Friday, October 16, 2009

Are You Going to Finish Strong?

It is so easy to get caught up in the mediocre problems of life. In these times we find ourselves fighting over healthcare reform, unemployment, the deficit and we bicker and rant amongst each other harming feelings and the weight of overwhelming responsibility can make us want to give up.

As a disabled person with my own day to day challenges these feelings of hopelessness affect me as well. Lets face it, with a disability everything can be twice as hard but that isn’t always the truth. Sometimes, I have it easier. For example, I can sit in line at the grocery store and my feet will never grow tired. I can travel for miles in buildings such as offices and department stores and it is all with the push of a button.

This evening had been a evening of discouragement and the overwhelming weight of my responsibilities were crushing my spirit. Then out of the blue came a video from a friend that changed everything for me. (No I am not selling snake oil or get rich quick schemes.) But prepare for a change in perspective and then join me in replacing all those doubts and discouragements with one simple question; “Are YOU going to finish strong?”

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Lines of Communication as Voice Recognition Gets Better

Tazti Logo

Although we live in a time that is especially financially challenging for people with disabilities it is still an exciting time to be disabled. Now, I realize how that sounds and it is certainly not something I would wish on anyone but if you are human and growing older challenges are inevitable. So we all can celebrate the evolution of technology that is opening new doors to people with disabilities.
One awesome technology that is getting more sophisticated is voice recognition software. I have just written a blog on the new 3G iPhone that was just released this month and one of the features that the iPhone has is a voice recognition software program. The touch screen technology can be a challenge for some users who have difficulty with hand control and voice recognition can be a helpful alternative. I myself have not had the pleasure of experiencing the 3G first hand so I cannot speak on its accuracy but I have heard wonderful things about this feature.

While Windows Vista comes with voice recognition that can potentially operate navigation on your computer and dictate. As a writer with double jointed fingers and spastic muscles I was particularly attracted to dictation and the potential of cutting my blogging time in half; but like all things Vista it has left a lot to be desired. I have been working with Vista’s program for a few days now and I can say the more I use it the better it behaves so training is an important part of the set up. I still have my doubts that I will ever be able to use it for everything but I have discovered that my relationship with Vista has evolved beyond my at first, cynical expectations.

I know money is tight for everyone and it is especially so for people with disabilities and upgrading to Vista may be costly so I recommend experimenting with Tazti (tasty) which is a free program that helps with navigation of your computer. Even though it does not have dictation capabilities I was extremely impressed with its functionality and user friendly navigation. It is totally free of adware and annoying emails. I encourage you to try it out.

For those of you that have Vista don’t give up. It is a little temperamental but I have been persistently working at it and training it to my voice and it is getting better. Of the two programs Vista offers so much more potential though it may take some time to get to it and then again there is always Windows 2007. = )

Have you had experience with either of these programs and want to share your experience? Leave a comment. I will look forward to hearing from you.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Gateway to Lenovo

Lenovo 22-inch /lCD
In search of the right computer package that was economy friendly ended with a Lenovo K220. I was looking to get away from the old clunky LCD monitor that our old Gateway and E-machine had and replace it with a nice wide screen. I was also looking for storage and a faster processor. I work with a lot of graphics and photos and space is a must. I had never heard of Lenovo until I started shopping for a computer but once I found out that there was a long history with IBM it put me at ease. I found a fantastic package for under a thousand that had almost everything I was hoping for. Check out these specs:
LCD Size: 22.00 in
Speakers: LCD Sound bar
Operating Systems: Windows Vista Home Premium
USB Ports: 8
Microphone Jacks: 2
VGA Ports: 1
DVI Video: 1 DVI on Graphics Card
Processor: Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 2.50GHz Socket LGA775
Memory : DDR3 2x2GB
Total Memory: 4.0GB
Memory Speed: DDR3-1066 (PC3-8500)
Hard Drive Capacity: 640GB, 7,200RPM
Interface: SATA
Optical Drive Type: DVDRW Dual Layer ,
Optical Drive Class: DVD±RW DL
Media 16-in-1 Types: MicroDrive SecureDigital Memory Stick Multimedia Card Memory Stick Duo Memory Stick PRO Duo Memory Stick PRO xD Compact Flash II Mini SD Compact Flash I SecureDigital High Capacity, RSMMC, MMC Mobile, MMC+, Mini SD High Capacity
Audio Description: Integrated Audio
Graphics Description: Integrated Graphics GPU/VPU: Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500 Video Interface: DVI
Communications Description: Integrated LAN Support
Monitor Mount Webcam

