Access-A-Hut's Blog

September 12, 2009

Politics, accessibility and chairs

Filed under: Accessibility — by accessahut @ 5:57 pm

Deena just got back from a town hall meeting with our Denver U.S. Congresswoman, Diana DeGette. She may write more about it, but the relevant part for me is that both of Deena’s knees went out (the venue wasn’t accessible to wheelchair users; there was agreement to Deena’s proposal that there be an additional meeting scheduled in a place that is fully accessible…..). Deena cannot walk at all right now. We usually keep her wheelchair in the car. We live in a magic, beautiful, 120 year old house (part of the house, actually) and have a magic garden that is centered around a 60+ year old trumpet vine. So perhaps it becomes a bit more obvious why we’ve lived here so long and have wanted to be able to live here for the rest of our lives.

But we can’t.

There are stairs. There are narrow doorways and hallways, and tight corners. So many of the things that make this home charming and inviting are things that also make it inaccessible.

Today is helping us think about the worst case scenario for Deena, which would be that she can’t walk at all, and is thus completely confined to a wheelchair.

Some thoughts we don’t want to forget follow.

If our house is only about 3′ wider than Deena’s arm span (she’s 5’2″ and a half; I have to tease her because I’m 6′ and a half), it may be possible for her to move around the house without a chair if we have stuff at the correct height, including rails everywhere we don’t have counters, desks, etc. Still, this would only work on those days (which are most days now) when she can walk some.

On those days when she can’t walk, she’ll need a chair that is moveable by her arms alone. (Right now she can use her feet to help propel and control the chair). And then there are the times when her shoulders are dislocated, too… But if the worst happens, we need it so that I can at least push her…and pushing her 3 feet is doable where our current 20 feet is not.

So….yes, I, MaJe tend to be long winded…the entire house needs to be build assuming Deena is completely confined to a wheelchair. That’s where we were headed, but I don’t think either of us really understood that this is an absolute. No, hey, most days are better, so we don’t have to be do strict. No. No compromise.

The entire house has to be entirely wheelchair accessible for a resident who is full time confined to a chair.

OK, a couple of other thoughts.

After I spent so much time in bed, we finally invested in a 3″ high tech foam mattress pad. It is much better, though I would like something even more soft.

Having two twin beds means we each get our own bed specifications, so we don’t need something that changes.

The foam gave Deena lots of support as she was sitting there on the side, and that helped her knee muscles/etc., relax so that they started to go back into position. Thus, we need to think about seating that supports Deena’s knees.

I have been thinking about wanting a chair that I can be in so I don’t always have to be in bed. Even though we’d have support pillows and stuff to make the bed an actual lounger it would be nice to have a chair so I don’t always feel like I live in bed.

I found some zero less expensive gravity chairs online. http://www.lafumafurniture.com/Lafuma-Mellow.pro and http://www.faulknerfurniture.com/ReclinerSpecs.aspx These chairs seem to be the best bet for a (relatively) affordable zero gravity chair. I am thinking this would be a good chair for me, since I scrunch up in my current chair to get to the zero gravity position, all without realizing what I was doing! There are lots of expensive zero gravity chairs out there. There aren’t any zero gravity desk chairs, which makes no sense to me. If anyone finds a zero gravity desk chair, please let us know! That would be perfect, so we don’t have to have two chairs for me. Maybe I could use a zero gravity chair at my desk, and learn not to expect to be able to roll around. Since I’ll be doing writing and art, it might not be so bad. Not like I’m reaching for the printer, or a law book, or a client file. Maybe….

This is a NexTag lising of zero gravity chairs, which gives an idea of the range of types and prices and brands. http://www.nextag.com/serv/main/buyer/OutPDir.jsp?nxtg=58950a1c0519-660CACD172C4E4AD&search=zero+gravity+recliner&perpagePersistent=60&node=2700400

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1 Comment »

  1. Yeah it’s kinda weird that’s there no Zero Gravity Desk Chairs out there. I think it’s a shame and someone should be wise enough to go after that market.

    Comment by Jonh Davis — September 16, 2009 @ 4:28 pm |Reply


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