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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Lift - House Interior - Battery Hydraulic

The lift in my parents' home is the first that was installed on my behalf. It has been a reliable, safety certified, overpriced solution to allow me access to the basement. It is a very slow moving hydraulic, DC powered, mechanism that provides the lift or descent. The DC power comes from a battery that is constantly being charged by AC and is supposed to be the backup to a power outage. I've never needed to test the backup but I'm doubtful that a seventeen year old battery would have the capacity to complete a cycle, if necessary.

The door locks shut as soon as the lift is activated, but that won't happen until the tediously slow gas shock lets the door creep closed. Once you reach your destination that shock makes a very inconvenient resistance when opening the door. Add to that the significant lip the user needs to descend or climb when exiting or entering while the lift is in the basement and it's not exactly smooth to use. The lip would be non-existent if the lift descended into a recess, which would make room for the pressure-sensitive plate which prevents the crushing of anything that might be underneath. Safety first, I suppose, though I've come crashing out of there on an angle when the door caught my chair because of the safety of the gas shock. Not much hope of carrying anything on my lap with that thing. My current lift has no such safeties. We'll look at it in the near future.

You can likely determine from my tone that I'm not fond of this lift. Safety is important, but almost everything takes longer in our disabled lives. Does getting downstairs have to take the 78 seconds I've timed it at? My current lift is plenty safe and takes me 17 seconds. These times include time taken to enter the lift. My biggest complaint comes not from inconvenience, but from well being. Not a safety concern but a sanity concern. That and the difficulty of transporting anything in addition to the user.

As the thin metal panels that enclose the wall-mounted tracks and the carriage expand or contract with the temperature change in the house between every furnace or air conditioner cycle they snap, crackle and pop, loudly, right above my wife's and my head, as we try to sleep. This drives us nuts.

I do not know what other safety certified lift options are available but I recommend seeking them out. If a lift of this style is your only option have it installed in a closet or away from places you need quiet.

Source: Home adaptation and modification businesses.