Sip-and-Puff Skiing

Billed as “the world’s first independent alpine sit-ski for any physical disability,” the TetraSki combines a joystick and custom-designed sip-and-puff system to offer heretofore unprecedented levels of control for people with all types of function. The TetraSki is the result of five years of engineering and development at the University of Utah Rehabilitation Center and Tetradapt, a nonprofit. Thanks to a grant, they were able to build five TetraSkis, which were then spread around the country this winter for users to try and provide feedback.

“I didn’t think I would ever go skiing after my injury,” says Lina Nguyen, a C4-5 quad. “I’d never skied before but it was a really cool experience.” Nguyen, who lives in West Valley City, Utah, tried using the joystick on her first few runs, but found she had more control with the sip-and-puff. “Once I got the hang of it, it was much easier.” She’s used the TetraSki twice now and says knowing a facility had one would definitely make her more likely to go there.

Ross Imburgia, a research engineer on the TetraSki, says Tetradapt is looking at launching a fundraising campaign to build more skis. Follow their progress at

MTA Fall Leads To Calls For Change

Disability leaders in New York City are citing the tragic death of a mother forced to use the stairs at an elevator-free subway station as evidence of the pressing need to make the famed system more accessible. On Jan. 28, Malaysia Goodson, a 22-year-old mother, fell trying to take her 1-year-old daughter’s stroller down the stairs at the Seventh Avenue B/D/E station. Goodson’s daughter was not injured.

Lack of access at this subway station is implicated in the death of a young mother with a stroller.

Lack of access at this subway station is implicated in the death of a young mother with a stroller.

Susan Dooha, the executive director of the Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York, dismissed the MTA’s pledges to prioritize accessibility at a rally held outside the station Jan. 30. “If the MTA wants to assure the public that this matter will be addressed finally and forever, they would come and put that down on paper with precise details and a timetable and one that is enforceable by the courts,” she said. “They would not leave the air filled with promises that may never be realized.”

According to a recent report from the city comptroller’s office, only 118 stations, or about a quarter of the MTA’s subway system, are accessible via an elevator. There are about 200,000 mobility-impaired residents in the city as well as another 340,000 seniors and 200,000 children younger than 5.


Don’t miss the latest United on Wheels podcast on Healthy Living and SCI. New Mobility columnist Joanne Smith helps you make the most of what you eat, and holistic life coach Kristina Rhoades explains mindfulness and how it might change your life. Listen at

Take a Look at This Heart


With an honest look at 17 people with disabilities in their pursuit of love and happiness, “Take a Look at This Heart” has won rave reviews in small screenings around the country. Now you can watch from the comfort of your own living room by downloading it from the iTunes store. $12.99.

Painting Houston Orange

Wes HollowayA packed house turned out Feb. 2 for the grand opening celebration for Opening ARTS & Minds, United Spinal Association of Houston’s new art education program. Designed as an inclusive art experience for people of all abilities, the program offers a dedicated studio and weekly classes for anyone interested in creating art.

United Spinal Association of Houston secured a grant from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation to fund the program and enlisted chapter member Wes Holloway to lead it. Holloway is an artist with nine years of experience working in the non-profit art world. He sees his new role as completing a circle that began when his OT in rehab encouraged him to pursue his artistic dreams. That OT was Rafferty Laredo, the founder of United Spinal Association of Houston.

There was barely enough room for the overflow crowd at the grand opening celebration.

There was barely enough room for the overflow crowd at the grand opening celebration.

Holloway is passionate about inspiring fellow artists and novices alike. “An artist will never know their voice until they find it,” he said at the opening. “Even if you don’t create work that’s what you imagined it to be, your story will come out in that work itself. … Someone will get something out of it as a viewer. That’s just the power of art. It saved my life and put meaning into my life and I hope to do that for any other people.”

Find out more at


The world got a crash course in #ThingsDisabledPeopleKnow on Jan. 17 when people with disabilities posted nearly 20,000 tweets with the hashtag. Covering everything from common misconceptions, to personal stories and social advice, the hashtag trended globally and received coverage on many major media outlets.

Imani Barbarin, a blogger and content creator who focuses on disability, race and feminism among other topics, started the hashtag. “When hashtags like this take off,” she says, “I’m surprised at how many nondisabled people seem shocked with the realities of disabled life. At times, some become belligerent at the idea that what they’re conditioned to know doesn’t reflect the community.”


The LapStacker

The Ingenious Lapstacker

An invention that helps wheelchair users carry items hands-free reached its $10,000 funding goal on Kickstarter in less than 26 hours. The LapStacker features two retractable straps that snap together like a seat belt over whatever the manual wheelchair user is carrying in their lap.

The campaign runs until March 8, and backers can have their own LapStacker with manual buckles for about $134, or with magnetic buckles for about $154. The two models are expected to retail for $259 and $289, respectively. See for more information.

Third Time’s a Charm

Supporters of the Disability Integration Act held parties all over the country on Jan. 15 to celebrate the bill’s reintroduction for the 2019-2020 session. Written by ADAPT and first introduced in the Senate in 2015, the DIA would ensure that people with disabilities who are eligible for institutional care have the right to access those same services in their own homes. Learn more at