Friday, March 12, 2021

John Kenefick & ReggieRoo: A Robot With A Heart Of... Cardboard?

At first glance, John Kenefick may appear more “outside-of-the-box street performer,” and less “conventional artist.” Using recycled paper products (did we mention that he’s unconventional?), this passionate people-person uses his artistic talents to create what he calls “Companion Robots.” Animated and life-sized, John’s cardboard companions are easy to spot as they hitch a ride on the back of his power wheelchair. Together, they bring joy to the people of St. Pete. And in a life before COVID-19, they could usually be found around the country, frequenting John’s favorite music festivals.

Creating these robots has helped John to learn more about himself, and to become more comfortable with his spinal cord injury. Now his favorite form of “therapy,” John describes that these Companion Robots have changed his own perspective on life, as well as his notions of disability, “These creations are helping me adapt, in a positive and uplifting way, to my spinal cord injuries. They help me to feel safe and protected because they stand up right behind me and protect my head and shoulders. And it’s a fun way to interact with people!”


In 2002, after sustaining multiple injuries to his spinal cord, John was new to the world of disability. At first, he had a difficult time coping with his injuries, which included: chronic pain, loss of mobility, and mental health strain. All of this changed when a random event transformed his life. In 2017, he saw a puppeteer who was accompanied by a Cardboard Companion that was sticking out of her backpack. This puppet’s name was Reggie, and it was at least fifteen feet tall. Seeing this stranger gave John a strong desire to have a Reggie of his own. After a bit of tinkering, he figured out how to carry the creation on the back of his manual wheelchair. The next year, his Reggie accompanied him to the Bonnaroo Music Festival, gaining some popularity and the nickname ReggieRoo. Every year after that, John, ReggieRoo, as well as several other Cardboard Companion Robots, frequented both Bonnaroo (www.bonnaroo.com) and Coachella (https://coachella.com/ada). 


In 2017, John started this journey by volunteering, working, and attending music festivals with his daughter. While he began this work to help others and make them smile, access to backstage passes certainly sweetened the deal. But how did John intend to brighten the day of his fellow concert-goers? For starters, he worked with Bonnaroo’s Accessibility Department, where he helped those with disabilities by providing sign-language interpreters, coordinating ADA shuttle service to each stage, and helping to arrange accessible camping spots for attendees with disabilities. These locations were located just a few yards from the festival’s entrance.


Before he began toting around his cardboard buddies, John felt slightly disconnected from people. Even though he began building these Cardboard Companion Robots for himself, John quickly realized that they were much more than that. In fact, they started gaining attention from people outside of his frequented music festivals. When strangers would see him on the street, John noticed a significant change in the way that they interacted with him. Instead of giving a quick nod or wave before moving on, more people actually started to approach him. Before John knew it, strangers were taking pictures, smiling, talking, and laughing with him. To him, the importance of his robots lies in their ability to create a “connection” and “pathway” between himself and the general public. In an irony that hasn’t eluded us, John believes that his robots help others to see him as a “fellow human being.”


Whenever he isn’t working on his Cardboard Companion Robots, John spends his time helping to coordinate music festivals. Before he began working with Laura Grunfeld, the founder of "Everyone's Invited" and leader of Bonnaroo's Access Department, John hadn’t thought too much about the effort that goes into creating accessible, outdoor spaces. He quickly learned that the “Everyone’s Invited” team has a deep understanding and passion for inclusion and accessibility. Their dedication has helped them to find creative solutions, which has helped to greatly improve access for their patrons with disabilities. In addition, Laura has also worked with a number of prestigious events and festivals, including: The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, Bonnaroo, The Governor’s Ball, Outside Lands, Electric Forest, TomorrowWold, and Firefly. Needless to say: John is in good company.


Currently, Bonnaroo is set to take place September 2-5, 2021. Unfortunately, these dates may change because of COVID-19, so make sure to check the status of the festival as September gets closer. John has extended an open invitation for our WheelieGoodLifers to attend with him. If you’d like to learn more about Bonnarroo, or Laura Grunfeld’s “Everyone’s Invited, LLC,” please click here. You can also email Laura at: access@bonnaroo.com. And if you are interested in attending Bonnaroo, please make sure to arrange your Accessible Camping Accommodations as soon as possible.

