Universal design is a standard that applies to landscape architecture in which public spaces are created that can be used by all people without the need for adaptation or specialized design whenever possible. Many design firms across the country are embracing this trend and creating public spaces that are accessible to people who use wheelchairs.
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates designed the 396-foot-long Squibb Park Bridge at Brooklyn Bridge Park. This pedestrian bridge is eight feet wide and has gentle slopes, handrails, and impressive views of Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and the Brooklyn Bridge. It was designed to provide visitors who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices with the same access as runners, cyclists, and other visitors. Van Valkenburgh Associates prefers to use landscape-based solutions, rather than mechanical ones, which can experience technical problems. They believe landscape-based solutions provide better continuity and greater enjoyment of parks and other public spaces.
MAde Studio in Detroit has used universal design to turn an abandoned railway cut into a greenway that provides easy access to historic parts of the city. Dequindre Cut is a railway that was created in the 1920s to transport freight. It runs below grade as it travels north, which posed challenges for the landscape designers. They used a series of ramps and landings to integrate spaces designed for sitting, eating, and socializing near markets and around the Dequindre Cut. The Detroit Edison Academy is connected to the Dequindre Cut with ramps, retention walls, and terrace garden beds.
Olin Studio in Philadelphia has redesigned several public spaces around national landmarks to incorporate elements of universal design. The firm has worked on Independence National Historic Park, the Washington Monument, and Bryant Park in New York. Their designs include gentle slopes and ramps that are made to look like they are part of the original designs.
The 25-acre Millennium Park in Chicago was originally designed with a number of staircases and other elements that would have made it inaccessible to people who use wheelchairs. It was redesigned to provide wheelchair accessibility with a series of ramps, gentle slopes, and barrier-free play areas, earning it a Barrier-Free America Award from the Paralyzed Veterans of America. The park includes Crown Fountain with an accessible reflecting pool.
MIG, based in Berkeley, California, has always practiced universal design. The firm has designed dozens of accessible parks and has written guidelines for agencies about how to make public spaces accessible. MIG designed the Always a Dream Play Park in Fremont, California, that has gentle slopes, misters, water cannon play areas, swings with improved back support, and a slide. Partners in the firm are involved in the re:Streets project that aims to make streets accessible to people of all ages and abilities.
The practice of universal design has allowed public spaces to come a long way in terms of accessibility, but more work remains to be done. We applaud these designers for their efforts to make public spaces accessible to people with disabilities and encourage others to follow suit.Read More
Latisha Anderson is an “RN on wheels,” a paralyzed nurse who has overcome the odds to succeed in her chosen field. She has proven that she is capable of doing all the things that other nurses do and can manage the challenges of the job even though she uses a wheelchair.
Anderson was struck by a stray bullet when she was 17, just two months before she was planning to join the Marines, and became paralyzed. After she was shot, Anderson received treatment at East Carolina University, the same college she would later attend. She obtained her GED from Wake Tech and rode buses three times a day. If a bus arrived without a wheelchair lift, she called Washington, DC to complain.
She was inspired by an article she read about Barry McKeown, a former surfer in Hawaii who was paralyzed in a car accident and uses a wheelchair. He managed to have a successful nursing career. Anderson wrote to him, and he told her all she needed was a stand-up wheelchair.
Anderson graduated from both East Carolina University and online Grand Canyon University. She drove herself to Arizona to pick up her online diploma. Both schools published articles about her and her accomplishments. She has worked in psychiatric units, a veterans’ hospital, and a senior center.
Even though she has achieved many of her goals, some people still question Anderson’s abilities. She has faced bias toward her disability on the job, but she is determined to show that she can do her work just as well as anyone else.
Central Prison in Raleigh, North Carolina hired her through a nursing agency. She underwent a phone interview but did not meet with anyone in person until her scheduled first day on the job, March 2. When her employer found out that she used a wheelchair, she was sent home and told that they could not use her.
Anderson refused to accept that. She filed a complaint with the governor’s office, called a reporter, and sent out a number of emails explaining that she works hard and desperately needs income from the prison job. The prison called her back and asked her to start on March 16.
Latisha Anderson is an inspiration because she has proven that she is just as capable of doing her job as a person who does not use a wheelchair. She has shown strength and determination and has stood up for her own rights and those of disabled people across the country. We wish her success in her new job.Read More
Disney is continuously working to make visiting its parks a fun and comfortable experience for guests who use wheelchairs. Its parks are well known for being accessible to visitors with disabilities. Hotels, monorails, boats, and walkways are all designed with wheelchair accessibility in mind.
