.

A pair of converted Sharkey's Shootouts were shown at the recent Abilities Expo in New Jersey, USA.

They were the result of work by Gene Gulich and Ron Kochel, owners of U Can Do Inc. who came up with the idea when Mr. Kochel invited a friend to play one of the pinball machines in his collection. The man said he couldn't play because polio had rendered his left hand unusable. Gulich and Kochel set it upon themselves to design a pinball machine usable by anyone.

Apart from reducing the leg height to make the game more suited to wheelchair users, the flipper buttons were replicated on a plastic sheet by using oversize buttons.

Crucially, by taking the flipper controls away from the cabinet sides the game can be played by people who cannot reach the usual controls.

In addition, they can also be operated one-handed, or they can be placed on the floor for foot operation.

As a result, orders have been coming in from hospitals for the converted pinball games. Stern president Gary Stern said: "Stern Pinball is proud to have worked with Mr. Kochel, Mr. Gulich, and U Can Do, Inc. to make this all a reality."


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