As you can see the Lenovo is pretty loaded and with a price of around $700.00 it is a great package for basic computer needs. The performance thus far has been fantastic and my biggest complaint is the quirks of vista. I look forward to getting comfortable with my new PC environment and being more productive.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How New Nikon D5000 Brings a Little Accessibility to Photography

Nikon D5000 DSLR
When I first saw the Nikon D5000 it was love at first sight! As it happens I have been shopping for a new digital camera to replace my Nikon D50 and at first glance it appeared to have everything I am looking for and then some! However, writing for a technology rental firm has taught me to study reviews and talk to other users before buying the next big thing.

So I set out to find out what the Nikon D5000 had to offer and I found myself with quite the dilemma. The Nikon D5000 has a swivel display with LCD cover built on it and I found this feature reason alone to want to go and buy it. As a wheelchair photographer there has been many times that I have been in a crowd and needed to get my camera up over my head to get my shot; usually missing that “moment” due to shooting blind. I have wished for something like this for some time. After all, this feature was available on camcorders, why not a still shot?

The D5000 is a 12.3MP and has the same type sensor as the Nikon D90 and the upper level D300 which promises great images even in low lighting. The Nikon D5000 also has a lot more shooting modes so that beginning photographers have the opportunity to be more creative.

Unfortunately, this fairy tale doesn’t have a happy ending for me. Because despite the swiveling LCD screen, movie making capabilities and many cool features borrowed from the D40, D40x D60 and D90, the Nikon D5000 has a few issues that are a deal breaker for me. The biggest issue here is no remote flash capabilities for studio lighting so while this camera is on the edge of being on a professional level it was mostly designed for the consumer who wanted extra features that a point and shoot does not offer. Here is a wonderful review that I found listing all the amazing features and the limitations of this new camera from Nikon.

Bottom line is if you want creative possibilities and have some extra cash the Nikon D5000 has all the bells and whistles you could want. However it is not for the professional who wants to work with remote flashes and studio lighting. So my love affair with the Nikon D5000 turned out to be a really big crush. Gosh it’s hard to find true love these days. ;)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Campaign Launch for Marijuana Has Legalization Back on the Table

Marijuana Plants

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Foundation (NORML Foundation) a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization, established in 1997, has launched it's first pro-marijuana ad campaign to air on select cable outlets like CNN, CNBC, Fox News Channel, Fuse, FX Networks, G4, MSNBC, CNN’s Headline News and Spike TV. This brings a lot of hope for chronic pain sufferers.

NORMAL reports that:
Since 1965, over 20 million Americans have been arrested on cannabis-related charges—90% for possession-only; over 900,000 cannabis arrests are expected again this year.
Millions could be saved in tax dollars if these people were never arrested to begin with and most have chronic pain and no criminal background other than possession.

On a personal note, my husband who has suffered with chronic pain for 12 years, could benefit greatly from its use. After seven back surgeries he lives on a drug regimen of 35 pills a day, including two different kinds of morphine. Despite the array of medications available to him not a lot of relief has been gained. We like the idea of having a more natural alternative or at least supplement. My biggest concern is the potential of addiction and it becoming a gateway to heavier drugs. NORMAL advocates with strict regulations, education and age restriction, legalizing and decriminalizing marijuana could be beneficial.

Here is the ad:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stereotypes, Counter Productive Super Sensitivity and Empowerment

I tried to avoid writing about it but after tons of email in my box about the subject I decided it was time to inject a different perspective here. Obama flying without a script and the eloquence that we are all used to in his speeches, made a reference to the Special Olympics and his low bowling score. After the show he immediately called the Special Olympics and made an apology. Since then I have seen demands for public apology.

I must confess, the first thing I thought of when I heard of Obama’s joke on Leno, was Brittany Spears. How many jokes and crude references have been made at her expense? Jessica Simpson has also been the target of many jokes. These are the “poster girls” (please pardon the expression) for “dumb blondes.” This shows that women are still under the scrutiny of ethnocentric thinking. I bring up this comparison to say that people are always going to make stupid jokes at the expense of someone else. I’m not saying it is right, in fact I think Brittany and Jessica deserve apologies too and all the blondes for the blonde jokes, and all the Hispanics, the elderly, gays, African Americans and Indians and for the horrible jokes about Catholic Priests and small boys. Who defends their pain and embarrassment? Yet, everyone, even perhaps yourself makes a joke at the expense of someone else. We as disabled people have developed our own ethnocentric thinking about able bodied people. We make assumptions about what people are thinking when they look at us based on stereotypes all the time without considering that we might be wrong. Keeping our guards up and missing the opportunity to make a connection in fear we might get our feelings hurt.

