Posts Tagged wheelchair

[BLOG POST] United Spinal and University of Pittsburgh Launch ‘My Wheelchair Guide’ Mobile App

United Spinal Association and the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh have co-developed a new app that informs and encourages consumers and their families to play an active role in acquiring, using, and maintaining their manual wheelchairs and handling health issues related to wheelchair use.

“As a national nonprofit serving people with spinal cord injuries and disorders, we know how important having a properly fitted manual wheelchair is in pursuing a healthy, active and independent lifestyle,” said James Weisman, president & CEO of United Spinal Association.

The ‘My Wheelchair Guide’ manual wheelchair mobile app (MWG Manual) includes tools and resources to guide consumers through the wheelchair selection, delivery and maintenance process. The app also provides practical information to evaluate each individual’s unique medical and functional needs, whether they are a beginner or advanced wheelchair user.

The MWG Manual wheelchair mobile app features:

• Self-assessment & maintenance checklists
• Customizable to-do lists
• Wheelchair skills videos
• Illustrations on wheelchair types, parts, & accessories
• Critical health considerations
• Organized hub that integrates the contacts essential to getting a wheelchair
• Ability to take notes within the app using text, pictures, or voice recordings
• Q&A section

The MWG Manual wheelchair mobile app is supported through a grant (#90DP0056) from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research. It is available for download from Google Play and Apple app store by searching “MWG Manual”.

The app is being distributed with support from the Clinician Task Force; the National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology; the National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers; and the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America.

For more information, visit www.unitedspinal.org/my-wheelchair-guide.

via United Spinal and University of Pittsburgh Launch ‘My Wheelchair Guide’ Mobile App – United Spinal Association

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[BLOG POST] 5 things I want others to know about disability

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Rebecca Sullivan is a blogger who uses her writing to express her experiences of living with cerebral palsy. Her work allows her to come to terms with her disability, and she hopes that it also inspires others to change the way they perceive the disabled community.

People with disabilities face lots of challenges. However, some of these can be reduced by society having greater awareness. I hope this article provides insight into some common misconceptions that people with disabilities face.

Rebecca sits in her colorful wheelchair in a garden wearing yellow.

1. Everyone with a disability is different 

People with disabilities are all different. Our experiences, our thoughts and our feelings are unique. Please don’t assume that every disabled person has the same preferences or that two people with the same condition will be affected in the same way.

As someone with cerebral palsy (CP), I am aware that the symptoms of CP will differ for each person. We should not be compared and our own separate desires should be taken into account.

Some people with CP walk, some use a wheelchair and some alternate between both. Some speak orally and some use an assistive device. We have the same diagnosis but are all different.

Disability does not have the same face for everybody, nor will it be the same experience for everyone.

2. Please don’t help me without asking

Sometimes, when people see me they may think I am struggling and their instinct is to help. However, it is always best to ask if someone wants help first.

I know from my own experience when someone has done things for me without asking it has felt as if my independence has been taken away. I feel obligated to accept their help so that I don’t come across as rude.

Rebecca posing in her wheelchair outside.

But I need to change this thinking. I need to be more vocal and politely say, “I am okay to do this, but thanks anyway” or ‘Could you help with this part” if I do need assistance with something.

I always appreciate it when I’m asked if I need assistance first. This shows they have seen me and given me the option of help rather than jumping to assumptions.

Additionally, if I say ‘no’ it is not out of stubbornness. It’s likely that this presumed difficulty is how I go about completing a task. For example, when I fix the bag on the back of my chair, it is just a routine to me, even though it might look like I’m struggling.

3. Don’t be afraid to get to know someone with a disability

Differences have a tendency to make others act funny. Sometimes, people are uncertain about knowing what to say or how to behave around people with differences. Because of this, it can make them avoid getting to know someone with a disability.

For some, having an encounter with someone who has a disability may be rare, so that person’s disability takes precedence over the actual person. I find this is one of the hardest things… observing a sympathetic smile while seeing fear in their eyes, or having a necessary but hurried conversation with someone.

I know seeing things from another point of view isn’t easy. Sometimes I try to break the ice and let people know that my disability is only one part of me. People have more to them than just their disability. I have cerebral palsy, just like I have brown hair.

