Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mobi-Chairs: Wheelchairs that Float

So today I have time to blog about floating wheelchairs, called Mobi-Chairs, that allow folks to go over the sand and into the water. Very cool. I saw links to articles about these and wanted to share a video (below) and a link to an article.



Update: A reader emailed to ask if these are available for purchase. I did find them for sale here. Please feel free to leave any other links about where they can be purchased in the comments.

Disaboom also has an article about four beach wheelchairs which you may want to check out.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Labyrinth Theater It Gets Better Project

Joining hands with the LGBQT community, the Labyrinth Theater presents their It Gets Better Project.

Here's a preview of the videos that will be uploaded to their channel



And here's the full version of Fr. James Martin's A Prayer When I Feel Hated:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Raising the Floor: Web Accessibility for All

Raising the Floor is " an international coalition of individuals and organizations working to ensure that the Internet is accessible to people experiencing accessibility or literacy problems, even if they have very limited or no financial resources. The goal is to ensure that individuals who need special interfaces are as free and able as everyone else to use the new and emerging Internet tools and resources to live more independently and productively, and to achieve their life's goals".

The group works to put "the Web within reach of all those with
disability, literacy, or aging related barriers,
regardless of their economic status".

You can sign up for their mailing list here.

The FCC has teamed with them and the Coleman Institute to launch the Cloud Computing Challenge. You can read about it in a pdf here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Ride along with Andrew

Andrew , a paraplegic, talks about his life in this vlog as he uses his new wheelchair-scooter.



For more videos by Andrew, click here.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not a problem

It was cold last night, perhaps made colder by the fact that I don't have an accessible thermostat. Of course I could pay to fix that which is my responsibility as a disabled tenant, but I've already had to deal with lots of other issues which cost bundles, so it's a compromise I live with.

Like many other issues of access, it's not a problem until it is.

I think that's why issues of access are often perceived as personal problems, even seen as complaints or gripes, because until you are the one who can't turn the heat on or get into a place or check out a menu that's not in Braille etc. it's not a problem. That's why living with a disability 24/7 is much different than simulating it. During a simulation of being a quadriplegic, someone could just walk over and turn the heat on.

Sometimes when these things happen, I think "Simulate this!" and chuckle.

Lest I be seen as griping or complaining, however, I want to be quick to add that many of the sweetest, most special memories I have involve living with a disability. It may offer a different set of options at times, which society labels as limiting, but it also opens up a huge array of choices and situations I would never have encountered.

That positive side of living with a disability is not often portrayed in movies or the media. This is everyone's loss. I get excited when I read books or see movies showing the joy of living with a disability, celebrating the way people with disabilities live.

On balance, I'll trade a few cold nights for that.

Cool Wheelchair Costume





via tostie14

Pictured is a person in a wheelchair dressed as a Darth Vader Tie Fighter, wearing a black suit holding a light saber with two silver shields at each side of the chair attached by a bar across his/her waist.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Talking about Dating: Disability Awareness Month

Josh Sundquist talks about dating and has a message about Disability Awareness Month in this video.




Please note that CC is available here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Kyle and his Canine Assistant Bethany

I found this video which was done for Kyle's freshman high school broadcast journalism class. It shows Kyle and his service dog Bethany going around the school together, playing catch and interacting. Kyle has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and attends high school in El Paso Texas where he participates in student council and marching band. I think this video is excellent and wanted to share it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An afternoon of beautiful things

There are times when I wish I had a video camera. Today was one of them.

I went on a roll around the neighborhood this afternoon. Over at the choir college, students were practicing scales. As I passed the church, I could hear the choir singing.

I wanted pumpkin ice cream, but the store has steps. Instead I went to a coffee shop, where college students and skateboarders placed their orders, then stood next to me in an alcove waiting. It's a completely wired place- wifi and caffeine.

I wound up wearing more than drinking my coffee as I headed back through town, pulling over a few times for damage control. I think from now on I'll stick to a cold beverage which is safer.

Then I rolled over to the tennis courts where I hung out a while like a retired wheelchair tennis player does, watching people play. It was really gusty out. A daughter and mom were volleying balls to each other. A tennis instructor worked with a boy, who kept looking at everything but the ball. Four men played doubles tennis- two in their thirties, two in their sixties. Perhaps fathers and sons. Maybe business acquaintances. They warmed up, each side keeping a ball going back and forth on their side of the court, keeping the balls steady despite the wind. I waited for about fifteen minutes, but when they didn't start a match, left.

I went to the drug store where I managed to drop my money while on line. No surprise there. A few people behind me in line grabbed it off the floor and took it. Those are the kinds of things that can lead to bad karma, if you ask me.

No, I don't have a video camera, but it would be interesting sometimes if I did.

