Imagine, if Steve Jobs had designed a power chair! I’ve long had a bee in my bonnet about the size of power chairs, which seem to be bucking the technological trend towards miniaturisation and getting bigger and bigger, whilst the trend in house building is towards smaller and smaller and we struggle to manoeuvre our chairs onto buses, into taxis, and onto planes. Power chairs are remarkably liberating for many disabled people, and an integral part of our lives, in use 24/7 – except when we go to bed, of course, and there it sits all night, ready for use.

This week I’m preparing to once again attempt to get via the NHS a power chair that meets my growing needs for postural support without immobilising me in a semi- reclining position or making it impossible for me to get near enough the bed / shower / loo to transfer independently – which is what happened last time.

My needs from a power chair have always been pretty straightforward – as racy as possible and as neat / small as possible. But these needs are changing, and I’ve watched with disappointment as chairs get chunkier, more cumbersome and clumsy, wider and heavier, whilst admittedly giving more functions. Now some people are tall, or just big, and need a chair that will support them and give them the best postural positioning they can. This will usually be a large chair. But most people are not six-footers, indeed some are quite tiny. Some people – like me – have a spine that is giving up the ghost and need a flexible level of support so that we can achieve optimum personal independence. The trouble seems to be, the more support you need the bigger (and uglier) (oh, and more expensive) the chair becomes. And unless you’re personally financially independent you have the yellow brick road of the NHS assessment / prescription / provision process to navigate and a budget to chase.

Do you remember what a cultural shock the iPhone / iPad were, compared to what the market had previously offered? Intuitive, functional, cool, stylish, desirable!

What if Steve Jobs had designed a power chair?

The iChair! Can I find it?


About lorrainegradwell

Active in the disabled peoples' movement since the early 80's, stepping back a bit now but still speaking up and still looking for independence and an end to discrimination.
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