Sometimes the simplest things that people do every day are done without a second thought and forgotten. There is a flip side to that. Not doing things because you aren’t able to become second nature and little or no thought is given.
My entire professional career has been centered on working with technology to improve the independence of people with disabilities. I’ve helped people gain a voice when speaking was difficult to finding technology that allows students to take an exam independently.
After almost 20 years in the assistive technology industry I am experiencing technology in my personal life that has amazed me and has forced me to keep my emotions in check so Jacob, my 3 year old, doesn’t think anything is wrong. 2 weeks ago I got a new power wheelchair, a Permobil F3.
Granted, this is not my first power chair but it’s the first power chair that I used my knowledge of assistive technology and selfishly got features on this chair that would give me back abilities I lost and create new opportunities with my wife, Rachel, and son, Jacob. My new chair has a seat elevator that raises up 12 inches, recline tilt that allows me to take weight off my hip, and forward tilt that almost stands me up.
So, when I was able to walk Rachel was taller than me but she didn’t have to bend in half to kiss me or I kiss her. The first feature I tried when I got my chair is the seat elevator. I raised the seat to it’s maximum height and I kissed and hugged my wife without her having to bend in half! (I was even a hair taller than her!) No, but seriously it really felt good to do that! Rachel and I were feeling a little emotional about it but Jacob was there so we didn’t want him to be scared or confused so we had to keep our emotions in check.
Being a dad, and finding out you are going to have a son you envision all kinds of things. But, I never imagined sitting at a high-top table and enjoying a coke with my son. We went out to dinner a few nights ago and when we got in the restaurant Rachel said let’s get a high-top. I guess I looked confused because she goes raise your seat. (a duh! tone) Oh yea! I can do that now! So we got to the table and I raised my seat up. Sometimes, I wonder if Jacob even sees my chair. He climbed up on his seat and never commented or acknowledged that daddy had just pulled an Inspector Gadget and suddenly became taller. When I was sitting there looking at him I envisioned all new things we are going to able to do as a family, and as a father and son.
To the researchers, engineers, therapists, and providers of technology for people with disabilities… Heres To You!