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My Assistive Technology Dream Come True

Whenever I see back to school commercials that talk about laptops, tablets and cell phones, I feel really old. When I was going back to school, only adults had personal computers and only the really important ones had laptops; not a single one of my friends had a cell phone. And now, just 13 years after I graduated high school, most students have one or more of these devices on hand. As a person with a disability, I’m glad I was born at a time when technology was on the rise; I have seen this technology grow and change the lives of people with disabilities. Read here how to spend time effectively.

Thanks to technology, people without the ability to speak can talk, many of the people who want to hear are now able to, and those who cannot walk have more and more options for mobility. Everyday new technology is created that can improve a life, and you have to admit that is pretty cool. I have benefited from many of the new technologies out there, they have allowed me to be more independent and more productive. However, there is a part of me that still waits, hoping that someday technology will come up with something that will allow me to walk hands free.

I have Cerebral Palsy, and like everyone with C.P., my case is unique to me. I am able walk with assistive devices such as a walker or crutches; I can also walk around my house by holding onto the furniture or walls, and I have decent balance. However, despite multiple surgeries, countless hours of physical therapy, and multiple bribes from my parents, I cannot take more than one or two steps unassisted.

This is something that I have come to accept. However, I do wish that there was something out there that would allow me to walk hands free. Having my hands free for reaching items is one benefit I get from using a chair; but when I want, or need, to walk somewhere, my hands are tied up doing other things. They have plenty of handsfree walkers meant for children to help train their muscles for walking and balance; but these walkers are typically bulky and a have ton of straps for support As an adult who just needs that tiny bit of extra support, there seemed to be nothing that could help my cause. At least until I saw this walker.

I can’t help but be a little excited. It does not seem like a perfect solution, and it still seems quite new given the limited information on the site; but the fact that it even exists gives me some hope. Hope that technology is catching up to my needs. Hope that someday, in the nearish future, I might be able to walk down the street carrying a child, holding hands with my husband, pull multiple items out of the fridge in one trip, or grab gallon of milk from the store without needing to put it in a cart first.

Is there anything on your assistive technology wish list?

Love for 3eLove

When I was growing up, I never heard of disability pride. Disability was not something to be celebrated, but something to be fixed or hidden away. Thankfully, I had amazing parents who never let me believe that just because I had a disability, I was any less capable than everyone else. Even with their support, however, I felt alone; I didn’t have anyone like me to look up too and I often hated my disability.

Fortunately, I eventually learned to embrace my disability; even better, society is beginning to change. Children today have a lot of positive role models when it comes to living life with a disability. People like Josh Blue, who used his disability to carve his own niche in stand-up comedy; or Abbey Curran, who challenged conventional ideals of beauty by being the first woman with CP to compete in and place in the Miss USA pageant. They are showing people with disabilities, and the world, that living with a disability is no longer something to be ashamed of, but something to be embraced and celebrated. But it isn’t just individuals who are changing society’s outlook on disabilities; companies like 3eLove are also making a huge impact.

3eLove was started in 2007 by Chicago natives, Annie and Stevie Hopkins, as a way of promoting their unique symbol of acceptance. The wheelchair heart logo, as well as their social model of disability, encourages others to embrace diversity, educate society, and empower one another to love life. 3eLove may have started as a small Chicago clothing company, but it is now and international movement.

I discovered 3eLove a few years ago when I saw a wheelchair heart car decal on the mini-van driving in front of me. I thought it was neat and made a mental note to try to find out more about them. Later, when I googled “wheelchair heart,” I found 3eLove’s website pretty quickly and discovered that it was more than just bumper stickers.  They had everything, from key chains and water bottles to tank tops and backpacks. The logo alone had me wanting to buy right away, but the more I read about the mission behind the logo, I knew it was something I had to be a part of.

I started with a Proud© shirt for myself, then I bought one for my husband so that we could wear them in our one year anniversary photos. Then I bought one for each of my close friends and family for Christmas. Now, I have a whole proud army. This year, they even came out with dog collars so my dog could join the ranks.

I love 3eLove. It makes me so happy when I go on their Facebook page and I see a 5 or 6 year old smiling in their wheelchair sporting their 3eLove gear. I wish that kid could have been me; but I am glad, at least, that future generations have the opportunity to grow up embracing their disabilities, proud of whom they are and loving life.

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