Give a Guy a Handicap Lift Please

That's something you'll probably hear a lot of in places where there's only a stair (or moving stairs) to get up to another level of a building or shopping mall. You see, neither of these access methods were built for wheelchair users, although moving stairs are okay for folks that can get about with a walker but can't walk up or down static stairs. So what's the solution?

We have two choices, actually although in the past it used to be only one. The original way was to sit there at the bottom of the stairs and wait for some nice strong people to come along and lift me up, chair and all. That usually took two or sometime three strong guys and I can say that while I was always grateful for the help, I always felt my dignity had been violated for even having to ask. I know it shouldn't be that way and don't get me wrong, there were always some really helpful people around that were truly decent folks who would go out of their way to help some complete stranger in a wheelchair.

Lately, there is another option which is not only way more convenient and doesn't put on other people, but it restores some dignity too. This option comes under the collective term of handicap lifts, and consists of the stair lift, wheelchair stair lift and platform lift, which is like an open service elevator and instead of traveling up a stairway, goes straight up to the next floor in its own open shaft, like an elevator without being enclosed. Now these gizmos are perfect for getting up and down the floors of a mall or public building and there are often seen wheelchair lifts installed on external stairs at the entrance to some public buildings. My local library has one and so does the health center. The hospital doesn't need one cause there is a ramp for the ambulance guys and the disabled folks can use it too.

There is still a long way to go before the town gets completely accessible to me and those like me and as for the city, forget it. Most subway stations were built a long time ago and have never been upgraded, so its static stairs to get down and up, although some are being slowly retro-fitted with elevators for folks that can't use the stairs. Not that I would ever feel too comfortable using the subway in any case. But as I don't live in a big city and have no intention of ever visiting one, its a moot point.

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