Redefining Disability: Experts Tackle Tired Cliches

It’s no secret that the general public is ill-informed when it comes to understanding disability. Outside of those who’ve been close to someone with a disability or have had a disability themselves, people don’t necessarily think about what it means to have a physical or mental handicap. That’s partly because the issue has been stigmatized, mischaracterized, and at times, outright ignored.

Even the words we use in discussing it are inadequate: disability and handicap, for instance, both imply that physical and mental differences must inevitably be impediments to living a happy, well-rounded life. In fact, that’s not true at all and is one of the biggest misconceptions floating around about those who are better referred to as “differently abled.”

In effort to bust some more myths about so-called “disability,” we turned to a community of writers that discuss these issues on a daily basis and asked them the following question:

What’s the most persistent myth surrounding disability?

Here is what they had to say…

Tiffiny Carlson

tiffinycarlsonThe AB [able-bodied] public strongly assumes our lives are bleak, depressing and full of sadness because of our said disabilities. I always find it amusing when a new friends says to me, ‘Wow you live well.’ That’s because I do.

Tiffiny is a longtime disability writer from Minneapolis. You can read her work at and @TiffCarlson. She has a C6 spinal cord injury from a diving accident from when she was 14. Tiffiny holds a degree in Mass Communications from Augsburg College.

Emily Ladau

emily-ladauA vast majority of people perceive disability as the source of an unfortunate, unproductive life, when this is completely untrue. In fact, it is this sort of stigmatization that most contributes to the current barriers still faced by the disability community. While disability certainly comes with plenty of challenges, it is really just a particular state of being – one that can even be incredibly empowering, rather than limiting.

Emily is a freelance writer, social media professional, and outreach specialist. She lives life on wheels and spends her time creating connections for positive change. Read more from Emily at and @emily_ladau.

Cory Lee

Cory LeeOne of the biggest myths that I frequently come across is that people think traveling isn’t possible for wheelchair users. As a powered wheelchair user, I’ve been to 14 countries and found that almost anything is possible with a little determination. It’s not always easy, but it is definitely possible and well worth the extra effort.

Barely in his mid-20s, Cory Lee is a travel addict who turned his passion into a successful travel blog – – where he shares his accessible adventures with readers. Tweet at Cory here: @coryleetweets.

Mark E. Smith

mark_smithWe still unfortunately live in a society where outer appearance may evoke stereotypes and ignorance despite the depth of one’s character. Nowhere is this more prevalent than within physical disability, where aspects from genius to common humanity may be overlooked based on exterior facades. The myth that those with disabilities are somehow different than others is the most persistent myth of all. Let us look beyond the physicality and see the true character we each possess, regardless of disability — and then our common humanity will be rightfully embraced among all.

Mark E Smith is an author, a speaker, and a long-time mobility industry manager. Mobility and disability are his passions. Do yourself a favor and check out his websites & – also, he’s Twitter @wheelchairjunki.

Not Just for Wheelchairs: A Resource Guide to Universal Design

Universal design is a concept which has been growing in popularity since the late 1990s. It is a design philosophy which encourages the design of spaces and product features that are accessible to people of every age and ability. The principals of this design philosophy are a reaction against traditional “handicapped accessible” spaces and adaptive technology, which often limited the functional range of spaces and devices, and was almost universally aesthetically unpleasant. Universal design is a ground-up philosophy which uses basic elements to create a world that can be shared by people of all abilities.

Some examples of universal design in spaces include:

  • Doors that are opened by levers rather than with knobs, which assist people who have problems with grip, while also easing operation for anyone carrying heavy or large objects. Such levers are commonly available in a wide variety of attractive styles.
  • Entryways that are flat (without stairs) and wide, which make it possible for persons with mobility impairments to access a space without needing a ramp, while providing dramatically easier entry to parents of young children in strollers, and ease the transfer of furniture and appliances.
  • Linear building layouts that offer clear lines of sight can assist people who have communication difficulty, while also facilitating improved lighting, which is beneficial to everyone, especially those with vision difficulty.

Examples of universal design in products include:

  • “Rocker” type lightswitches, which offer simplified operation to everyone, and allow basic access to people with fine motor difficulties, or who use reaching tools.
  • The Cuisinart brand food processor is among the most famous devices incorporating universal design principals, and features large controls with large, clear labels that reduce complexity in the kitchen, while facilitating operation by people with fine motor difficulties.

The philosophy behind universal design is so basic that it is nearly effortless to incorporate the principals into new home construction. So easy, that in some areas, certain elements of universal design are being encouraged through tax incentives, or mandated by law. Homes built with universal design principals need not me modified as highly if and when their occupant’s range of physical abilities change, and when modification does become necessary, they are better equipped to handle such work. For instance, many universally designed homes feature walls built with wider beams, which allow solid mounting of grab-bars, and other wall-mounted devices without the need for extra reinforcement. This reduces costs that frequently fall to public programs including Medicare and Medicaid.

