Elevator Seat for Power Wheelchairs: Accessibility

10 Years With, 10 Years Without: The Elevator Seat

It’s not hard to imagine a better life when you have something as vastly different as an elevator seat on a wheelchair.  When you are a full-time wheelchair user, having this function can completely change your world.

It’s like having a Flintstones car and then having a car with a motor. The elevator seat is by far one of the most coveted add-ons for power wheelchairs. When I first heard about them, I of course wanted one right away, but it didn’t finally happen for me until 2005. I was even able to get it covered by insurance since I need it for work.

What’s amazing about this add-on is it gives you a whole new level of independence. I remember when I first received it. I was too afraid to use the elevator seat alone, so the first time I used it in my apartment was at night when my boyfriend was there. He was 6’5. As my seat rose to reach his face, I fell in love (not with him mind you; that relationship was not meant to be).

But it soon became quite clear it was going to change my life. I was going into this change as a “normal” power wheelchair-user going on 13 years. I knew it was going to be fun at concerts and being able to reach the bar, but I had no idea how many other things it was going to help with.

One of my favorite things is being able to reach things at the store without asking for help. My elevator seat unfortunately doesn’t reach every top shelf, but it reaches many and lets me avoid having to ask a stranger for help. This is always a good thing.

I also love how it lets me get around inaccessible architecture like countertops that are too high, being able to see in mirrors that are hung too high in public bathrooms or even trying to see in a tall pot of boiling water (there is no way you can see that when you are at your normal sitting level). Just being able to reach the very high sink at my mom’s is amazing. It’s the simple things really makes all the difference.

I also came to realize how sad it is that we as wheelchair-users become so used to our inabilities even when technology is within our reach and can change our lives.  It’s too bad things like elevator seats cost so much, which means many people can’t afford them. Most health insurance plans do not cover these. I really hope this changes.

I do believe however a persuasive letter from your doctor talking about how it can change your daily independence may influence those making the final decision at your insurance company. Everybody who use a powerchair deserves an elevator eat in my mind. And btw, I do sit with it at the bar and it’s awesome. People are impressed every time, and it’s a great conversation opener if you’re single.

Sigh. I just wish I could go back to that time my view was blocked in 2004 when I saw David Bowie at the Milwaukee Theater. Oh the injustice this elevator seat is capable of eradicating. It truly is a wonder.

Do you have an elevator seat? How have you changed your life?

Author’s note: I have an Invacare MK3 SPJ powerchair with Motion Concepts add-on elevator seat. The price for the elevator seat was approximately $1500.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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