Thursday, February 26, 2009

Mindset Is Everything

The mindset of a person with a disability is one of the most influential qualities that others sense. There are many people with disabilities who tend to be angry and pessimistic.  They lash out their anger and frustration in an attempt to deal with their disability.  Some lack the confidence, motivation, and the resiliency to push themselves to overcome their issues.  While it is indeed tough to overcome problems associated with their disability, it is indeed not impossible.  With proper influence and guidance, anybody, regardless of whether they have a disability or not, can overcome anything if they have the right mindset.  The most powerful thing that a person possesses is the mind.  With the right mindset, anything is possible.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Advice For Office Workers: Wheelchair Office Etiquette

With many disabled professionals working these days, it is not uncommon to find them in an office environment (aka Cubicle Farm).  While worldwide societies and cultures have been generally accepting and accustomed to helping those in wheelchairs, there is the occasional fleeting encounter that does not prepare anyone, chair or no chair, for the daily interaction that one has in an office environment.  The following are a few pieces of advice on wheelchair office etiquette:

If you are the wheelchair user:

-Unless someone at work really dislikes you, your colleagues would most likely give you the space you need to move around. However, this doesn't give you the license to be president of the universe (unless YOU are the CEO) and demand that all work situations accommodate you. 

-Be pleasant and acknowledge the little favors everyone does for you. If you're male, it would be nice to let the women go ahead of you. You may even open doors for them. Saying "please" and "thank you" always get you further.

-Sometimes, you colleagues could have the tendency to fuss over you a little too much, especially when they know you're not feeling well, or if they see that you have to deal with a tough load. It is perfectly fine to politely refuse their help when you're sure that you don't need any. On the flip side, offer them help when you can.

If you have a colleague in a wheelchair:

-You are never obliged to be nice. However, as a person, you are expected to be respectful. It would be helpful for you and everyone else to develop your peripheral vision. A lot of accidents could be avoided.

-Saying that you're sorry when necessary will also get you a long way. Offer help whenever you can, and I'm sure that your disabled colleague will lend you a hand in turn. You might even end up being good friends!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Wanna Find Love? Article on Being Disabled & Dating

The following article is from and is a great article for those who are disabled and are interested in finding love:

There are all sorts of online dating sites, for all types of people, religions and even kinky ones, so of course there are online dating sites for disabled people. These places are ideal to go to find friendship, then maybe as you chat online, it might develop into something more. Disabled people deserve love and friendship, just as much as much as anyone else, so here is a selection of the better sites to visit.

Whispers4U is a great place to start, as it is more than just a dating site but a social networking community site, which encourages friendship, just as much as dating. It has over 30,000 members, groups you can join and create to find whole communities of like minded people.

Lovebyrd is another social community site with an emphasis on building friendships as well as dating. It aims to help people that have a condition that might make it difficult for them to meet and make friends and provides a safe platform for friendship, dating and online chat.

Disabledpassions is a completely free dating and social networking community for single people with a disability. It recognizes that fact that meeting people can be hard, even more so developing friendships and love. It has many groups and forums to explore and find people you’d like to get to know more.

Disabled World’s Disabled Dating Community is another 100% free site, which helps find friendship and love connections worldwide. It has chat rooms, your own mailbox, a compatibility match making services and lots more besides. Once more this site is more of a disability social networking site with articles and community links.

D.A.W.N (Differently Abled Winner’s Network) is a match making service that uses an extensive questionnaire and a telephone or personal interview to help find that perfect match. This site was created in 1993 by woman who has polio at 4 and knows the romantic and social challenges that are faced by disabled people. This is a paid match making service.

The Disabled Dating Club has a huge database of friendly people who want to meet new people for friendship and maybe more! It is another site that has many ways to connect with people like chatrooms, instant messaging and email. Membership is free.

If you sign up to all these sites, you should be making new friends in no time and perhaps you will find a special someone too. The social networking aspect of many of the above sites really does put you at ease, as you can email/IM or talk to people in groups as friends and nothing more. It’s puts you in control.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Pity = $$$.