As a practice, universal design has its roots in 1947, when an 11 year old named Marc Harrison suffered a traumatic brain injury that required extensive therapy to help him re-learn basic functions. This event inspired Harrison, and as someone who had experienced a term of reduced physical ability, he received an MFA in industrial design, and began working to merge aesthetic and functional design considerations in a way that hadn’t been previously considered. Harrison is the person directly responsible for the design of the Cuisinart food processor, and up until his passing in 1998, continued to work on a project known as the Universal Kitchen, meant to improve the functionality of the kitchen space to reduce the amounts of bending, reaching, and twisting that is required by traditional designs. Harrison is considered to be the principal figure in the birth of modern universal design.

Please explore the following resources for more information on universal design in theory and practice:

  • Senior Dwelling An audio discussion from NPR on building and choosing homes that are fit to grow old in. Site also includes a written companion story.
  • The Center For Universal Design Providing a list of news items, publications, and programs which target universal design themes.
  • Universal Designers and Consultants A website for a team of architects who specialize in universal design, with some examples of their spaces.
  • Universal Design Resources A list of resources for those interested in purchasing or building a universally designed home, including links to sources for plans, books, and more.
  • Universal Design Showers This article looks at how to create a shower that is accessible and usable to a broad range of people.
  • Kitchen Design This five-minute video examines the kitchen in a home built to model principals of universal design.
  • Universal Design Kitchen This PDF document provides advice on kitchen design.
  • Universal Design Kitchen Tips This GE pictorial illustrates how space can accommodate adjustable appliances in a universally-designed kitchen.
  • All-Generation Home Guide (PDF document) This four-page guide to homes that fit all generations can be printed and carried while shopping for appliances or housing.
  • What Is Universal Design? This 2-page PBS primer gives a crash course in making homes more accommodating.

  • Architect’s Knowledge Resource
    from the American Institute of Architects which includes resources and links to other articles.
  • The Northwest Universal Design Council This site contains a large collection of information for home builders and buyers, including a checklist, and highlights on trouble spots to watch out for in virtually every room in a home.
  • Aging in Place, Gracefully, With Universal Design This article includes sections addressing resale values, cutting costs, and paying for universally designed homes.
  • Housing Solutions for All Ages and Abilities This website outlines the universal design program of Ohio State University, and includes a number of video case studies illustrating the spaces that the program has worked with.
  • Bringing Égalité Home This New York Times article tells the story of one man’s adventure in rebuilding a 20-year old home to incorporate universal design principals
  • The Concept of Universal Design This article illustrates the distinction between universal design, and accessible design.
  • Universal Design Resource List A list of resources for practical help with universal design, compiled by the Office for AccessAbility at the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • Aging in Place and Universal Design Resources This PDF document from the California Department of Housing and Community Development is a list of national-level resources for people looking for assistance with remaining in their homes as they age.
  • WELLcome Home This site from Ball State University provides several exhaustive studies of universal design considerations in the home. A must for designers and builders.
  • Living Laboratory This site chronicles one woman’s efforts to build a home to accommodate her disability as well as her family’s needs.
  • Building a Custom Universal Design Home This article from ABILITY Magazine explores how to build a dream home that is universally designed.
  • Home Repair and Universal Deisgn An article from AARP that offers tips on universal design considerations in home repair.
  • Universal and Green Article from Plumbing & Mechanical Magazine looking at merging green technology with universal design.
  • Homebuying Guide: Guide from New Horizons Unlimited, which includes tips on design, remodeling, and working with contractors.

If you find this article useful, please free feel to link or reuse it. All we ask is for a credit back to our site.

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How to Prepare for Colder Weather When Living with a Mobility Issue

As much of the nation is headed into, if not already feeling, the coldest time of the year, it’s a good idea to make sure that anyone who uses mobility equipment such as knee walkers or wheelchairs are fully prepared. Depending on the severity of your mobility needs, winter preparedness can vary from case to case, but there are some basic steps you can take to be sure you enjoy a safe winter.

Make arrangements with family members or an aid for help.

If you are in a situation where you already have a visiting or live-in aid that helps with your needs, take the time to go over safety needs for cold and nasty weather. If you don’t have such ready assistance, contact family members or friends to ask if they would be willing to be called upon in the event that you need extra assistance during these cold months.

Allow extra time for your travels.

While many people facing mobility issues already have to factor extra time in for their travels, winter traveling may require even more added time. The threat of treacherous sidewalks, slow and cautious traffic, and even stalled cars means that winter travel can be unpredictable and dangerous. Be sure you allow yourself more time to get to where you’re going.

Have a Back-Up Exit Plan.

Winter weather makes it hard for anyone to head out…particularly those that depend on wheelchair ramps to exit their homes. In the event that your usual exit is blocked or inaccessible, try to have a back-up in mind. If there is no available secondary exit in your home, this is another place you can rely on friends or family for help.

Try to get errands and visits done during the daylight hours.

As temperatures drop towards late afternoon, roads become more unpredictable and dangerous. Because of this, check your local weather and try to get all of your errands and travel done during the warmer hours of the day.

Seek Out Special Aid in Your Area

Public shelters and local organizations may offer special aid to those with disability in the event of winter emergencies. Call ahead and check with these organizations, though, as some require registration. Do some digging to see if your community offers this sort of assistance.

