Several years ago, Jason Derrington, a T10 para, found himself stuck in an airport bathroom in a crappy situation. He transferred from his wheelchair to the toilet but was unable to wipe while sitting on the standard toilet seat. He had to transfer to the floor to clean himself up. The experience was demeaning, unsanitary and took so much time he was anxious that he’d miss his flight. But more importantly, it gave him an idea to prevent similar situations from happening to others: a raised toilet seat designed specifically for people who use wheelchairs and people who need caregivers.
Derrington built a platform that bolts onto any existing oval toilet and places the seat 4 inches higher up. Two large open areas on the sides make it easier for people with disabilities or their caregivers to reach under the seat and wipe. The front pillar also serves as a splash guard to keep floors and clothing clean. It is designed to be used anywhere — at home, in medical facilities, nursing homes or the bathrooms of public areas such as malls or airports.
Going from concept to product required partners and patience, but eventually paid off. Derrington was living in Indiana when he came up with the idea and partnered with the University of Southern Indiana to do the full design and testing using advanced computer models. The university staff refined an injection-molded design that computers showed could hold 600 pounds (lab tests held a full 750 pounds of weight without breaking, and the product has been officially rated for 450 pounds). Derrington spent “a lot of time and energy” to secure the patent and was able to procure the first run of 144 units after contracting with a manufacturer overseas. He dubbed his creation the Easy Reach and was finally rolling on his business venture.
One year later, Derrington moved to Texas to live with his father and take the next step with Easy Reach. “My ultimate goal was getting my product to market so that it can help others better their quality of life,” he says. Through savvy marketing and a great attitude, Derrington connected with new distributors interested in selling Easy Reach on television and online. The whole process has helped him better identify his target customers and market his product.
Derrington’s success is the result of a lot of hard work. “As the founder of Easy Reach, I have been responsible for product design, legal consultation, prototyping, stress testing, management, marketing, and sales,” he says. He has also kept inventing, improving the existing design, modifying the Easy Reach to fit round toilets and working on a soft top seat for added comfort. With distribution deals wrapping up, he is set to sell hundreds of Easy Reach seats in the coming months.
While many business people are focused on profit, Derrington leans more toward independence: “I want to work myself off Social Security,” he says, “and help put my daughter through college.” Even more, he wants to use his own example to motivate other businesspeople who might be struggling. “This one product has given me tremendous unexpected value — becoming an organic leader by spreading positive influence and becoming a creative inspiration.” His message is clear: keep inventing, keep working, and use your ideas to improve the world around you.
Image credit: Photo by Author