Thursday, September 30, 2010

Raindrops Keep Falling

I try to avoid going out in the rain. No, I don't think I'll melt but I do know that I and the person pushing me can get very wet. I have not been able to figure out a way to stay dry in a wheelchair. Here are some things I've tried.

  • Umbrellas -These don't work for the passenger or the pusher. If I hold the umbrella, it gets in the way of the person pushing me. If the pusher holds an umbrella, I usually get the runoff and it's very hard to steer a wheelchair with one hand. Umbrella hats are just dumb-looking, and only keep your head dry.
  • Rain slicker –This doesn't work for the passenger because there is run off from the slicker onto the lap. Also, if it doesn't cover your bottom you end up sitting in a wet puddle. A slicker is a good idea for the pusher.
  • Rain poncho –This doesn't work either because it's hard to find your arms for transferring. It does solve the runoff problem however.
  • Stay home –This is the best option, but I can't always cancel appointments just because it's raining. Fortunately, many doctors' offices have a drop-off with an overhang. Since many of my appointments are medical in nature, I don't have to worry about the weather as much.

I know an engineering professor who assigns this problem to his students. Their ideas are clever, but impractical. The rain became my enemy when I was still walking with assistive devices. I learned fairly quickly to give up umbrellas. It was hard to walk with a cane in one hand and an umbrella in the other, especially when trying to open a door. Using a walker, holding an umbrella was impossible. That's when I started wearing rain slickers and ponchos, anything with the hood. It might not have been fashionable, but it kept me dry. I certainly wasn't going to run through the rain.

I invite my readers to share their suggestions to this problem. In the meantime, if you see someone struggling with a cane, walker or wheelchair on a rainy day, take a moment and ask if they need any assistance. I assure you that your help will be greatly appreciated if there is a door that needs opening. If you want to reach me, I'm waiting for the rain to stop

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Talk Is Cheap and Easy

Recently, I purchased a new PC. One of my motivating factors was my need for a faster processor to run speech-recognition software. I am pleased to report that the new machine is handling the task quite well and I'm not one to push products, but Microsoft has done a great job of improving the software included in their Windows 7 operating system. I wager to say that it is almost as good as the additional software I have had to purchase in the past.

If you want to try speech-recognition software, here are a few tips.

  • Take the time to go through any included tutorials. You'll be glad that you did.
  • Do not look at the screen when you dictate and try to speak at a normal pace and tone. A good model is a newscaster reading from a teleprompter.
  • Don't expect for everything to go perfectly the first time. Start slowly and gradually increase your speed.
  • Remember that the computer is only as smart as you are. If you aren't making any sense, the computer just puts down what it hears.

With this new technology, I have little excuse not to blog more regularly. Having speech-recognition software is like having your own personal stenographer taking down your every word. It's empowering for anyone, but particularly for me. My fine motor skills may have diminished, but my mouth works just fine. I'll be talking to you soon.