Make sure to follow these steps and you should be well prepared for the coming winter.

Wheelchair Resources – The Disabled in the Community

Disabled individuals face a multitude of challenges on a daily basis. Individuals have to deal with a number of disabilities such as being vision impaired, hearing impaired, wheelchair bound and a number of other disabilities. These disabilities create difficulties for disabled individuals to live regular lives because of transportation, employment, housing and other problems.

To help disabled individuals become acclimated to the non-disabled world, government regulations in the form of the Americans with Disabilities Act has made it easier to adapt. The ADA has created guidelines and laws that need to be met. Because of the ADA, disabled people now have the ability to live, work and enjoy all the conveniences that are available.

To learn more about the Americans with Disabilities Act and other aspects of the help available to disabled, please review the following information:

Americans with Disabilities Act

Assistive Technology

Employment Issues


Travel & Transportation

Disabled Resources

1800wheelchair is offer a wide selection of affordable wheelchairs and walking assistance products for the elderly, you’ll find quad canes, 4 wheel walkers, and knee walkers.

From Wheelchair To Hydrotherapy: A Resource Guide To Natural Healing Properties

A lot of effort, time and money is spent on finding medical cures for various diseases. Yet, some of the best cures from natural sources, including herbs and hot springs. The water from hot springs is actually underground water, which comes up to the surface. Until modern medicine was invented in the middle of the twentieth century, natural hot springs used to be considered by many as a great healing agent. Today, there are many people who believe in the healing powers of natural spring waters.


In the 5th century, the famous Greek physician Hippocrates discovered the healing properties of water. He is known as the father of medicine and he has mentioned in his accounts the therapeutic importance of water. If anyone is suffering from any type of muscle injury or joint injury, then hydrotherapy, even though a slow technique, helps immensely in the recovery process. Hydro means water while therapy is derived from the Greek word “therapeia” meaning a service. Hydrotherapy means the use of water to cure certain ailments.

Initially, the process is mild, starting in a warm pool of water with general stretching exercises. Later, it’s taken to a higher level. Hydrotherapy is a very gentle process. It’s excellent for repairing and strengthening injured muscles. The exercises depend upon the type of injury and so they must be done in the presence of a physiotherapist. Natural spring water has many useful minerals and salts which possess healing properties.

  • Water Use: Discusses the use of water in hydrotherapy tanks.
  • Arthritis: Describes how hydrotherapy is beneficial to people who suffer from the condition.
  • Hydrotherapy: Highlights the benefits of hydrotherapy.
  • Effectiveness: The medical report discusses the effectiveness of hydrotherapy in physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
  • Cancer: Explains how hydrotherapy can benefit cancer patients.
  • Pain: Provides information on how hydrotherapy can play a part in pain management.
  • Overview: Presents a comprehensive overview on hydrotherapy.
  • Warm Hydrotherapy: Discusses the effectiveness of the process on muscle relaxation and cardiovascular system.
  • Back Pain: Explores the use of hydrotherapy for relief of back pain, stress, and headaches.
  • Contrast Bath: Hydrotherapy for music-related injuries.

Native Americans

For hundreds of years, Native Americans inculcated a deep reverence for the hot water springs located in the Ouachita Mountain Valley. In 1832, Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas was given federal protection. The Colorado springs were studied extensively by scientists. The study found active ingredients such as sulfur, calcium, silica, magnesium, and radium. Elements, such as radium, are excellent for people suffering from tuberculosis. Another spring used first by the Native Americans is the Frankford Mineral Springs located in Pennsylvania. There is evidence near the springs that proves that Native Americans visited the hot springs and believed that the water possessed curative properties.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

One of the most popular Presidents of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, believed that water has healing properties. In 1921, he was diagnosed with polio. At that time, not much was known about the disease and no cure was available. As a result, Roosevelt got paralyzed. After hearing about the therapeutic nature of water, he purchased a resort at Warm Springs in Georgia with the express purpose of treating his aliment. He recovered a lot after the hydrotherapy treatment. Today, the Roosevelt Warm Springs has become a popular hydrotherapy center where thousands of similar patients are cured.

Properties of Water Springs

Even today, people believe in the miraculous healing powers of hot springs. It has been scientifically proven that these water bodies contain high quantity of minerals with curing properties. Minerals like calcium, sulfur, salt crystals, and lithium have a healing effect on many body organs. Sulfur helps in curing many skin diseases like dermatitis, fungal infections, and other skin infections. Bathing and drinking of such mineral rich water is highly beneficial. Not only does the water cure diseases but it’s also very good for the skin. It can help to protect people from various diseases. The temperatures of these waters can range from 30 degrees Celsius up to boiling and beyond so it’s important to be careful when you are visiting a mineral spring. Some other famous water springs are present in Germany, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Qadamgah, Canada, Russia, China and many other countries.

