As we all know a large number of products made for individuals with disabilities are greatly overpriced. Among the many unfortunate results of this is the fact that many people from the disabled community are prevented from returning to the activities that provide them with quality-of-life such as hunting, kayaking, and biking to mention just a few. This is one reason why Andy Dahmen and I designed what we call the Universal Chair Mount. Our idea was to place the prints on the Handihelp website where people could download them and then have a local craftsman make the mount, greatly reducing the cost. We drew up a rough set of blueprints and decided to have our mounts made locally. Mine was made in upstate New York, while Andy’s was made in Utah. Imagine our surprise when we exchanged photos of each other’s finished products.
When I stopped to think about this, I realized there is a good lesson here. As you can see from the pictures, we ended up with two very different looking chair mounts, and that’s the point. The plans, pictures and ideas shown on the pages of the Handihelp website should serve as a guide or starting point, rather than a blueprint which must be followed exactly. When you look at a “tool” or piece of equipment you should ask yourself, what do I want this to do for me? What parts are essential to its function? On the mount, for instance, there are 3 features that all chair mounts must have in common: a hole for the post to go into, a mechanism to lock the post in place, and a means to attach the mount to a wheelchair. How these necessities are produced is up to the builder. Look how different our two mounts are; yet, they both attain the desired outcome, a functional universal chair mount.
Handihelp provides possible solutions for accomplishing certain outcomes, but they should be looked at as starting points instead of “set-in-stone” solutions. What is offered here is the start of developing an attitude toward dealing with the challenges imposed upon us by our disabilities, as well as a source of solutions.