I'd like to film the people who wiped the coffee off my cup for me too. The ones who held doors. The ones playing tennis in the wind. Even the tennis balls flying through the air, the trees swaying in the wind, the sun peeking through autumnal leaves, the sidewalks whizzing by beneath my wheelchair, the leaves falling into my lap.

Autumn movement

I CRIED over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go, not one lasts. -Carl Sandburg

Friday, October 15, 2010

Metro Taxi offers more accessible taxis, discounts


From New Haven, Connecticut, where a taxi company has committed itself to meeting the transportation needs of people with disabilities by increasing its accessible taxi fleet and offering discounts to the disabled community. You can read more here. Kudos to them.




Grateful for your prayers


As some of you know, one of my nephews was in a serious motorcycle accident on Wednesday and has been in the ICU. Thank you for your prayers, which are much appreciated.

As the photo shows, my cat has been by the phone waiting for good news. Today it seems there was improvement and we're hopeful that he can now start his long road toward healing.

I ask for your continued prayer and positive thoughts.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Listening Is An Act of Love

I just saw this wonderful article in the Huffington Post by Dr. Dan Gottlieb, about his early days dealing with life as a quadriplegic and how he learned that listening is an act of love.

Monday, October 11, 2010

HUD Announces Rental Assistance to Thousands of People with Disabilities

via Disability.gov:

HUD has announced that thousands of non-elderly Americans with disabilities will receive housing assistance to enable them to access affordable housing. Public housing authorities across the country will distribute approximately 4,300 rental assistance vouchers. HUD is awarding nearly $33 million to fund these vouchers through its Rental Assistance for Non-Elderly Persons with Disabilities Program. These grants are part of the $40 million HUD made available in April 2010 to help public housing authorities fund rental vouchers for non-elderly persons with disabilities.

Please note- when I went to the link, some of this information appeared to be for 2009. For more information and for questions, please go directly to disability.gov

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Independent living: planning pet care


My poor cat is sacked out. He's doing fine now, but had to see the vet. It wasn't anything serious luckily. I'm very fortunate to have a vet who makes home visits so I don't have to pay someone to help me take the cat there. I highly recommend using a vet service like this if you have a disability.

I do have to change my cat's diet and routine a bit. One thing that is always time intensive is when new tasks get added to the schedule around here. I have a limited number of care hours. Anything that goes over those hours gets added to what I have to do with adaptive devices. That can drain energy I need to work.

So I start by trying to figure out ways to do the new tasks using assistive devices. If I can't or if the energy it will take won't work, I add it to what others do and have to pick out something they are doing that I can take on. There are only so many care hours and since I also use them also to help me get my work done, it takes a lot of planning and resourcefulness on everyone's part.

I'm very grateful that the people who help me are so flexible. However I don't like to take advantage, so when anything new comes up I do my best to try to do what I can. So I'm spending a bit of time figuring out what I can and can't do with the equipment I have. So far I can use the Cripper ( a reacher) to do some of it independently but think I may have to ask someone to help me prepare ahead of time. Now to get that help down to as little time as possible!

But it's all worth it to have a pet. They give back, for what little we do for them, so much unconditional love.

Image description: a photo of my longhaired fluffy tuxedo cat sleeping in my hospital bed.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Friendship key to inclusion

This article talks about the message heard by faith community members and service providers that friendship is key to inclusion and a way toward ending exclusion in congregations, churches and faith communities. Although this sounds simple, many of the special ministry groups that have been set up still segregate those with disabilities, as opposed to providing opportunities for them to actively engage with all members.

The article provides concrete examples from congregations and communities as they realize that the intangibles are just as important as providing ramps, braille materials or sign interpreters. It also discusses the efforts of programs such as Links of Love and Peaceful Living.

Short film on language and disability

I found this short film made by a university student on language and disability on YouTube.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Accessibility bill signed into law

President Obama signed a bipartisan bill, 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, to expand technology access to people with disabilities. Earlier this week, Rosa's law was signed. More information can be found at the links and in the video below.

National Council on Disability Supports National Disability Employment Awareness Month

NEWS RELEASE

NCD #10–606

October 8, 2010

Contact: Mark S. Quigley

mquigley@ncd.gov

202-272-2004


WASHINGTON—The National Council on Disability (NCD) today recognizes National Disability Employment Awareness Month, calling on its stakeholders to redouble their efforts around improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities.

The purpose of National Disability Employment Awareness Month, which occurs each October, is to educate the American public about issues related to disability and employment. The theme for this year’s observance is “Talent Has No Boundaries: Workforce Diversity Includes Workers with Disabilities.”

