New Wheelchair!

New Wheelchair!

On Saturday, I got a new wheelchair! It’s a Quickie GT rigid frame ultralight wheelchair with solid wheels. And it’s Lyme green! I LOVE IT.
For the past four years, I’ve been using this crappy Invacare home wheelchair I bought off Craigslist for $50. I’ve used it so much, it’s falling apart. If I go down a slope, the whole chair shudders and almost throws me out. It was time for a change.
I first decided to get a new chair in June. So for six months, I fought and fought through the bureaucracy and misinformation that is my insurance company. Every time I spoke to somebody on how to get this paid for, they told me something different. Nobody knew what they were talking about. Finally, after about 3,849 fights with the insurance company and incompetent medical supply stores, I decided to circumvent that whole process and buy a wheelchair privately.
I scoured and scoured eBay and Craigslist to find one that would be an upgrade from the Invacare I was dealing with. I finally found one that was exactly what I wanted. Even though the seller was difficult, I finally got this baby.
I’m so so so happy with this wheelchair! It’s so light that I can lift it by myself without straining any of my muscles. Today I went Christmas shopping in it and I never got thrown out! It’s amazing. So easy to use!
This wheelchair will make my life so much easier. I’m often limited to the things I can do because of the clunkiness of my chair. This changes everything! I’m excited. 🙂

Best,
Sofia

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Disability Awareness: The Ability Exhibit

Last week, something really cool happened at my school. And I was involved in it!

The Ability Exhibit. Thanks to several amazing people, this traveling exhibit came to the University of Oregon! The exhibit is an interactive experience meant to display the many different facets of disability in a fun and informative way. The end goal is to raise consciousness about what it’s like to have a disability. For more info, visit their website!

As the president of the AccessABILITY Student Union, I helped facilitate the exhibit for most of the time it was on my campus. It was awesome!

 

Me and my fellow disability activist friend, Antonia sitting at the Welcome Table

Me and my fellow disability activist friend, Antonia, sitting at the Welcome Table

The exhibit talked about various topics related to disability awareness, including person-first language, universal design, disability law, and historical milestones of the disability movement. Each topic was addressed at a different station, which were all set up in a square shape in my school’s student union.

This was at the person-first language station. If you remove the panel, it says "Person who uses a wheelchair"

This was at the person-first language station. If you remove the panel, it says “Person who uses a wheelchair”

Person-first language is important in the disability movement. By using person-first language,  the speaker is able to separate the person from their disability, rather than equating both.

This is a quiz about disability law in higher education. The answer to the question is "False." Students have to provide documentation in order to receive accommodations for their classes.

This is a quiz about disability law in higher education. The answer to the question is “False.” Students have to provide documentation in order to receive accommodations for their classes. Very informative!

Each station had braille placards to visitors with vision problems can benefit from the exhibit too! There was also the option of borrowing headphones for a provided guided listening tour of the exhibit. Inclusiveness!

Beautiful banners outlining the major milestones of the disability movement and some interesting statistics about people with disabilities

Beautiful banners outlining the major milestones of the disability movement and some interesting statistics about people with disabilities

The exhibit was located in the center hub of student activity on campus. Lots of students wandered by the exhibit, having no idea what it was. A pleasant surprise!

Posters showing actions leading up to the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Access is a civil right!

Posters showing actions leading up to the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990. Access is a civil right!

Before the ADA was signed, people who use wheelchairs were turned away from restaurants and busses for being “fire hazards” or eyesores. They lacked basic rights. There were several posters documenting the injustice experienced.

At the end of the exhibit, visitors were encouraged to sign a pledge to be an ally. Here I am holding the board at the end of the exhibit's run. So many allies!

At the end of the exhibit, visitors were encouraged to sign a pledge to be an ally. Here I am holding the board at the end of the exhibit’s run. So many allies!

Facilitating this exhibit was an awesome experience. I met so many people and listened to countless stories about all types of disabilities. Because Lyme bars me from participating in so many of life’s activities, I identify as a person with a disability. My school has a profound lack of disability culture. I felt absolutely refreshed after spending my week here. I felt that I was able to help raise peoples’ consciousness and advocate for other people with disabilities.  This was just one small step in the journey towards equal treatment of the disability community. The activist in me is pleased.

Social Justice!

Best,

Sofia

 

 

 

 

Invisible Illness Awareness Week: Why Are You Questioning My Need for a Wheelchair?

Some Wheelchair Users Can Walk

In the blog post above, Beth Griffiths, 20 year old chronically ill beauty blogger, touches on the complexities of being a young, attractive person who uses a wheelchair- and has an invisible illness. She describes how often people question her use of handicapped parking spots even though she can walk.  Continue reading