Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Finally! Fashionable clothing for wheelchair users!

Our built environment isn't the only thing that prevents some people from enjoying everything that they desire, clothing can cause serious barriers as well. I can speak firsthand about my experience with clothing since using a wheelchair, two words sum it up completely - freaking frustrating.
I was convinced that I was still a medium-sized dude following my injury so I continued to purchase medium-sized clothing. Little did I know that I was no longer a medium, I was doing the backstroke in my threads. Just last year I picked up a couple of small sized shirts but even they didn't fit quite right. Although the shoulders fit well there is always too much material in the front which causes the shirt to bunch up.
No matter what size, pants are always tricky items as well for a wheelchair user. Pants are made to fit a standing and mobile person. This means the waistband is tailored relatively horizontally but we all know what happens when we sit down, the waistband lowers and if our shirt hasn't already untucked itself we tend to show off a little butt crack. Along with some backside exposure the front side typically bunches and encroaches on our front bits. In structural engineering we would call this a failure, it just wouldn't pass building code.
I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to an amazing woman who is on a mission to make it possible for wheelchair users to finally enjoy their clothing. Izzy Camilleri just opened a new shop in the junction in Toronto and with her many years of experience designing clothing for the runway she is jumping feet first into a market that screams for her product - fashionable clothing for a seated clientele. Visit her amazing website at - www.izadaptive.com. I recently picked up a pair of jeans from Izzy's collection and they are fantastic, I will never buy a pair of conventionally tailored jeans again.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The longer we wait, the more opportunity we miss out on!

I pulled this priceless little gem from a research paper I read today published in part by The Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI). "MPI is the world’s leading think-tank on the role of sub-national factors—location, place and city-regions – in global economic prosperity. It takes an integrated view of prosperity, looking beyond economic measures to include the importance of quality of place and the development of people’s creative potential. A leading think tank in global economic prosperity."

"We do not have the capacity to evaluate the potential impact of specific policy initiatives or to recommend particular elements be included in the standards. What we have learned, however, leads us to conclude that every day that people who want to learn cannot, people who want to work do not, and businesses that wish to serve these markets must wait to see what will be required, Ontario is losing extremely valuable contributions from its citizens. Releasing the constraints that limit full participation in the economy will create a significant force for economic growth."

To me this means that we've got to start coming up with solutions to the physical barriers that prevent many people from fully participating in society. The longer we wait, the more opportunity we miss out on.

The following is a link to a summary of this valuable report:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Temporary ramps... not a permanent solution

Last weekend I was enjoying a nice breakfast on my girlfriend Megan's sunny balcony. I use my portable aluminum folding ramp to get out onto the balcony as it is raised up from the interior space by about 10 inches. Getting up and out onto the balcony was no problem but getting back inside proved to be a little bit more of a challenge. My front wheels rolled over the sliding door track without a problem but my rear wheels needed a little bit more umpf so I backed up a couple of inches and took a bit of a run at it. Not only did my rear wheels fail to roll over the sliding door track but I also managed to push the portable ramp off of the upper lip that it was sitting on. Down went the ramp and with it went the front end of my chair. You know how Batman always crashes through those high-rise windows to rescue someone? You know how he always lands so gracefully, barrel roll styles and ready to fight off the villain? Well, there was no grace and certainly no barrel roll. I launched myself headfirst on to the fallen ramp (complete with grip tape clad running surface) and landed like a sack of potatoes. I didn't pass out (Megan almost did though) but I gave myself a real good collection of raspberries on my forehead, knees and elbow. We called the paramedics, they did a ten point inspection, helped me back into my chair and rode off into the afternoon sunshine to their next distress call... Batman would've been proud. Moral of the story is that temporary ramps are not a permanent solution.