Rachel smiling and sitting her wheelchair in a bright orange outfit.

4. It’s okay to ask questions

People have questions. Most people have an inquisitive nature – I know I do! But often people feel that they can’t ask questions about disability.

I know that in the past, when I have met someone new, for a moment or two there is some awkwardness and I get that feeling that they want to ask something but are unsure how to. I feel it’s best to gently let them know it’s okay to ask questions and perhaps bring up my disability first. This tends to reduce uneasiness.

5. It’s okay to ask me to repeat myself 

My speech is affected by my CP and therefore I am not always understood by others. Sometimes people don’t tell me that they didn’t understand what I said and respond with a completely different answer or stand there silently.

Instead of getting irritated with myself, I try to remind others that it is completely okay to ask me to repeat anything that they don’t understand.

I may repeat myself in a different way or spell out the specific word that the person is having difficulty understanding. I would rather repeat myself 10 times than have someone try to guess what I am saying.

I hope this list has helped change your perspective on disability or encourage you to think about what you want others to know about your disability.

By Rebecca Sullivan

To learn more about Rebecca and to read some of her work, visit her blog, From this Window.

via 5 things I want others to know about disability | Disability Horizons

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[WEB PAGE] The (Almost) Psychic Wheelchair – Rehab Managment

The (Almost) Psychic Wheelchair

What if a wheelchair could sense collisions and dangerous drop offs before its user knew there were there? The world is about to find out.

New to the marketplace is Nashville, Tenn-based LUCI, whose premiere product, also named LUCI, is a hardware and software platform that uses sensor-fusion technologies to allow a power wheelchair to “see” its environment.

Once mounted onto a power wheelchair between the power base and the seat, LUCI aims to help users avoid collisions and dangerous drop-offs while maintaining personalized driving control. Through cloud-based capabilities, LUCI can also monitor and alert users and caregivers of low battery, possible tipping scenarios, and other important updates regarding the chair and the user.

“Wheelchair users were left behind when it comes to most innovative technology,” says Barry Dean, CEO and Founder of LUCI. Dean is also a Grammy-nominated songwriter, and his daughter Katherine, 19, has cerebral palsy and has used a wheelchair her whole life.

“We realized no one else was working on this problem in a meaningful way, so my brother Jered [Dean, CTO of LUCI] and I set out to create a solution for Katherine,” he says, in a media release.

[Related: “Power to the People!” offers the latest tips for evaluating and fitting a power wheelchair]

“What started as a labor of love among family members has ultimately created a safer, more stable way for people with disabilities to navigate their world and stay connected to loved ones. Today, we’re excited to launch LUCI and continue collaborating with researchers, universities and other companies using our open platform to move the industry forward together,” he adds.

The LUCI team spent the past two and half years collaborating with clinical professionals and logging over 25,000 hours of user testing to develop an invention to help people with physical disabilities drive safely, precisely and independently. LUCI’s R&D efforts have already resulted in a total of 16 patents (eight pending).

“When we started tinkering with my niece Katherine’s chair, we had no idea where this journey would lead,” says Jered Dean, CTO, who has spent 2 decades in design and systems engineering, most recently serving as director of the Colorado School of Mines’s Capstone Design@Mines program.

“From developing advancements in millimeter-wave radar technology to collaborating with engineering leaders from Intel RealSense Technology Group to maximize the application of some of the world’s smartest cameras, I’m incredibly proud of the unprecedented work our team has accomplished to solve the challenges our customers face,” he continues, in the release.

“LUCI leverages Intel RealSense to map the world in a low-power, cost-effective way to make drop-off protection and collision avoidance possible, and we’re excited to be a part of this inspirational effort to deliver innovation that improves lives,” says Joel Hagberg, head of product management and marketing, Intel RealSense Group

LUCI’s technology combines stereovision, infrared, ultrasonic and radar sensors to offer users these critical features, per the release:

  • Collision avoidance: LUCI is designed to prevent wheelchair users from running into objects (walls, people, pets, furniture, etc) as they navigate their daily lives. It does this by smoothly helping to navigate the chair in coordination with user steering inputs based on obstacle detection in the driver’s surroundings.
  • Drop-off protection: It doesn’t take a large drop-off to tip a wheelchair (less than 3 inches in some cases). LUCI helps users avoid tipping by recognizing steps or drop-offs and smoothly helping the chair continue on a safer path.
  • Anti-tipping alert system: LUCI monitors the steepness of a ramp or the ground users are driving on and provides an audible alert if it becomes a tipping danger. In the event that a chair tips over, LUCI sounds an alarm and can be configured to quickly alert other individuals, such as a caregiver or loved one, of the exact location of the rider and the tipped chair.
  • Cloud-based communications and alerts: The MyLUCI portal allows users to view their data and share it with loved ones or clinicians. LUCI can be set up to alert others of specific events, such as the user’s location if their battery gets dangerously low. LUCI also now works with Hey Google and Amazon Alexa so users can interact with MyLUCI using their voice. MyLUCI portal is available as a mobile app for both iOS and Android phones, as well as for desktop with the Web Portal.
  • Secure health monitoring: LUCI users can choose to share their heart rate data with their team using either Google Fit or Apple HealthKit from day one.

[Source: LUCI]

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[WEB PAGE] Wheelchair User Pro Tips That Will Make Life Easier – Rehab Managment

Wheelchair User Pro Tips That Will Make Life Easier

Pro Tips is an easy-to-read online resource provided by Numotion that is packed with techniques and advice that make daily living easier for mobility users. These helpful tips are based on real-life experiences that Numotion mobility professionals have brought back from the field and are of value to wheelchair users at every level.

This resource is also designed to grow and expand as new mobility technologies emerge and techniques for independent living develop. Some of the 17 topics that Pro Tips currently explore includes:

  • Grocery shopping
  • Doing laundry
  • Cooking in the kitchen
  • Bladder control
  • Pressure relief
  • Opening and closing doors in the home in a power wheelchair

Click here to discover all 17 Pro Tips at Numotion.com.

Also from Numotion: Recommending a power wheelchair? Click to get this free download that covers the basics and beyond: Getting Power Chair Documentation Just Right.

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[ARTICLE] Pilot Study of a Powered Exoskeleton for Upper Limb Rehabilitation Based on the Wheelchair – Full Text

Abstract

To help hemiplegic patients with stroke to restore impaired or lost upper extremity functionalities efficiently, the design of upper limb rehabilitation robotics which can substitute human practice becomes more important. The aim of this work is to propose a powered exoskeleton for upper limb rehabilitation based on a wheelchair in order to increase the frequency of training and reduce the preparing time per training. This paper firstly analyzes the range of motion (ROM) of the flexion/extension, adduction/abduction, and internal/external of the shoulder joint, the flexion/extension of the elbow joint, the pronation/supination of the forearm, the flexion/extension and ulnar/radial of the wrist joint by measuring the normal people who are sitting on a wheelchair. Then, a six-degree-of-freedom exoskeleton based on a wheelchair is designed according to the defined range of motion. The kinematics model and workspace are analyzed to understand the position of the exoskeleton. In the end, the test of ROM of each joint has been done. The maximum error of measured and desired shoulder flexion and extension joint angle is 14.98%. The maximum error of measured and desired elbow flexion and extension joint angle is 14.56%. It is acceptable for rehabilitation training. Meanwhile, the movement of drinking water can be realized in accordance with the range of motion. It demonstrates that the proposed upper limb exoskeleton can also assist people with upper limb disorder to deal with activities of daily living. The feasibility of the proposed powered exoskeleton for upper limb rehabilitation training and function compensating based on a wheelchair is proved.

1. Introduction

Upper extremity motor function disorder is one of the most common rehabilitation problems of hemiplegic patients with stroke [1]. The upper extremity motor function plays a key role in self-care and social activities. The upper extremity motor function disorder significantly lowers the life quality of hemiplegic patients with stroke [23]. Due to the complex structure and functional requirement of the upper limb, the rehabilitation process of the impaired upper extremity functionality is a long and slow process. Because of the specificity of hemiplegic patients in diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation, it brings a series of severe psychological and financial stress for patients [4]. The outcome of upper limb motor rehabilitation depends on duration, intensity and task orientation of the training. The therapists assisting patients have to bear a significant burden. As a result, the duration of primary upper limb rehabilitation is becoming shorter [5]. To deal with these problems, robotic rehabilitation devices with the ability to conduct repetitive tasks and provide assistive force have been proposed.

