Saturday, April 24, 2010

One Man's Annoying/Aggravating/Interesting Access Picture of the Week

This week's pic comes via one of my regular readers. Incidentally, if anyone sees relatable access pics like the ones that I've been posting and wants to share them please feel free to pass them along to me and I will gladly use them. Send them to, I've been wanting to add an "email me" function gadget to my links list but haven't found a blog widget that I like yet.

As for the picture, as you can see the accessible parking spot is located on the far right side of the front of the building. The problem is that it is also located at the end of the sidewalk where it is curbed. Additionally, anyone stepping, or rolling in my case, out of the passenger side of their vehicle lands them in a large mud puddle. Wheelchair users would then have to roll to the other end of the parking lot where the sidewalk is flush in order to enter the building.

The simple solution to make things much more accessible in this case is to flip flop the parking spot to the opposite side on the left of the building where the sidewalk is flush to the parking lot. Of course, this business might have already taken that into account except a) those front left windows prevented installing the handicapped parking sign on the wall like it is on the right and/or b) they didn't want to spend the extra money necessary to install a signpost in the ground near the sidewalk on the left side. Unfortunately, sometimes inaccessibility sprouts that easily.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cool Announcement

As I mentioned briefly in one of my osteoporosis "Beware the Rehab Doc" posts, I have an EasyStand standing machine that allows me to pump myself up to a standing position. I've had it since around 1997 and I think it's one of the first generation standers (now discontinued). For the last five years or so I've used it to stand about every other morning for up to an hour while I eat breakfast and watch SportsCenter. It's nice to get some weight in my joints and there are a bunch of other real good medical benefits of standing. People that know me pre-SCI that haven't seen me stand since before my diving accident often forget how tall am, and people that have never seen me stand before don't realize how tall I really am: 5'11" but closer to 6'2" on the stander because the foot plates are a few inches off the floor.

Last week I was asked by a marketing manager at Altimate Medical Inc., the company that makes EasyStand Standers, if I would be interested in contributing a guest post to their EasyStand Blog. We follow each other on Twitter so she's read my blog and I've followed theirs for some time now as well. The EasyStand Blog has lots of guest writers but she thought that it might be nice to have a new writer with a guy's perspective. It was thrilling to be asked and obviously I said yes. We are going to start with an initial guest post and see if it's a good fit after that. I am thoroughly looking forward to contributing what I hope is a unique perspective on accessibility, the SCI lifestyle, disability law, disability issues in general, and other related topics that their blog readers would be interested in. I think that this could be a very cool partnership. My great thanks to Jackie at EasyStand for reaching out to me.

I will be sure to post links to my EasyStand Blog guest posts here, since most of them will be on topics that I would have posted here directly anyway.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

One Man's Annoying/Aggravating/Interesting Access Picture of the Week

This week I thought that I would take a fun and interesting departure from the usual line of pictures I post in this segment. The picture below is a bowl made out of a van accessible handicapped parking sign. Pretty creative. I can just see this on someone's coffee table filled with nuts or candy. "Where can I get one?" you may be asking yourself. Well they're on sale for $100 at this website (i.e. Will Holman’s Handicap Parking Sign Bowl).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Quad Engineering: Typing

About a month ago I wrote about the discovery that putting a chip clip on the end of a soft shell taco was an accessible culinary breakthrough that would lead to far less messes when I ate soft shell tacos. The whole point was that it was an easy thing that made something much more accessible to me. That post ended up generating some interesting feedback and a call for me to shed some light on more examples of personal accommodations and/or quick applied ingenuity that allows me to do a variety of things in my every day life. Moreover, in large number of instances I wouldn't be able to execute a given function without the help of some adaptation. Of course, pretty much all of those are things that most people can do so mindlessly that they don't even think about it, and by extension it has often been my experience that they would barely consider the fact that a quadriplegic like me cannot do them just as easily. My inability to pump my own gas, for example, which I recently wrote about as well. So with all that under consideration, I decided to start a new blog post segment called "Quad Engineering" which should dish the dirt on some of the unique ways that I have to do certain things. The only problem with that though is that almost fourteen years into this lifestyle most of the accommodated or adapted things I do are so routine and second nature that I don't recognize that I'm doing something outside the box.

