one step forward

August 7, 2011

Earlier this year, I went to the Nottingham Mobility Centre to be assessed for a wheelchair. I’ve been able to obtain my own chairs now for a couple of years, but never been able to have one that’s properly “fitted” for my size and weight etc.

At that appointment, I was flatly denied a powered chair, citing my lack of vision. This is totally backwards, as there are a number of people I know personally who have powered chairs and are successful with them.

On Monday, I went to the  Disabilities Living Centre with my Mobility Officer. The aim was to try out a power chair and use their training room to see if it could be done safely with no vision.

I should perhaps explain how it is I get about:

The first thing I do is put the breaks on, then flip the footplates out to the sides or take them off.

The second thing I do is flip up the cushion so it sits behind my back.

Then, I sit in the chair with my feet on the floor, put my right hand on one wheelrim  and stretch my long white cane out in front of me in my left hand. Next, I release the brakes,  and while pulling myself along with my feet, use  my right hand to provide extra power and direction, and explore my surroundings with the other.

I can use two hands to propel (both rims); but I’m not as steady I don’t think, and I also tire more easily.

Getting a wheelchair was the best thing  I could have done for myself.

I Was going for pretty much two hours, and by the end I was told I looked safer in the power chair than I did in  my manual one.

I am attempting to reign in my inner child, but its very hard work when all I want to do is stick up some fingers.

Now the next step is to see if there is actually any written guidance to say that a power chair user must pass a sight test in order to get one, and also whether this applies to ones you can buy yourself etc.

I really enjoyed the experience and can see myself rolling around my local area and in my house without much of a problem. I really think it will revolutionise the way I  move around.

I also want to speak to other wheelchair users with sight problems, to see how they manage.

This piece has been written over a couple of days, so I hope it flows ok.

Your comments will be really helpful to me, so if you are, or know someone who is a blind wheelchair user then please let me know.