Lastly, if you’d like to create a Reggie of your own, John has provided us with everything that you’ll need. You can easily create your Cardboard Companion from recycled cardboard, toilet paper rolls, tissue paper, and yarn. All you need is some paint, glue, and a bit of imagination. When you create your Cardboard Companion, please share it with us! Email us pictures of yourself and your robot. We just may feature you on our Facebook Page or website.


Materials Needed to Make Your Own “Cardboard Companion RooBot” or “Mini-Bot” (Note that the “Mini-Bot” is quicker and easier to make)

  1. At least one (1) Toilet Paper Roll (without any toilet paper on the roll)

  2. Several sheets of Tissue Paper or Decorative Paper, which will be used to paper mache/decorate your “Mini-Bot”

  3. Wheat Paste

  4. Paint Brushes

  5. Masking Tape

  6. Uncooked Rice

  7. Acrylic paint set


Step-By-Step Instructions:

SQUARE BOTS
  • One Toilet Paper Roll makes 2 Mini-Bots


1) Take your Toilet Paper Roll and cut it into 2 halves.
2) Change the round tubes into square tubes.
    • First, make crease marks (see photo) on top and bottom of the rolls by slightly flattening the tubes. Flatten just enough to see where the creases for the two corners are (mark those two creases). Do this on the Top and the Bottom of the Toilet Paper Roll.

    • Second, make the other creases needed for the two other corners (mark those two creases). Just like before, flatten only enough to see where the creases are for the two new corners that you’ve made. Do this on the Top and the Bottom of the Toilet Paper Roll. Now, we have a TP Roll that’s Square not Round.

3) Next you will make identical size/length cuts on each of the creases.
    • Make four, identical-sized cuts on the top and bottom or your Toilet Paper Rolls, which are now in the shape of squares. What you’ve created is a miniature sized cardboard box.

4) Now, fold your Box Top and Bottom
5) Before you seal them shut with masking tape, put uncooked rice inside your boxes. Then, seal it shut.
6) Cut your decorating paper into manageable sizes.
7) Take your paint brush and dip it in the wheat paste. Use a light coat of it on the Mini-Bot and the paper. Apply the paper to the Mini-Bot. Repeat this process as many times as you’d like.
8) Allow it to air dry. To make the drying process quicker, use a hairdryer.
9) The final touch is painting.


Authors:
Mary Carol Peterson
















Kyle Romano
















Edited by:
Kyle Romano

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Caregiver Spotlight: Are Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles THAT Great?

A grey minivan is parked in a disabled parking spot. A little girl is seated in a transfer seat, which is extended outside of the rear passenger door. Her mother reaches down to unbuckle her seatbelt. The girl's wheelchair is positioned right next to her.
As a caregiver, you’ve spent countless hours both stowing and retrieving mobility equipment from your vehicle. You’ve also performed hundreds, if not thousands, of transfers. But one day, let’s say that you help a wheelchair user transfer into a vehicle, and hurt your back in the process. At first, you think it isn’t a big deal. However, after constantly repeating this process, your injury only gets worse. What now?

Unfortunately, we hear stories like this all the time. When assisting people with disabilities, you can’t forget to pay attention to your own health and safety. After all, if you injure yourself, you can’t help anybody. So let’s put a stop to this mess before it even begins. A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) makes it easier to be a better caregiver, and can certainly save you from hurting yourself. It goes without saying that life would also become less stressful for the wheelchair users in your life. So secure your wheelchairs, put on your seatbelts, and grab some snacks for the road! We’re about to take a trip down Caregiver Lane.
A silver minivan is in a disabled parking spot at a park. A woman is shown pushing a boy in a manual wheelchair. They are walking down a BraunAbility foldout ramp. A woman and a friend greet the two.

