Many people today see disability equipment as an extension of their freedom and independence. Whether this has something to do with their ability to go out of their house on their own in a wheelchair or in completing a simple menial job within their home, having the right kind of assistive device to aid them in accomplishing things can be enabling and beyond empowering to them.
But there is a negative connotation about the word itself and it has been hounding it over all these years. Have you seen the movie Forrest Gump and his ubiquitous metal leg braces? When you focus so much on the infirmity, it eventually creates perceptions of stigma. It paints a picture of someone depending on another.
It makes people who need assistive devices to have a sense of brokenness in themselves, that something about them is wrong. But things are bound to change now. It is such a relief to see now that developers of such kinds of equipment are continuously making leaps and bounds of innovations in their product offerings these days. So much so that we can now see a much different range of disability devices. They now reflect freedom, control, and independence.
As a matter of fact, the vast majority of equipment that you will find in the market today are more centered on the ability of the person with infirmity, and how by their use life’s environmental barriers could be mitigated while personal abilities, on the other hand, are being optimized.
Therefore, are we supposed to continue our practice of using this term, disability equipment, that focuses on the negative, dis, for something that actually invokes positive influence?
Delving deeper into these objects we refer to as assistive devices, we’ll see that the very reason they are made for, that is to enable people with infirmity, is actually contradicting or going against this catch-all term. These items are fast becoming commonplace these days, which may also signify that the user is not completely seeing themselves as having a severe kind of disability.
For instance, let us cite an example here, take a closer look at mobility scooters or bathing aids. The target user profile for these kinds of products is slowly changing and how the manufacturers are presenting them is also making a shift.
From walking frames to bed sticks and rails, such devices give people with infirmity, the frail ones and the elderly to move their way around their environment more freely and independently.
Therefore, it is safe to say that we really have growing options here as far as customizing a piece of equipment based on our needs is concerned. This would include different weights and shapes of wheelchair frames or drive systems that will empower them. Or perhaps walking frames made distinctly unique by their offered storage options and adjustable features.
Walking aids offer us greater accessibility since anyone can buy them at practically lower costs than ever before. This significantly helps in removing the stigma that we have inevitably put in many disability equipment because you can now easily acquire them even if you don’t want to have anything to do with a specialist medical supplier.