“You’re so tall now!” It’s a phrase that I’ve heard quite often this past month, thanks to my new wheelchair. My Quantum Edge 3 with iLevel® allows me to elevate my seat upwards 12 inches, which drastically improves my quality of life. Why are these numbers important? For marketing purposes and to show that I’ve always been “tall.” This isn’t a philosophical tangent or self-love mantra, it’s a fact. I stand, with assistance, at a height of 5’4″, and the chair brings me up to a very respectable 5’3″ (trust me, I measured it with technology). Semantics aside, my electric wheelchair lets me present a more accurate version of myself.
Weddings are fun occasions with lots of food, dancing and people walking around. One of my duties this past month as the brother of the bride at my sister’s wedding was to be front and center in every single family-related photo. Luckily, I wasn’t getting lost in any shots with the new chair. Believe it or not, I was even visible in the back of some photos! (personal achievement).
Navigating a venue full of guests and staff members was also significantly easier with iLevel. Instead of “accidentally” running into people to make my way through a crowd, a tap on the shoulder was enough. Dancing poorly is a passion of mine during weddings and in life. Sadly, until this wedding, I would often find myself drowning in a sea of feet while trying to show off my moves.
Everyone was able to witness the greatness of my modified line dancing this time because of iLevel. Of course, the culmination of the chair’s maiden voyage was walking my mom down the aisle during the ceremony, side by side at the same height, something that would not be possible without iLevel and the ability to drive 4.5 mph while elevated. Is this an example of someone who is living their best life? Maybe.
Finding a job is difficult but finding a job as a person with a disability (PWD) is like finding a needle in a haystack. For many, myself included, rejection for “undisclosed reasons” gets old.
Recently, I had an interview that was enhanced by iLevel. Resume in hand, I arrived at the meeting place ready to give it my best. As we were side by side discussing the future, I said, “Could you hold on for a minute? This chair is new and can do some cool things.” While my potential employer has a rich history of advocating for PWD and did not have any trouble interacting with me, being at a similar height added a different feeling to the interaction as a whole (walking and talking while elevated was nice as well). Moral of the story: support inclusive hiring and iLevel improves quality of life.
What about when I’m not cutting a rug or building my future, what can iLevel do in the in between? It’s only been a month, but here’s a short list: reaching the top shelf of my refrigerator, making a good first impression on dates and entering “transformer mode” (fully elevated) when my nephew asks. You know, the important things. I will always be me, but iLevel and my Edge 3 electric wheelchair help me be seen.
About Tim Shin: Tim lives in River Vale, NJ, and works as a communications manager for AbleThrive, a nonprofit organization. He enjoys food, fashion, music and television. Click here to learn more about Tim.