According to Dr. Fernando Torres-Gil, NCD Vice Chair for Policy, “National disability employment awareness should be an on-going daily activity to ensure that people with disabilities are fully represented in the workforce. Employment numbers for this segment of the population are abysmally low. More needs to be done now to put this population to work. To that end, we’re delighted that President Obama on July 26, the 20th anniversary of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act, signed an Executive Order—Increasing Federal Employment of Individuals with Disabilities, which calls on the Federal Government to become a model employer of people with disabilities.”

Ari Ne’eman, NCD Vice Chair for Engagement, had this to say, “The President’s executive order is a great first step – it is critical that the federal government serve as a model for the private sector. The services and supports structure for assisting people with significant disabilities in finding and keeping employment is in dire need of modernization, as is our nation’s approach toward post-secondary transition for students with disabilities. NCD is looking forward to working with our partners in both Congress and the executive branch to craft practical solutions to these challenges. As Congress prepares to re-authorize critical legislation such as the Workforce Investment Act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, it is important for people with disabilities to be at the table.”


For more information, please contact NCD’s Director of Communications, Mark Quigley, at mquigley@ncd.gov or by telephone at 202-272-2004.



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Living with Paralysis? Guide to Best Apps for Your Smartphone and iPad

...offered by the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation here for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android.

Check out everything from accessories to productivity (i.e. voice controlled apps) to games to travel and assistive technology and health and fitness and news and more. I found a few that I didn't know about over there to use on my iPod Touch.

Christina Symanski, a quadriplegic, also has several videos up about how she uses her iPad and the apps that help her do things independently.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blind man reports being barred from flight due to disability

Zuhair Mahmoud, a blind technology specialist from Virginia, told AP that he was told he couldn't travel alone when he checked into FlyDubai for a flight from Dubai because it was airline policy not to permit a blind traveler to fly alone.

The airline's chief executive offered an apology and denied FyDubai discriminates against blind or disabled passengers.

FlyDubai also promised to rebook Mahmoud on another flight that's convenient for him and offered him a voucher for a free flight to make up for the mishap. "This morning's events were extremely unfortunate and should not have happened. We will conduct a full investigation to find out what went wrong in this situation and take all means necessary to ensure it does not happen again," FlyDubai CEO Ghaith al-Ghaith said in an e-mail to the AP.

Mahmoud wants steps taken to make sure this doesn't happen to other travelers. "The real test is how it's handled and how it's reacted to. Mistakes happen all the time. It's how you deal with them that defines who you are," he said.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Two Way Traffic

I was at a rummage sale over the weekend that was held inside a parking garage. The entire first floor was full of tables with items for sale. Around the tables were the signs usually seen in a parking garage: right turn only, slow, and two way traffic. And, of course, there were speed bumps.

I passed by a table full of kitchen items and my power chair rose up and down. A nearby four or five year old squealed in delight, so I did it again.

"Can I do that, Mommy?" she asked.

Her mother turned, saw me and hustled the kid away. Spoil sport.

It was very crowded, so I had to have fun surreptitiously. After all, nothing like getting in someone's way while I'm having fun, for crying out loud. It's bad enough if I'm in their way by necessity, like while I'm searching for a colander.

That's because the concept of two way traffic really doesn't apply to wheelchairs yet in some folks' minds. I can tell because when I'm near a table looking at items, I'm asked to move out of their way. And when I find a spot away from the table to wait for the person I'm with, I'm asked to move from there too because I'm "in the way".

I'd suggest that in some instances, finding a place to put a two hundred pound power chair that isn't in the way would require a hoist to lift it to the ceiling. Nevertheless, it appears that I'm supposed to make its size, length and presence disappear.

As my nephew succinctly put it after I was asked for the umpteenth time to move "Where are you supposed to go?"

I'm sure people have thoughts on that.

I don't believe it's just the physical layout of places that causes all of this. Crowded conditions highlight the fact that people on foot and people using wheelchairs move differently. Our lanes of traffic, so to speak, don't always get recognized as such. This happens even when it's not so crowded.

People with disabilities are still fighting for our place in society. That literally means that sometimes you have to stand (or sit) your ground. When aisles are wide enough and people still complain, consider that perhaps it's not that so much that your wheelchair is in their way, but that they perceive it as such because it challenges their idea of moving around in the world. If poor planning results in spaces not being large enough for your wheelchair, consider mentioning this to those running the event. Know your rights under the ADA. For example, under the Amendments to the ADA, wheelchairs are allowed in all areas open to pedestrian use. Be brief, succinct and civil, but speak up. Do it for the next person in a wheelchair until more people understand and follow the law.


After seventeen years of making a commitment to show up, I know there are times that going out for fun turns out to be an exercise in advocacy. Even when the aisles are wide enough and there shouldn't be an issue, I've learned that there are still narrow attitudes out there that haven't changed.

And where are we supposed to go? As I told my nephew "Everywhere that everyone else does."

Friday, October 1, 2010