Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Aimee Mullins And Her Super Legs

The following Youtube clip is about Aimee Mullins and her discussion about how her prosthetic legs provide her with the means to augment her personality and beauty. She has as many pairs of legs as most girls have shoes... and serve the same purpose. She clearly is an example of someone who does not see herself as having a disability but as someone with the opportunity to augment her abilities and/or beauty in a way no other person can.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Think Ireland Is Not Accessible? Think Again...

Ireland has long been a popular vacation destination for US travelers. And although the Americans with Disabilities Act does not extend across the Big Pond; that does not mean the island is lacking in accessibility. Quite the contrary; in fact, Ireland is a very attractive and doable option for slow walkers and wheelchair-users.

Ireland has made great strides in accessibility, especially in the past several years. Back in the late 1990s there were only two rooms with roll-in showers in all of Dublin. Since then, dozens of new hotels have opened in Dublin alone, and every new property has at least two (and often more) accessible rooms with roll in showers. And if you would like to stay in a castle, that is certainly an option too since Dromoland Castle, near Shannon Airport, has a very nice accessible room.

Accessible transportation is also improving in Ireland. If you need an accessible taxi at Dublin or Shannon airport you should not have a problem either. Although you could easily spend your whole holiday in Dublin, you can branch out and also spend several nights in Galway, followed by several more in Limmerick or Killarney. Unfortunately wheelchair-accessible rental vans are not the norm in Ireland, so you’ll have to travel by train, regular rental car or accessible taxi. Chauffeurs can provide customized private tours in a ramp-equipped Volkswagen People Carriers; while both Galway and Limerick can be easily accessed by train from Dublin. Another option is to join an accessible group tour. These tours include wheelchair-accessible transportation, lodging, admission to sights and many meals and are a good option for people who want access, but do not want to worry about any details.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Attack Of The Crazy Wheelchair Lift: Lift On A Toyota RAV4

The following YouTube clip shows a unique wheelchair lift that is fitted to a recent-model Toyota RAV4. The interesting thing is that the lift comes out from the tailgate and comes around the car to pick up the wheelchair that is near the driver's door! It is an amazing sight to see... although I would be more impressed if it could lift a powerchair. Check out the clip and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Feel Like Going To London? It's Getting Accessible!!

With the next Summer Olympics (and Paralympics) coming to London in 2012, the city is taking increasing measures to make the city more accessible to people with disabilities. The great thing about this is that these access improvements will extend well beyond event venues, so in the end they’ll ultimately benefit all visitors. In fact, many access upgrades are already in place, so if you’ve ever thought about hopping across the Big Pond, now may be just the time to explore that option.
Good access starts with comprehensive rules and regulations; although the UK has had a number of access laws on the books for many years, many have been beefed up in recent times. For example, the Disability Discrimination Act was strengthened in 2004 to include even the smallest businesses. As a result, today many more UK attractions are now truly wheelchair-accessible. Additionally, all London black cabs and public buses are now required to be wheelchair-accessible. Finally, the newly adopted European Union Passengers with Reduced Mobility (EU PRM) regulations went into full effect on July 26, 2008. These regulations prohibit EU-based airlines, travel agents, or tour operators from refusing service or denying boarding to passengers with disabilities. They also prohibit EU-based airlines from charging for the transport of wheelchairs or service animals. They also require all EU airports to provide wheelchair assistance throughout the terminal.
Of course there’s always room for improvement, and the major push for accessibility upgrades for the upcoming Games focuses on public transportation. According to Sebastian Coe, Chair of the 2012 Organising Committee, “There are a wide range of people who have accessibility needs, and we want to make travelling for all of them better and easier, not only for the period of the Games, but also to leave a lasting legacy.”
To that end, plans are in the works to add more lifts at Tube stations. Transport for London reports that today 48 Tube stations have lifts, compared with 38 in 2002. Wide-aisle ticket gates and lowered counters at ticket offices are also being introduced throughout the system.
Additionally, plans are being considered to develop an interactive journey planner that would highlight the most accessible parts of the transportation network, so passengers with disabilities can plan their travels more efficiently.