The upper limb rehabilitation robots can be divided into two types according to the service environment. One is mainly used in the hospital and shared by several patients. The upper limb rehabilitation robots used in the hospital are often designed for rehabilitation training and difficult to move. Loris et al. introduced a dual exoskeleton robot called automatic recovery arm motility integrated system. The system was developed to enable therapists to define and apply patient-specific rehabilitation exercises with multidisciplinary support by neurologist, engineers, ICT specialists and designers [6]. Farshid et al. presented the GENTLE/S system for upper limb rehabilitation. The system comprised a 3-degree-of-freedom (DOF) robot manipulator with an extra 3 DOFs passive gimbal mechanism, an exercise table, computer screen, overhead frame, and chair [7]. Dongjin Lee et al. proposed a clinically relevant upper-limb exoskeleton that met the clinical requirements. The pilot test showed that the safety for robot-aided passive training of patients with spasticity could be guaranteed [8]. The other is mainly used in the home to assist a single patient in activities of daily living. A lightweight and ergonomic upper-limb rehabilitation exoskeleton named CLEVER ARM was proposed by Zeiaee et al. The wearable upper limb exoskeleton was to provide automated therapy to stroke patients [9]. Feiyun et al. presented a seven DOFs cable-driven upper limb exoskeleton for post-stroke patients. The experimental results showed that the activation levels of corresponding muscles were reduced by using the 7 DOFs cable-driven upper limb exoskeleton in the course of rehabilitation [10]. In fact, the main function of upper extremity rehabilitation devices is to provide the physical training and assist the patients with hemiplegia to perform the activities of daily living. However, hospital or home used rehabilitation robot research has just focused on one respect. Indeed, the research on the upper extremity rehabilitation devices would focus on both aspects of assisting and training. Therefore, it is important for the design of upper limb rehabilitation robot to combine the rehabilitation training and assisting function.

The stationary upper extremity rehabilitation robot cannot solve the movability problem and perform the activities of daily living (ADL). The wearable exoskeleton devices are limited by the weight. In addition, whether the range of motion is in line with the physiological joints directly determines the rehabilitation effect. Therefore, the key questions can be summarized as follows. Can we transform the weight of the upper limb exoskeleton to another movable device instead of wearing by patients? How to guarantee the design of upper limb exoskeleton joint axis in line with the human joint movement axis?

To deal with the above questions, some researchers have made useful explorations. Kiguchi et al. proposed a mechanism and control method of a mobile exoskeleton robot based on a wheelchair for 3 DOFs upper-limb motion assist [11]. The first problem of transforming weight can be solved by design based on a wheelchair. The physical rehabilitation training can be realized on a wheelchair instead of a stationary place. The ADL can be assisted by the powered upper limb exoskeleton on a moving platform. However, the rotation axis of each joint (shoulder joint and elbow joint) is moving with the movement of the upper limb. The gap between the exoskeleton and human arm is also changing by following their movement. It does not consider the problem about the movement consistency of the exoskeleton joint rotation axis and the human joint. As for this problem, Vitiello et al. proposed an elbow exoskeleton with double-shelled links to allow an ergonomic physical human-robot interface and a four-degree-of-freedom passive mechanism to allow the user’s elbow and robot axes to be constantly aligned during movement [12]. However, it focused on the elbow. The whole upper limb rehabilitation was not considered. In this work, we present a novel solution for the two mentioned problems. The range of motion of the upper extremity exoskeleton based on a wheelchair is defined through the normal people test. The 6 DOFs exoskeleton based on a wheelchair is designed according to the defined range of motion. The pursuit movement experiment and the assistive movement of drinking water of the prototype are done to verify the feasibility of the design.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Definition of ROM of Each Joint for the Specific Upper Limb Exoskeleton on a Wheelchair

To ensure the safety of using an upper limb exoskeleton on a wheelchair, it is necessary to know the ROM of the human upper limb on the wheelchair.