Every Labor Day, you can see on TV the annual MDA Telethon with Jerry Lewis as the host. For as long as most of us can remember, he has worked to help raise a countless amount of money to help those with Muscular Dystrophy. Since I personally have MD, I have witnessed firsthand as to the services and help they provide for people with MD. While I am greatly appreciative of his help with raising money for research and help, I do question his thinking about how he portrays people with MD.

Jerry Lewis has helped to perpetuate negative, stereotypical attitudes toward people with muscular dystrophy and other disabilities. Jerry Lewis and the Telethon actively promote pity as a fundraising strategy. Disabled people want respect, not pity. In 1990, Lewis wrote that if he had muscular dystrophy and had to use a wheelchair, he would "just have to learn to try to be good at being a half a person." During the 1992 Telethon, he said that people with MD, whom he always insists on calling "my kids," "cannot go into the workplace. There's nothing they can do." Many people have argued that he uses the Telethon to promote pity, a counterproductive emotion which undermines our social equality. Here's how Lewis responded to the Telethon protesters during a 2001 television interview: "Pity? You don't want to be pitied because you're a cripple in a wheelchair? Stay in your house!"

I do understand his reasoning behind his way of portraying MD in this light. Pity equals money. Just look at some of his old movies where he plays some bumbling idiot. The more we are pitied, the more money people will shell out to help us. This is the reason why most people will never see active people with MD on the Telethon. While I do respect Jerry Lewis for all the help he has done, I wonder if it is worth the price of having most people thinking that we are not equal?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

That's Why They Cost So Much! Wheelchair Testing Explained

Ever wonder why powerchairs cost as much as some cars? The following article from Mobility Management explains the reasoning and also discusses the testing that goes into powerchairs before they are sold to the public.  The kind of testing encompasses everything from actual range to the maximum height a chair can drive over and even extreme weather testing!  Check out the article for yourself at the following link.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wav-Evolution Kia Sedona

Finding a practical accessible vehicle in the UK can be tough and especially impractical since it's tough using a vehicle large enough to tool around.  With the trend towards smaller vehicles, it's almost impossible to fit a ramp onto any MPV in the UK market.  Luckily, Wav-Evolution has come up with an ingenious solution to the problem with their conversion for the Kia Sedona.  The ramp for the wheelchair user swings out with the front passenger door and allows the wheelchair user to simply drive on and off.  While the system does not appear to be powered or automated, it does provide a creative solution to a problem that is prevalent in the UK and other European countries.  Check out their site here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Boma Wheelchair - The Chair You Need To Conquer The Jungle

Molten Rock Equipment Ltd, a company based in the UK, has developed and is selling the Boma off-road wheelchair, a powered wheelchair designed to travel essentially any kind of terrain known. It has been tested and driven in forests and creeks in the UK to the grasslands in Africa. With a fully independent suspension system, a powered braking system which is similar to what you would find in a car, to motors and batteries designed to have you go up to 8mph, this is definitely the chair to take if you feel like taking that off-road expedition that many have never thought could be possible for those in wheelchairs. It even comes with accessories such as lights to a detachable trailer to carry your stuff. Check out their site.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lose The Joystick! Thought-Controlled Wheelchair!

This is part of an episode of "James May's Big Ideas", a series that aired on the BBC late last year.  In this show, James May (one of the hosts of Top Gear) chronicles some of the latest advancements in several technologies.  In the case of this clip, it focuses on brain/computer interfacing - such as using actual human thought to control devices such as a wheelchair.  Watch the clip as James shows how the system works and actually drives a "Mind Enhanced Roving Chair" :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Extreme Chairing: When Driving Your Wheelchair Fast Isn't Enough

Extreme Chairing is an organization with some of the craziest disabled athletes in the US. From skiing to surfing to even off-road rallying (in a wheelchair of course), these people are dedicated to helping others get into these extreme sports.  Its main goal is to show everybody, disabled or not, that life indeed does not end due to any disability.  The athletes are from all over the world and all participate in a variety of sports that are sure to get anyone's blood pumping... or scare the heck out of you.  Check out the Extreme Chairing site and see for yourself.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hot Rides Continued