It is important to speak out against all kinds of derogatory and hurtful things However super sensitivity can be counter productive to our cause. Now before I start getting a bunch of hate mail I just want to say that I get it. I understand. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me to stop speeding, or asked me if I’m going over the speed limit or some silly one-liner to that effect, I could pay the federal deficit and my daughter’s college tuition. Sometimes it is annoying, after all it is hard to feel sexy or attractive when people are constantly eyeing your wheels. Some times it is embarrassing when people call attention to our infirmities. But I have learned the context of their remarks most of the time is simply trying to make conversation, or they are trying to lighten up the anxiety of what they are feeling in efforts to put their self and believe it or not you at ease. I view it as this, joke gets made as an expression of acceptance from them (as misguided as it is) and by joking back it is an unspoken acceptance from you to them. It allows a real connection and puts people at ease and people really appreciate that. I know some people are just plain mean but the ignorance of those who fear is something all races, sexes and religions and body types have to deal with.

My point here is that when you are quick to put up defenses you are pushing people away and to really make a difference we need to meet people half way and draw them in, let them get to know us. Laugh with them, joke with them and don’t take it all so seriously. Eventually it will hit these people that we are not so different after all and maybe they will even get past our disabilities and see how gorgeous we are ;)

Want to do something about the stereo type? Why don’t we consider the Special Olympics? The term “special” has become some what of a derogatory term when referring to people with disabilities. I remember the references to “special” education and the automatic referral to those people who attended was “r.” Why don’t we give the Special Olympics a more empowering name like “Ablelympics?” By making changes in the dynamics in how we introduce ourselves to the world we present a new picture of association. The media COULD be more of a help in this area but we have to start with ourselves and eventually people will hop on board.

I realize I am challenging our disabled community to think differently about things and I am aware that my views are not going to be the most popular. However the brutal truth of the matter is we own the responsibility to change perception. We own the ability to shape the new stereotype any way we want and I have seen it happening with our art and athletics and our progress is something to be proud of. In closing I want to say that those with intellectual disabilities are a huge target to many horrible jokes and acts of hate. I believe that stereo types need to be changed. I hate for anyone to be poked fun of out of meanness. In Obama’s case it was a temporary moment of ignorance. What Obama said was wrong, and he apologized. I am sure he understands the weight of stereotypical thinking and he is truly sorry for the incident. We should let this one go and choose our battles for the most positive outcome and be proactive in our own cause; because we are not helpless or powerless.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I’m Sorry Isn’t the Hardest Thing to Say

Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, regression and retaliation the foundation of such a method is love – Martin Luther King Jr.

One of the hardest things to say, is I forgive you. When someone important to us wrongs us and hurts us deeply it is much easier to hold on to anger. Anger gives us strength, it gives us the illusion that we are in control of ourselves and nothing can touch us again, hurt us again and we begin to feel that we will never hurt again.

In most religions, at least, the constructive ones, we learn that anger is like your first experience with cocaine. It gives a feeling of invincibleness and strength and it empowers; but as we continue to "use" it and breathe it in, it becoms an addiction and to embed itself within our being. It begins breaking down what is good in us and begins destroying our relationships with other people and within ourselves.

This is something I learned from my experience years ago when someone I loved was hurting me. I know what it is like sitting in waiting for the opportunity to get my revenge. I also know what it is like to take that revenge out on myself as if I deserved more pain for allowing it to happen.

I forgive you

It is the place where the heart begins to beat again and where new dreams are born. It is the place where you let back in the people who love you and say goodbye to those toxic people who have to figure it out for themselves. The important thing is to set yourself free from a drug that not only has the power to destroy the beautiful person you are but the family and friends who love you.

I write this with survivors in mind and a friend who is lost in the proverbial "drug," but it applies to anyone

Brightest of Blessings My Friends

Love Etha

Thursday, March 12, 2009

VR Lens for the Wheelchair Photographer

Nikon 55-200mm VR LensI was recently asked by one of my “Twitter Mates,” if I would write a little something on what it is like to be a wheelchair photographer. I of course am very happy to oblige. I want to talk a little bit about the equipment that I have and why I chose it.