The availability of access information is also a big concern of Olympic planners. To that end, Visit London has already jumped on the bandwagon with an impressive website about access in London. This new resource contains detailed access information on public transportation, hotels, theaters, and attractions throughout the city.
The attractions section includes a narrative description of the access features of each attraction plus a link to the attraction’s website, while the theater section features access maps to some of London’s major theaters. Information about accessible public transportation and hotels is also included. All in all, it’s a very useful and concise resource—one that you can use right now to plan your next trip to London.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Disabled People Can Take A Joke, Mr. Obama

The second I walked into work, my coworkers asked me about what I felt about President Obama's comment. I personally thought it was funny and laughed. My coworkers found it kind of amazing that I did not take offense to what he said. While I do think that as the President, it probably was not the best thing to say, but he is a person. Would it be any different if an ordinary person said it? If an ordinary person said it, would it have created as much controversy? I doubt it. The President is a person and is no different than anybody else other than title. I think people these days have become too sensitive to offend others. Disabled people are people as well and I doubt that any disabled person took any serious offense to his remark. I just hope that the President's ability to lead the country is better than his bowling average :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Making Fun Of Disability: Is It Right?

It is well-known that parents will tell their children to not make fun of people with disabilities since it can be offensive. But what if the person with the disability is making fun of themselves? Being disabled myself, I always tend to crack a joke about my condition with able-bodied people. Some will ask me about my parents and I'll just reply that they "look like an older version of myself...only they can walk" and I will get the funniest reactions from people. They will laugh but feel really bad at the same time. It is as if people are conditioned to be afraid to laugh at a person with a disability. While making fun of a person out of malice and ignorance is never good, when the person with the disability is making fun of themselves, it can be a great way to get others to be really comfortable around you. It is not much different than someone with a different ethnicity (asian, latino, african, arabic, etc) making fun of their ethnicities. We all know the stereotypes of minorities since it is somewhat acceptable to laugh at that. But why is it that people with disabilities are not considered a minority? We are people too and we should not be immune to ridicule. People are people and we are all like one giant family... and family members pick on each other! It is what breaks up the monotony of most people's lives. So for all you comedians out there, do not forget to include disabled people. We like to feel included in jokes as much as any other minority :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Being that it is St. Patrick's Day today, it is only appropriate that this post will be about drinking. Since it is a day when many young people will be going out and enjoying a lovely pint of the good stuff, personally, beer is tough for people on wheelchairs since it makes me pee. I tend to lean towards mixed drinks like an Irish Coffee since I can still have a great time with my friends, Irish or otherwise, and not have to worry as much with going to the bathroom as I would with beer. As with anyone, drink responsibly (especially those on powerchairs) since drunk driving laws do apply to people on wheelchairs; however, when has anyone seen a police car with a wheelchair lift?

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Talk

The most important thing one can do to begin an intimate relationship is to share with your partner what you know and feel about your body and your sexuality. It takes a little getting used to, but it will give you both the best chance of a deep and enjoyable intimacy.
Do you fear that they will be repelled by some aspect of your body, such as thin legs or scars? That they’ll be put off by your weak bladder? That they will be disappointed if you two cannot have sex like porn stars? For someone renewing their sex life after disability, or approaching first sexual experiences with a disability from childhood, there are plenty of opportunities to fear that you don’t measure up in some way. The good news is that plenty of people have proven over and over that these issues are over-amplified. In genuine relationships, they really don’t matter as much as you might fear, and are more manageable than you might imagine.
Self-confidence is the most attractive thing there is. “The talk” is your chance to demonstrate that. And if you are not feeling really confident, then honesty is the next most attractive thing. Maybe it means saying something like, “I’m nervous because this is new for me, but I really like you and think you’re beautiful and want to learn how I can please you, so let’s explore together and find out how my body works making love.” Give them the chance to accept you for what you are.
If your relationship is at the point where sexual intimacy has become an option, then there’s obviously some chemistry going on. That means your partner is interested in more than whether you fit some social stereotype of sexuality. It means you enjoy being together, have come to care for each other enough to want to please each other. These qualities quickly outweigh self-consciousness (which everyone struggles with, anyway), and makes the risk of a little dampness from your bladder, or your skinny legs, pretty meaningless. This is what many people with disabilities have found in their successful relationships.
What matters most is that you be open about your sensual needs and desires, and let your partner know that you want to please them. Let them know that you want to openly express and explore your sexuality with someone you trust. If your partner is sincere in their interest in the whole and real you, they will appreciate your honesty. Better yet, they will be freed of feeling that they need to tread lightly on the topic of your sexuality. As in any successful relationship, the ability to communicate openly is critical, and having “the talk” about your sexuality is an early rite of passage that helps establish that crucial, early bond of trust.
There is, in fact, no greater mistake you could make than to not explain in advance how your sexuality works. There is no more effective way to douse your passion than in the cold water of unanswered questions or unmet expectations.
It is no different than what any partners should do. “So, what do you like? Is there anything you’d like to try that you’ve been curious about? Can I show you exactly where I’d love you to put your tongue?” And so on.
In the end, you won’t scare anybody off if you’re honest. And if they do run off—painful as that would be—they probably wouldn’t have been a very good partner for you. A person you share an authentic mutual attraction with will want to join you in finding the best ways for you to please each other.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Converted Vehicle Straight From The Factory: Mazda AZ-Wagon i