This is the second part of the Hot Rides video clip. As you can see, there is no limit as to what can be done to an adapted vehicle. If you really want to drive your dream vehicle, there is a way to drive it!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hot Rides

The following clip is the first part of a series of videos from the Paralysis Resource Center, a center that was set up by the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation.  As you can see in the clip, wheelchair-bound people are not bound to driving minivans :)  The second part of the video will be posted soon!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Powerchair Hockey... Part Hockey, Part Demolition Derby, All Exciting :)

With many sports geared for people using manual chairs (track, murderball, etc), powerchair hockey is a sport that is tailored for powerchair users.  The game follows most of the same rules as the standard game with the major changes being a change of venue from an ice rink to a gymnasium, use of a whiffle ball instead of a puck,  and players using hockey sticks by either holding it the conventional way, wedging it between their legs, or taping it to their wheelchair. With all the players driving powerchairs, it adds a small element of added excitement similar to what can be seen in a demolition derby.  The sound of metal crashing against each other along with the sounds of plastic crunching adds to the sense of excitement and feeling that this sport is just as legitimate as any NHL game.  The players, ranging from 13 to over 30 years old, are all after that sense of competition and challenge that any athlete desires.  This is definitely not a watered-down version of hockey: this is a very real sport and the players definitely treat it as such!  For more information, check out Philadelphia Power Play

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Gas-Powered Motor Assist For Manual Chairs

Need a really powerful motor assist for your manual chair?  Take a look at this clip.  It's a gas-powered motor assist for a manual chair enabling the user to reach speeds up to 15 mph.  While you can't use it indoors, it could be useful if you need to get somewhere absolutely and positively on time. 

Friday, February 6, 2009


The following Youtube clip is of a BMW station wagon fitted with the latest "Advanced Electronic Vehicle Integration Technology" or AEVIT for short. As you can see in the clip, it replaces essentially all conventional controls with electronic controls that can allow people with limited movement to operate a vehicle. Steering is done via a joystick located on the center console with other functions operated through hand controls and/or voice commands. While this equipment can be extremely expensive, I can say that this AEVIT system works as I have a number of these devices on my personal vehicle :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Aaron Fotheringham Sets Guinness World Record For Wheelchair Backflips

If you ever search for "wheelchair backflips" on Youtube, you will find tons of clips of Aaron Fotheringham. Born with Spina Bifida, he is the founder of Hardcore Sitting and is currently the only known person to successfully perform a wheelchair backflip. The above clip shows his successful attempt at setting a world record for wheelchair backflips so sit back, relax, and watch in awe :)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why Disabled People Are Better Partners Than Able-Bodied People

How is the title a true statement? While the physical limitations of disabled people can bring about obvious complications in a relationship, this is not going to be a post that focuses on that. This is more to point out some of the benefits for an able-bodied person (AB for short) to be in a relationship with someone who is disabled. Here is a few that stick out:

-We can't exactly lie about who we are. What's the chances that someone who is disabled is a Secret Service agent or Kung Fu Master?? What you see is what you get when it comes to people like us.

-You can tell we have experienced a lot of pain in our lives. We have all gone through some really crazy stuff in our lives... more than the average person. Going through that stuff makes us more sensitive about certain things.

-Disabled people are some of the most motivated people you will ever meet. We are in a disadvantageous situation as it is and the need to be considered an equal in nearly all aspects of our lives drives us in all that we do... and we will stop at nothing to achieve that sense of equality.

-We cherish life in a way that no AB can.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Feel free to add in any additional benefits :)

R.I.P iBOT 2003-2008

It's official. The well-known stair-climbing wheelchair was pulled off the market at the end of 2008. Independence Technology, LLC, owned by the respected Fortune 500 Company Johnson & Johnson, will cease marketing and selling its iBOT Mobility System effective January 2009. Company officials cite as reasons insufficient demand and inability to get reimbursement from Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“We worked on getting reimbursement so long. We were very diligent on working with members of Congress, Veterans Affairs and government agencies that do provide reimbursement for wheelchairs,” says David Swearingen, vice president of J&J corporate communications. “We came to a point where we didn’t see what the next opportunity was going to be.” Swearingen says since its commercial introduction in 2003, the iBOT “sold well into the hundreds.” According to a reliable source, only 400 were sold by late 2007 in the U.S., and J&J lost millions of dollars on the project. 