The parts of the upper limb taken into account in the design of an exoskeleton are shoulder, arm, elbow, wrist, and hand. Hand is excluded in an entire upper extremity exoskeleton design because of its complexity and dexterous characteristic. Therefore, this work only analyzes the ROM of the shoulder joint, elbow joint, and wrist joint. And then the upper limb exoskeleton designed in this paper must conform to the ROM of these joints.

2.1.1. Apparatus

The apparatus consists of a wheelchair and a motion analysis system. The motion analysis system can transmit data in real time. It was made in JIANGSU NEUCOGNIC MEDICAL CO., LTD. The system can measure the ROM of the shoulder joint, elbow joint and wrist joint of a person who sits on a common wheelchair. In Figure 1, there are two inertial sensors located at the upside and downside of backbone, and ten inertial sensors located at the upper limb (shoulder, upper arm, forearm, palm, and hand), respectively. All of the sensors in this system can measure the angles in x-, y– and z-axis. Sensor 1 and Sensor 4 are utilized to measure the ROM of the rear waist as the referring data. Sensor 4 and Sensor 6 are utilized to measure the ROM of the shoulder joint as the referring data. Sensor 6 and Sensor 7 are utilized to measure the ROM of the elbow joint as the referring data. Sensor 7 and hand sensor are utilized to measure the ROM of wrist joint as the referring data.[…]

Continue —-> Pilot Study of a Powered Exoskeleton for Upper Limb Rehabilitation Based on the Wheelchair

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[WEB SITE] Formula 1 Creates World’s Lightest Wheelchair

When we talk about traveling with a wheelchair, the most important thing that comes to mind is the space and weight of the wheelchair.

Keeping this in mind, a Swiss company has recently partnered with Formula One, a renowned race car organization.

The co-venture will be creating the world’s lightest wheelchair. Küschall, the wheelchair manufacturing company, is focusing on utilizing aerospace materials and redefining the rules of creating a wheelchair, and working with Formula 1 will help them ensure an ultimate driving experience.

The superstar wheelchair, created by the project leader and industrial designer Küschall Andre Fangueiro, is expected to weigh only 1.5 kg. It happens to be 30% lighter and 20% more powerful compared to wheelchairs used normally (classic carbon models). 

Considering graphene is 200 times more powerful and stronger than steel, the chair is built using the same material. The material is also known to be 10 times tougher than a diamond. However, the seat is super flexible and light in weight, which is amazing.

The bound is made up of hexagonal lattice and it is a single layer of carbon atoms.

The company released a press release and noted, “Superb power transfer through the entire frame will mean the Superstar responds rapidly with every movement, combined with impressive road dampening properties, the Superstar will provide an effortless glide anywhere you go,” – Kval.com

The X shape of the geometry will result in the performance boost. As of now, the details of release date, production, and cost of the product haven’t revealed, but we are excited about this new concept combat design where users can utilize its high performance and comfort.

We will keep you updated for upcoming announcements on the same.

Image credit: https://kval.com/news/offbeat/design-company-teams-up-with-formula-1-to-create-worlds-lightest-wheelchair

More about formula, one, wheelchair, superstar

Formula 1 Creates World’s Lightest Wheelchair – Rolling Without Limits: Your mobility may be limited. Your voice, boundless.

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[WEB SITE] How to Help Patients in Wheelchairs Express Their Personal Style – Rehab Managment

Published on 

disabled-wheelchair

By Rae Steinbach

A physical therapist doesn’t merely help someone recover from an injury or accident by improving their mobility. Physical therapists also pay attention to the emotional experiences of those with whom they work.

For instance, people who have recently begun to use wheelchairs often struggle with depression. Their inability to live a fully independent life can result in negative self-talk. Ideally, a physical therapist working with such a patient would notice their mood and identify ways to provide support.

Marla Ranieri of BetterPT further emphasizes this point, sharing that, “Being able to integrate a person back to their community and social activities physically and mentally is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a physical therapist. We provide them the tools they need to enjoy life again.”

Offering fashion tips such as these is one way they can help. Liking what they see in the mirror can help those in wheelchairs start to feel more confident in themselves and their appearance. The problem is, a person who isn’t accustomed to using a wheelchair may struggle to dress well if this experience is new to them.