  • Sulfur: One of the key minerals found in water springs.
  • Drink the Water: Expounds the benefits of drinking water from hot springs.
  • Springs: Discusses the formation of springs and the minerals found in the waters.
  • Minerals: A study on the minerals found in Virginian warm springs.
  • Waterberg: A report on the chemical and physical properties of thermal springs in the Waterberg region in South Africa.
  • South Kamchatka: A study on the hydrogeochemistry and structure of thermal springs at this location in Russia.
  • Microbes: A study of microbes in carbonate hot springs.
  • Kimberly: Provides information on the physical and chemical characteristics of the thermal spring in Australia.
  • Germany & Middle Europe: Offers information on properties of thermal springs in these places.
  • Calcium: A look at one of the minerals commonly found in water springs.
  • Lithium & Alzheimer’s Disease: Discusses the potential role of lithium in preventing the disease.
  • Comparison: The study compares the benefits of waters from two thermal springs.
  • Springs & Spas: Explains the health benefits of springs and spas.
  • Grover Hot Springs: A hot spring located in California.
  • Liard River Hot Springs: A famous hot springs in British Columbia.

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Beyond The Wheelchair – A Disability Resource Guide

Disabilities come in many different forms. They range from physical disabilities such as loss of sight, loss of a limb to mental disabilities. Each type of disability presents different challenges for individuals such as mobility issues, physical issues and psychological issues.

To help persons with disabilities there are many resources that are available. People with disabilities can receive help with their disabilities and are protected by laws governing the disabled. To help understand the issues of the disabled, we have collected several resources:

Disability Types

  • Disabilities – helpful government site containing information on various types of disabilities.
  • CDC Disabilities – information from the Center for Disease Control on birth defects and other developmental disabilities.
  • White House – useful overview of the governments view of disabilities and legal action that has been taken to help people with disabilities.
  • Disability Data – Census Bureau information on people who suffer from various types of disabilities.
  • – government portal filled with information on a variety of subjects for the disabled.
  • Types of Disabilities – helpful information on the various types of disabilities that exist.




Legal Issues

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Guest-Post: Why Visitability is Necessary

The following is a guest post authored by Melissa theSeed. Find her at or on Facebook at

I vividly remember a point in time where I wished desperately that the whole world was in a wheelchair, so that everyone could know what my daughter had to go through just to go to someone’s home. Now, it looks like the city of Austin, Texas is creating that world. Well, kind of.

Recently, news broke that the city council is deciding on a measure that could make all newly built homes wheelchair accessible. The first two drafts have already been approved, and it looks like the third and final draft may push through without a problem. If approved, levered door handles, light switches placed at lower heights and wide doorways will be required on the first floors of new single-family homes and duplexes. Not widely talked about – yet – the idea behind the legislation is known as “visitability.” This is a concept in home design that seeks to allow resident or visiting wheelchair users to access a home without issue. There are cities in the U.S. that already have these rules in place: San Antonio, Atlanta, St. Petersburg, Fla., and Tucson, Ariz. According to the website, a home is visitable when it meets three basic requirements:

* At least one zero-step entrance
* Doors with a minimum of 32-inch clearance
* At least one bathroom on the main floor that is wheelchair accessible

Becoming Disabled

Some of you may be wondering why this is necessary. If you’re reading this and you’re not disabled then you probably don’t view this as important enough to warrant regulation. But remember, just because you weren’t born with a disability doesn’t mean you will never become disabled. Here are three examples you may have never thought about:

1. Old Age

Think about your (or your friends’) grandparents. Do they use walkers or hearing aids? Do they have trouble standing, reaching, bathing, or cooking? Did they always have those problems? Most likely, these disabilities are of the acquired type. An acquired disability is a condition that was not present at birth, but rather, occurs at some point during an individual’s life. Oftentimes, the word “disabled” is not used when referring to senior citizens, especially if they’ve lived independently their entire lives. But that’s exactly what they have become (and what the large majority of us will become should we be blessed enough to live into our 60’s and beyond). A home built with visitability in mind will increase the chances that a person can live on in their own home rather than being moved into a nursing facility. And by “a person” I mean YOU!

2. Illness

There are also people who remain healthy into their 30’s and 40’s and then become ill or develop medical conditions which limit their ability to be as independent as they have always been. Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) typically begin to appear in adults around this age and are debilitating diseases which cause severe physical disabilities. Don’t think this will happen to you? MS tends to appear between the ages of 20 and 40 in otherwise normally developing people and fifteen new cases of ALS are diagnosed daily in the US.

Arthritis is another culprit. According to the CDC, nearly two-thirds of people with arthritis are younger than 65. It’s the most common cause of disability and limits or prevents over 21 million Americans from being able to climb stairs, walk extended distances, or work. It’s more common in women than men but affects all racial and ethnic groups. One study shows that the risk of developing osteoarthritis in your knee that causes pain is 45% and estimates show that 57% of people who have had a knee injury or are obese will develop osteoarthritis. That’s about half of you reading this!

And of course, there are countless other conditions that can strike at any time and cause disability in an adult who has otherwise lived a healthy and independent life.

3. Accidents

What about those that are in accidents and become paralyzed or receive a traumatic brain injury (TBI)? Have you seen the show Push Girls? Every one of those women was in an accident that paralyzed them. Any of these situations can happen to each and every one of you. Sounds bleak, I know, but imagine what your life would be like if you couldn’t enjoy the little things you do now, like going to your sister’s house for dinner or to your friend’s for girls night as you always have because your wheelchair can’t go up the one step leading into their home, or your wheelchair can’t get through the doorway into the living room. Now imagine if every new home built allowed you to come and go as you please, without even a thought.

