The following article was written by Andrew with help from the manager of his program. Andrew lives in a Venture residence in Worcester County and wanted to share his experience with using assistive technology.
Every day, I rely on assistive technology. I use an overhead barrier-free lift system to get out of bed in the morning. I then use my customized wheelchair to successfully complete my morning routines before leaving for work. To get to work, I ride in a customized van. The van lifts me off the ground and into the van with staff assistance. When I was younger, all of these things – getting out of bed, getting into my wheelchair, and getting into any mode of transportation – were done by people lifting me. When people lift you, it can be really scary and sometimes I was injured. I have not gotten injured since I started using mechanical lifts and I feel much more comfortable.
In April 2017, I wanted to begin doing some races, but wasn’t sure I would be able to. However, I did not realize that specialized running wheelchairs are available. The first time I saw the running chair, I was a bit nervous. I thought, “It doesn’t look like any other chair I have ever used.” It only has three wheels – two in the back and one in the front.
I was very lucky to meet the team of individuals who designed and built these running chairs, and they explained aerodynamics to me. Until that moment, I had never realized the importance of science in assistive technology.
When I participate in races with the assistance of Team Hoyt New England runners, I am sitting in an aerodynamically correct position for both my physical needs and for the person who is pushing me – amazing! Later this summer, I will be learning to sail on a sailboat that has been fitted with assistive lifts to get in and out of the boat, and a rudder that has been adapted for me to use. I can’t wait… And I am no longer scared of trying any new assistive technology!