New Innovations In Accessibility Provide Inclusive Opportunities for All
Abilities Expo 2012 Season is in full swing! The TravelinWheels team headed out to the West Coast to join our fellow exhibitors at the Los Angeles Convention Center, not only to showcase our services, but to learn from others. The Los Angeles show is one of the largest events, with dozens of exhibitors and thousands of attendees. It is a great place to gather information about the ever changing world of disability resources, products and services, and the Los Angeles show did not disappoint.
As always, I'm continually encouraged and thrilled to see new opportunities to make the lives of people with disabilities a bit easier. New technologies bring along with them the chance to navigate the world, and we at TravelinWheels are always happy to see our friends and family with disabilities get out and enjoy this wonderful planet we live on.
So, in the tradition that started at my first Abilities Expo, here are the highlighted products and services that I hope will allow everyone to live their lives to the fullest!
Get Ur Motor Runnin!
Are you dreaming of zooming along a coastal highway with the wind in your face and a roaring engine between your legs? Did you give up your ride when you got into your chair? Well, Conquest Wheelchair Motorcycle can bring back your ability to tour the road, in a sleek adapted BMW with an 1170cc engine. Roll right onto the platform that encircles your dream machine, grab ahold of the handles, and throttle this puppy up to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. Want to bring your biker babe along? There is a lift-up passenger seat that lets you both enjoy the ride!
There's a New Kid in Town!
I just loved this power wheelchair that allows kids to be kids; on the floor, at a table, or at the same height as their friends. The Permobile K450MX's power seat-to-floor height lets kids change their height to fully participate in playtime, storytime, or dinnertime. Its compact design isn't overwhelming, either.
Accessibility Built from the Ground Up!
The Vehicle Production Group (VPG) created the MV-1 with accessibility in mind while on the factory floor, not as an adapted vehicle with compromises after the fact. Anti-slip floors, sturdy ramps that can hold 1200 lbs., and comfortable seating systems make this modern-looking vehicle a home-run for those who require accessible transportation.
They're Going to the Wolves!
Veterans travel to the Los Padres National Forest, outside of Los Angeles, to partake in a unique recovery therapy that reduces the stress that comes with the readjustment from active duty to civilian life. Assisting in the rescue of wolfdogs, who have been abandoned and disenfranchised, while finding support for their personal recovery journey, is at the heart of the Warrior and Wolves Therapy Program at Lockwood Animal Rescue Center. The program, launched in the summer of 2011 has already assisted many veterans suffering from depression, PTSD, and other stresses, build trust and find stable ground in their new lives.
Those of you who use manual wheelchairs know how difficult it can be to reach objects on high shelves, transfer into an SUV, or even cook a meal. Christy Anderson watched her daughter, Kate, live her life unable to do many of these things because her chair was simply too low. Christy invented the KatEZ Lift, a portable, lightweight, telescoping chair lifter that attaches beneath a manual chair and rises with the push of a button to safely bring a manual chair up to a higher level. Now, everyone can reach the top shelves of the refrigerator, use a podium during presentations, or use the top half of that whiteboard at school!
It's Time for Me to Fly... Firefly that is!
This particular invention wasn't an exhibitor at the show, but the cool thing about the Abilities Expo is that you never know what you might see around the corner. In this case, I nearly tripped over it! A gentleman was zipping around the show in a Firefly manual wheelchair attachment. The Firefly attaches to the front of the chair, raising up the front casters, and the bicycle-like handlebars provide quick steering while you speed along, using its efficient motor. The Firefly detaches easily and can be stored in the trunk for those times when pushing a chair is just going to wear you out. Check out this video to see how it works!
Beyond the Chair
Andrew ("Drew") Shelley is a lot like many other adults in the world. He went to school and got into the family business. Working in a cube all day, he found that his life wasn't what he had thought it would be at all. To further complicate matters, he had Muscular Dystrophy, which hampered his dreams of being an adventure traveler. Not allowing his disability to stop him, he quit his job and set out to travel the world as a backpacker. Watch and experience his journey, as told in this compelling film set in some of the most beautiful, and seemingly "inaccessible", places in the world. See a trailer for his film here.
Abilities Expos around the country, and their counterpart organizations around the world, offer everyone an opportunity to try new devices, learn about new resources, and experience services. Shows are coming up in New Jersey, Chicago, and San Jose, so be sure to check out www.abilitiesexpo.com for dates and showtimes near you!
And, as always...