Disabled America

According to the US census, 1 in 5 citizens has at least one disability and the number is set to grow as baby boomers age. Just over 1 in 4 American citizens in their 20’s will become disabled before they retire. But the “that can’t happen to me” mentality keeps most of us from worrying about our futures. 64% of wage earners believe they have a 2% or less chance of being disabled for 3 months or more during their working career. The actual odds for a worker entering the workforce today are about 25%!

Maybe it’s time you start thinking about what could happen to you or your spouse now and planning ahead. Don’t you think having a home already set up to visitability standards would make your life easier in the long run? I hope to see this concept become the standard in my lifetime for all our sakes.

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Whose Financial Burden Will You Become

The following is guest post from Amanda Dean of Silver Living

I think many of us fear the notion of being elderly, infirm, and helpless. We are afraid to imagine that we could be alone or reliant on others for care, with no hope for better days before we pass. It is a future that no one wants to consider might befall them. Unfortunately, this means that many Americans are not preparing for the possibility of needing long term care in their senior years. Yet many will. So with no savings or plan in place, the fear could easily become a reality. This is the crux of a financial crisis looming over the country. Previously I discussed the problem America faces with an aging population and the lack of financial readiness (both personal and nation-wide) to support the coming need. So what options are there to face this problem and create some stability for America’s future retirees (which most of us will be at some point)?



Private long term care insurance (LTCI) is a possibility for many who want to make sure they will have some security as they age. But the market is struggling right now, partly because not enough people are buying in. It is a case where healthy people think they will never need it (or erroneously expect Medicare to cover it) and unhealthy people are using all of the assets in the system. Coupled with low returns on investments, the pool of money to pay out claims is dwindling. Many private companies are pulling out of the market or raising premiums to cover costs and so it is becoming increasingly difficult for the middle class to get and afford coverage. Even those that buy in early could be faced with large rate hikes in the future (some already have), making coverage less affordable for the elderly who need it and less attractive for younger buyers who finance it.


The Senior Care Action Network (SCAN) committee members agree that the current setup is not viable in the long run. As they stand, federal programs are not prepared for the upcoming need, private insurance is not widespread enough, and the aging population does not have the personal savings and resources to cover likely expenses. What they could not agree on is a solution. Several suggestions were discussed, but no consensus reached. Possibilities included enhancing private insurance to be more affordable and appealing, requiring companies to offer insurance and make employees purchase it, improving the incentives previously offered through tax credits, linking it to health insurance, or mandating LTCI purchase for a large portion of the population.


Congress has made efforts to address this problem before, but thus far a viable solution has not emerged. The CLASS Act was passed with the recent Affordable Care Act to offer Americans an option for affordable LTCI. However, the act was repealed in January after it was determined that making the program voluntary meant there was no way to guarantee its sustainability. If there wasn’t enough buy-in, there would not be a sufficient pool of money to pay out future claims, which is the same problem private companies are facing. Congress has now established a committee to study the looming crisis and make recommendations for potential solutions.


This, of course, begs the question for many: is it really the government’s concern in the first place? The answer is the subject of much heated debate. There are those who feel the government already spends too much on entitlement programs and it should be up to each individual to save for his own future. Others see that Americans are woefully unprepared for their potential care needs and feel it is government’s responsibility to step in. Whichever view you take, it is painfully clear that many people are not ready for the possibility of needing long term care at some point in their retirement. While not everyone will need it, the numbers tell us that a large percentage of those who will are not prepared, and their care will fall to someone else. If they are fortunate, there will be family members with adequate resources to step in. If they are not so fortunate…whose problem will that become?


Amanda Dean
Amanda Dean is an expert in senior care with almost two decades of experience. After graduating from Cornell University with a degree in Human Development, Amanda was selected for the highly coveted role at NYU Langone Medical Center as a Geriatric Case Manager. She then founded and ran the largest independent local senior care advisory in NY for 12. Amanda joined Silver Living, the only expert research source on senior care, as the Senior Editor in 2012.

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Choosing the Best Handicapped Car for Your Needs

While handicapped vans are more popular among those with mobility issues, they are not the only way for the handicapped to travel. Depending on the severity of an individual’s mobility issues, a handicapped car can be a sensible mode of transportation as well.

As is the case with buying a van, there are many different factors you’ll want to look into when searching for the best handicapped car to suit your lifestyle.

Controls: Modified controls within a handicapped car should be large and easy to use. Some models even have touch screen to make things much easier. Additionally, any controls for the locks and windows should be automatic.

Entry: Most cars won’t offer the same ease-of-access that vans do. Still, handicapped cars typically come with some form of keyless entry or a modification to the door that makes getting in and out of the car much easier.

Space: How much space is in the car? Do you have enough height and room to move around? Do you need any modifications that will accommodate your wheelchair?