I own a Nikon D50 digital SLR, and two lenses. One lens is the standard 28-80mm lens for close range shooting, like headshots, or focusing on a specific object. The other lens is a 55-200mm VR. VR stands for vibration reduction and vibration reduction is a disabled person’s friend! I don’t have cerebral palsy but I do have many of the same characteristics such as spasticity in the muscles that can cause a little bit of a tremor. I really didn’t realize how much I did it until I started taking pictures. Holding a steady shooting position can be a challenge for any photographer sometimes and the VR feature helps reduce movement. It also helps the lens shoot sharper pictures under lower light.

Optical zoom is also a friend to the wheelchair photographer. So many places are inaccessible and the longer the zoom the more places that can be accessed. Optical zoom is more important than a digital zoom. Digital zoom crops your image in camera and then enlarges it, resulting in huge loss of information. An optical zoom moves your lens closer to the subject leaving all the information in tact and then cropping can be done later using a photo editor. Remember, with an image you can go from big to small but going from small to large pulls the image apart and degrades it, so you want to keep as much information in tact as possible; especially if you are printing. Even though printers typically print at 5mps choosing a camera with more will give you larger pictures; this allows you to take pictures at a greater distance and allows you to crop the out the information you don’t want to produce the image you want without degrading it.

There are many challenges to photography, from trying to hold two buttons down with double jointed fingers to focusing the camera on a tripod. I can only offer my own experience and ideas. As disabled people we find creative ways to find accessibility in a inaccessible world and photography is no different. I hope my experience and my challenges will encourage you to get out there and be creative!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Jerry Lewis Humanitarian

If it’s pity we’ll get some money. I’m just giving you the facts. Pity … if you don’t want to be pitied for being a cripple in a wheelchair, don’t come out of the house. - Jerry Lewis
May 20, 2001
Interview on CBS News Sunday Morning

I want to make it clear that I am not an angry advocate who is pissed off at the world and nit picks at every little thing an "abled bodied" person says or does; but I picture the humanitarian award given to someone like Mother Teresa or Bono. Jerry Lewis has brought his integrity into question by making some pretty discusting remarks about not only the disabled community but blacks and the gay community as well. To me a true humanitarian would not hold public contempt for certain groups of people but intead encourage the embracement of diversity and promote harmony.

Jerry Lewis, the longtime spokesman and fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, will receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award on Sunday evening for his tireless efforts on behalf of the group. During his 43 years as host of the group's Labor Day telethon, the organization has taken in almost two billion dollars.

Every year as a kid my family and I would gather around the television to watch the Jerry Lewis Telethon. I remember the knots of anger twisting in my stomach as Jerry would put his arm around a small child sitting in a wheelchair and talked about pity and mercy and giving. To me it was as shameful as a peddling preacher or greasy used car dealer trying to pawn his latest rust bucket on anyone gullible enough to drive off in it.

In the 70’s and early 80’s my family was fighting for my right to be in public school and for my civil rights to education and opportunities that should be given to everyone. It is hard to convince people that a “crippled” child can learn and grow into a fully functioning and contributing member of society; when the stereotype pictured that same “crippled” child as someone who is helpless and someone to be pitied.

Apparently my feelings on this issue are not alone as protesters gather to speak out against the award. Here is a video with more on the protest.

The Protest

… I realize my life is half, so I must learn to do things halfway. I just have to learn to try to be good at being a half a person… - Jerry Lewis
September 2, 1990
from Jerry Lewis’ article, “If I Had Muscular Dystrophy,” Parade magazine

We have come a long way since the days of Jerry Lewis and even the media has embraced the disability movement to demonstrate that we have a whole life not just a half of one. We have children and get married, we graduate colleges and get jobs, we play sports and dance; and we do it sitting down.

As Adidas Says Just Do It!
Watch:No Excuses

The 43 year run of the telethon raised 2 billion dollars, Jerry has been committed in his efforts and I believe his heart is involved with his convictions; but the telethon also embedded 43 years of pity into our society toward people with disabilities. I think we have all learned that disabled doesn’t necessarily mean limited. Having a disability is not a tragedy; the tragedy is buying into the lie that life is over when you get one.

For more information on the protest please visit the Trouble With Jerry Website.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I love to Hate Computers

laptop and coffeeI can't help it. I get up in the morning and the first thing I do is flip on the computer. As Ralph (my husband’s evil emachine) boots up I go in the kitchen and make me a cup of caffeine, sometimes coffee but most of the time it is tea (I like to pretend it is better for me) Then I race back to check my email and see what exciting things I have missed since I shut Ralph down the night before. I’ll admit it I have joined the culture of computerized socialization, diving into newsgroups and social networking sites and email and Googling every subject that ever crossed my curiosity.