Mazda has recently released a new converted vehicle in Japan that can be purchased straight from a Mazda dealer. The AZ-Wagon i, which is about the size of a Mini, has a rear entry conversion with modifications to have a wider opening as well as a new three-point seatbelt and handrails as standard features. The only issue is that the car is powered by a tiny engine (660cc with a turbo making about 63hp) which makes highway driving an issue. With the prices of this vehicle ranging from $8700 to $15500, you may forgive its shortcomings with all the money you will save.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

How Can We Make The Iraq War More Handicap Accessible?

This is a clip from the Onion News Network, a show that satirizes news networks such as CNN, MSNBC, etc. The following clip is a hilarious news story of how the military is making war more accessible to the disabled such as upgrading tanks with wheelchair lifts to installing puff controls on the Stealth Bomber. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Being Disabled Is Sexy

People generally have a set image on what is considered to be a sexy person. Being disabled generally is not considered a quality that people would normally associate with being sexy. When it comes to sex and disability, the truth hurts. Yet we need to examine some harsh attitudes before we can challenge them. These are some myths that need to be debunked by society:

-People with disabilities aren't sexual beings. People tend to think that people with disabilities are different. Worse, if somebody is being treated like a child - as in being unable to take care of themselves - then we can't see that person as sexy. Let's not forget, people with disabilities have bodies, brains, feelings, libido...all of which make them incredibly sexual beings. We want sex just as much as anybody else, disability or not.

-People with disabilities are undesirable. Between the planning, patience, communication, and emotional support required, people who have a disability are labeled a burden when it comes to sex. Furthermore, society holds that if you can't perform a certain way, then you're no good. People go to great lengths when they love someone to express that love and realize its full potential. Nobody or nothing is considered a burden when you want it badly enough. It's well worth the effort.

-Good sex can only be spontaneous. If you can't have sex on the fly - if it requires planning and taking your time - then your sex life is chalked up as bad. Try telling that to a Tantric sex practitioner, right? Good sex comes in all forms - and many will tell you that spontaneity can become overrated.

-People with disabilities can't have 'real' sex. People are stuck on this notion that sex can be "true" sex only if it involves certain positions or maneuvers. What makes for real sex is often based on our preferences, values, and attitudes. For some it might be that they actually made love or that they felt present or that it had a certain outcome.... You create your own sexual experience, so don't let anyone dictate what qualifies as intimacy for you.

-People with disabilities shouldn't worry about sex. Why fret over your sex life when you have bigger things to worry about? Sex is a luxury one with a disability cannot afford. Sex is important to almost everyone, no matter what your condition. Almost everyone worries about sex at one point or another since we're all sexual beings. Having a disability doesn't trump that.

-People with disabilities aren't sexually adventurous (or if they are, they're perverted). It's unfair to expect someone with a disability to be sexually passive. This person can desire, initiate, and thrive in the moment. People with disabilities enjoy everything that an "abled" person does, and perhaps even more! Many of them have learned that your brain is indeed your biggest sex organ. And they like to keep it turned on!