That doesn’t need to be the case. If you’re a physical therapist working with patients in wheelchairs, help them be more fashionable by offering this key advice:

Wear a Stylish Belt

Long dresses or jackets that look impressive when a person wearing them is standing can get bunched up when a person is sitting down. Luckily, someone in a wheelchair can still enjoy these types of garments. They simply need to add a belt or waistband to the outfit. This smooths out tops and creates a more tailored look.

Choose Form-Fitting Clothing

Again, wheelchair users can wear longer dresses and jackets if they wish. It may even be advisable. Longer tops create the illusion of a longer torso.

That said, wheelchair users need to make sure their tops aren’t too loose. Too much fabric will look boxy when the person wearing such garments is seated. It’s smarter to choose form-fitting clothing. Additionally, excess fabric can get caught in wheelchair components, making it difficult for a person to easily use their wheelchair.

Display Your Shoulders

Dressing to impress is a lot easier for wheelchair users than some may realize. It’s often as simple as wearing a shoulder-baring top. This is a subtle but effective way to make an outfit a bit more daring.

Don’t Overlook Accessories

Learning how to adjust your personal style appropriately if you’ve recently begun using a wheelchair is a process. Although the advice you give patients will help, there are still likely to be instances when they’re not happy with the way a certain outfit looks.

Encourage them to accessorize when this happens. Adding the right accessories can transform a dull outfit into something much more remarkable. Consider recommending a summer subscription box or one that coincides with the approaching season. That way, your patient is sure to have new accessories and styling pieces that excite them throughout the year.

Again, these are important points for physical therapists to keep in mind. You have the chance to help people in wheelchairs feel much more confident. Providing this type of advice will help.

Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing for Jetty.

 

via How to Help Patients in Wheelchairs Express Their Personal Style – Rehab Managment

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[BLOG POST] ThisAbles.com Is Ikea’s New Project That Makes Its Existing Products Accessible

image shows 9 different low tech accessibility products that work with existing ikea products. these are: glass bumper, mega switch, easy handle, insider, pop up handle, couch lift, friendly zipper, curtain zipper, cane by me.

In order to help people with disabilities use its products much more comfortably and independently, and to foray into inclusion, Ikea recently launched the “ThisAbles” project that includes a line of low tech assistive technology devices that bridges gaps between existing Ikea products and the needs of people with disabilities. These products, like the Mega Switch that can be used to turn on and off a lamp without the need for precise use of fingers, can be easily printed by consumers on a 3D printer at their own convenience. There are 13 such products available that cater to people with disabilities related to vision, mobility and hand functions.

Visit ThisAbles.com for more information and to learn about these new developments as well as existing products suitable for people with disabilities.

Make sure to watch these quick videos to see some of the products in action.

via ThisAbles.com Is Ikea’s New Project That Makes Its Existing Products Accessible – Assistive Technology Blog

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[BLOG POST] “Can you have sex?” and other common disability and dating questions

We all know that there are a number of preconceptions about disability. One of the biggest is around dating – some people still don’t believe that disabled people date, have relationships and, yes, have sex! For a different perspective on the topic, we’re sharing a blog post from Becky, who isn’t disabled herself but is dating wheelchair-user Dan. Read on to find out how she deals with misconceptions about disability, and her answers to people’s common questions. 

Hi! I’m Becky. I’m a pretty average 23-year-old from the West Midlands. I’ve been a registered veterinary nurse for the last four years and have my own furry clan of horses, a dog and a cat. I’m happiest when I’m outdoors with my animals or exploring with Dan and my friends.

Dan (my better half, significant other, partner in crime….) is 28 and works as a data analyst. He’s a big music fan so loves going to gigs. Like me, he’s always busy and enjoys it being that way.

Dan has Friedreich’s Ataxia, which is a rare genetic, degenerative disease that causes coordination problems, a loss of sensation in the arms and legs, and impaired speech. As a result of this, Dan is a wheelchair user.

From the moment that Dan and I started dating, people have asked me what it’s like to date someone who has a disability. I use my blog, Head over Wheels, to answer their questions, and to share our reviews and stories about places we visit and their accessibility.

Here’s my post on some of the big questions people have…

“What’s it like dating someone in a wheelchair?”

