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October 7, 2016

Five Affordable and Accessible ways to get around town

When it comes time to get around town – big city or small – when using a mobility product, it’s often the ”getting around” part that’s difficult for those who don’t drive. After all, if you use a wheelchair or scooter, calling a cab isn’t that simple. So, from old standbys to cutting-edge transit, what are the current accessible transportation options available?

Fixed-Route Public Transit

Although not the hippest mode of transportation, fixed-route public buses and trains still provide reliable accessible transportation. Since the 1980s, and ultimately the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), all are required to be accessible. This means buses have lifts (or ramps) and trains and their stations are accessible. What’s more, routine riders with disabilities and seniors can get discount cards, making public transit phenomenally affordable. Yes, public transit has historically had service issues, such as a bus with a broken lift or a train station with an out-of-order elevator. However, overall in today’s age, public transit proves a remarkably reliable and affordable way to get around town.

Paratransit

get around town on Paratransit

Began in the 1970s in larger cities and solidified by the ADA, paratransit is federally-mandated transportation for those with disabilities nationwide. Typically run at the county level, paratransit are the smaller, accessible vans you’ll see in addition to fixed-route buses. Paratransit is an on-demand service that provides door-to-door service (though some services may limit the types of occasions and times they’re used – for example, medical appointments, but not social engagements). Most, however, are a very flexible and extremely convenient way to get around town. To use paratransit, you must register, then rides cost on average $2.50 per one-way trip. Some paratransits require 24-hour notice to book a ride, while others are on call. Each paratransit system is a little different in policies, so check with your local paratransit for its protocols.

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September 29, 2016

The Abilities Expo: Products, People, and Priceless Moments

Abilities expo

It’s called the Abilities Expo.

Imagine a place where all are seen as one. Age nor ethnicity nor physicality matter. Maybe this sounds like Utopia. However, it in fact exists, six times per year, no less.

Abilities expo

Catching up with old friends

Established in 1979 in Southern California, the Abilities Expo has evolved into the premier consumer and cultural event for those with disabilities across the U.S. Today, the Abilities Expo has six annual venues from coast to coast, each lasting three days. The upcoming expos for 2016 and 2017 include the San Francisco Bay Area, Washington D.C., Toronto, Los Angeles, New York Metro, Chicago, Houston, and Boston. It may be a bit of a drive, but throughout the year, there’s a good chance that an Abilities Expo will be near you. And, you should go! Why?

 

For starters, the Abilities Expo, which has free admission, has every latest-greatest disability-related product you can imagine – and many you never knew existed. Not only can you browse every type of product – from wheelchairs to home access to accessible vehicles to sports, and on and on – but you can try them, too. It’s truly interactive. Many consumers go to see a specific product in person, only to be mesmerized by countless others.

Abilities expo

Our busy SpinLife Booth at the Expo

Next, the Abilities Expo is a fantastic opportunity to see and try emerging technologies.

For example, several years ago, among the first exoskeletons, enabling those with spinal cord injuries to walk, was shown at the Abilities Expos. It’s truly become a showcase for research projects and unreleased technologies that you won’t see anywhere else.

 

In keeping with a cutting-edge theme, the Abilities Expos also present workshops geared toward disability-related topics. They can range from advocacy to medical to sexuality, and so on. For those newly navigating the disability world, the one-hour workshops can prove extremely beneficial.

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September 22, 2016

The Best (Unexpected) Fall Foliage Destinations

Fall Foliage

Have you ever noticed that those who have moved away from seasonal climates almost universally express missing one specific aspect: fall foliage, nature’s annual kaleidoscope.

Indeed, fall foliage in many of these United States is a spectacular site.

It most often begins in mid-September with a dash of color, a brushed yellow or rust leaf among the green. And, as the days pass, the temperatures cool, and as we head into pumpkin season and October, the trees change, leaf-by-leaf. Soon, once green hillsides are multi-colored canvases. Even the vision of a lone copper-colored leaf drifting down a stream is mesmerizing. So, where are among the best places to see such sites this fall, ones that are accessible by vehicle or mobility product?