I know exactly what you’re thinking: “Where do I begin?” Though most people are only worried about their vehicle’s color or the size of its engine, you have a lot more to think about. Creating an action plan is a great way to ease some of your stress, while saving you a lot of time and money. While our WAV specialists can help you create a more detailed list, you can start by asking yourself a few important questions, including:
  • Is the inside of the vehicle tall enough for a wheelchair user?
  • Are both the ramp and door wide enough?
  • How and where should you secure the wheelchair?
This process can seem very stressful, especially for new wheelchair users. The reality is that life doesn’t stop just because you have a disability. If you insist on doing all of the research and finding a vehicle on your own, it’s likely that you could make a costly mistake. If you are a wheelchair user, you know how important tiny details can be. For example, if you have to park your vehicle in a garage, you have to purchase a WAV that will fit in that space. A good dealer will work with you, and point out some things that you should consider before making any decisions. They’ll help you cover every detail, and may ask questions like:
  • Do you need to park your WAV in a garage?
  • Is there enough space to load and unload your wheelchair?
  • Can you fasten your wheelchair on your own, or do you need assistance?
  • Can you transfer into another seat within your vehicle?
A family is shown in front of their conversion van. A few children are wheelchair users, one of which is positioned on the vehicle's power lift.
Each caregiver and wheelchair user has a unique set of challenges, which is why it’s important that you receive individualized service. Remember that your vehicle is made to specifically work for you. Because of this, there’s a good chance that your WAV will have different features than others you’ve checked out. While it might be difficult to picture the final product, try and keep an open mind about the modifications that you may require. During the process, you can absolutely make suggestions and ask for clarification about anything.

A man is pointing to a foldout ramp of a BraunAbility minivan. He is talking to a girl and her father, as they both look up the ramp and into the vehicle.
We know that your life as a caregiver is extremely busy. If you want to check out a vehicle in person, but don’t have the time to visit our Largo facility, our team can even bring it to you. Our goal is to provide caregivers and wheelchair users with a hassle-free experience, which is why we also have a large inventory. On the off chance that we don’t have your dream vehicle in stock, we can specifically order it for you. We can even modify commercial WAVs, which are specifically designed for drivers that work in the ridesharing industry. Click here if you’d like to learn more about commercial WAV options.

Lastly, as a caregiver, you know that independence is extremely important for people with disabilities. If your client, son, or daughter is interested in learning to drive, Grace Adaptive Driving can train them. Since adaptive controls have a bit of a learning curve, these professionals can teach individuals with disabilities to drive on their own, and become that much more independent. For more information about Grace Adaptive Driving, click here.

Whether you have a disability or not, transportation is an important part of everybody’s lives. While it might seem overwhelming to research WAVs, the payoff will be well worth it in the end. Having more control over your transportation will help you to be a better caregiver, and help your clients to live happier and healthier lives. And who wouldn’t want that?

Authors
Kyle Romano















Mary Carol Peterson















Edited by:
Kyle Romano

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Florida Accessible Beaches and Outdoor Spaces

A beach wheelchair with balloon tires is shown sitting atop gravel, parked underneath a "handicapped parking" sign, with shrubbery in the background.Recently, many people have begun to rediscover their love for nature. As Floridians, we are lucky to have access to beautiful beaches, parks, and other, wheelchair accessible spaces. These places are perfect for having fun, while continuing to practice social distancing. So pack your PPE masks, umbrellas, sunscreen, and phones! Here are some accessibility tips to help you make the most out of Florida’s great outdoors.

When most people think of our subtropical state, they likely imagine picturesque palm trees, beaches, and the open ocean. Let’s begin by exploring some of these natural treasures, and take a closer look at some amenities that are accessible for wheelchair users.  


You’ll notice that some locations offer accessible mats. Once thought impossible, Mobimats allow wheelchair users to roll themselves onto the beach! Click here to learn more about these incredible mats. If you are a wheelchair user who’s itching to get shoreside, need, here’s a pro tip: before making the trek out to your favorite, accessible beach, give your city/county a call to make sure that Mobimats are available. Accessible beach mats are rolled up during sea turtle nesting season, which may affect your beachly adventures.