Critics of the iBOT point out that many wheelchair users who would have used the power chair do not have the strength or ability to assist themselves in the stair-climbing process, as the system is designed. “It’s a stair assist, but you could also do it yourself [only] if you have the upper body strength,” says Tony Bianchini, company spokesman. “But your assistant is also trained on how to navigate the iBOT up the stairs. It’s more of a technique than having strength. While still in development stage, perhaps it could have been fine-tuned to improve on that [stair-climbing] technology. We think we made a lot of advances [in wheelchair technology]. That’s how technology works, you keep working to improve it.” 

J&J’s Independence Technology will honor orders made in 2008, making deliveries until March 2009. Technical support and service to iBOT owners will continue until 2013, when the company will close.

Information courtesy of
New Mobility

Monday, February 2, 2009

Wheelchairs Go Green :)

With cars going green with hybrids and fuel cells, wheelchairs and scooters using these green technologies was inevitable. While you would expect a company like Toyota or Honda to be developing such devices, Suzuki is one of the first companies to apply the technology in the powered wheelchair market. The company is one of the largest manufacturers of such products in Asia, and its latest model, the MIO, features a fuel cell that uses methanol as a fuel source to generate hydrogen and therefore electricity. The tank holds about a gallon and that’s sufficient to provide MIO with a range of approximately 25 miles. There’s also an LCD display showing fuel level and power sources. Therefore, unlike wheelchairs that rely solely on mains charging of the battery, it addresses users’ fears of being stranded at some distance from their home. It is also easy to refill. A large capacity Li-ion secondary battery acts as a store for the electricity generated and a back up source of power. The modern design features armrests that double up as safety barriers, ergonomic handlebars that require minimal effort even on full lock, and a seat that features a mesh-type fabric for good aeration and improved springing. It's fairly compact size - 47" long, 25.5" wide and 36" tall – also mean it’s nimble in the crowded urban environment. Currently the MIO remains a prototype while Suzuki assesses customer interest.

Information courtesy of
Suzuki UK

Interesting Wheelchair Vehicle Conversion

How cool is this!! This is a vehicle in Japan (Toyota Porte) that has a powerchair that converts into a driver's seat...or is it the other way around? Anyways, a cool idea nonetheless :)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ignorance Is Bliss

For as long as I can remember, I've always wondered why people find it so amazing that I live a fairly productive life not unlike themselves. Do I have a job? Yup. Do I worry about bills and taxes like everybody else? Yup. Do I hate them just as much? Absolutely! I always found it funny when people (disabled and normal) say that I'm an inspiration to them just for doing what I do. Now, I'm not trying to say that I'm offended by that...but it makes me wonder what they expected disabled people like myself to be doing with their time. Some of them ask why don't I just live of disability forever...and my answer was that I think it's a stupid thing to do. Why should society pay for me to live my life? Honestly, disability doesn't pay a whole lot and the fact that it's being funded by every tax-paying citizen in the US doesn't sit well with me. I'd rather earn my living and make use of my education...and be less of a burden to society. I feel more fulfilled when I earn my living as opposed to having it simply handed to me. It's also surprising when I talk with some of the parents of disabled children with my condition. Little did I know, I'm one of the oldest known cases (most are around 5-10 years old) of my condition in the country...and the only one known to drive actively and to work full-time. It's nice to hear that they use me as an example for their kids, but I worry that they may see me as a standard...more precisely, as a limit that their kid may never exceed. That doesn't seem right to me. I grew up with little or no idea of anybody else like myself. I had no role model to look up to and no standard as to what I could or could not achieve. Sometimes in cases like this, ignorance is bliss. Not having someone there for comparison can make one set their mind to achieve their own goals and follow their dreams and desires. People should set their own goals and achievements...and hopefully surpass them by a mile. I'm productive because I choose to do so and I choose to pursue my dreams and desires despite how lofty they may be. Whether I surpass them or not, time will only tell...