Lately, my ritual has been disturbed by a worm that reeked havoc on my WinBook (Tabitha) from my daughter cruising myspace graphic sites while she is supposed to be working in her virtual classroom as she is home schooled. As Tabitha was crashing I hurriedly worked to retrieve as many documents and pictures as I could and transferred them to Ralph. I of course also transferred the virus. So Ralph crashed too. Luckily I keep everything backed up on Lacey (my external hard drive.) After a series of reformatting and calling for help and reformatting again I finally performed an F disc and managed to get Ralph back on track.

Tabitha was not so lucky, something happened during the F Disc and I could not get her to accept windows. Needless to say I accepted my rank as “Private” in the Tech Army and took it Tabitha to a higher ranked Tech for help. Maybe I should stick with photography, graphics and Googling. Anyway, I am informed that Tabitha is back in action and meanwhile Ralph is having conflicts with the new Yahoo Messenger, Chrome and Itunes I suspect either my video card or my processor (sigh)

The good news is we filed taxes today and new computers are in the plans. I am long over due for an upgrade that can handle today’s graphic programs like the Adobe CS3 suite that I have been pining for. By the end of the month I shall have a new computer to name that will be dedicated to my morning ritual and working.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Provisions For Americans With Disabilities Included in Stimulus Bill

This February 16, 2009, Presidents Day; the final version of the Stimulus Bill is expected to be complete and ready for President Obama’s signature. The Stimulus Bill is intended to give the economy a boost and increase job availability. In the latest draft, the stimulus bill includes several features that apply to people with disabilities.

Here is a list of some of the provisions as listed on the legislation page:

• Allocates $500 million to states for Vocational Rehabilitation grants to help people with disabilities prepare for gainful employment;
• Provides an immediate, temporary increase of $450 in individual Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits ($650 per couple) for 7.5 million seniors and people with disabilities;
• Allocates $7.5 billion for repairing public housing and making energy efficiency upgrades to Housing and Urban Development (HUD) -assisted housing, including a new program to improve emergency efficiency -- with new insulation, windows, and furnaces -- in low-income housing for disadvantaged groups, such as seniors and people with disabilities;
• Sets aside $13 billion in grants for schools for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, increasing the federal government's share of the costs of the special education law to 27 percent -- higher than at any time since the IDEA became law more than three decades ago;

• Provides $600 million to states to assist in making IDEA services available to children with disabilities who are two years of age or younger and their families; and

• Protects Medicaid health care coverage for millions of Americans, by providing an estimated $87 billion in additional federal matching funds over a two-year period to help states maintain their Medicaid programs in the face of massive state budget shortfalls. This could help offset cuts in 39 or more states that are facing budget shortfalls

Several changes are likely to happen before the bill finally becomes law.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Insomnia Turns Mild Mannered Woman into Lover of Fighters of Foo!

Ok, ok, so I have always loved the Foo Fighters but it is true that my lack of melatonin bliss has made me a little quirky or at least more so than usual.

I have tried warm milk which just gave me indigestion, sleeping pills that knock me out for exactly 2 hours and I am back up again. I have tried journaling. I have even tried staying up all night well into the next day in the hopes that delirium will knock my insomniatic behind out for about six hours.

Ok, I confess I sleep just fine during the day…there I have said it. I have turned into a Vampire! I am sure it will work itself out. Winter always kinda gives me the blahs anyway...I am a summer girl through and through(must be the leo sun sign thing ;).

Maybe my body is still celebrating the freedom of school and having to be somewhere at a certain time or the fact that we are in a new house, but at least I am still productive. Since my laptop is down and we only have one computer and my daughter is home schooled, she gets on the computer during the day for school and I go to work at night (I work from home) It makes it kind of hard when you have to call people but it is only till I either get the laptop fixed or I get a new one, which ever comes first…LOL or maybe I should just rent one ;)

I am also getting my house together, drawing, writing and even shooting a couple of people (with my camera of course). I really miss all my friends at school and being in class though. I am a social creature despite being a Fighters of Foo loving vampire. Maybe it is time to FINALLY set up that party I have been wanting to have.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Many Disabled Americans Share This Minority Victory on Inauguration Day

While I have never been spit on, enslaved or beaten and I have never experienced the bold disdain for being disabled I still identify with the discrimination that many African Americans face. You see, in my life, I have been asked to leave a restaurant by a manager who claimed that my presence was upsetting the other patrons. I have been denied access to classroom activities in school. I know what it is like to have teachers refuse to have me in their class rooms and I have also been denied jobs I was qualified for. I have tasted the bitterness of discrimination and I have witnessed first hand the heart wrenching abuse of those who have in history been viewed as less than human.

