July 30, 2009

Wheel Chairs

Gemong lost the use of one of his legs when he was involved in a freak car accident five years ago. He not only lost a leg but his job and his wife. Photo shows Pastor Chan Jin Mei of Tudan Methodist Church with Gemong.

He has been relying on these crutches since then. Because the crutches are not really fitting he has added two inches of wood with rubber tyre padding to each clutch.

Group photo of wheel chair recipients.

Here Gemong is going home with his "love in a box" : a brand new wheel chair.

Whereas a stone slate in China dating back to 6th century has an inscription about a wheel chair the Europeans only discovered the wheelchair during the German Renaissance.

The first mass produced modern wheelchair was by Ernest and Jennings in the 1930's. Harry Jennings was a mechanical engineer who invented the lightweight collapsible wheelchair for his friend Ernest who had broken his back in a mining accident.

Wheelchairs come in various designs and shapes and sizes. But a good study of them would really take your breath away. It was like buying a car no doubt but it is more than a vehicle as it is so personal and life changing.

But after having seen wheel chairs in several sales outlets (prices range from B$300 to B$4999) in Brunei and Malaysia I begin to wonder how prepared our society at large is to accommodate the growing population of wheel chair bound citizens!

Would our Malaysian buildings have the facilities to allow easy mobility/accessibility of a wheelchair bound person?

I know in Miri only the Grand Palace Hotel besides the hospitals has ramps for the coming and going of wheel chair bound citizens and tourists.

The Boulevard and Imperial Malls have lifts going up from the basement but the lifts are rather small for lots of people and a single wheelchair.

How would any one in a wheel chair get to the Mega Hotel's Ballroom on his own for instance?

The Musical Corridor of the East Wood Valley Resort is a lovely place but people in wheel chairs and even in crutches have been avoiding it. And I think lots of grandparents who lack mobility do not wish to have a party there due to such inconveniences. I have seen people tripping and falling down in several places in hotels and restaurants like East Wood when the lighting is too dim or the floor is too wet after a heavy downpour (No offence to the cleaners).

Other important adaptations we should be considering are powered doors; lowered fixtures such as sinks and water fountains; and toilets with adequate space and grab bars to allow the person to manoeuvre himself or herself out of the wheelchair onto the fixture. In the United States, most new construction for public use must be built to ADA standards of accessibility. Beijing recently has made sure that all new buildings are disabled friendly.

Are our buses having low floors? But before that I think our bus drivers and bus conductors need to have lessons on special courtesy towards the disabled and older citizens. One woman in Sibu was killed because the bus driver did not want to stop his bus for her destination and she just jumped out of the bus. Too bad she was blamed for the accident.

I hope our Malaysian architects will incorporate better accessibility for people with disabilities.

Or at least we should be like the UK where the owners of inaccessible buildings are advised to keep a lightweight portable wheelchair or scooter access ramp on hand to make premises disabled friendly.

Here are some other good examples to follow.

In Los Angeles there is a program to remove a small amount of seating on some trains to make more room for bicycles and wheel chairs.

In Adelaide, Australia, all public transport has provision for at least two wheelchairs per bus, tram or train. In addition all trains have space available for bicycles.

Disneyland and Iceland have Disabled Getaway Packages.

I read that someone has even come up with an innovative Tai Chi technique for the disabled on wheelchairs and that many parks in China are now extremely accessible to the disabled.

And in recent days I have read articles by bloggers about old age and retirement. Perhaps it is time for home renovators to study seriously about making homes more friendly towards the disabled too.

In the 2lst century no one should lose his human dignity when he needs to use the bathroom. It is the least we can do to provide easy accessibility to disabled people who have already contributed so much of their time and labour to our society.

Source : Wikipedia


Anonymous said...

I think many more people in remote areas need wheel chairs.

Can you also give me the addresses I can write to?

A nice eye opening article. I remember what you said about people keeping their disabled children in the house and some poor autistic kid was even tied to a chair! And you almost wanted to give us all the experience of being tied to a chair!! I smiled but it was very memorable. Thanks for the awareness lesson. Cannot forget.


Sarawakiana@2 said...

Hi Kamaliah
How are you? I am glad you remembered our lesson on the disadvantaged.
Many communities until today still cannot except abnormalities and disadvantaged children. But I am glad things are changing for the better because of greater awareness and people who are making a concerted effort to make changes!!
The hearing impaired and the visual impaired for examples have good spokespeople and community leaders are making a difference too. I must say well done to them!

Anonymous said...

I think it is good that many people are coming out of their shells to help those who are less fortunate. Miri remains a very open society with genuine and generous people who do not have ulterior motives except to help and I am glad I am part of it since my youth.


Sarawakiana@2 said...

Dear Justin
thanks for dropping by. I am glad too that many people in Miri are good hearted and they often rally around to help the less fortunate. But I am sure in every town and village people to rise to the occasion when called upon to help.
Humanity is a good thing and you can find it in the most unusual places too.

I too feel sad if it cannot be found in someone's heart. May young people like you continue to do good.

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