A boardwalk ramp is shown, leading down to the beach. Bright skies and white sand are in the backgroundHave you ever seen one of those wheelchairs that sport big, balloon tires? If you want to feel the salt on your skin, these beach wheelchairs can be a great way to cruise the dunes. There are several locations in Pinellas County, including Fort DeSoto Beach, where you can rent a tropical chariot. The best part is that you can usually borrow these at the low price of... free! These chairs make it easy for wheelchair users to glide over pesky sand with ease. 

Though Gulfport Beach is missing from the aforementioned list, a Mobimat was installed 2019. 
Treasure Island Beach also boasts a Mobimat, which you can learn more about by clicking here. But what else does Pinellas County have to offer? Click here to explore some more Florida beaches, learn more about St. Petersburg’s accessibility.

St. Pete Pier is shown, with calm water below, and blue skies filled with white clouds above

More Outdoor Spaces To Explore 
Since the St. Pete Pier was recently remodeled, it is very accessible, and features lots of room for social distancing. From there, you can even enjoy the beautiful views of Tampa Bay and Downtown St. Pete. Thanks to its flat terrain, the entire pier is easy for wheelchair users to explore. The ramped area makes it easy to get closer views of the water, and who wouldn’t want that? It is a pier, after all. While seeking out St. Pete’s secrets, you can check out a variety of local art projects and learning centers, including the murals, the Bending Arc, and the Discovery Center!

A black & white picture of Bok Tower, with palm trees in the background.If you’ve been searching for a National Historic Landmark, look no further than Bok Tower Gardens. Located in Lake Wales, Florida, this beautiful attraction was originally founded as a bird sanctuary by Edward and Marie Bock. It boasts over 100 species of birds and encompasses more than 200 acres. The “Singing Tower” Looms a whopping 205 feet tall. Almost all of the area is wheelchair accessible, including handicapped parking and restrooms. It’s is open to the public year-round, so make sure that you don’t miss out!

If you are a person who likes variety, Florida’s state parks offer some of the most diverse environments. Whether you need to cool off in our natural springs, or want to venture along scenic trails in search of wildlife, there’s a little something for everybody. Wheelchair users should keep in mind that clear, paved, or gravel-covered paths are the easiest to tread. And if you have a cognitive disability, some parks provide literature that will tell you everything you need to know about high-traffic areas, as well as the sights and sound that you can expect. 

Click here to learn more about the accessibility of Florida state parks.
Click here for another great resource, covering the 5 most accessible
parks in Florida.
Click here for a map, which can help you find more accessible, Florida State parks.

A couple sits on on a bench, in a park, with green grass surrounding them and a lake in front of them.
Myakka River State Park is near Sarasota, and offers some unique experiences for wheelchair users. In addition to experiencing their Birdwalk, you can even take a tour of the park by an accessible tram or boat. This river is Florida’s first state-designated, wild and scenic river. It flows through a vast expanse of unspoiled wetlands, prairies, hammocks, and pinelands that make up Myakka River State Park. Click here to learn more.

Sea birds perch on rocks protruding from the ocean.If you are a fan of wildlife viewing, the Little Manatee River State Park is famous for it! The park protects over 2,400 acres of habitat for hundreds of common, Florida species, in addition to dozens of rare and listed species. Make sure to venture into this park at sunrise or sunset, when it’s best for wildlife viewing. Don't forget to bring a pair of binoculars, a camera, and a trail map!

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is located about 2 hours north of Tampa, and has accessible walkways for viewing different breeds of Florida birds, in their natural habitat! There’s also a manatee viewing area. Click here to learn more.

If you are searching for an accessible park near Gainesville, the Ochlockonee River State Park is just north. Sporting a renovated boat launch area, it provides access to the Ochlockonee River, as well as surrounding creeks and waterways. Paved sidewalks lead to a floating boat dock, paved ramp, and even a separate kayak launch that’s wheelchair accessible! Sidewalks lead from the parking lot of the day-use area to a number of fun areas, including: two picnic pavilions, the swimming beach, playground, river shoreline, as well as an accessible outdoor shower and drinking fountain. Click here to learn more.

A man in a blue shirt sits next to his wheelchair, on the beach, as he looks at the ocean.

