By Ernie Williamson
Thanks, Santa. You brought just what I wanted for Christmas.
I appreciate it. I know getting a gift for a disabled person can be challenging.
Take me for instance. The types of things I used to get for gifts are no longer practical. I am retired. I don’t need a new tie. And I am in a wheelchair. I don’t need new tennis gear.
Friends and family, baffled by what to get me, often resort to books. I do read a lot, but in the 12 years I have been in the wheelchair I have been gifted with more books than I could ever read.
So, what to do if you are buying gifts for a disabled person like me?
Whether it be for Christmas or a birthday, I suggest you look at it as an opportunity to enrich the disabled person’s life.
That is because everyday activities that people perform without a second thought - such as putting on shoes - can be challenging for the disabled.
Thankfully, there are a wide range of products available that not only make decent gifts but may make life easier and more enjoyable for the disabled.
They include inexpensive things like non-slip scoop plates, easy-to grip utensils, long-handled shoe horns, devices that help put on socks and tote bags for the back of the wheelchair.
A word of caution: If you search online for gift guides for the disabled, you will see a lot of T-shirts with slogans on them.
They say such things as “Roll Model,” “Quadfather,” and “I Still Run Better than the Government.” Unless requested, I would not buy any of these shirts as a gift. Some of us might not appreciate the humor.
Then there are more expensive and interesting gifts available. Here are a few:
• The Sesame is a touch-free smartphone designed specifically for those with limited or no use of their hands. The device uses head-tracking software to bring smartphone functionality to people who would otherwise not be able to use a smartphone.
• Future Shape has come up with a floor design to help the elderly or disabled in emergency situations. The SensFloor is equipped with motion sensors that detect whether someone has fallen.
It can even call for help. The flooring has been installed in a care home in France.
• The LIFEtool IntegraMouse Plus is a computer mouse that allows people with all sorts of disabilities to click and scroll on a computer. The mouse is controlled with the mouth.
I realize not all disabled people want gifts that remind them of their limitations. I was that way until just recently. Now, I don’t want extravagant gifts.
I want things that will make my life in a wheelchair easier.
So Santa, when you read this in The Bulletin, I want to thank you again for the floatation device for the pool.
I will use it for aquatic therapy in hopes of improving strength and flexibility in my legs.
(Contact Ernie at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, send letters in care of The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516)