New rides are built with features to accommodate guests with limited mobility. Several older rides have been retrofitted with special cars that allow for a level transfer from a wheelchair. Some rides allow visitors to remain in a power wheelchair. Guests are given a map that highlights rides that are wheelchair accessible.
Scootaround provides a Meet and Greet service at Disney World Properties. Guests can rent personal mobility equipment through Scootaround’s reservation service in Orlando and Winnipeg and have the equipment delivered to them when they arrive at Disney World. Staff explain the features and are available to answer questions.
Disney introduced the Guest Assistance Card two years ago to help visitors with disabilities avoid long lines and other problems. The GAC was helpful for many guests, especially those with developmental disabilities. However, it was also abused, and in 2013 the GAC was terminated and the Disability Access Service card was introduced.
The Disability Access Service card is designed for guests who are unable to wait in long lines due to a disability. A card is issued at Guest Relations main access locations. Guests are given return times for rides based on the current wait time. Ride return times can be added at kiosks located throughout the park. After finishing at one attraction, a guest can receive a return time for another. The DAS card can be used in addition to the FASTPASS Service and Disney FastPass+.
FastPass+ is a virtual queuing system. Guests make an appointment for an attraction, show up at that time, and avoid waiting in line. Guests are limited to using FastPass+ for three rides per day.
Disney has shown a commitment to making its theme parks accessible to children and adults with disabilities. We applaud Disney for serving as a model for accessibility and providing its guests with the most comfortable and enjoyable experience possible.
Have you visited a Disney theme park and taken advantages of the services they offer for disabled guests? If so, please share your experience with us.Read More
Megan Silcott, an 18-year-old from Maryland who was paralyzed from the neck down by a rare illness, impressed and inspired spectators when she walked the length of the runway using a walker when the Art Institutes opened its Fall 2015 show at New York Fashion Week.
Silcott made her debut wearing yellow trousers and a colorblock sweater and vest designed by Nina Perdomo and received a standing ovation when she completed her walk. She made another appearance at the end of the show when Perdomo pushed her along the runway in a wheelchair.
Silcott awoke on August 16, 2012 and discovered that she was paralyzed. She was diagnosed with Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis, a rare neurological disorder.
ADEM severely impacts 1 in 250,000 people every year and is caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Silcott was unaware that she had a silent case of mononucleosis. ADEM causes intense inflammation in the brain and spinal cord and damages the myelin sheath that covers nerve fibers. The body’s immune response also causes demyelination, a process in which myelin is stripped off.
Silcott’s prognosis was a 100 percent recovery because she was young and in good health prior to her illness. She has been undergoing extensive physical and mental therapy since then and is now able to walk with the assistance of a walker and to complete many everyday tasks independently. She is determined to fully recover from her illness and wants to pursue a career in acting or fashion.
Patrick Rummerfield, the first quadriplegic paralyzed by a spinal cord injury to recover full physical mobility, co-founded the Iron Hope charity. He has had a long relationship with the Art Institutes and helped to cover the cost of Silcott’s trip to New York.
Silcott needs an FES RT 300 rehabilitation therapy bike to regain full strength and movement. The bike is not covered by insurance, so her family is trying to raise the $15,000 needed through a GoFundMe page.
Megan Silcott has confronted a frightening illness and has shown incredible strength and determination to regain her mobility. Her resilience and courage to walk the runway at New York Fashion Week make her an inspiration to us all.Read More
At HDS Medallion, our goal is to create bags that are both stylish and functional while meeting the diverse needs of our varied customers. We love to hear from our customers about how our bags have helped to make their lives easier. Three people who have three very different HDS Medallion bags have written us this month with very different testimonials.
A Metro Bag For A Little Person Who Carries Her Bag
“Please accept my apologies for not having written to you earlier. But, I won the drawing for one of your bags at the 2014 Little People of America Conference in San Diego last July. I chose a Metro bag on-line, and I absolutely love it!
It holds just enough for me….even some 8 1/2 x 11 folders that I need to carry back and forth for work. I also like the pocket on the outside. I’m assuming that pocket is for a cell phone, but I keep my transit card in it and I keep my cell phone inside the bag zipped up for safe traveling because I commute into San Francisco daily. I also like the adjustable straps and the fact that they are wide enough not to ‘cut into’ my shoulders like my previous bag did.
Again, I am so sorry I haven’t written to you before now. Please know that I love your bag and I have shared your website with many folks. Thank you again.”
A Demi-Premier Bag For a Senior With A Walker
“I love the bag! I purchased it for my 92-year-old mom who is in an assisted living facility and uses a walker. It is perfect for her! It’s large enough to carry all her belongings, not to mention very pretty! I was really impressed with how quickly you processed my order. I am more than satisfied. Thanks for your assistance.”
