Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wheelchair Etiquette In General

It is estimated that at least 25 million persons have mobility problems. Of these, approximately 500,000 use wheelchairs. People use wheelchairs as a result of a variety of disabilities, including spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, arthritis, cerebral palsy, polio, etc. Wheelchairs provide mobility for persons with paralysis, muscle weakness, lack of coordination, nerve damage, and/or stiffness of joints. Wheelchairs come in many sizes and shapes which are adapted to the lifestyle of the user. They range from custom-designed models for sports activities to basic utility models for use in hospitals and airports. Despite their active participation in our society, most people who use wheelchairs encounter attitudinal barriers which affect their lives on a daily basis.  
The following are some suggestions when you meet a person who uses a wheelchair:

  • Do not automatically hold on to a person’s wheelchair. It is part of the person’s body space. Hanging or leaning on the chair is similar to hanging or leaning on a person sitting in any chair. It is often fine if you are friends, but inappropriate if you are strangers.
  • Do not insist on assisting, but offer assistance if you wish. If a person needs help (s)he will accept your offer and tell you exactly what will be helpful. If you force assistance it can sometimes be unsafe as when you grab the chair and the person using it loses his/her balance.
  • Talk directly to the person using the wheelchair, not to a third party. The person is not helpless or unable to talk.
  • Do not be sensitive about using words like “walking” or “running.” People using wheelchairs use the same words.
  • Be alert to the existence of architectural barriers in your office and when selecting a restaurant, home, theatre or other facility, to which you want to visit with a person who uses a wheelchair.
  • If conversation proceeds more than a few minutes and it is possible to do so, consider sitting down in order to share eye level. It is uncomfortable for a seated person to look straight up for a long period.
  • Do not park your car in a parking place in an accessible parking place. These places are reserved out of necessity, not convenience. The space is wider than usual in order to get wheelchairs in and out of the car and is close to the entrance for those who cannot push far.
  • When your department, church, civic group or organization sponsors a program, be sure people with disabilities are included in the planning and presentation.
  • When children ask about wheelchairs and people who use them, answer them in a matter-of-fact manner. Wheelchairs, bicycles and skates share a lot in common.
  • Include people with disabilities in photos used in promotional material. When people with disabilities are presented in the media as competent, or “like other people,” write a note of support to the producer or publisher.
  • Make sure meeting places are architecturally accessible (with ramps, modified bathrooms, wide doors, low telephones, etc.) so that people with disabilities can be equal participants.
  • Encourage your community to put “curb cuts” in sidewalks. These inexpensive built-in ramps enable wheelchair users to get from place to place independently.
  • Include people who use wheelchairs on community task forces (transportation, building, zoning) so that your town will meet the needs of all citizens.
  • Make it a point to try to reduce barriers in your physical surroundings. Often these barriers have been created by architects, engineers and builders who were unaware. A simple “How could someone using a wheelchair get in here?” will help identify any barriers.
  • The Heart-Warming Adventures Of Leeder O. Men

    Check out this site, dizabled.com, and read and laugh at the adventures of Leeder O. Men, a man that does not let the mere fact of being on a wheelchair stop him from pursuing his various escapades.  It is a funny and refreshingly original comic strip that shows that one can still live a very interesting life whether on two legs or four wheels :)

    Saturday, May 23, 2009

    Wheelchair Snowplow!

    I am sure that many people in the wintertime mention that someone should put a snowplow on wheelchairs so you can get around easier.  Well, it appears someone has created such a thing and has made it quite an effective tool in conquering the white stuff.  Check out the clip and see for yourself how easily he can get through a heavily snowed in area.

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    Proof The Recession Affects The Disabled

    You know the recession is really bad when people who need powerchairs cannot afford them and resort to extreme measures to get around.  Take the man in this Youtube clip for instance, who has to resort to using a lawnmower to serve as the power wheels for his wheelchair!  How creative is that!?!

    Friday, May 15, 2009

    Fly Like A Bird With Wheelchair Paragliding

    Ever have the dream of of flying like a bird?  For those who are in wheelchairs, I am sure that you have.  Why not make that dream a reality by paragliding.  As you can see in this Youtube clip, this is not limited to the able-bodied. Just grab a parachute and a lightweight wheelchair and run to the nearest field and fly away!

    Wednesday, May 13, 2009

    Bottle Cap Tripod

    Have a camera but never have a tripod to take a steady shot?  Well, how about turning your drink bottle into a tripod?  The people at The Photojojo Store have come up with the means to do just that!  It is an adaptor that is designed to fit over most bottle caps that will turn it into a tripod for your camera.  While this may be a solution specifically designed for the disabled shutterbug, you have to admit that this is a great device that can be used by anyone.  Besides, anyone in a wheelchair can attest to how hard it is to use a standard tripod so this kind of device can save a lot of hassle.

    Monday, May 11, 2009

    Toyota i-Real: Toyota's "Revolutionary New" Idea Is Actually A Wheelchair

    This is a Toyota concept "vehicle", called the i-Real, that debuted at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show.  While Toyota calls this concept a "revolutionary new idea in transportation", in actually they seemed to have inadvertently created a wheelchair.  It has similar attributes to a wheelchair with a joystick control and the ability to raise and lower the seat as well as multiple speed settings.  There are, however, some new and useful ideas on this concept that could easily be adapted to existing wheelchairs.  The adjustable wheelbase would be nice to enhance stability at high speeds.  Internet connectivity and the ability to communicate with other wheelchair users via a twitter-like system would be great in terms of communicating with others.  The LED lighting on the back which has the ability to serve as lights is just really cool and could be utilized by people in ways I cannot imagine.  Anyways, check out the clip and enjoy looking at the capabilities of Toyota's vehicle/wheelchair.

    Thursday, May 7, 2009

    Yet Another Wheelchair With A Motor

    It seems that placing Honda motors into wheelchairs has started to become a hobby.  This clip is of a guy who hooked up a 165cc Honda motor to a wheelchair.  Supposedly this thing is capable of about 42 mph.  I am curious if this chair can even handle a turn.  Check the Youtube clip.

    Tuesday, May 5, 2009

    Coming To A Fair Near You: Jet Powered Wheelchair Cyclecide

    I dunno about you, but I have seen a decent ride at a fair in ages.  Finding one that a person on a wheelchair can even go on and ride is hard and almost impossible these days.  Well, someone seems to have addressed this issue and created a cyclecide with his wheelchair on one end and a pulse jet engine on the other end!  You can see the amazing results in the Youtube clip above. 

    Friday, May 1, 2009

    Disabled Parking Space Requirements

    Ever wanted to know the requirements of a Handicapped parking spot?  This clip shows the requirements needed for an accessible parking space according to ADA law.  Based on what is specified in the clip, I have a feeling that not all handicapped parking spaces here meet all of the requirements specified in the clip.  I am not going to complain that they are not meeting all of the requirements:  my concern is more about people who park in these spots who should not be parking there.  Do the handicapped spaces in your area meet all the ADA requirements? Bust out your tape measure and level to find out!