Everyday Gear Games/Recreation High Tech Public Accessibility Travel Wheelchairs

Segway Scooter as an Assistive Device

A group called DRAFT (Disabililty Rights Advocates for Technology) distributes Segway scooters through its Segs4Vets program, matching Segways with veterans with a wide variety of disabilities. Segway scooters have a very small ‘footprint’, with a turning radius that is much smaller than that of a power chair. For most users they represent a less-fatiguing, more versatile means of ‘walking’ — as well as one that accommodates a wide variety of terrain.

Best of all, say users, a Segway, unlike a wheelchair, allows face-to-face interaction.

Sounds like a great, feel-good post doesn’t it? Maybe — but it turns out that the obstacles these vets face aren’t the ones you’d expect. Because Segways go much faster than a power chair and appear to represent a greater threat to pedestrians, many cities (liberal, people-loving San Francisco, among them) have banned them. So have other venues: Disney World and at least one Barnes and Noble store in Arizona, among them.

Disney’s argument seems to be that the scooters haven’t been certified as ADA assistive devices; it’s unclear how retailer objections will play out. A Segway disability-use permit — like the parking placards issued by every state — would seem to be a simple, logical solution to the question of identifying scooter drivers with a disability, but hey, I’m only thinking logically here. While the world sorts this out, riders might want to pack a doctor’s note and see if some courteous information exchange can get them to that latte.

Segways aren’s for everyone with a disability. Though they can be modified in various ways, their use depends on considerable motor skills, along with a dose of good judgment. (Speed is increased or decreased by leaning forward or back; forgetting this can have serious consequences.) Those who use them particularly cite the advantages of being able to travel upright for longer periods of time, and the ease of getting where power chairs just don’t like to go. There’s a certain cool factor, too. Unlike a power chair, they’re likely to inspire some admiring glances; this assistive device is coveted by people without disabilities, as well.

Segway image from Flickr

Everyday Gear Travel

Strain-Relieving Handle for Rollling Suitcases and Bags

If you’re attempting to fly with American Airlines this week, there’s probably nothing in the world that can make the experience better. In the future, though, if you find yourself traversing airports with bags in tow, this device might be your best companion, particularly if you have wrist or hand pain that is aggravated by the handles on rolling bags.

There are quite a few similar handles available, but this is the one I use. Here’s why: the grabber rotates 360 degrees. That means that I can always keep my hand where it’s most comfortable; it makes pulling my bags easy and pain-free.

Someone was really thinking when the attachment was designed, too: the hook and loop fasteners are on both sides of the bar that attaches to your bag handle. That keeps the TravelTow handle firmly in place, but allow you to rotate where you want it.

I use mine nearly everyday; one is attached to my rolling shopping basket. It works perfectly on my rolling computer case, too, as well as on suitcases.

TravelTow Handle Adapter by Lewis N. Clark; available at travel gear stores and various places online.

Everyday Gear Wheelchairs

Wheelchair Canopy for Sun or Rain

shade.jpgSpring rain is falling with a vengeance in many parts of the country, and soon we’ll be contending with the sun of summer. If you use a scooter or wheelchair outdoors frequently, you may be interested in these canopies sold by Diestco. There are three models: one that’s all solid fabric; one that has mesh on the sides and rear; and a third one, just like the second, but with drop-down plastic curtains. (Each available in five colors, for the fashionistas among us.)

Initial installation takes about 20 minutes, according to the website. Mounting methods for several common wheelchair styles are shown, but if your scooter or chair differs, Diestco invites you to describe your needs when you order.

Diestco also offers a variety of armrest bags that look thoughtfully designed, and cupholders for scooters, power, and manual chairs, along with many other accessories.