This isn’t hugely different from asking: “What’s it like dating someone called Dan?” The obvious answer is, well, no two men called Dan are the same. Everyone is different.

Ok, so accessibility needs to be considered when dating any wheelchair user. But even that aspect differs from person to person. The rest is just like going out with someone who doesn’t have a disability; first date nerves, worries about awkward silences, excitement if you get on, the fluttery chest if you fancy them.

According to the charity Scope, two-thirds of Brits say they feel awkward around disability, and some people feel so awkward that they avoid disabled people altogether. That really needs to change!

When I was younger, my grandparents worked at a day centre for people with disabilities and learning difficulties. I occasionally spent time with them there and went to a few of their summer fetes and fundraising events.

I think that that helped to shape my attitude towards disability from a young age. I’m also used to working closely with people who have disabilities as I have treated several guide dogs and assistance dogs in my job as a registered veterinary nurse.

As I was getting ready for my first date with Dan, I’ll admit, I did start to feel anxious. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thinking about his disability at all. I wasn’t sure whether to ask him more about his ataxia, or not to approach it at all. I didn’t want to unintentionally say or do the wrong thing.

But honestly, within the first 10 minutes of our date, all my worries had dissolved. I got completely wrapped up in the easy conversation and Dan’s charm – the wheelchair and his disability became insignificant.

Becky and Dan

“How much do you have to help him? Do you have to push his wheelchair?”

I didn’t have to help Dan at all on our first date. He suggested where we should meet, which meant that he knew what the access there was like. Dan put it bluntly on his dating profile bio: “I’m not looking for a carer, I have my independence.” He drives, has his own place, and works full time.

For our first date, we met at the café and bar at Ikon Gallery in Birmingham. When I arrived, Dan asked what I wanted to drink, then said he’d go in to get it for me. I sat at the table outside wondering how he was going to manage to carry it over. A few minutes later he came back out with a waitress who was carrying my drink.

Knowing that he couldn’t carry it back himself, he easily could’ve sent me to get my own drink, but he didn’t. It might seem like a trivial thing for me to mention, but I think it shows what sort of attitude Dan has.

There are some things that I have to help him with, but he also has to help me out too (like by reaching stuff from the top shelves in the kitchen cupboards! Yes, he can stand…!).

“Will you still be able to experience dating ‘normally’ and fully? Will you miss out or have to make any sacrifices if you’re dating someone with a disability?”

Our first date lasted four and a half hours! Considering that I’ve had more than one first date that didn’t even last an hour, I think that speaks volumes. I’d never clicked so well with someone the first time I’d met them.

After a drink at the café and having a looked around the Ikon Gallery, we went for a drink at a bar in Brindley Place. Even after that, we hadn’t had enough, so we went for dinner.

When I met Dan I was getting my life back after being in an abusive relationship. I was enjoying dating and meeting new people. For a few years, I’d missed out on a lot due to being in a toxic relationship and struggling with anxiety. People close to me just wanted to make sure that I didn’t miss out on anything else, hence this question.

A few months after the end of that relationship, I developed a new-found zest for life. I decided that whenever and wherever possible, I was only going to spend time with people whose company I genuinely enjoyed. I realised I had a lot of making up to do, places I wanted to visit and things I wanted to see.

Dan is honestly the funniest, most determined, and kindest person I’ve met. Within the first couple of months of dating, I’d been out-and-about and had more fun and laughter than I’d had in a really long time. It was quite the opposite of having to ‘make any sacrifices’. He’s brought so much to my life. Ew, gushy.

For just one example of what we’ve been up to so far, you can read my Zip World post.

Becky sitting on Dan's lap in his wheelchair in front of a fountain

“Can you have sex?”

I spent a long time pondering over whether or not to include this in my blog. Initially, I was uncomfortable with putting the blog online at all. So I’m sure you can imagine how I felt about answering this question!

But, the purpose of my blog is to be open and honest, and to address any stigmas. Plus, people really do seem intrigued. So much so that Dan felt the need to mention it in his dating profile – at the end of his bio, he simply put: “And it works…”

So… the answer is yes, we can. And we do.

