March 27, 2007

Trying to deal with Invacare

Filed under: Disability, Health, Life, Reviews, What were they thinking?!, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 8:16 pm


This logo really should say: “Invacare Yes, you can.  If we let you!”

Julian called Invacare today to order the new chair.  From what he told me the guy he spoke to had the attitude of “We allow you to get around your apt. and go out, so you have to bow down and worship us!” 

He said he “wouldn’t suggest” having a loop built onto the front of the frame of my chair so I can hook Sophie’s leash onto it instead of having to wind a leash around the frame.  Julian exlained that she is my guide dog and that I’ve had a leash wound around the frame of my chair for years now with no “incidents”.

The guy continued to say he “wouldn’t suggest” it because I could get pulled out of the chair!  (Um…. no!  What could pull me out is if I have to attach the leash to my body because they wont put a loop on the chair!)

Julian also asked if there was any way to get a rush put on the chair because mine is literally falling apart and it’s past the point of being dangerous.  He even said he’d pay extra, but the guy wouldn’t even consider thinking about it or asking someone higher up.  After all he was only one of the people who answered the phones.  He was totally rude and inconsiderate.  He even went as far as to get a bit nasty with Julian when Julian said he would get someone else to attach a loop to the chair if they didn’t.  He informed Julian that that would void the frame warrenty and that they are special because they work with titanium!  Well guess what!  They are not the “only” people who can do things with titanium!

When Julian mentioned going and getting a racing chair from Quickie instead the guy told him he shoudl go ahead and do that!  Don’t they even want our buisness?!  If I get a chair from them that I like I will continue getting chairs from them form now on.  Also if I get a racing chair form them and I like it I will continue getting racing chairs from them.  Once I get to the point where I’m up to the professional level I will need a new chair every year!  Do they not want that buisness?!  Also I would buy all of the parts needed for these chairs from them!

He also got an attitude when Julian said I was blind and Sophie was my guide dog and that I wanted to buy a racing chair!  So tomorrow, we will try again!  Wish us luck in finding someone “sensible” and who hasn’t got their head so far up their butt they don’t know night form day!


March 26, 2007

I’m getting a new wheelchair!

Filed under: Disability, Health, Life, Reviews, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 8:39 pm

crossfireTomorrow is a pretty exciting day!  I’m having a new wheelchair ordered!  I’ve really needed one for quite awhile now, but I’ve been putting it off.  Now, it’s to the point where I really need a new chair before my old one falls apart (literally)!

The photo to the left is of the chair I am getting!  It’s a Top End Crossfire Titanium.  It’s lighter than the chair I have now (a Quickie GT).  I’m getting the ergonomic seat option, a Jay2 Deep Contour cushion (It’s like the one I have now only thicker), light up castors (like I have now), and 25″ Spinergy LX wheels with red spokes and red tires.  (I have the same wheels on this chair but they are 24″).  I’m also getting a carbon fiber backrest.  It only weighs 1 pound!  (2 pounds in my case because I’m getting the adjustable version).  The backrest I’m using now weighs at least 5 pounds!   

This chair is going t fit me so much better than the one I have now.  Julian and I measured it correctly and I know it’s going to be set up the best way for me.  Unlike the chair I have now, that involved two seating “specialists”, an occupational therapist, and two people who worked in medical supply stores who “specialized” in assembling wheelchairs and fixing them (one of which had been a wheelchair user himself for over 12 years)!  All of these “specialists” and not one of them could come up with one mesurement that fit me properly!  Not one mesurement on the new chair is the same as the one I’m using now!  Do you detect that maybe something’s wrong here?!  carbon fiber

I can’t wait until my new chair comes!  Invacare said it should take about 3 weeks, but I’m hoping we can get a rush put on it because my chair is really falling apart!  I really like how you can shoose everything on the new chair including the front frame type and width of the footrest, and even to have a tapered seat so the back of the frame is wider than the front!  Wish me lots of luck with getting my chair soon!