With all of these wonderful parks at our disposal, what are we all still doing inside? Let’s get out there and enjoy all of the accessible activities that Florida has to offer!

Authors
Mary Carol Peterson
A profile picture of Mary Carol Peterson, holding a clipboard and tape measure as she smiles for the camera.




















Kyle Romano



Edited by:
Kyle Romano

Monday, September 28, 2020

Olivia Babis, Political Advocate For Disability Rights

Profile of Olivia Babis. She's wearing a blue top and smiling for the camera

Oliva Babis, a public policy analyst for Disability Rights Florida and one-time candidate for the Florida Senate, has often faced a variety of barriers and
discrimination. You see, she was born an amputee. Because she dealt with these obstacles at an early age, Olivia's experiences taught her to battle for herself and other people with disabilities. And that was just the beginning. By overcoming these challenges, Olivia steeled her resolve and became the incredible disability advocate that she is today.

Olivia went on to become a public policy analyst for Disability Rights Florida, and later a Democratic Candidate for the Florida Senate. But what set her on this path? Like most people with disabilities, Olivia has faced her fair share of barriers and discrimination. And like many others, her journey began in the public school system. She began by attending a Polk County elementary school, where she was placed in a Special Education class. Though Olivia neither had a learning nor an intellectual disability, it was difficult for her family to convince the county to mainstream her into a "typical" classroom. On top of that, accessible transportation was an issue. If Olivia had to take a wheelchair accessible bus to school, she would've missed an hour of class... Every day... By chance, her grandmother worked in the school system, and was able to help Olivia get to and from school.

After a drastic amount of effort and time, Olivia was partially mainstreamed in the third grade. There, she spend part of her day with the Special Ed. class, and the rest with a "typical" class. At this time, there weren't many public schools that were wheelchair accessible. As a result, Olivia had to attend specific schools that could accommodate her needs and was often separated from her friends. If you ever had to change schools as a kid in elementary school, you can imagine how it made her feel. And since she was forced to attend different schools because of her disability, we can only imagine how much more uncomfortable that made her feel.

During her time in Special Education, Olivia became friends with other kids that had a wide range of disabilities. What Olivia began to notice, was that each person had their own set of needs, unique to themselves. After graduating with her Bachelor’s in History, Olivia became passionate about advocating for disability rights. What she learned encouraged her to fight against injustices related to people with disabilities. Olivia set her sights on politics, using that platform to raise awareness for the disability community, which doesn’t get much attention in the mainstream media.

Since starting her career in politics, Olivia has worked on a number of prestigious campaigns, and has continued to fight for her people. The first piece of legislation that she was assigned, through Disability Rights Florida, was related to a statewide straw ban. Olivia wanted to show that a ban on straws wouldn’t just affect the environment, but that it would harm disabled people. And while the bill passed through Florida legislation, it was unfortunately vetoed by the governor. This campaign was still important because it did succeed in raising awareness about disability rights.

In 2018, Olivia decided to check off a bucket list item: she was going to run for office. After Greg Steube resigned from the Florida State Senate District 23, the opportunity finally presented itself. During her campaign, Olivia shed light on a number of disability-related issues. One of her main goals was to reach people who were federally recognized as "disabled," even though they didn't consider themselves to be. As a result, many of these individuals couldn't receive the government assistance that they needed to stay healthy. By also addressing issues such as abuse and neglect, she wanted to create solutions to benefit the lives of people with disabilities and the elderly.

Unfortunately, though not by much, Olivia came up short in the election. Despite this minor setback, this portion of her political career has been extremely important for all people, and put a face to this civil rights issue. Since this topic doesn't often get the spotlight, Olivia’s campaign was important because it served as an important teaching moment for our community.

Olivia’s determination, ingenuity, and tireless work ethic continues to  propel her career and advocacy efforts forward. Her actions show the unlimited potential of people with disabilities, and demonstrate the importance that they play in their communities. Olivia is an invaluable resource for our local community, who will continue to fight for the rights of people with disabilities.

Author:
Kyle Romano


Wednesday, August 19, 2020

CRT Awareness Week: Where Do We Go From Here?

