Thinking back to my childhood, the day I got my first power wheelchair was a life altering day. I was 8 years old and my chair was delivered on the day of my elementary school’s field day. What a day to gain independence! I didn’t think there would ever be a better day. Little did I know…my second power wheelchair would come with the ability to elevate. Having the ability to mobilize yourself is great. Yet, mobilizing and elevating yourself is even better.
Before having the ability to elevate with iLevel® technology, people often saw my wheelchair before they saw me. Even though I could self-mobilize, I required assistance for reaching things. Sitting at a lower level highlighted my soft-spoken voice. Transferring was difficult.
When you use a mobility aid, people often see the mobility aid and not the person. Since wheelchair users are in a seated position, people who can stand look down at wheelchair users when communicating with them. The act of looking down emphasizes the difference between the person who is standing and the person who uses a power wheelchair. In our society, the person looking down on someone has power over the person they are looking at. When I got my Edge® 3 Motorized Wheelchair with iLevel I was at the same level with people who can stand. This causes them to make eye contact with me instead of looking down at me. Eye contact makes the person see me and not my wheelchair.
Unfortunately, for wheelchair users and those who are short in stature, the world is not developed around their shortness. Before iLevel technology, I could only reach things that were within my range of reach from the seated position, which is not very much. With iLevel, you can elevate your chair 12 inches higher than the standard seated position. This makes it easier to reach for items higher up. You can look over counters, sit at a bar or high-top table. Having the ability to do all these things independently means I don’t always need someone else’s support.
I am soft spoken, which makes it difficult for me to project my voice at times. Elevating my chair helps me to project my voice without as much strain. When talking to a group of people while seated at a lower level, it takes a lot of effort to project your voice. If you can elevate yourself at iLevel, it makes it easier to speak so others can hear you. Most wheelchair users do not have the ability to stand so being able to elevate one’s wheelchair is the equivalent to standing in many cases.
Along with being soft spoken, I am extremely short. This can make transfers difficult. Before obtaining my Edge 3 Motorized Wheelchair with iLevel, I often needed someone to lift me because I was not able to hoist myself up. Thanks to iLevel, I can elevate to the height I need and independently pivot over.
Whenever a person with a disability receives a mobility aid that increases their ability to mobilize, it is life changing. We never realize how much we need something until we experience it. Wheelchairs help people get from point A to point B. iLevel changes the way we interact with the rest of the world.
About Isabella Bullock: Isabella, or Izzie for short, is an employment specialist for the Center of Independent Living. She is an iced coffee enthusiast who enjoys getting lost in a good book. Click here to learn more about Isabella.