Dan was the first one to broach the subject when we started dating. He anxiously told me his concerns, and I told him mine. Of course, it’s a bit of an awkward and embarrassing conversation to have when you’re in the early stages of dating. But we both had ‘baggage’ so it was important that we talked about it.

At the time, I was having treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and was dubious about opening up to Dan. When you’ve been in an abusive relationship, or if you have a disability, sex can be a much bigger deal than it is for a lot of people.

However, there was no pressure from either side, and luckily we were both on the same page. We agreed that we just had to figure out what works for us both.  It wasn’t easy at the beginning, but sex wasn’t a deal breaker for us. Controversial? But maybe more common than you might think.

There’s a huge list of physical and psychological reasons why sex might be either a problem or just not be that important to someone. We’re all different, and having a disability definitely doesn’t automatically mean that someone doesn’t have a sex life (I can guarantee!). Likewise, being ‘able-bodied’ doesn’t mean your sex life should be amazing and massively active.

Dan and I have found our patience and honesty with each other to be totally worthwhile. So, to summarise, dating someone with a disability doesn’t mean that I’m missing out on anything at all. In Dan, I’ve gained my other half and my best friend.

Oh, also, his wheelchair and lap provide a pretty useful portable seat for when I’m waiting in queues. And I mustn’t forget the parking spaces.

In an attempt to help #EndTheAwkward, I’m happy to answer any other burning questions you might have! Just leave them in the comments section of this article.

By Becky – read more of Becky’s posts on her blog Head over Wheels.

via “Can you have sex?” and other common disability and dating questions

 

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[WEB SITE] AIRBNB NOW PROVIDES 24 ACCESSIBILITY RELATED FILTERS FOR TRAVELERS WITH DISABILITIES

An image depicting a person in a wheelchair, a person with crutches, and a person sitting on a sofa inside a house, basically highlighting people with disabilities staying at an airbnb location.

More often than not, people with disabilities have to call up hotels or other places where they are staying beforehand, asking whether the room they will be staying in has suitable accommodations for them. In many cases, travelers face difficulties because of lack of accessibility features, which leaves them with a not so satisfactory experience. In order to provide reasonable accommodations to travelers with disabilities, AirBnb has introduced a set of 24 filters that will help them find homes that will make their stay worthwhile, provide them a lot more independence, and allow them to enjoy their vacation a lot more with the least amount of frustration.

If you go to AirBnb.com now, and search for “Homes” (accessible filters don’t show up for anything besides homes, like experience, restaurant, etc.), you will be provided with a new section called “accessibility” that lists the following filters:

Entering the home

• Step-free access
• Wide doorway
• Well lit path to entrance
• Flat path to front door
Getting around
• Wide hallways clearance Hallways at least 36″ (90cm) wide.
• Elevators If needed, contact hosts about the width.

Bedroom

• Step-free access
• Wide doorway
• Accessible-height bed
• Wide clearance to bed
• Electric profiling bed

Bathroom

• Step-free access
• Wide doorway
• Roll-in shower
• Bathtub with shower chair
• Accessible-height toilet
• Wide clearance to shower, toilet
• Fixed grab bars for shower
• Handheld shower head
• Shower chair

Common areas

• Step-free access
• Wide entryway

Parking

• Disabled parking spot There is a city-approved parking spot or a parking space at least 8ft (2.4m) wide.

However, getting to these filters may be just a bit tricky. Here’s how you get to them.

In the search box, type a location you plan to visit. Make sure to search for “Homes”.

type a location in the search box and make sure to choose homes Once the search results appear, click “more filters”.

click more filters to get to all the accessibility section

 

Under more filters, look for the Accessibility section and then click “choose home features”.

under Accessibility, click choose home features.

This is where you will see a list of 24 accessibility related filters. Choose the ones you need for your stay, and click Save. Your search results will be updated now.

choose all filters you require under "accessibility needs".

 

To see what accommodations a specific listing provides, click on it and scroll to the Accessibility section.

 

And there you have it. AirBnb’s filters are very specific, and can help you find a home that will meet your exact needs in terms of accessibility. Next time you travel, give these filters a try, and let us know how they worked out for you!

Source: Fast Company

via AirBnb Now Provides 24 Accessibility Related Filters For Travelers With Disabilities – Assistive Technology Blog

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