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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 13, 2016

Looking for smooth riding travel scooters? Check out the Buzzaround XLS

Smooth riding travel scooter Buzzaround XLS

Travel  scooters have been around a while.

Their small size and easy to handle weight makes them practical help-mates for nearly anyone with mobility issues. Not only are they transportable, travel scooters are really quite sporty as well. No wonder they are so popular!

If there is ever a complaint about travel scooters, it usually relates to the “stiff” or “jarring” quality to the ride.

After all, they have solid frames, with no shock absorbers (designed to keep the weight down) and solid tires with no “bounce” (no worries about flat tires). The combination adds up to a very stiff ride indeed!

The good news is that Golden Technologies responded to that issue when they designed the new Buzzaround XLS travel scooters! Available in both three and four wheel models, I’d like to highlight some of the features for you.

smooth riding travel scooters

Buzzaround XLS 4-wheel travel scooter

Most standard travel scooters are +- 37” in length. The Buzzaround XLS scooters are longer, but still compact.  The Buzzaround XLS 4-wheel is 41.5 “ long, and the three wheel version is 42.5” long, so they feel roomier and less cramped. The padded seat swivels, folds forward for transport, and can be set as high as 23” from the ground, which is great for taller riders, or those folks who have trouble getting up off of a low seat. The seat is available in the standard 17” width, or it can be upgraded to a 20” width for extra room. A Delta Tiller is standard equipment on the Buzzaround XLS, which gives you a larger area to grip and makes driving possible with just one hand. This feature is especially helpful for anyone who may have issues with arthritis, neuropathy or carpal tunnel syndrome. The charging port is located up on the tiller- no need to crawl around on your knees searching for the plug!

Standard batteries are rated to travel up to 8 miles on a charge, and the top speed is 4 MPH. 3”of ground clearance makes for secure travel over somewhat uneven surfaces, like grassy lawns or smooth paths. There’s an LED headlamp to light your way after dark, and lots of optional accessories designed for your convenience.

Of course, the biggest feature is the suspension. Front and rear “Comfort-Spring” suspension is standard on the XLS. Each wheel is attached to the frame on springs, creating a shock-absorbing effect, much like the shock absorbers on your automobile.

This spring suspension smooths out the bumps of every day travel, like cracks in the sidewalk, thresholds at doorways, the ups and downs of everyday life!

This is not only helpful outdoors, however. The suspension also lessens the degree to which your body “rocks” back and forth when starting and stopping, even as you just move about in your home. Riders with back and neck issues will really appreciate the smoother ride-quality.

Check out the Buzzaround XLS for yourself by visiting our website at SpinLife.com

September 6, 2016

Employment Among the Disabled: Challenges and Progress

Employment and disabilities

Employment rates among the disabled community are a topic of much discussion.

When it comes to employment, socio-economics and those with disabilities, we often hear grim statistics. For example, 28.1% of those with disabilities live below the poverty line compared to 11.6% of the general population.

However, such statistics, while unfortunately true, don’t reflect other, brighter socio-economic dynamics of the lives of those with disabilities. Employment rates are one of them.

It’s often touted that those with disabilities have an astronomically high unemployment rate of around 70%. Yet, when we look at the actual statistics, the realities are both revealing and encouraging.

Cornell University performed a landmark study that gathered employment statistics on those with disabilities. In 2014, 34.6% of those with disabilities between the ages of 18 and 64 were employed. Further, an additional 9.2% of those with disabilities were actively seeking jobs. That data puts those with disabilities in the workforce at a remarkable 43.8%. That’s astonishingly better than the 70% unemployment rate that’s often inaccurately touted.

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