Seats: If possible, you may want to look into getting a handicapped car that has a bench seat rather than two separate seats. These seats tend to make more room and are much more comfortable for those with disabilities. They should also come with power controls that allow the driver to adjust the seat for their maximum comfort.

Cruise Control: Handicapped cars are much more convenient when they come with cruise control. This makes the process of driving much easier on the handicapped individual.

Safety Features: You’ll want standard safety features on your handicapped car, just as you would with a normal car. Make sure your handicapped car comes equipped with airbags and anti-lock brakes.

Transmission: Most important of all, a handicapped car should always be an automatic. Manual transmissions only add more difficulty for the driver and can cause frustration and accidents.

This may seem like a lot to look for, but if you visit a car lot with a plan already set in place, you’ll be sure to find the appropriate handicapped car for you.

Courtesy of The Mobility Resource

Top Ten Reasons to Use a Roll About Scooter

When you’re suffering from a broken ankle or foot, you might not exactly be in the most positive mood. After all, you’re lugging around a massive cast – so how can you possibly expect to be excited about using a roll about scooter?


There are precisely ten reasons why you should be pumped about using a roll about scooter (also referred to as a knee walker) – and here they are:

1. Roll about scooters make it so much easier to get around. Unlike crutches (which make you look like you have a massive wingspan) and wheelchairs (which limit the use of your hands), roll about scooters free up your hands and make it easier to get around with your good leg.

2. It’s easier to take all weight off of your injured foot or ankle. A knee walker allows you to rest your knee on a comfortable pad, which supports your body’s weight.

3. A roll about scooter minimizes the chances that you’ll re-injury your foot or ankle. Just try getting that kind of promise from those awkward and weirdly balanced crutches.

4. A roll about scooter makes it easier to grab things from higher shelves and counters. Crutches make it hard for you to use your hands, while wheelchairs force you to live like you’re all of three foot for the next six months.

5. Roll about scooters allow you to move around in your house and office without worrying about carpets, rugs and objects on the floor. Because knee walkers are so stable, you don’t have to worry about slipping and falling due to improper rug placement.

6. Knee walkers make it easier to get in and out of the shower, as you’re already in a standing position.

7. Roll about scooters are more comfortable to use than crutches (after all, who wants to use something that causes armpit blisters?).

8. Knee walkers are more financially-savvy than ever before, as you have the option of simply renting a roll about scooter rather than buying and owning one.

9. It’s easier to isolate your injured foot or ankle with a roll about scooter.

10. It just looks cooler – end of story!

Use these top ten reasons to use a roll about scooter to get pumped about your newfound mobility device!

When you’re suffering from a broken ankle or foot, you might not exactly be in the most positive mood. After all, you’re lugging around a massive cast – so how can you possibly expect to be excited about using a roll about scooter?



This article was provided by Knee Walker Centeral, they offer Roll About Scooter Rentals.

The Cost of a Wheelchair Van Conversion

How much does it cost to convert a van? This blog post will break down the price of a wheelchair van conversion, so you know what to expect.

Wheelchair van conversion modifications are extremely common. Not only are these conversions common but they are also relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things. A number of different types of vans can be converted to accommodate wheelchairs and scooters of varying shapes and sizes. If you have a full-size van, mini van or conversion van, adaptations can be made to your vehicle.

Type of Modifications

The first thing to consider is the type of modification you are looking for. Do you want to modify the rear, side or driver’s seat? Rear modifications will make it easier to load a wheelchair into the back of a van. Side modifications provide access from the side of a vehicle. If you currently use a wheelchair and would like to drive, driver’s side modifications can be easily made as well.

Typically, side modifications cost more than rear modifications, since changes to the side of the van are more labor intensive. Wheelchair van conversion prices range from $10,000 to more than $20,000 depending on what you want to do, the type of technology you are seeking and the type of vehicle you currently have. The best way to price changes to your van is to shop around and compare prices. Like anything else, price comparisons are the way to go.

Time and Company Selection

A simple Google search will bring up many companies that specialize in a wheelchair van conversion. Make sure to choose a company that comes with a good reputation, has been in business for a while and offers reliable equipment. Ask to see some samples of modifications available, ask for referrals, and choose the modification that makes the most sense to you.

Wheelchair van conversions may seem expensive at the start, but these conversions will last for many years to come. In addition, simple conversions to your current vehicle will make your life a lot simpler. Enjoy complete freedom and ease with the right conversions for your van.

1800wheelchair offers a full directory of dealers who will do tis type of conversion. Check it out here – Wheelchair Van Directory.

Wheelchair Ramps for a Handicap Van

Maximizing mobility helps preserve a person in a wheelchair’s quality of life. The process begins with an easily operated wheelchair, ramps and appropriate transportation. Wheelchair ramps make a minivan or full-size van an effective handicap van.
You can also have modifications made to a standard van. Generally, the van’s floor is lowered by about 1 foot. This provides headroom for a person seated in a wheelchair. After removing some rear seats,, one of several different types of a wheelchair ramp is installed in the van.