Holmes County, Ohio

The iconic buckeye trees, along with maples and oaks, line the heart of Central Ohio’s Amish Country. Country roads lead to bend after bend of breathtaking bright red and yellow foliage, and the occasional horse-drawn carriage adds to the storybook charm.

Sonoma County, CaliforniaSonoma Valley fall foliage

When most think Sonoma, they think wine and vineyards. However, in October, Sonoma County, along Arnold Drive, continuing along the Russian River, is ablaze with maples and oaks.

 

 

Northern New Mexico

Most know of New Mexico’s deserts and rocky vistas, but the northern part of the state meets the base of the Rocky Mountains. In particular, there’s an 83-mile drive, called the Enchanted Circle, that runs from Taos to Red River. The drive is a mystical blanket of cottonwoods and aspen that shimmer gold in late September and October.

Skytop, PennsylvaniaFall Foliage Indian Ladder Falls

Located in the Poconos, Skytop Lodge and its surrounding wilderness is a beautiful fall resort getaway. In particular, the Indian Ladder Falls Trail is an approximately one-mile packed gravel trail, with slight grades, that’s accessible. The trail winds its way across a ridge in the Poconos, lined by stunning fall foliage, culminating at a spectacular waterfall. For day trips, there’s a public parking lot at the trail’s entrance. Skytop’s Indian Ladder Falls Trail is a wonderful way to get into the heart of fall foliage in the world-renowned Poconos, with full accessibility.

Brooklyn, New York

Fall foliage Central Park midtown skyline over lake in Manhattan New York City

Central Park Autumn and midtown skyline over lake in Manhattan New York City

 

Central Park in New York City is unquestionably a stunning, accessible fall foliage destination. However, a better kept secret is the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 52 acres of paved pathways. Especially gorgeous are the reflective waters of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Look for peak foliage in mid to late October.

Bar Harbor, Maine

Fall foliage

Fall colors on the slopes of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park
coastal Maine

Of course, the Northeast and New England region abounds with the ultimate fall foliage.

Nevertheless, Bar Harbor, Maine, is a fabulous fall destination. Since the 1800s, fall foliage lovers have flocked to Bar Harbor, where from Acadia National Park to whale watching, it’s a nature lovers final destination. Best seen in mid October, the fall foliage adorning the historic mansions and hotels is postcard perfect.

Your Own BackyardFall foliage

Whether a day trip or weekend getaway, immersing oneself in fall foliage can prove soothing for the soul. Yet, let us not overlook our own backyards or tree-lined streets, where the kaleidoscope of colors reminds us not just of nature’s fall beauty, but our own – all radiant.

September 20, 2016

Spotlight on the innovative WheelAble shower commode chair

WheelAble Travel Shower Commode Chair

The WheelAble travel shower commode chair is an innovative shower commode chair from Clarke Healthcare designed with your comfort and convenience in mind! While there are other shower commode chairs that fold, no other model folds as neatly and compactly. The WheelAble travel shower commode chair is specifically designed to allow you to take your vital showering equipment along with you on your travels.

wheelable shower commode chair

WheelAble folded

The WheelAble has some unique design features that make it more user friendly than many shower commode chairs. First, the overall width is only 19 inches, so you can get through bathroom doors with ease. It is built with an under-seat height of 18.5 inches, which allows it to slide over any commode. The whole structure is made of corrosion-proof molded plastic, with stainless steel fittings, so it’s easy to maintain, and rust free. The commode seat is padded, and the backrest is contoured for comfort. Armrests raise up and drop down flat for easy transfers.

 

 

Perhaps the neatest feature is the way it folds. Release the latches, and the backrest and seat fold forward and down, then the whole unit folds inward, like a wheelchair would, into a compact 26.13” X 8.97 “ X 21” space. We think that would be pretty handy for storage, don’t you? Folded and stowed, it will really save valuable bathroom space!

wheelable travel shower -commode chair

Folded and in the carrying case

 

If travel plans are in your future, the lightweight WheelAble is the perfect travelling companion.