Our next task is going to Florida so I can get measured for my new racing chair!  I really can’t wait for that!  I can barely contain the excitement!

March 23, 2007

The American Cafe

Filed under: Accessibility, Atlanta, Disability, Life, Reviews, US, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 10:52 pm

cafeWe’ve been going to The American Cafe since we moved to Altanta.  It’s in Phipps Plaza (a mall here in Atlanta).  The first thing I noticed about this restaurant was how the staff treated me.  Usually when I go out to eat people generally treat me a bit like a child, or like they are thinking “Wow, it’s so nice this person is out in public for awhile!”  It also usually involves the staff asking if my guide dog is a “seeing eye dog” (even though she is wearing a harness and clearly guided me into the building) and then running off to tell the manager there is a dog in the restaurant.  (I’ve had one girl at the Cheesecake Factory do this on numerous occasions!)

The staff at the American Cafe never once asked about Sophie being a guide dog, and have no problem finding the best place for us to sit.  Usually they will ask us which table would be best, and will move the chairs away from the table without acting like it’s a huge deal.  They also speak dirrectly to me, instead of asking Julian if I’d like something to drink etc.  (Believe it or not, this hardly ever happens).

One of the women who works there always comes over to say hello to Sophie when we go there, and we now get asked if we would like our usual table!  The food is great, and so are the staff!  I’d highly recommend this restaurant to everyone, and Phipps Plaza offers some great shopping!

March 21, 2007

Clip from “Talk” by the Disability Rights Commission (UK)

Filed under: Accessibility, Disability, Health, Life, Making things accessible, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 2:11 am

I just found this video, and I think it has a very strong message!  I should make a lot of people really think.  It gives a whole new meaning to “walking (or wheeling) a mile in someone else’s shoes!

The last part really hit a nerve with me.  I can’t even count the number of times I’ve waited for a bus only for it not to be accessible.  Or if it was accessible for the driver to say it was “too full”, not stop at all, or even claim the ramp was broken!  Once I told them they could reach down and pull the ramp out by hand it would “magically” start “working” again!

March 20, 2007

Westin Nova Scotian Hotel

Filed under: Accessibility, Canada, Disability, Halifax, Life, Reviews, What were they thinking?!, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 9:34 pm

buttonsTo continue writing abotu my hotel experiences on my trip to Halifax, Canada I will write this entry on the Westin Nova Scotian

By the time we arrived we were very tired and just wanted a nice bed to relax on.  We approached the front desk and luckily no one else was there trying to check in.  All the while I was hoping that this room would be accessible.

On the way to the elevators there are stairs and a ramp.  The ramp wasn’t long, and had a “regulation” grade, but it was covered in thick carpet!  I had to get my speed up before it, and by the time I got about halfway up I had to push with every ounce of strength I had to get to the top. (There were about 4 or 5 stairs on the right hand side of the ramp, just to give you an idea of the change in elevation). 

We got to the elevator, and quickly realized that once again, the elevator buttons were too high for me to reach!  (What is it with the people who designed these hotels?!)

When finally got to our room, which was all the way at the end of a very long and twisting carpeted hallway.  Why do people insist on putting accessible rooms so far away from the elevator when there is a hige sea of carpet to push yourself over?! 

This time, the room was a lot bigger than the other rooms.  In fact there was a vast amount of space in the center of the room.  Plenty of room to move around, but because the room was such an odd shape the tv cabnet was on a wall facing the windows and you couldn’t even see it from the bed.  There were some chairs near the desk you could use, but according to Julian they weren’t very comfortable.  This was no big deal, we could deal with this. 

The bathroom was pretty small, but could do in a pinch.  The door opened outand there was a bit of a ramp up to the bathroom.  But then the toilet was right in front of the open door.  Because there wasn’t a lot of room I had a lot of trouble turning around even with the door open.  My wheelchair has the axle position very forward, and I use 3″ castors, so I can turn around in very tight spaces.  For anyone else this could prove to be an impossible task! 

