Wheelchair Blog from AMS Vans

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A physical disability presents unique challenges for the individual, the family and the caregivers. Our wheelchair blog is here to empower all of you with tips, trends in wheelchair technology, wheelchair news, inspiring stories, insightful interviews, medical breakthroughs, helpful links, the latest in adaptive products, disability news, upcoming events and, of course, information about AMS Vans' wheelchair accessible vehicles. We focus on anything and everything that enriches your life and makes it easier.

Buying a handicap accessible van is a defining moment in the life of an individual who wants manageable mobility beyond the wheelchair. We have handicap vans for sale, and we want to ensure the process—from the moment it begins—is as smooth as possible. When you purchase a wheelchair van from us, the process never truly ends, because you become part of the AMS family. Just like family, we stay in touch and care about your happiness.

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Florida Mayor Harassed at Disney Parks for Using iBot Wheelchair

Myron Rosner, mayor of North Miami Beach, FL, planned to enjoy a pleasant Thanksgiving weekend with his family at Walt Disney World Resort. Instead, he states he was harassed and demeaned by the park’s insistence that he lower his iBot 4000, a high-tech wheelchair which he purchased after seeing it on display at Epcot’s Innoventions, to use all four wheels. The iBot 4000 is a four-wheeled vehicle which allows the user to balance and move about using only two wheels while remaining seated.

Disney World officials claim that the employees who questioned Mayor Rosner simply mistook his iBot 4000 for a Segway, which can only be used while standing. Disney does not allow Segways at its parks, claiming they’re unsafe. In 2007, a lawsuit was filed by three disabled people due to that ban. The suit was settled out of court, but Segways still aren’t allowed at Disney parks.

Mayor Rosner and his family were finally allowed to enter Epcot after being let through by a park manager on Friday, but the questioning continued on Sunday as Rosner and his family were enjoying Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Sunday afternoon, at which time he was again told to lower the iBott 4000 to four wheels. They left the park as employees followed them around the park.

A spokeswoman for Disney World offered an apology, which Mayor Rosner said he appreciates, but states he still plans to initiate lawsuits against Disney for the embarrassment it caused him and his family. Mayor Rosner said that the apology “doesn’t make up for how they treated us. It made us feel, dirty, disgusted, undignified.”

More information/full story at The Miami Herald.

DORA the Robotic Arm Helps Wheelchair Users Open Doors

A door opening robotic arm named DORA was presented at an IEEE robotics conference last week in Massachusetts by students at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. The robot has many detailed functions like knowing how much force it needs to open the door, the ability to grasp many different door knobs, and how much to pull to unlatch the door.

Other types of robots that are similar cost tens of thousands or more, but DORA cost just $2,000 to build. Ted Kochanski, an engineer who also attended the conference, said the results of the robot are “very impressive.”

She also added a slip clutch to the drive system, to allow the device to hold and turn the knob at the same time as pushing or pulling.

The results are “very impressive,” says Ted Kochanski, an engineering consultant based in Lexington, Massachusetts, who was also at the conference. He said that in the past, experts have had trouble building robots that open doors because of the intelligence and coordination required.

Students and engineers hope that improvements with cameras and sensors will cut costs even more, and then maybe the DORA will be closer to becoming reality for those who need it.


Jobs Difficult to Find for Disabled People

Unemployment rates are said to be around 10% in the United States right now, but among certain groups the rates are higher, including people with disabilities.

An economist for the Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire thinks that the unemployment rate for people with disabilities hovers around 17.5%. This doesn’t even include those who have completely given up looking for a job, because they are not counted in these figures. Surveys in the past have shown that most people with disabilities definitely want to work, but after looking for long periods of time and finding nothing, they give up.

There are many hurdles, including the fact that many employers believe that these workers are not qualified, or that the accommodations needed to get them ready for work would be too expensive (not so – accommodations are free or usually no more than $500)

Some people are preparing for an early retirement, thinking about selling their houses, and moving somewhere with a low cost of living. They are also really worried about health insurance, which without an employers help can be an insurmountable cost for someone with ongoing health concerns.

If you are disabled, have you had trouble finding a job recently?

Athletes with Intellectual Disabilities Back in Paralympics!

Athletes with intellectual disabilities are allowed back to compete in the paralympics in London 2012! The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) voted recently to reinstate the athlete’s status after the Spanish basketball team in the 2000 games was found to be cheating and not have disabled team members.

Two organizations, the International Sports Federation for Persons with an Intellectual Disability (Inas-Fid) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have been working together to come up with the criteria to reintroduce athletes.

Instead of taking the team’s word for it in London, the committee will be giving tests called “sports intelligence tests” to classify the athletes. These tests include reviewing the athlete’s medical records, then giving them a sports specific test so they can move on in the process.

President of the Inas-Fid, Bob Price, said “I am delighted with the outcome of the vote. Even though they themselves did nothing wrong, intellectual disability athletes have been excluded from the Paralympic Games and other IPC-sanctioned competitions.

This resolution brings this unfortunate episode to an end and reintroduces intellectual disability athletes to their proper place within the Paralympic family.”