In our American history disabled people have been enslaved, imprisoned and euthanized. Cases among cases go to court every year over sterilization and institutionalization and the right to live.

I will never forget Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks but I will also not forget Terri Schiavo and the bitter fight her parents gave to keep her alive and the failure of our system to not only rule on the side of life but to allow a woman to starve in her bed. While Thomas Condon will spend 2.5 years in prison for gross abuse of a corpse for taking pictures. There is a grey distorted line in what is sacred.

While Obama isn’t a super hero and he is not going to change things over night this Inauguration day is a celebration of the changes and the strides we have made in our society. A Black man is our President and he represents that we can all achieve regardless of our condition. He represents how attitudes can change and America is paving the way for a more tolerant and accepting generation that can take diversity and use it to bridge gaps. He represents the “Dream” that Martin Luther King had. So while he may not be a super hero that is going to replenish our economy over night or rid the world of her evils and bring world peace, President Obama is still an American Hero and his inspiration could become contagious and we could all work together to usher in a new America, and the change that she so desperately needs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Accessibility a Disappointment for the Biggest Inauguration of Our Time

This Election Day was an exciting and proud day for all minorities. Obama’s win is a profound example of how the face of America has changed over the last five decades. It is a representation of true equality and equal access to the greatest job anyone could have in the United States of America.

This January 20th America will unite to swear in her very first African American President marking this Inauguration the biggest of our time. Despite claims of being the most accessible of inaugurations the International Press takes notice that equal access unfortunately does not apply; including seniors, the disabled and parents of young children, it's going to be a fierce challenge to see Barack Obama take the oath of office.

Washington Metro has warned that the days before, during and after the Inauguration crowds and security conditions will limit access of service. Station escalators will be turned off which means long lines at elevators that are needed for wheelchairs, strollers and the elderly. Washington Metro went as far as to advise all those who need assistance or special accommodations avoid coming downtown Washington on these days.

What about the challenged people who work downtown?

Then once people in wheelchairs or with walkers get to the site where swearing-in is due to take place, they will be met with the challenge of bumpy surfaces, grassy areas, and possible weather issues not to mention the challenge of inaccessible porta-potties and limited accessible restrooms. Backpacks and diaper bags are banned from the seated area on the National Mall as well as push chairs such as wheelchairs and strollers.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Technology Exceeds Health Care Service and Repair

As you know, I work for a technology rental firm, and the service that they provide is invaluable to the traveling business person that has to jet all around the country and even the world for presentations or meetings. For example if you have a presentation to give in Miami you could have all your audio visual needs set up and ready to go when you get there. You can even have a laptop waiting for you with all the software you need waiting for you at your hotel.

As a disabled person I truly wish that all services could be made this worry free. Over the holidays I had the joy of not only wrestling with a Winn 32 Worm but I also had wheelchair battery go bad. I would charge it over night and be dead within the hour and I would have to charge it again. What a nightmare to be reliant on technology for daily functions. I called 7 different companies in a 20 mile radius and the ones that carried my batteries would either not accept my insurance or want up to $250.00 up front.

My insurance is willing to pay 80%. After three weeks of searching, arguing, calling insurance companies I finally found a company in Covington KY who traded my bad batteries for new ones and I paid no money up front. They even took the time out to answer my questions as to why they were willing to work with my insurance and all these other companies would not. We come to the conclusion that many health supply companies must be suffering and cannot wait for a insurance pay out when the possibility of getting cash upfront is presented. I had paid cash for my wheelchair so I imagine it was easy to assume that if I have the resources to buy a whole scooter, then batteries should be no problem. My situation three years ago was completely different.

Moral of the story is good companies are out there if you shop around for them. Given the right resources people with disabilities are able to do just about anything. However independence is fragile. So I find myself hoping that concept of worry free technology rental will become contagious in other areas and become the next new craze!

So my wheelchair and my computer are back up and running and I am running all over the place. I have new lessons learned and some inspiration to do a little research on why it was so difficult for me to get batteries. I am sure this is not just isolated in one area. What are your thoughts?