Note: Ann Marie bought a Demi-Premier Espresso Combo which is bright and cheery. Per our policy, her bag was mailed the day we received her order (if received before 2 pm on a business day).
A Premier Bag for A College Student With A Segway
Sarah is a college student who won an HDS MEDALLION Bag over 2 years ago at the San Jose Expo to use on her Segway (her mobility device). We’ve featured her in our blogs and have a lively Facebook relationship with her. On Feb. 5th she posted the following to her FB page:
“Your bag just saved me a great deal of hardship! My Segway just died and I had to gather what I needed from my Segway compartment bags to take back to Berkeley as I needed to drop off my Segway with my parents. Your bag that I use on my Segway was just what I needed! Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Note: Sarah has a new wheelchair and her premier Silver & Black Damask bag can transition over to it for continued use. She just has to attach the straps to different D-rings in the bag.
If you need a bag to carry your possessions when you use a wheelchair, walker, or other mobility device or just like a bag to carry, you have come to the right place. Browse our website, www.hdsmedallion.com , to find the bag that is right for your needs. If you’ve found one of our bags helpful, we would love to hear about your experience.
Check out our four collections of bags today!Read More
Madeline Hoffman, 11, of Warminster, Pennsylvania, enjoys helping others and making people feel better. When her grandmother taught her to sew, she decided to use her new talent to create Buddee Bags, handbags for people who use wheelchairs and walkers. She named the bags after her great-grandmother, Buddee, who used a wheelchair and a walker to get around.
Hoffman and her team of family and friends cut out the patterns for the bags, sew them, and then deliver them to people of all ages at senior centers and schools. People use them to hold books and other everyday items they may need. They have donated dozens of the bags since last July.
Hoffman recruited volunteers to help her create Buddee Bags at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service event that was held at Girard College in Philadelphia in January. They sewed dozens of cloth Buddee Bags. About 5,000 volunteers attended the event.
She has received a Disney “Friends for Change” grant. She is using the money to help fund her handbag creating efforts.
Hoffman has also received a grant from the Start a Snowball Foundation to help her grow Buddee Bags. She plans to use the money to send patterns and fabric to schools and organizations with sewing programs so that more children can get involved.
In addition, Hoffman receives donations that help her purchase materials and supplies. She plans to continue to produce as many Buddee Bags as she can and distribute them to those in need.
Here at HDS MEDALLION, we understand the need for walker and wheelchair bags for a wide range of people. Seniors who may be new to a mobility device may struggle to adjust to the fact that their former pocketbooks just don’t work on these devices. Disabled people have had to put up with drab, unisex bags for years. There’s lots of room for people who are working to help by producing colorful, attractive bags, especially a budding, caring entrepreneur like Madeline. We salute you!Read More
Winter storms can bring heavy snow that makes it difficult to travel by car and on foot. Snow can be even more of a challenge for people who use wheelchairs to get around, but with the right equipment and some determination, disabled people can also conquer the snow.
Chains are an inexpensive way to get a wheelchair through snow. However, chains cannot be used on a wheelchair inside a building.
The Ziesel is an extreme, all-terrain wheelchair that can get through snow. Its large size allows it to get over virtually any snow bank. It cannot be used indoors, which makes it somewhat impractical, but it can be helpful for someone who needs to get around outside in extreme weather.
A person who uses a regular wheelchair can also get around in the snow. Wheelblades are an add-on that can let the two front caster wheels glide through snow that is relatively deep. The blades are secured to the wheels with a clamp lock and work on the same principle as snowshoes. They spread the weight of a wheelchair over a greater surface area, which allows the wheelchair to float and guide instead of slipping and sinking. Two channels on the base of the ski compress the snow to increase stability.
Wheelblades can be installed in minutes by raising the wheelchair on its primary drive wheels, lowering the front wheels on top, and closing the clamp on the binding. The binding can fit wheels of a variety of sizes. Wheelblades can also be used with winter tires on the main wheels to make getting through snow even easier.
Swiss inventor Patrick Mayer, who became a quadriplegic after a snowboarding accident, designed Wheelblades after he found that it was difficult to get around in his wheelchair during the winter.
A person who uses a wheelchair can even help shovel snow. Many paraplegics and quadriplegics have posted videos on YouTube of themselves shoveling snow in their wheelchairs. Some people add a shovel to the front of a power wheelchair and push the snow, while others use a manual all-terrain wheelchair, such as the Renegade, to plow snow.
Let us know if you are aware of any additional aids that help in the snow so we can tell our readers. How do you conquer the snow?Read More