Benefits of Outfitting a Handicap Van with a Wheelchair Ramp

You can’t always help a loved one in and out of their wheelchair and into and out of a vehicle. The person’s weight or condition may make this difficult or dangerous. In these instances, a wheelchair ramp can make all the difference.
A handicap van outfitted with a wheelchair ramp is practical. It speeds up entry and exiting considerably. Everyone involved appreciates the increased ease and efficiency. It’s especially appreciated during hot, cold, rainy or otherwise inclement weather.


Types of Wheelchair Ramps for a Handicap Van

There are four basic types of wheelchair ramps for a handicap van, including; rear-entry, side-entry, fold-out side entry and in-floor side entry. All are helpful. But personal preferences and needs dictate which is best for you. When deciding, consider the configuration of your garage or whether you frequently parallel park on the street, among other logistics.

Rear-entry wheelchair ramp vans come out at the rear hatch door. They are great for narrow garages. They facilitate straight entry and exiting without turning and maneuvering. Side-entry ramps extend out from the rear passenger door. They are safer than rear-entry because they don’t extend into the traffic lane in parking lots. Fold-out ramps also provide safe side-entry. They are a good option for people in wheelchairs who enter and exit the handicap van on their own. In-floor ramps can provide a safe side entry, too. They operate automatically. They stow in the floor to maximize space. These are ideal when the ramp is not often used or when you preferred it concealed.

Tips for Traveling with your Wheelchair

Traveling by wheelchair can strike a nerve if you do not plan ahead, conduct research, or consider possible setbacks and delays because of handicap restrictions. For instance, not every hotel or motel has wheelchair accessibility, which may pose problems if traveling alone. Be sure to inquire about wheelchair accessibility while scheduling hotel reservations in order to stave off potential headaches. Those with mobile challenges rely on wheelchair assistance wherever they travel, which includes airline services, boating or cruise accommodations, and other transportation mediums, such as taxis, buses, shuttles, and amusement park rides. Consider inquiring with these services about possible airlift assistance, elevators, and ramps. Additionally, inquire with these services about medicinal and special equipment restrictions, such as designated areas for defibrillators and oxygen tanks. Finding out this information ahead of time can really save you time and money.

If you’re traveling alone in a wheelchair, then make sure you have a maintenance or repair service verify that wheelchair is in good working conditions before departure. The extra effort will eliminate setbacks and delays over broken or repairable parts that will need servicing at the destination upon arrival. Hiring a maintenance or repair service team will save you time and minimize stress while on your trip. Exercise precaution by placing your name and address onto each of the detachable parts before leaving home. Only display your name when traveling overseas. Additionally, bring a travel size repair kit containing all of the necessary tools and materials needed to change a pneumatic tire. Pneumatic tire repair kits can be found at any major retail chain stores in the bicycle department. Remember that not all international repair shops are identical to the service you’re used to receiving at home, so make every effort to eliminate potential problems by acting now.

Cruise operations usually incorporate ferry services to transport passengers to shore from a ship anchored out at sea. These ferry services are not always equipped with lifts or ramps to help the handicap lower their wheelchairs onto the carrier. Ask personnel for assistance in locating any wheelchair accommodations in order to board the ferry and deport for the shore. Depending on the weather, sea, tidal conditions, or technical difficulties, certain restrictions may be in place that limit certain passengers from leaving the cruise tender. Generally, the crew will guide you to a gangway or use a creepy crawler, a mechanical device designed to “walk” your wheelchair down a flight of stairs, to help the mobile challenged find their way to the shore. Handicap persons will need to transfer to a lightweight, manual wheelchair if originally in an electric wheelchair or scooter in order to allow the crew to successfully move the equipment onto shore. Be sure to alert the crew of any medicinal or special equipment that also needs to be moved alongside your wheelchair or scooter.

Most people believe that airliners accommodate to wheelchair travelers; however, some airline services have neglected taking the extra effort to assure that these services are implemented to minimize potential injuries for those confined to a mobile device. In fact, any airline can pose potential problems for wheelchair travelers, depending on the time and day that the flight departed for its destination. Additionally, the quality of wheelchair assistance relies heavily on the airline staff and airport crew that unloads your equipment and luggage. Confirm your airline flights with your carrier within 24-48 hours of your departure. Flight times, numbers, and seating arrangements can change on a whim. Notify the airline service team about your disability, the kind of wheelchair you have, and other equipment that will need to be transported upon arrival. Request for a “gate check” in order to load your wheelchair directly to the plane’s fuselage. Be sure to remove all leg supports and seat cushions before relinquishing your wheelchair to the airline staff. Carry these items with you onto the airliner. Use special bags to store delicate items in between transitions.

