Each Wednesday, I post my response to a question from the Redefining Disability Challenge. This is my response to the twenty eighth question in the Challenge. As usual, I am not looking ahead to future questions, so I may inadvertently address some topics which will come up later in the Challenge. Here is this week’s question:
Do you or someone you know use adaptive equipment/adaptive technology and how does that affect your life?
I use many pieces of adaptive equipment in my daily life. My wheelchair, the modified van I drive, the roller-bar mouse I use – these are just a few of the many technologies I rely on to function. Without these technological advances, I would need more assistance.
But without question the one piece of adaptive equipment I rely on most (after my wheelchair of course) is a simple reacher. Specifically, I prefer the Sammons Preston® Feather Reach™ Economy Reacher. I am not receiving any compensation to write about their product, and their product is by no means the only reacher on the market.
For me, this simple tool has been a part of my life for twenty years. My arm contractures and muscle weakness make it impossible for me to lift my arms over my head or extend an outstretched arm to reach something.
Having a reacher increases my functionality at a low cost. Granted, I am rough on reachers and go through at least four per year. However, it is much cheaper to spend $80 annually on a device than spend money for a Personal Assistant to work additional hours.
Most importantly, my reacher makes it possible for me to operate a vehicle independently. I don’t drive from my wheelchair. I lock my chair in place behind my driver seat, and transfer into the seat to drive.
The locking mechanism which keeps my chair safely in place has a release button mounted on the side of my van. When I am ready to exit my vehicle, I push the button to release my chair, wheel down the ramp and go on my way.
My arms do not reach the button. The only way I can reach the release button is to use a reacher.
Without a reacher, I don’t drive. If I don’t drive, I don’t work. If I don’t work, I can’t afford to keep my apartment or my van.
My reacher travels everywhere with me. In fact, I have a spare I keep in my van. And another on in my bedroom. And a third in my office.
So, you can sing the praises of high tech devices which doubtless improve life for many. But I’ll take a cheap reacher as my go-to device any day.