Because the door opened out, and because of the ramp I had to let go of the door to get into the bathroom.  When I finally managed to turn around I couldn’t reach the door to pull it shut!  This would have been an easy thing to fix.  If there was a small “handle” attached to the door where I could reach it, I could have used it to close the door, but there wasn’t.  In order to close it, I had to go back down the ramp a little, grab the door handle and try to pull myself up the rest of the ramp by pulling on the side of the door frame!

Once I was in there with the door closed I had to manuver myself into the right position, only to find that the grab bar that was installed was in such a bad position it was unusable!  There was a sink right next to the toilet, and because there were no cabinets I could roll under it.  But also because of this there were shelves to put the shampoo etc. on.  Not a problem, right?  Wrong!  These 3 shelves were in the corner on the opposite side of the toilet!  Even the lowest was way out of reach, and everything that is usually in a hotel bathroom was inaccessible!  Also the glasses you had to drink out of were oin this shelf!  I thought that was just a bit disgusting!  I mean every time the toillet flushed tiny bits of water mist would land all over them!  Ewww!

Onto the shower!  It was a roll in shower, which is a good idea, in theory.  It was pretty small, and the hand held shower was set really high on the wall, so I couldn’t reach it.  Julian took it down, and that solved part of the problem.  We called downstairs and they brought up a bath bench.  To my surprise it was actually a nice big plastic transfer bench with a back!  This never happens in hotels!  Once it was in the bathroom, the room I had to turn around in was drastically smaller!  When taking a shower I couldn’t reach to turn the water on, so Julian had to turn it on before I went in there and the water sprayed all over the place, even getting the toilet paper wet!  I covered my wheelchair in towels, hoping I wouldn’t have to sit on a wet seat in -33 °C weather!  I solved this problem by putting the bath bench sideways and right against the taps for the water.  I had just enough room to back into the space on the size of the bench, but when sitting on the bench the sink was right in front of me. 

The bed caused another problem!  There wasn’t enough room on either side of the bed to get into it.  There was the width of a nightstand on either side of the bed, so I had to transfer onto the bed from the bottom and pull myself up to the top.  This caused a few problems.  Because the bed was so high, if I fell while transfering onto the slippery sheets I would have fell face first onto the thin carpet (which had concrete underneith)!  When I did transfer I had to pull myself to the head of the bed, and have Julian pull and tug at the blankets trying to move them out of the way while I pulled myself over them.  The bed was also so hard, I was really worried about getting pressure sores.  We called downstairs, and asked if they could get an extra duvet put between the mattress and bottom sheet for me.  This made things a bit better, and I wasn’t so worried about pressure spots.

This hotel was the most “accessible” out of the three we tried.  Out of 297 rooms, only 1 is “accessible”!  This seems to be the trend of hotels in Halifax.  As we found out, most of the rooms that are “considered accessible” are not at all!  I hope that by pointing out these faults to the hotels things will change, but sadly, this is more of a hope than reality.

March 17, 2007

Delta Barrington Hotel

Filed under: Accessibility, Canada, Disability, Halifax, Life, Reviews, What were they thinking?!, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 3:15 pm

delta BarringtonAfter leaving the Delta Halifax, we drove down the street to the Delta Barrington. We couldn’t park in front of the hotel because the space was filled with cars, so we had to waqit until one of them was moved. When we finally had an open parking spot, Julian pulled into it, but couldn’t get close enough to the curb, so he had to lift me out of the car, over th gap between the car and curb, and then into my wheelchair. As he sat me in my chair, it sliped backwards a bit and I ended up sitting on the edge of my cushion, but we managed to get me positioned right. My breaks are not the best, and combined with the wet sidewalk, and very cold air it made for some very interesting transfers!

Once we were inside, the girl at the desk knew who we were, and Julian suggested that I go upstairs and check out the room to see if it was ok before we checked in. I just wanted to lay down on a nice bed, and relax by this time, and grumbled a little, but I agreed. The same young guy who bought our luggage in went upstairs with me to show me the room.