Follow this comprehensive list of resources for tips on traveling with your wheelchair:

  1. Traveling With Your Wheelchair or Scooter

  2. Flying Tips for Wheelchair Users

  3. How to Travel By Air with a Wheelchair

  4. Air Travel Tips for Wheelchair or Scooter Users

  5. The Disabled Wheelchair Traveller – Holiday Tips

  6. Traveling with Your Wheelchair

  7. A Travel Tip Guide for Wheelchair Owners

  8. Traveling with a Disability or Medical Condition[PDF]

  9. Tips for Disabled Travelers[PDF]

  10. TSA: Travelers with Disabilities and Medical Conditions

  11. Flying With Disability

  12. 5 Tips for Traveling with a Disability

  13. Community Living: Traveling with Wheelchairs

  14. Passengers with Disabilities

  15. Traveling With A Service Dog


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Understanding Autism

Autism is a disorder that affects one in every one-hundred children born today. Children who lack social, communicative and behavioral skills are likely to be placed on the Autism Spectrum. This scale defines various forms of autism from Asperger’s Syndrome to the “standard” autism that is explored in the following passages. Regardless of the disorder’s severity in a particular case, autism is a serious disability and should be treated as early as possible. Consult the following paragraphs to discover more about the symptoms of autism, the hypothesized causes of the disorder as well as some information about treatment. There are also links to some other helpful websites for your convenience.  

Symptoms of Autism

There are different levels of autism, and each person diagnosed experiences different symptoms. Some cannot develop fluency with verbal language. Many autistic people have heightened senses. They may hold their hands over their ears as if pained by normal noises. They also have obsessive-compulsive tendencies and will find ritual activities – such as waving a ribbon – soothing. They may also be incredibly passive or extremely hyperactive. Parents of young children with autism will notice a delay in their child’s ability to pursue social relationships, effectively communicate and develop specified interests. For example, games that many babies like to play with their parents such as peek-a-boo will not result in the expected smiles and giggling. They also may regress to using single words after developing use of complete sentences. Although these symptoms are noticeable as early as eighteen months into a child’s life, a successful diagnosis generally cannot be performed until they are around two years. The earlier autism is diagnosed, the sooner a child can begin treatment.

Causes of Autism

Even in today’s technological world, autism baffles scientists. It is unknown why some children develop the behavioral disorder and many causes have been explored including vaccines, genetics, and bacteria. It has been proven that about 10% of autistic people developed the disorder as a result of German measles, Tuberous sclerosis, Fragile X syndrome, brain inflammation, or phenylketonuria. They have also determined it affects about 1% of children and that males are four times as likely to be autistic than females.

Treatments for Autism

There is no cure for autism. However, most children can make progress. As autism affects social, behavioral and communicative skills, it actually doesn’t hinder the IQ in any way. There are nonverbal IQ tests that can help therapists determine the best ways of helping a particular autistic child advance. Unfortunately, the most effective programs would cost more than most taxpayers would be able or willing to invest. Progress should also occur as time passes and though maturity has brought about significant change in a few documented cases, a person with autism will never just snap out of it. Other approaches being tried include music therapy and pet therapy, amongst other programs.


Although they sometimes do not share the same classrooms as other students or live independently, people with autism are not unintelligent. To reiterate, autism does not affect the IQ. In fact, many people with autism earn college degrees. They just need to approach learning differently and at times receive a bit of guidance. Many autistic people tend to excel in problem solving and recognizing patterns. Their math skills are often far beyond the children in their age range and their records on sequential computer games such as Minesweeper can be impressive. Most children with autism will excel in fields such as music or art as well.


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1800wheelchair offers a variety of products for children in our pediatric store. Here you’ll find kid-sized wheelchairs and 100 lb capacity strollers built specifically for special needs children.

K9 Companions for the Disabled: Learn About Service and Therapy Dogs

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Traditionally, dogs are pets that are appreciated for their companionship and affection. They are fully dependent on their human owners. Owners might be lonelier if the dogs weren’t around, but it wouldn’t affect their daily tasks. However, not all dogs are pets. Such is the case with assistance dogs, that is, those animals that undergo extensive training to be able to perform specific tasks. There are several types, but the two major categories are service dogs and therapy dogs.

The relationship between a disabled human being and their service dog is symbiosis. The dog helps the human perform tasks they would otherwise be unable to do and in exchange receives food, shelter, hygiene and love. Service dogs are not pets and are therefore legally permitted into grocery stores and housing that may otherwise not allow animals. However, the law does not apply if the dog is violent or serves as a serious health risk. It is not necessary for a service dog to wear a vest or tag, but many owners choose to dress their dog anyway so others can identify it. Regardless of identification, many people, especially children, do not know proper behavior when a service dog is in the vicinity. Some will try to pet it or speak to it, effectively distracting it from doing the work for which it is intended. This behavior should be discouraged by the owner through the use of verbal explanation or etiquette cards. Service dogs are generally German Shepherds, Labradors or Golden Retrievers.

Therapy dogs are different from service dogs in that they haven’t been trained to assist humans with a variety of activities. Instead, these dogs are stress relievers trained to be “bombproof” against the tugging and hugging of small children in hospitals. They’re also sometimes sent into nursing homes for the benefit of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Unlike service dogs, most breeds can be a therapy dog with the right training.

The following links lead to assistance dog resources. Included is information about service dogs, their training and what they can be trained to do. There are answers to frequently asked questions about assistance animals. Also provided are specifics about the laws permitting their use as well as proper etiquette both for the owner and the onlooker. The last few links lead to information on how a qualifying individual can apply for an assistance animal.

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Check out 1800wheelchair’s of aids to daily living (ADLs) which include: reachers, pill cases, ponchos and sleeping pillows.