If you know someone, or are a person yourself living with a disability, chances are you have experienced a loss of independence and a wide range of accessibility to your community. Maybe even your home. But living with a disability doesn’t mean you have to give up your independence or be confined to your home or neighborhood. Since March is Disability Awareness Month, we want to explore some resources, including mobility equipment, free/reduced public transportation, VA benefits and other resources that can help you access mobility equipment and supplies for your home and vehicle that bring greater independence. We will also provide you with resources to find wheelchair accessible beaches, community locations and attractions. We hope that this information will help you or your loved one find greater independence and the resources to enjoy the great outdoors.
Independence in Your Home and Community
If you are feeling a little unsteady on your feet and need a helping hand, support can be as easy as adding a cane or a rollator to your daily walks. Canes are ideal for home or travel given how small they can be (folding models), but rollators offer a bit more support while allowing for tight turns and transportation.
For those that require additional support to navigate their home, an electric wheelchair or scooter may be the ticket to increased independence. A wheelchair may be ideal if your home has wide hallways and few tight turns. They offer a wide base of support and back rest but some models have a limited turning radius making tight turns difficult. Electric scooters tend to be narrower and can handle tight turns, making them easier to use indoors. Both scooters and wheelchairs feature models that fit all body types and weights so that everyone has the opportunity to experience independent mobility.
Modifications to a home may be necessary to provide someone the opportunity to live independently. Recommending updates that will help a person live independently in his or her own home. In order to create aesthetically pleasing, secure, useful, and barrier-free living spaces, All Star Medical will work with an occupational therapist, professional contractor, vendor, or interior designer. They can also include details on cost and timelines for typical renovation projects, as well as building regulations and guidelines, useful products, and resources.
Accessing Your Town
Navigating one’s home is important, but if you don’t have regular access to the community, the isolation can lead to depression. Stairs or lack of appropriate accessories for your car are common barriers, but barriers that can be breached. In the state of Tennessee there are several organizations that offer grants and other funding to install ramps for homes or for vehicles, as well as scooter ramps to transport scooters.
There are a number of reasons why someone may not be able to drive themselves to appointments or other errands in the community. Based on what county you live in, the Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability transportation assistance has various programs that provide low-cost/no-cost transportation for the elderly and those with disabilities. Search by county then contact the companies listed for your area to determine the best fit for your needs. For example, the following resources exist for Davidson County alone: Senior Ride Nashville, Nashville Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), MTA Access Ride, and Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership (JUMP).
Additional avenues for funding and support exist for those that have served in the armed forces. The Veteran’s Affairs program is dedicated to helping their members live life fully and independently. The VA provides a number of services to assist veterans with disabilities in modifying their houses to make them more accessible. For instance, the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant can give veterans money to build a new house or make modifications to an existing one to meet their needs connected to a disability, such as creating wheelchair ramps, enlarging entrances, installing accessible restrooms or making other changes to enable them to live more independently.
Veterans with impairments resulting from their service can apply for funds from the VA to help them buy a car or modify an existing one to suit their needs. For instance, a veteran who uses a wheelchair might be qualified for a subsidy to buy a van that has been appropriately modified.
The VA’s Prosthetic and Sensory Aids Service may be able to provide prosthetics or orthotics, such as braces or artificial limbs, to veterans who require assistance with mobility. Also, the program can supply wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers as well as other mobility-enhancing tools.
Traveling beyond one’s town can be a great way for people with disabilities to explore new places and have new experiences. However, it can also present unique challenges that need to be considered. Before traveling, individuals with disabilities should research their destination to ensure that it is accessible and that they have the necessary resources to make their trip successful.
The mobility aids that we have mentioned before come in models that are collapsible and make traveling easier. Airlines have some requirements based on battery size for motorized aids, but most lightweight, foldable models are permitted to be stored on board. Still, it is wise to call the airline with the specifications of your device to ensure that it will be allowed onboard or will be checked.
With the advancement in technology and the continued movement to increase accessibility of all public buildings and areas, the possibilities for travel destinations are constantly increasing. In the state of Tennessee alone there are many tourist attractions that have access for those with mobility needs. It is a big world and it can take hours of research to find the right place to vacation that will be able to accommodate your needs. Thankfully, there are resources available for that as well. Curb Free is just one such blog where Cory Lee documents his travels and experiences as a wheelchair user and reports back on the highs and lows of each location. If you are in the mood for something warmer and sunnier, here is a list of the 25 most wheelchair friendly beaches across the world as compiled by Cory. Many of the beaches have specially designed wheelchairs for rent that will allow the user to travel across the sand and into the surf.
If sand and sun isn’t your idea of relaxing, you may want to consider the National Parks. Maps and information on accessibility can be found on each park’s website, but to help you narrow down the search, here is a list of the 7 best National Parks for wheelchair users. Individuals with disabilities extending beyond mobility can find a list of the most accessible National Parks in the United States, including those with tactile displays, here. Or you can throw caution to the wind and book a mobility accessible trip to Machu Picchu!
Living with a disability does not have to mean sacrificing your independence or limiting your ability to travel and explore the world. By utilizing the resources available to you, such as local and state programs and mobility aids, you can overcome barriers and live your most independent life. If you’re in need of assistance finding the right mobility aid or medical supplies, don’t hesitate to call or visit one of the All-Star Medical locations. We’re here to support you in achieving your goals and living life on your own terms. Remember, with the right tools and support, anything is possible.
Resources for the state of Tennessee
Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability
Andrew Jackson Building, Nashville, TN 37243
(615) 741-2056 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM CT
Greater Nashville Regional Counsil (GNRC): Aging and Disability Services
615-255-1010 or 866-836-6678
Tennessee Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs)
502 Deaderick Street, 9th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243-0860
Tennessee Area Agencies on Aging and Disability (AAAD)
Tennessee Association for Assistive Technology (TAAT)
1432 East Lee Hwy
Loudon, TN 37774
Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue, 13th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243
Tennessee Disability Coalition
955 Woodland Street
Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 383-9442 or (888) 643-7811
Tennessee Statewide Independent Living Council (SILC)
2601 Elm Hill Pike
Nashville, TN 37214
Tennessee Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS)
Citizens Plaza State Office Building
2nd Floor, 400 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1403
(615) 313-4891 or (800) 270-1349