An OT kneels in front of a pediatric client, showing her proper technique for propelling her yellow, manual wheelchair. The OT, wearing a red top, places her hands on the rims of the wheelchair. The client, wearing a light blue top, watches and places her hands on the rims.The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is often recognized as the climax of the Disability Rights Movement. While it remains an important piece of legislation, it has never been more important for us to continue advocating for disability rights. 30 years ago, public buildings weren’t legally required to be accessible for people with disabilities. Since I'm a power wheelchair user, that reality is extremely uncomfortable to me.

Before the ADA was passed on July 26, 1990, disabled people were forced to stay at home and live mostly solitary lives. We did not have equal access to pursue an education, to work, or even to spend time with friends and family. The ADA forced our country, and its citizens, to recognize that these accessibility issues go against our basic, human rights. As a result of the ADA, disability is now more visible than ever. For example, while there were never any disabled characters in movies and TV shows, disabled actresses and actors are now starting to be cast for a variety of roles. Additionally, commercials are beginning to feature wheelchair users and people with developmental disabilities. While there’s certainly room for improvement, I want to point out that we are making progress. This point is very important for understanding where we came from, and for what we need to do in the future.


A man in a manual wheelchair is posing in front of a few palm trees. He wears a green graduation cap and gown. Smiling into the camera, he leans forward, folding his hands and wresting his wrists on his knees.
I wouldn’t say that disability is becoming “normal" or "mainstream" in our society. However, by featuring disabled people in popular movies and shows, disability becomes much more visible and is difficult to ignore. Why does this matter? Let’s say that you have never met a disabled person, but you watch the hit TV show Glee. Since one of the main characters is a wheelchair user, you finally witness what it might be like to have a physical disability. Just by watching the show, you begin to learn things about wheelchair users and disability, and start to form ideas in your mind about both. Are these definitions completely accurate? Of course not! But the show still forces you to recognize that disabled people are real, and that we have goals, feelings, jobs, friends, talents, hobbies etc. It shows you that disabled people are different, but that we are still people.
A man in a power wheelchair rolls toward a tall building. Around the building, there are a number of palm trees. The sky is a clear, bright blue.
Despite all of the positive change, people with disabilities still deal with discrimination every day. For those of us with complex disabilities, we constantly struggle to get the equipment that we need to survive. I am one of many people that rely on Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) to live a happy, healthy, and productive life. CRT includes any wheelchair that is modified to meet the unique needs of the wheelchair user. Since these devices are expensive, CRT users have had to fight for our rights to CRT. Without it, we’d be stuck in bed, unable to attend school or work, or even care for ourselves. Since CRT is extremely important to our health and well-being, it's not an exaggeration to say that we’d be at risk of getting sick and experiencing other health problems, including death.

A man in a power wheelchair is speaking to a congressional staff member. They are in a congressional office. A rug underneath them bears a seal and says: "U.S. House of Representatives." The walls are dark blue.
So, how do we advocate for ourselves, and also for our disabled friends and family members?  We start by teaching others and telling our stories. That process will help us to spread awareness about disability and the importance of CRT. We should also lean on organizations such as NCART and NRRTS, which help disabled people advocate for our right to CRT. In my experience of speaking with Congressmen/women and Senators, I learned that they don’t want to leave us out. The sad reality is that most of them just don’t understand. And if they don’t know about the issues that we face on a daily basis, how can we expect them to support laws that protect the rights of disabled people? One of the most important things we can do is to educate disabled people and able-bodied people, by showing how they can become disability advocates. Advocating for disability rights, and our rights to CRT, shows our legislators why we deserve equal access. CRT is essential for disabled people, because it allows us to survive, to thrive, and to succeed.

Want to get involved with CRT advocacy? To read up-to-date news, and to learn how you can help, check out NCART and NRRTS!


Author:
Kyle Romano


Wednesday, June 17, 2020

DIY Wheelchair Prep For Hurricane Season




Note: the following article contains a detailed list of suggestions. Custom Mobility Inc. isn't liable for any damages or accidents that may occur to your equipment.