That said, the first few quad engineering posts will come from questions I answered in the comments section of a few past posts. Maybe some have read them already but I'm guessing plenty haven't because I know I skip the comments sections on most blogs I read. Regardless, I'll start off from there and going forward I'll try to be more cognizant about if I'm utilizing some second nature accommodation that people might find interesting. So to kick this first one off, I was asked if when writing my posts, or writing in general for that matter, if I use some sort of modified keyboard. My answer, with a few newly added tweaks here and there, is:

With paralyzed fingers I don't type with both hands like most people because I have no individual voluntary control over them. This obviously makes typing quite difficult. But I don't use a modified keyboard, no. I don't even know what one would look like. I use a standard keyboard to type. And I don't use voice typing software either. When I first started typing post-injury I used typing sticks, which were tongue depressor looking plastic sticks with rubber ends (pencils or anything can be used as well) that slipped into a slot on an inch-wide adaptive cuff that Velcro’s around your hand (see pic below). I use it to brush my teeth and for a handful of other things too. It's a standard quad tool of the trade. Anyway, with typing sticks you essentially karate chop type one key at a time per stick. When instant messaging started getting popular it was too annoying to strap on my typing sticks, type a few IM words, take them off, go back to, e.g. studying, put them back on, type a few more words, etc., etc. So I started short hand typing "hunt and peck" style with just my right thumb. And that's how I've continued to type the vast majority of stuff I have written since. I'll still occasionally strap on the typing sticks if I'm going to be writing for longer periods of time, want a little more speed hitting two keys at a time, and/or don't have book pages to flip (e.g. research writing projects). But every word of every blog post I've written on this site so far has been with just my right thumb. And ditto for my law school work and most of the writing that I've done on my book so far. Even that being so, I've learned to type pretty fast; faster than some "normal" folks can type even. It's second nature. The biggest downside is that I need to watch the keyboard while I type, and thus there are countless times where I've looked up and seen there are handfuls of typos, or that I've typed a few sentences in ALL CAPS without realizing it and have to start over.
The voice software thing I never really considered because it didn't ever suit my writing style. But I am now much more open to it than in the past because of the lengthier lengthy blog post and book writing scenarios where my mind is thinking a few sentences ahead and my one finger writing techniques cannot catch up. Or my hand and/or forearm get tired via intense repetition. That gets frustrating. So when I start back doing more writing with my book I think I'll be doing much more speak writing than ever before because it might save me a lot of time.

There you go. The only thing I'll add down here is that whenever I see or talk about the two finger hunt and peck typing style, usually executed with the index finger on each hand, I can't help but think about the TV show MAGNUM P.I. because Tom Selleck always hunt and peck typed with his pointer fingers. That said, if by hunt and peck typing with one finger that means that I have half the typing prowess of one Thomas Magnum, one of the greatest TV characters of all time, then hey I'm way cool with that!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

One Man's Annoying/Aggravating/Interesting Access Picture of the Week

For a handful of reasons when I started this blog I decided that I would keep "four letter words" out of this thing as much as I could. Chiefly among them was to avoid having prospective employers, project collaborators, business partners, and/or any other related folks Googling me and questioning my integrity, maturity, etc. if my posts are riddled with strong language. Not that they would in the first place but you never know. I'm a careful attorney who also happens to currently be job searching, so what can I say? But on the other hand I am far from a prude and therefore willing to make exceptions here and there. That leads me to the pic below, which is hilarious and fantastic. Moreover, it pretty much epitomizes a warning message that I wish every parking lot would use to intimidate people who are considering parking illegally in accessible parking spaces. And given the difficulties I had parking this winter especially I find this sign all the more applicable. Simple. Effective. Awesome. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Birthday (Bunny) Link

Tomorrow my nephew and niece celebrate their third and second birthdays, respectively (they were born exactly one year apart). Therefore, I thought that it was somewhat fitting to post a link to a cute story I discovered via the Reeve Foundation blog, about a paralyzed bunny that helps children overcome their own disabilities. In short, Alyna the bunny was born with paralyzed hind legs but can still move around with the help of a mobility brace. Thus, she aids in improving the rehab process of children, especially those who need a device to assist their mobility, and encourages them and makes it socially acceptable for them. You can read all about Alyna the bunny rabbit here.

As for the layout change, Blogger recently came out with a whole new arsenal of layouts with much more options than the limited cookie cutter choices I had access to when I started this thing. I found this one and liked it better than what I had before. With red being my favorite color, and being a diehard Wisconsin Badger fan this fits my personality better. Plus I find the black background and white text easier on the eyes to read than black text on a lot of white background like it was before. All that being said, I do welcome comments if people find it too bright or "busy." I don't want people struggling to read my posts, even if I do find it more aesthetically pleasing.