One of Our Chairs is Missing!

English: Lightning over St-Laurent River by a ...

English: Lightning over St-Laurent River by a stormy night in Quebec. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is a dark and stormy night, you’re car’s stopped working and the storm is too severe to even consider walking. What do you do?

For most it is a simple call with their cellphone and help is on it’s way.

There is a certain arm of society that face something like that even on warm Spring days. Consider life in a wheelchair.

English: Controller of electric-powered wheelc...

English: Controller of electric-powered wheelchair Belize. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wheelchairs are intended to be very dependable. Perhaps that explains why a manual wheelchair can cost more than a decent bicycle. However there is more to go wrong in an electric wheelchair. It can be merely an inconvenience for someone in a care facility of some sort, so long as there’s always someone attending.

However the people I know that are in electric “chairs” are not homebodies. They want to get out in the world and that can mean travelling blocks or even miles from home to go shopping, sightseeing, to medical appointments, to visit friends, etc.

English: Wheelchair brake (scissors)

English: Wheelchair brake (scissors) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While some might be able to crawl to someone’s doorstep and ask for health, there are others that do not even have that option. It’s not like they have the option to get out and check the battery cables.

That’s where a cellphone would really come in handy. I’m sure a call or two would bring help if your chair were to fail you and stop operating.

Picture of a Cell Phone

Picture of a Cell Phone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know that in many areas, people that are “at risk” or unable to afford one can get a phone with very modest service for emergency calls. Something like that could help many folks who use chairs. But there are also many in chairs that would have problems operating a typical cellphone or smart phone.

I believe there are specialty cellphones with a limited keyboard. I recall one for children that didn’t have a regular numeric keypad, but instead had 6 buttons. Each button was preprogrammed with 6 phone numbers. Perhaps it might be very limiting to have a cellphone that could only dial a half-dozen number — but if you have only one hand you can use and it has only limited function — such a phone could be a godsend.

There are also cellphones with large buttons and basic functions intended for seniors. Not all seniors need them, by any means, but they can be helpful for many.

I believe that some sort of allowance should be made so that those folks requiring an electric wheelchair to function should have a cellphone they can operate for emergency purposes.

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver.

Magellan Blazer12 GPS Receiver. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Built-in GPS might be useful, but folks that already have limited privacy might not want there to be a GPS device that could always track them down.

I think we have solutions and some don’t even require any/much special equipment.

While they are at it they can make sure that the chairs have some place to support and hold a cellphone/GPS device so a person could still use it if they had limited dexterity.



A Crippled Generation? — part 4 of 3

Everywhere I look I see a crippled generation. I don’t mean people with actual physical or mental disabilities, but those people who are crippling themselves. This issue might actually be crippling people.

Continued from “A Crippled Generation? — part 3 of 3
A Crippled Generation? — part 2 of 3
A Crippled Generation? — part 1 of 3

I wrote about how people are essentially handicapping themselves with fashions, technology, and the choices they make. But this “4th” article is about something that not only might affect a person while using it, but also might affect their future.

young-woman-with-cell-phone 2 800I mentioned in part 1 of 3 about smart phones and how the way many use them essentially ties up one hand all the time. There is another issue to do with them, and a once prominent device, the mp3 player, like the iPods.

Many people put in their ear-buds or put on their headphones intent on blocking out the outside world. Some even have noise cancelling headphones to create an excellent environment for listening to their music… or language course, or news channel.

This creates an issue for some where they are oblivious to the things going on around them.

350px-headphones_1Did you know that a young man was actually killed when he was struck by a helicopter that was making a crash landing? Apparently he couldn’t hear it because he was listening to “his tunes”.

That example is a bit extreme, but there have also been people struck by trains, cars, trucks…. I haven’t heard of anyone run down by a submarine though.

There can be two issues, one is having your ears covered or having the ear-buds in the ear and impeding outside sounds from getting in. The other is the volume at which the music is being played. I know from personal experience that if you play music at a modest volume, you can hear what is going on around you.

A stack of the iPods I now own... included are...

A stack of the iPods I now own… included are the 1Gb iPod shuffle (2nd Gen), iPod nano Product(RED) 4Gb (2nd Gen), iPod mini 4Gb, iPod 20Gb (4th Gen), and iPod video 80Gb (5.5 Gen). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I am listening to my iPod, other people can’t hear the music, but very often even from a half-dozen feet away I can hear other folks’ music filtering out of their headphones or ear-buds — sometimes quite loudly. I figure it isn’t so much the ear-buds or headphones causing people to be oblivious to the outside world but the sheer volume… loudness of the music.

They have laws in some places that place some restrictions on the usage of headphones and ear-buds. Here, you can only have one of the two ear-buds in your ear while operating a motor vehicle. I imagine that headphones aren’t allowed.


Very similarly to the issue with personal music players (smart phone or mp3 player) are “boom cars“. These are the vehicles where the driver’s music is played at such a sound level you can hear it from many car-lengths away. Not only is this noise pollution annoying, but for the occupants of the car the results over time is deafening.

Behind the ear aid

Behind the ear aid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I mean that playing music that loud in a vehicle or with a personal music player, you are damaging your hearing.

I figure it is quite sad that some of the people who get the greatest enjoyment from music are causing themselves to slowly go deaf.

Taken as a whole, Cell phone in hand, wide temple glasses, hoodie on, pants down to the knees, and high platform shoes, makes for a very crippling ensemble. You can add personal music player and boom cars to that list.  Some would refer to it with this one word:


Here is one more look at the topic. I hope you have had a chance to check out the cartoon: The New Handicap — Wheel Tales of Willow City

The New Handicap

The New Handicap by DWPenner