about beneficial designs
designing beyond the norm to meet the needs of all people
Beneficial Designs works towards universal access through research, design, and education. We believe all individuals should have access to the physical, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of life.
We seek to enhance the quality of life for people of all abilities, and work to achieve this aim by developing and marketing technology for daily living, vocational, and leisure activities.
who we are
Beneficial Designs, a rehabilitation research and design firm located in Minden, Nevada, works towards universal access through research, design, and education. We believe all individuals should have access to the physical, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of life. We seek to enhance the quality of life for people of all abilities, and work to achieve this aim by developing and marketing technology for daily living, vocational, and leisure activities.
Our staff develops assistive and adaptive technology, performs rehabilitation research, contract design, legal consultation, standards development, and serves as a rehabilitation information resource. We actively participate in the development of national and international wheelchair standards as well as accessibility standards for ski facilities, recreational facilities, outdoor developed areas (including outdoor recreation access routes and recreation trails), and both indoor and outdoor surfaces.
Our powered wheelchair test lab is quite busy and we continue to devote time and resources to wheelchair standards development. The trails and pedestrian access components of Beneficial Designs continue to grow. We are also developing new technologies with USDA and FHWA government-funded research and development that improve the efficiency of conducting assessments of shared use paths and public rights-of-ways.
Peter Axelson, the founder and Director of R&D of Beneficial Designs, Inc., is a rehabilitation engineer who sustained a spinal cord injury in a climbing accident at the Air Force Academy. He continued his education at Stanford where he began applying engineering and design principles to overcome daily challenges faced by people with disabilities. In 1981 he founded Beneficial Designs, Inc. an engineering design firm dedicated to designing, developing, and testing assistive technologies. His accomplishments include developing all sorts of adaptive sports equipment including the first chairlift-compatible mono-ski with a shock absorber, working to establish wheelchair testing standards, and developing seating systems for wheelchairs.
Peter was honored to serve on the Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee to the US Access Board where he participated in developing the ABA Guidelines for Outdoor Recreation Access for all types of recreational facilities including ski areas, amusement parks, camping areas, trails, and golf courses. Beneficial Designs also wrote a book on Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access
for Federal Highways and participated in the development of the Public Rights of Way Accessibility Guidelines. Peter then went on to design and create assessment processes and equipment to assess outdoor recreation trails and sidewalks. He continues to run Beneficial Designs, which tests wheelchairs and assesses sidewalks and trails.
As the Chair of the RESNA Assistive Technology for Air Travel (ATAT) Committee and active member of many other RESNA committees, Peter’s current passion is working on facilitating access solutions for commercial air travel and ski lifts in North America. More information about Peter and his accomplishments is listed in his biography in the RESNA Hall of Fellows.
Beneficial By Design
by Kelsey McCutcheon
An overview of Beneficial Designs, Inc.
Designing Beyond the Norm to Meet the Needs of All People
Stanford Presentation 2015
Lakeshore Universal Trail Access Project
Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama
founder and director
Peter Axelson was injured in a climbing accident while he was a cadet at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He went on to earn two bachelors’ and a master’s degree at Stanford University in Mechanical Engineering Design and Product.
In 1978, Peter designed the ARROYA sit-ski to enable him and hundreds of other wheelchair users to take to the ski slopes with their families and friends. National competition began in 1979.
In 1981, Peter founded Beneficial Designs, Inc. as a firm specializing in the design, development, and testing of adaptive equipment for people with disabilities. He is Chair of the RESNA Wheelchair Standards Committee, a participant of the ANSI B-77 Ski Lift Standards Committee and Chair of the RESNA Adaptive Sport Equipment Standards Committee for sit-skis, mono-skis, and bi-skis.
Peter also chaired the development of the Preliminary Programmatic Ski Area Guidelines that have now been implemented by the US Forest Service.
In 1985, Peter designed and built the first mono-ski in the world with suspension and a shock absorber to replace knee function, molded orthotic seating for better control and a latch able chairlift loading mechanism. He used this ski to win the downhill in the 1986 World Disabled Ski Championship in Salen, Sweden.