Monday, March 9, 2015

Touch Lamp

Everybody needs a grope light. You know, that light that's easy to find and smack the switch when you need light in the middle of the night. Certainly there are plenty of lamps available with a nice easy rocker switch that serve this purpose but nothing is quite as easy for someone with paralyzed fingers than a touch lamp. Unfortunately, they are becoming a little bit harder to find and new bulb technology is causing them to function differently than they used to 10 years ago.

My favorite touch lamp, pictured above, still uses incandescent bulbs. Just a nice, small, 60 W chandelier bulb. The lamp is what controls the dim, medium and bright levels. Built into it is a relay that allows only so much wattage through at each of the three levels. Many touch lamps actually require special bulbs which contain three separate filaments and that is how the three levels of brightness is controlled. I understand that this is necessary for lamps of a higher maximum wattage but thankfully smaller bedside lamps do not need the special bulbs.

In most lamps like this CFL bulbs simply don't work. They only work with lamps that have on and off, not multiple levels of brightness. The bulbs that can either cause a malfunction or cause the lamp to no longer have three levels of brightness are LED bulbs. If you notice when you shop for either CFL or LED bulbs they give their ratings in two measurements, actual wattage and equivalent wattage. Eventually we will become accustomed to the amount of light put out by a 10 W LED bulb but for now most of us need to know that that is typically equivalent to the 60 W incandescent bulb that we all grew up with.

In the case of the touch lamp, where the settings are 20 W output for low, 40 W output for medium and 60 W for high, even on the low setting you have already exceeded the LED bulb's maximum draw. So, using that bulb in this lamp would give me high, high, high and off. There would be no low or medium settings. There is no danger in this case because the bulb will not draw more than it needs. The lamp is not going to try to push an extra 50 W of power through the bulb on what would normally be the brightest setting. However, some lamps that function differently have warnings about not using LED bulbs in them and some LED bulbs on IKEA's website indicate that they are not well-suited for all touch lamps. I used IKEA as an example because that is about the most affordable place to purchase LED bulbs.

I don't believe touch lamps are going to disappear forever but they have been becoming more difficult to find. It may simply be a matter of searching hard to find the right one and, before long, we may not enjoy the ease of waking up to a low or medium setting if on or off are our only options.

Source: Lamp – department stores and online.
Bulbs – most department stores but I have found the best deals at IKEA and

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lanyards and Mobile Phones

I'm fortunate to have enough dexterity to seldom need assistance using my mobile phone. As mentioned before, I have chosen cases that have features giving me a greater ability to securely hold the device. A phone from October of 2004, that I still have and is sitting right next to me on the desk as I write this, was one of the earlier phones with a built-in modem, very minimal Internet access and texting capabilities. I had it set up on a free phone plan provided by SaskTel to any member of the Canadian Paraplegic Association. I had to purchase the phone out right, which certainly brings to light how expensive cell phones are when you don't get them at a discount rate because of a contract. Since it has served me 11 years I think I got my money's worth.

That said, this was a flip phone before any type of Internet connectivity or advanced communication was available in a mobile device for your average consumer. It is a really nice compact, streamlined unit that fits in just about any pocket. Unfortunately, because of the smooth, round lines and perfectly fitting halves, it was pretty difficult for me to reliably hold on to or flip open when receiving a call. Unless I had somewhat long fingernails I had a difficult time prying open the phone to use it. At the time of its primary use, it was simply for emergency purposes so I seldom needed to get at it in a hurry.

Adding a lanyard to the built in bar, as seen in the photo below, made it easier to keep it nearby for immediate access, as well as one additional place to hold on to the phone while prying it open for use. For my purposes I found the lanyard to remove the streamlined nature of the phone and make it more difficult to put in or remove from a pocket when it was not around my neck. Because of this the lanyard did not stay attached to the quick connector for very long. It was nice to be able to leave a quick connector attached for the times I did want the lanyard on it.

Not everyone has the benefit of the dexterity that I enjoy while others have more dexterity. New phones tend not to have a place intended for a lanyard as the flip phone pictured above does. Not so long ago I saw a brilliant improvisation on Brenda's phone (she happens to work at the CPA) and on Delynne's phone (who also works at the CPA and brought the idea for last week's post regarding the adapted makeup brush). Their adaptation was simply to feed the lanyard around their case, looped from the headphone opening to the camera's opening. Ingenious and universal for just about any smart phone out there.

If you choose the right lanyard, with a very tough but thin cord as the one used on both of these phones (it's the same lanyard, switched from one phone to the next for demonstration purposes), it won't affect the fit of the phone in the case. One of the two that I saw even fit well with the legendary Otterbox case for an iPhone. By legendary I mean that they fit incredibly precisely, better than some of the knockoff cases I have seen and used.

I love simple, inexpensive solutions to make it easier to enjoy technology everyone else is enjoying, without a complicated custom-made adaptation. This lanyard came with a terrible a.m. radio in the shape of a Saskatchewan Roughriders helmet, attached as a prize to a bottle of Wiser's Deluxe. Wouldn't want to lose my radio while listening to a Rider game and drinking my whiskey.

Source: Discount stores and eBay are the best places to find a lanyard that best meets your needs.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Adapted Makeup Brush

The photo in this post is a re-creation of a makeup brush, extended by a tongue depressor, held on with white cloth medical tape, that my friend, Delynne, used to use. For whatever reason, she no longer needs this simple but effective adaptation that allows her to independently perform an important part of her grooming.

A lot of people with a disability have perfect grooming lower on the list of priorities, following those list items necessary to live life in a healthy way. Somehow, Delynne has managed to do both and always looks great when you see her. I respect that.

