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.

DWPenner

 

A Step Back

Ford E-Series photographed in New Westminster,...

Ford E-Series photographed in New Westminster, British Coumbia, Canada. Category:Ford E-Series busesCategory:TransLink (British Columbia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

British Columbia’s Metro Vancouver public transit system is run by Translink; and they announced recently, that they are going to scrap a system by which people entitled to “HandyDART” access — which is a door-to-door minibus service that seniors and disabled folks can book — can  buy coupons to pay for 50% of taxi fares to supplement the service.

HandyDART

HandyDART (Photo credit: paulkimo90)

Translink feels that improvements to the HandyDART service — increasing it to 18 hours a day which includes evening until midnight — as well as the fact that nearly all public transit buses as well as other modes of transit are “accessible”, renders the TaxiSaver program unnecessary. The money saved by scrapping the program will be used to increase usage of taxis used to supplement the HandyDART service. Taxis are used when HandyDART vans aren’t available and using a taxi won’t compromise client care.

They expect to save $1.1 Million over the next 3 years and will be reinvesting $200,000 into the supplementary taxi service. (Facts from The Vancouver Courier)

Columbia Station

Columbia Station (Photo credit: DennisSylvesterHurd)

This might seem reasonable at first. A person in a wheelchair or using a walker can book a ride on the HandyDART to travel from doorstep to doorstep with an attendant for the price of bus-fare basically. They also can ride any transit bus and all the elevated rapid transit trains — SkyTrain — or cross harbour passenger ferry — Seabus — or the commuter rail — West Coast Express — as they are all “accessable” now. Of course I guess taxis are still an option, though at full price.

English: SeaBus crossing Burrard Inlet. ‪中文(繁體...

English: SeaBus crossing Burrard Inlet. ‪中文(繁體)‬: 海上巴士橫渡布勒内灣。 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the other hand…

As I am led to understand, you can only take the bag or two you can carry when on the HandyDART. On public transit of course you might take a two wheeled grocery cart, if you can manage it with your wheelchair, mobility scooter, walker, or cane. Mind you, There is limited space on those accessible buses for scooters and chairs … and strollers, walkers… and once those are taken, there is no more room. The buses I take often have those spots filled. A driver might not take on someone with a grocery cart when someone on board has a baby stroller.

English: TransLink West Coast Express trains a...

English: TransLink West Coast Express trains at Waterfront Station in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even then, a person can only put so much in a two wheeled grocery cart. When you take a taxi you might do two or three weeks grocery shopping. That means only one trip every two or three weeks which makes a difference to a person who can’t get out much.When you are taking the bus things just might not work out — you might not be able to get from here to there.

For instance, you might walk 250 metres to the bus stop and take a bus 500 metres before transferring to another bus. which will take you 1 or 2 more km to where you get off and walk another 250 or so metres to the store. Then you still have to get the groceries before reversing the process on transit — With the groceries in that two wheeled cart. Of course since you can only get 1 week of groceries — if you can fit in a weeks worth or carry that much — you have to do it again each week. This is not so easy when to start with you have health issues and probably stamina issues.

TransLink Bus

TransLink Bus (Photo credit: nathanpachal)

The HandyDART won’t allow you to take enough on to do your groceries You also can’t bring other larger purchases that might fit into a cab. Public transit also just won’t work for many due to stamina issues and the complexity of handling a cart or grocery bags on a bus. Taxis are expensive and the TaxiSavers helped a lot. What else is there really?

Then there is the issue of needing to book the HandyDART in advance. Some things are just not bookable. Also from what I hear, people are unable to book rides because HandyDART is overbooked already. Perhaps the influx of more money might help, but then also there will be more need.

The TaxiSavers only paid half of the Cab-fare. The client paid the other half — so I figure it likely wasn’t abused.

Removing it seems a step back.

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