The darnedest thing I’ve ever seen

A walking wheelchair that can climb stairs and practically turn on a dime is well beyond the dream stage. In fact, it is a project of the CHIBA Institute of Technology in Japan. Based on its picture, it doesn't seem very practical for in-home use. If something like this makes it to production, however, a handicapped person could "walk" over curbs and other obstacles with ease. It looks just like a regular wheelchair with wheels on arms. As a curb or set of stairs is encountered, a set of sensors goes into action and instantaneously causes the chair to raise the appropriate front arm and wheel. The action is then duplicated by the rear wheels. It is very similar to how an able-bodied person with outriggers would handle stepping up onto [...]

Winter Funerals

Funerals are very personal ceremonies whether they are for a close relative, a friend, or yourself. I recently went to an important one myself. You’d think mobility access would be taken for granted in situations like this, even in winter. Nope. Despite the fact most New England funeral homes are made over Victorian homes that originally included several porches and stairs, access is not something that has been overlooked. I’ve always seen street level entrances or ramps suitable for electric wheel chairs or mobility scooters as needed. Parking lots are generally clear of snow and well-marked. I did find the interior to be a bit crowded, particularly with both a power wheelchair and a mobility scooter arriving at the same [...]

Brace Yourselves! Change is in the Wind

The next few months are going to bring some interesting changes to the mobility equipment acquisition process, and you may find some real savings if you bring a pile of cash to the table. In process for over a year now, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) new competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics and supplies (DMEPOS) is expected to slash CMS payments by as much as 45%. Mobility equipment providers had already been expecting cuts in the 32-35% range and even at that rate,  a number of the smaller companies had been considering closure. Right now, CMS payments in behalf of over 100 million beneficiaries makes them the largest consumer of durable medical equipment. This [...]

Charging Stations and Traffic Rules Proposed in Macon

Macon-Bibb County in Georgia, the country’s first “Age-Friendly Community” according to the AARP and the WHO, has proposed new legislation to help motorized wheelchair and mobility scooter users navigate city streets. In this article by Jim Gaines of Macon.com, he writes that City Councilman Frank Tompkins isn't taking the AARP title for granted; as a strong advocate for the disabled, he is asking for four charging stations for mobility aids in high traffic areas of downtown Macon. This will allow for electric wheelchair and mobility scooter users to make a brief pit stop to recharge before setting back out in the city. Gaines is also proposing some laws to help keep scooter and wheelchair users safe on the streets of Macon. Traffic [...]

Enough with Excessive ADA Regulations!

My disability has caused me to be troubled by unequal access in public buildings and streets. For years I have been a champion of the Americans with Disabilities Act which I truly felt was bringing equalization to the table. With that said, there are some times I think my personal access needs to take the back seat to practicality. For instance, in areas of pure recreation the ADA is running amuck. I used to always enjoy a round of miniature golf, especially on courses that featured a rough, hilly terrain. As long as I was walking handily, I was able to get along with the typically narrow pathways. Now, the ADA wants all mini golf courses to be flatter and handicap-accessible. The 2010 ADA standards for Accessible Design require that [...]

Portable Bath Bench and Accessibility

Access-Able Designs, a company started by quadriplegic CEO Allen Garrett, has created a new innovative product to serve the mobility-impaired. Their ADA-Compliant Portable Bath Bench is now available to the public for sale. Custom-made to allow for easy wheelchair transfers and weighing in at only 24 pounds, its sturdy frame can accommodate up to 420 pounds! Here's a link to the full article detailing both Access-Able Designs and their new portable bath bench. Handicap-accessible products are becoming increasingly common and effective, but we still have a far way to go before accessibility is no longer an issue. As you may recall, we published a blog post a few weeks ago from Reg about “The Blueprints for a Handicap-Friendly World,” [...]

Winter Mobility

With winter breathing down our necks, new hazards are approaching. You never know when a storm like Hurricane Sandy might come knocking on your door so it's best to always be prepared for inclement weather. Even if the season is light on snow, there are other challenges we all must face; even if it is just heavy rain. This is particularly true for mobility scooter users. I know a good number of you don't intend to sit there housebound. You have places to go and things to do. On top of your normal life, there are holiday shopping and winter events to keep you out and about. Here are a few tips to help you operate your mobility scooter in these less-than-desirable conditions. Make Yourself Seen A major hazard in winter is low visibility. [...]

Shame on Us

Disability hate crime, which can occur in many forms, is a blight on the public image of entire countries. It constitutes a violation of a disabled person's human rights and dignity. A scan of headlines out of the UK is enough to scare anyone in a wheelchair or disability scooter. Such activity does not seem rampant here in the States, but in the UK it seems to make headlines on a daily basis. According to a report from the British Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), disabled people in the UK face harassment, insult and attack almost as a matter of routine. A "collective denial" among police, government and other public bodies means little is done to challenge the situation, the government's human rights watchdog has concluded [...]

Mobility-Challenged Politicians

In just a few weeks voters will go to the polls as usual, voting for "normal" candidates. But  in four states, the ballots will include rolling candidates, those who have overcome mobility issues with an active life in political service. With election day just around the corner, I thought I’d mention some of the mobility-disabled candidates running around the country. All four have not let paralysis of one form or another prevent them from moving into the political arena. Three are first timers, but they all desire to do something with themselves for their state and country. For a little over a decade, Jim Langevin, (D) of Rhode Island has actively represented his district in the U.S. House of Representatives and has been instrumental [...]

Accessibility: Talking a Good Thing

There is a lot of talk these days about mobility scooters and power wheelchairs improving quality of life and assuring independence for the mobility-challenged allowing them to go when and where they want. If only that were completely true... Many of us live in older cities where Americans with Disabilities Act (enacted two decades ago) changes move at the speed of molasses in both public and private sectors. It is the small things that ruin a mobility scooter excursion; sometimes the tiniest obstacle can obstruct the biggest journey. Most just require the rider to take a dangerous detour or make a minor traffic law violation. Others are practically impassable. Here are a couple examples in the public sector where I have contacted [...]