To better prepare for hurricane season, it’s important to create a strategy as soon as possible. Planning is especially important for wheelchair users, people with disabilities, and our elderly population. If you rely on mobility and medical equipment, how should you begin preparing for this year’s hurricane season?

The First Step: Checking Your Equipment
Whether you use powered or manual mobility equipment, a wheelchair accessible vehicle, other medical equipment, or all of the above, here is an easy place to start. To prevent problems that could affect your equipment during a hurricane, pay close attention to the condition of your wheelchair and other devices. Regular maintenance is always important to protect your health and to keep you safe. Preventative maintenance is especially important during hurricane season, because it could impact your ability to evacuate, shelter in place, or travel to a public shelter. Additionally, scheduling routine maintenance will give us time to properly diagnose any repairs that your wheelchair or scooter may need. In some cases, we might need to order replacement parts, which could take a few weeks to arrive.



Tips For Power Wheelchair and Scooter Users
In wet or rainy conditions, it’s extremely important to protect your joystick from water damage. Covering it with a clear, plastic bag, is a great way to keep water out. If you carry one with you, you’ll always be ready for a surprise shower. It’s also important to try and keep your batteries as dry as possible. In case your battery gets wet, disconnect one battery connector and give us a call. This step will prevent further damage to your wheelchair or scooter until we can help. Did you know that rain ponchos can get caught in your wheels? To avoid a poncho-related mishap, it might be best to wear a fitted rain coat.

For power wheelchair and scooter users, losing electricity can be a pain. Losing power during a hurricane can make things especially difficult. If this happens, you may not be able to charge the batteries of your mobility device. If this happens, what should you do? As a temporary solution, it could be a great option to keep a backup, manual wheelchair.

In case you find yourself in an emergency situation, it’s important that your caregivers, family members, and/or friends, know how to operate all of your mobility devices. Knowing the size and weight of your devices can also help your support system. While evacuating may be scary, it’s reassuring to know that you have assistance.



Manual Wheelchairs
In case of an emergency, it’s just as important to perform maintenance on your manual wheelchair. To help you prepare, it’s important to check the condition of your tires, casters, wheel locks, and upholstery. For your health and safety, all of these pieces must be in working condition.

Cushions
Some of our clients need specialized seat cushions to protect their skin and/or maintain their balance. Even if you have to evacuate without your wheelchair, it’s important to bring your cushion with you, wherever you go. For many wheelchair users, sitting without their seat cushions can cause skin breakdown. This situation can become very dangerous, and can lead to hospitalization with a long recovery time.

Though many people might not realize it, maintaining the cover of your seat cushion is also very important. In case your seat ever gets wet, it may be a good idea to purchase an extra cover. Keep an eye out for any tears in it or in the upholstery of your wheelchair’s back. We recommend that our clients replace these yearly, or as needed. 


Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
To accommodate wheelchair ramps, many wheelchair accessible vehicles (WAVs) feature lowered floors. If you drive a WAV, it might be easy to get stuck on a stormy road, or to avoid standing water.

Similar to wheelchair maintenance, it’s important to stay current on the maintenance of your WAV. In the rare case that you experience difficulty with your ramp or suspension system, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the emergency, manual functions of your conversion. Click here for a helpful video on the manual operation of your WAV’s electric ramp.

Other Assistive Devices
For individuals who use mobility devices such as canes or walkers, bringing an extra will make sure that your evacuation goes as smoothly as possible. If you use oxygen or are on dialysis, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider to make a preparedness plan.


Important Information
Do your mobility devices need maintenance? Our Custom Mobility team is always happy to help! Click here to schedule maintenance for your mobility device.

Click here to read more about wheelchair service.

Click here to learn about DIY maintenance in case of emergencies.

Please see more tips from our 2019 article about hurricane preparation. It includes information not covered in this article, including advice about service animals.
If you need additional assistance, call us at: 800-622-5151.

Author:
Mary Carol Peterson















Edited by:


John Kenefick & ReggieRoo: A Robot With A Heart Of... Cardboard?

At first glance, John Kenefick may appear more “outside-of-the-box street performer,” and less “conventional artist.” Using recycled paper p...