Again, the elevator buttons were so high I couldn’t even reach the lowest one! I could reach most of the ones on the inside, but if I couldn’t reach the buttons on the outside to get the elevator in the beginning, it wouldn’t be of much use at all!

The first room was tiny! I could fit into the bathroom, but couldn’t close the door! The sink was on my left, but I couldn’t turn to use it. The toilet was in front of me, but again I wouldn’t be able to actually use it, and the bathtub was behind the open door, which I couldn’t close! The room itse;f wasn’t much better! The bottom of the beds were so close to the cabnet holding the tv that I could just get through, but would have to back out and the beds were squeezed so close together that I physically couldn’t fit between them!

The guy decided to call the front desk to see what other rooms they had. We went to another floor and on the way to the room he told me that he really didn’t think the next rom would work because the bathroom door was narrower. We looked at it anyway and he was totally right! I couldn’t even fit through the bathroom door! The room was a tiny bit bigger, because the bathroom was a tiny bit smaller. He called back down to the front desk and found out that there were no more rooms that might work.

On our way back down to the lobby he told me that he usually passes kids on that floor who are jumping in the air trying to reach the elevator buttons! The swimming pool is on that floor and they go swimming, but can’t reach the buttons to get back to their room. I thought that was slightly amusing. That should have told someone that wheelchair users wouldn’t be able to reach the buttons either! Wait, seeing how wheelchair users can’t even stay in the hotel, I guess they don’t have to worry about us reaching the buttons!

Considering the girl said the rooms were “considered to be wheelchair accessible” we should have known this would happen! She told Julian they had wheelchair users stay there before, but I really don’t see how unless they could walk into the bathroom no matter what size their wheelchair was.

We got the same guy to go through his list of other hotels in the area and decided on the Westin Nova Scotian. I had been to a conference there before, and although I didn’t stay there, it seemed like it should have at least one “accessible” room. Julian made the phone call, and they did have a room availible!

If I could have, by this point I would have crossed my fingers, and toes! We got everything packed back into the car, and off we went down the street to the Westin, hoping that we would have better luck!

March 9, 2007

Delta Halifax Hotel

Filed under: Accessibility, Canada, Disability, Halifax, Life, Reviews, What were they thinking?!, Wheelchair — Kim & Sophie @ 1:18 pm

Delta HalifaxOn March 4th after a long flight from Atlanta, GA to Toronto, ON and then onto Halifax, NS Julian, Sophie and I arrived at the Delta Halifax.  We had booked an accessible hotel room there well in advance through Expedia.  It was really cold when we got there, and after Julian got our luggage out of the rental car we headed inside. 

He spoke tothe girl at the front desk, and she told us that the only accessible room had been taken by someone else!  The hotel has 296 rooms and only 1 is accessible!  I thought that was pretty inconsiderate of them, but to have the room booked only to get there and find out it’s not available really sucked!

After talking to the manager the girl we were talking to decided that she would show us a jr. suite.  If the bathroom worked for me, we could stay there.  I went upstairs with the girl while Julian stayed in the lobby.  I quickly realized that the buttons for the elevator were way over my head, and impossible for me to reach!  We got to the room and although it was big, I had to go through a narrow set of closet type doors to get into the room that led to the bathroom.  I could squeeze through these doors, but just barely.  When I sat in front of the bathroom door however, I was almost a whole wheel too wide to fit through it!  My wheelchair is a pretty average size, and narrower than a lot! 

We went back down to the lobby and told Julian and the girl at the desk that the room wouldn’t work, and after she discussed it with another girl they decided to call the Delta Barrington (which is right accross the street) to see if they had an accessible room availible.  Luckily they did!  We packed all of our luggage, and my wheelchair back into the car and drove past the other hotel and headed to the Delta Barrington.  (You can click on the link to read about our experiences there).

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