It was good to have a subject to photograph and include that is outside the realm of understanding to a guy like me. She has given me additional subjects to shoot, one of which involves a large space outside, an air compressor, coffee creamer, lasers and a bit of trial and error. You'll know it when you see it this summer.

Source: Doctor's office or order a pack online.

Monday, December 1, 2014

All About Focus

I do not have a regular photo post for you this week but this morning I stumbled upon a webpage with 20 excellent quotes regarding disability. So many things well said and so accurate, regardless of the generation that they were said in. Ponder it, quit admiring or looking up to individuals with a disability because of that disability, and let your mind think on these for a time.

"Disability is not a brave struggle or ‘courage in the face of adversity.’ Disability is an art. It’s an ingenious way to live."

- Neil Marcus

“Concentrate on things your disability doesn't prevent you doing well, and don't regret the things it interferes with. Don't be disabled in spirit as well as physically.”

- Stephen Hawking

“Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you're needed by someone.”

- Martina Navratilova

"Each handicap is like a hurdle in a steeplechase, and when you ride up to it, if you throw your heart over, the horse will go along, too."

- Lawrence Bixby

"Let’s stop "tolerating" or "accepting" difference, as if we’re so much better for not being different in the first place. Instead, let’s celebrate difference, because in this world it takes a lot of guts to be different."

- Kate Bornstein

“No disability or dictionary out there, is capable of clearly defining who we are as a person.”

- Robert M Hensel

“Society's accumulated myths and fears about disability and disease are as handicapping as are the physical limitations that flow from actual impairment.”

- William J. Brennan, Jr.

I'm not an advocate for disability issues. Human issues are what interest me. You can't possibly speak for a diverse group of people.”

- Aimee Mullins

“I haven't met anyone yet who isn't handicapped in some way. So what's the big deal? Don't hide your deformity. Wear it like a Purple Heart."

- Georgiann Baldino

“Try not to associate bodily defect with mental, my good friend, except for a solid reason”

- Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

“I am conscious of a soul-sense that lifts me above the narrow, cramping circumstances of my life. My physical limitations are forgotten- my world lies upward, the length and the breadth and the sweep of the heavens are mine!”

- Helen Keller

“I choose not to place "DIS", in my ability."

- Robert M. Hensel

"Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses."

- Alphonse Karr

“The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”

- Scott Hamilton

“A troubled life beats having no life at all”

- Richard M. Cohen

“When you focus on someone's disability you'll overlook their abilities, beauty and uniqueness. Once you learn to accept and love them for who they are, you subconsciously learn to love yourself unconditionally.”

- Yvonne Pierre

“The world has a fast-growing problematic disability, which forges bonds in families, causes people to communicate in direct and clear ways, cuts down meaningless social interaction, pushes people to the limit with learning about themselves, whilst making them work together to make a better world. It’s called Autism – and I can’t see anything wrong with it, can you? Boy I’m glad I also have this disability!”

- Patrick Jasper Lee

“Chances are, disabled or not, you don’t grow all of your food. Chances are, you didn’t build the car, bike, wheelchair, subway, shoes, or bus that transports you. Chances are you didn’t construct your home. Chances are you didn’t sew your clothing (or make the fabric and thread used to sew it). The difference between the needs that many disabled people have and the needs of people who are not labelled as disabled is that non-disabled people have had their dependencies normalized.”

- AJ Withers

"When you have a disability, knowing that you are not defined by it is the sweetest feeling."

- Anne Wafula Strike

If disabled people were truly heard, an explosion of knowledge of the human body and psyche would take place."

 - Susan Wendell

The authenticity of these has not been verified, whether the attributed speaker is accurate or not, these are still worth considering.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lift - Residential Exterior Residential - Electric Winch

The beauty of a winter wonderland. That is, until you are stuck outside waiting for a lift to raise you to the level you need to get into the warm house or lower you to the ground to get into a pre-warmed vehicle. Obviously, this issue is not exclusive to quadriplegics but we certainly are some of the most temperature-sensitive individuals.

The lift pictured above was purchased and installed after the slow-moving bureaucratic red tape was slashed through. Until then the relic my dad had purchased from the Abilities Council was in place as a solution until this modern lift was installed. It was then that the relic was moved out to their cabin. This lift, installed in 1998, has been a very reliable and trouble-free system for me. It's not without its imperfections but it has never let me down.

The vertical tracks, that the lift supports raise and lower between, have whiskers that keep a lot of debris out of that vertical tower which probably contributes to it functioning so well for so long. Above the controls is a stainless steel flap on hinges installed by my dad to keep the elements away from those buttons and the on/off key. Once he installed the flap we were replacing the protective plastic covers on the buttons far less frequently. The automatic stopping position for both the top and bottom have been nice, as opposed to the estimating and soft stopping point of the old Abilities Council lift. And, though it does not need to travel too far, it is not painfully slow.

My biggest complaint would be that, because of the pressure switch beneath the lift, designed to prevent anyone or anything from being crushed beneath it just like the lift inside this house, this lift does not go as flat to the ground as I would like. Because of this the ramp, though short, is quite steep. On this driveway there is adequate room to take a good run at it but that bump when you hit the ramp is not ideal when you have a something on your lap. Conversely, coming down is a pretty good bump. You will want to lean back to prevent any loss of balance or digging in of the front tires. This steep ramp could be remedied by having it descend from its protective position onto an additional small platform and ramp which would make the entire thing more gradual. However, I have an issue with the idea of mixing ramps and lifts. There is no good reason to it other than why would you want to have to fool around with both? Either build a proper ramp or have a proper lift.

Source: Home adaptation and modification businesses. Unlike the very complicated internal home lift installation, this could probably be done by someone with a degree of mechanical competence.