The IBOT Could Roll Over Life's Little Indignities
As a chair user who has tried various manual chairs over the past 30 years, I was intrigued by the IBOT. When offered the chance to be present at a demonstration of this stair-crawling machine, I gladly agreed. I have to say, if the IBOT lives up to its demo, it will certainly permit me to do things that I can't do in a standard chair.
But it's not the dramatic options that are so important. I probably wouldn't elevate the seat to be at eye-level with someone during conversations, and I probably wouldn't take it out to dance "upright" at some club. For me, the small indignities associated with wheelchair use are the most irritating, and this new device could help me overcome them in a number of ways. For example:
- I'm at work. I'm assembling a package of materials that the boss wants mailed overnight. The Fed-Ex envelopes are stored on the shelf above the copier. I bring along a 3-foot wooden dowel and nudge my envelope with the stick until it falls. With the IBOT, I could raise the height of the seat and pick up an envelope without the risk of sending the whole pile flying.
- I feel a tickle in my throat. After work I stop at the grocery store to buy some honey for my tea. The glass jars of honey are on the third shelf, which I can just brush with my fingertips. I'm alone in the aisle, so I wait for a fellow shopper to pass. Five minutes later, I finally catch the eye of a stock clerk, who hands me a jar. If I'd been in the IBOT, I would have lifted myself up, grabbed the jar and made it through the checkout by the time that that clerk had walked by.
- I'm at the beach on Cape Cod. A wooden walkway extends partway down the beach, but doesn't reach the waterline. Wheels sink quickly in beach sand, and the sand destroys wheel bearings, so I settle beside the walk and don't swim. If I'd been in the IBOT, I could have ridden right down to the water's edge. I could have been in the water with my niece and nephew. I could have "walked" along the beach at sunset with my significant other. Ooohhh!
- I'm shopping in Boston. I'm on the sidewalk, zipping up a side
street, and come to a crosswalk, where, I notice, there is no curb
cut for my wheelchair. I turn around and "bump" down backwards,
large wheels first, being careful to land evenly because I've been
pitched out of the chair on uneven surfaces. In the IBOT, I would
have driven right over the curb, knowing that the gyro mechanism
would keep me stable and upright.
- I'm in Cambridge, at Harvard Square, riding past a folk club. I check the calendar, and discover that one of my favorite singers will be performing that night. The club is in the basement of the building, down five steps. I hang over the railing and wave my arms to get the attention of the woman selling tickets. I get out of my chair, "bump" down the stairs, and ask the manager to carry my chair down for me. I don't sit in the dining area, because it's down another two steps. The manager agrees to carry the chair up the stairs after I crawl back up. I get to the top, but he forgets to come out. I wait. Finally, I ask a customer who is coming in for the second show to retrieve my chair. I haul myself back into the chair, dust myself off, and head home. The IBOT would have taken me right down the stairs, into the dining room, and back up without the dirt and the exertion.
I live a fairly normal life, with the help of my chair. The IBOT would not make my life more normal, but it would certainly decrease the amount of daily irritations I face and lessen my dependence upon good-hearted email@example.com
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Last modified: Aug 31, 2004, 17:07 EDT