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In the second part of his series exploring how wheelchair users are changing the medical system from the inside, Tim Gilmer switches his focus to nursing. The expanding role of nurses — from nurse practitioners, to administrators, to educators, to floor workers and more — is slowly opening the field to those with limited mobility. These fighters are breaking through the walls of discrimination and close-mindedness to bring some much-needed disability perspective to all levels of healthcare.
If you use a wheelchair and need help finding your seat or carrying a drink at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, there’s a chance that you’ll have a robot assisting you. That’s pretty cool, but what’s even cooler is that Toyota’s “human support robots” can help with everyday tasks in your home like opening doors and blinds, picking up items off the floor, and connecting you to friends and family.
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Whether interacting with online dating inquirers, do-nothing inaccessibility sympathizers or TSA agents who “cautiously caress your inner thigh for signs of a crossbow,” Regan Linton offers a guide to making the most of the inevitable, awkward encounters with people who forget all rules of human civility as soon as they see a wheelchair.
Nonverbal communication can require some adaption after spinal cord injury, but it’s crucial to staking your place in the world. Physical communication, writes Brook McCall, “isn’t determined by level of functioning or muscle mass, but instead has a lot to do with things I can control, like how I carry myself and the effort I put into relating to others.”