-People with disabilities shouldn't have sex. If you're bedridden or need assistance moving around, society seems to think that you should be celibate. The lack of privacy is the biggest indicator of the disrespect we have for the sexual needs of those with a disability. A hospice, for example, may have no locks on the doors, or a nursing home may require that doors be open at all times. How is this different from people trying to have sex in public places like the beach, an alleyway, or any other public place? What's great is that some people with a disability will still try to get a little bit of lovin', no matter what the consequences are. They should be applauded instead of shamed for their efforts.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Genius Creation: Intimate Rider

Whoever said that there is nothing out there to help the disabled get intimate can stop complaining right now. The Intimate Rider, a sex chair designed for people who can't move their hips, allows the ability for the disabled to perform many of the typical positions as essentially any able-bodied person and with enough creativity, perhaps a few new ones.  While the price is kind of steep, the fact that it aides something that is so special and private for people in our situations is priceless. Check out their website here to find out more about this device.   

Friday, March 6, 2009

What Engineers Didn't Factor In When They Design Wheelchairs

This is a funny story that I heard from someone a few years ago. The following conversation happened at a meeting a few days after a night of debauchery with friends who took him out for his birthday. It involves him, his friends Joe and Dave, his classmates at the meeting, and their professor:

Him (attempting to park): Geez, it feels a lil' wierd getting around with this new joystick

Joe: Hey! You got a new joystick! What happened to the old one??

Dave: *has a big smile on his face*

Him: Well...it's kind of a long story...

Joe: Oh geez... another drunken escapade...how drunk were you this time??

Everybody: *starts laughing*

Dave: *still smiling*

Him: No, I wasn't really all that drunk...

Joe: Yeah, right...

Him: OK, I might as well tell all of you what really happened to it...

Everybody (including my Professor): *totally slient and listening*

Him: My joystick got knocked off by some stripper's ass while she was giving me a lapdance

Everybody: What the fuck!! That was the last thing I was expecting!! BA-ZING!!

Him: Hey! At least that is the most unqiue way for a joystick to go out!!

Professor: Well, I guess the people who engineered that joystick never took [having a stripper's ass knocked off by her ass while giving me a lapdance] into account...

As far as his folks are concerned, his joystick popped off when he drove over a pothole and fell into a sewer... :)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Unleash Your Inner Rockstar: Guitar Hero 4 Kick Pedal Mod

Have Guitar Hero 4 but unable to use the kick pedal on the drums?  Well, Ben Heck has modified the kick pedal on the Guitar Hero drum set so it acts like an air diaphragm.  With this modification, a user can now "kick" the bass drums by blowing into a tube.  According to Ben, the mod took about two hours to create.  He has provided detailed instructions on how to make the modification on his blog.  So for all you wannabe drummers out there, hurry up and make this mod so you can rock out!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Feel Good Video: Nick Vujicic

The following Youtube clip is one of those clips that will make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.  Nick Vujicic is a motivational speaker from Australia that tells his life story of his life with essentially no limbs.  Despite this setback, it does not stop him from doing all that he sets his mind to.  Watch as he talks to a bunch of students as he tells them that no matter what, you can get back up if you have fallen down :)

Monday, March 2, 2009

The 10 Commandments Of Life In A Wheelchair

The following YouTube clip is from Tiffany Carlson, founder of Beautyability and the column writer for the SCI Life column in New Mobility Magazine, as well as a freelance writer for many other websites and publications such as Lovebyrd.com, Nerve.com, ThisAbled.com, ChloeMagazine.com, and PlayGirl. She is a spunky quadriplegic with some great advice for anyone who uses a wheelchair, especially for those with SCI. In this clip, she tells us her "10 Commandments Of Life In A Wheelchair" which is valid not only for those with SCI but also for anyone in a wheelchair in general. 

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Take To The Skies! Wheelchair Travel Tips

This is a great video on YouTube done by EasyStand.com and provides great advice to those who have to fly to destinations.  It provides tips on how to check in your wheelchair, what to expect during check-in, when to get on and off the plane, and even how to secure a rental car with hand controls.  So for those in wheelchairs who need to fly, watch closely and have a safe flight!