It’s lightweight design weighs only 25.5 lbs. – making travelling a breeze. Order the optional custom carrying case and take it along on your next adventure! The case has casters on the bottom, so you can discreetly roll the WheelAble along like a rolling suitcase. For complete specifications and to see the product brochure visit the WheelAble at SpinLife.com

September 15, 2016

The Noble Service Dog: an Awesome Companion

Baby service dog in training

September is National Service Dog Month.

National Service Dog Month is an annual fundraising and awareness campaign for the noble dogs that enter a career of service to humans. And it is the perfect time to reflect on the roles that service animals play in our lives. Would you like to help? See our links below for some of the amazing organizations that train these dogs.

Perhaps no other animal has been so universally connected to humans as the the dog. Over the evolution of mankind and canines, countless “working” relationships evolved, from ranching to rescue. The Service Dog program is one of the most remarkable examples of this relationship, supporting individuals with a huge variety of needs.  Some examples are:

Guiding Eyes for the Blind. Seeing eye dogs have provided guiding eyes for the blind throughout history. Guiding Eyes for the Blind trains these assistance dogs to lead blind and visually impaired people around obstacles, making it easier to get around and providing a sense of confidence with their surroundings.Service dog

Physical Assistance.  Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. A physical assistance dog can open doors, pick up dropped items, retrieve items from the fridge, and get help when needed, even picking up the phone when it rings and give it to their person. Simple activities that most of us take for granted can be a major hardship for a person with physical limitations. A service dog helps create greater freedom and independence.

Service dog with his owner in a wheeclchair

   “It’s impossible to overstate how important Service Dogs are in the lives of many people with disabilities.”

Diabetic and Allergen Support Diabetic Alert Dogs of America trains dogs to help prevent the dangerous insulin drops that lead to comas and even death, by notifying a person in the event of a sharp drop in insulin levels. They are trained to prevent a person from attempting to do something while at reduced mental capacity.  Diabetic alert dogs also provide a sense of security for those living on their own who cannot recognize when their sugar is dropping. In addition, some dogs can be trained to alert their companion in the presence of life-threatening allergens.

Sensory Assistance Autism Service Dogs of America provide trained autism dogs can provide tremendous stability for autistic children and developmentally disabled adults, providing them with safety, an outlet for communication and sensory development, and increasing playtime activities.

Service Dog and the child he serves

Emotional Support  Emotional support dogs provide comfort and support in the forms of affection and companionship for anyone suffering from a mental and emotional conditions. An emotional support dog is not required to perform specific tasks like a traditional service dog would. They are often trained by the owner, but certification programs can be used to designate them as official support companions. They are meant solely for emotional stability and unconditional love. They can assist with conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, depression, mood disorder, panic attacks, phobias, as well as other psychological and emotional conditions. Emotional support dogs often live in nursing and group homes, as a full-time companion for its residents.

service dog offers emotional support

What is the difference between types of assistance dogs?  Guide Dogs assist people who are visually or hearing impaired. A Service Dog is the permanent companion of a person with a disability that enables them to live with greater independence.Therapy Dogs are usually the personal pet of their owner and visit individuals in places such as hospitals or nursing homes to provide comfort or enrichment.

 

Responsibility of Having a Service Dog  Unlike typical pets, service dogs, ideally, are your companion at all times. No matter where you go or what you do, your service dog is with you. Having a service dog is a full-time commitment. Training never ends – service dogs and humans alike must be regularly reminded of the ground rules of their relationship.

The Best Friend You’ll Ever Have  Beyond all definitions, legalities and practices, there’s one universal truth about service dogs: they are the most loving, loyal companion you’ll ever have. Yes, they know when they’re working, but they’re just as quick to protect you when someone’s at the door, or snuggle up with you in bed if you allow.