SCI life: Accessibility pioneer

The world that existed before the ADA is still fresh in the mind of J.R. Harding. Paralyzed in a 1982 schoolyard fight, Harding, a C5 quadriplegic, had to work hard for the life he wanted. A friend of high-profile politicians, a speaker, an advocate and an author, Harding has gone on to become one of the most passionate disability advocates in the country.

JR Harding has gone on to become one of the most passionate disability advocates in the country.

JR Harding has gone on to become one of the most passionate disability advocates in the country.

By Tiffiny Carlson, New Mobility August 1, 2016

Harding was a military brat growing up and loved sports, specifically football and rowing. After his injury, he was lost. “All of a sudden the scholarships were gone, and now academics and test scores would play a role,” he says. He ended up being the first person with a significant disability to attend Western Kentucky University.

“The world in the 1980s was not very accessible. Leaving the house took a team of friends. Going to the movies, or on a date, only happened through double dating, and then you had to sit in the aisle,” he says. “The world did not have access or expectations for persons with disabilities.”

Harding eventually transferred to Wright University, where he received an English degree and then his master’s of education. After graduation, he became heavily involved in disability advocacy and policy shaping.

JR Harding on the 21st anniversary of the ADA on Facing Florida Oct 28, 2011. YouTube

Harding, now 49 and married, has helped contribute to several bills in Florida, where he now lives in Tallahassee. He was a contributing author to the Florida State System University Master Plan and is a two-time U.S. presidential appointee and seven-time Florida gubernatorial appointee. Helping to make voting places, public transportation and other aspects of life more accessible has been his life’s work.

“The South is still a little ‘behind the times’ with regards to access, inclusion, and employment of persons with disabilities,” he admits, “which means I continue to have lots of work to do.”

Pop ‘n Drop bracket/scooter system attaches to any manual wheelchair.

I had a vision of freedom. Pop ‘n Drop bracket/scooter system attaches to any manual wheelchair.

Pop ‘n Drop – A New Way to Cruise

After 25 years of being paralyzed, Sergio Scognamiglio, a C6 quadriplegic from Crystal Beach, Florida, needed a faster way to get around.

“I needed to keep up with my teenage son when he went out on bike rides,” says Scognamiglio, who also was feeling the inevitable shoulder pain all longtime wheelchair users experience. As a manual wheelchair user, he knew he needed power assistance for long rides.

Since he wasn’t interested in paying an exorbitant amount of money, he invented his own device — a bracket/scooter system that attaches to any manual wheelchair — that he calls the Pop ‘n Drop for the easy way it attaches to a wheelchair. And the biggest selling point? It’s hundreds of dollars cheaper than any competitor.

Scognamiglio created a customized bracket for which he charges $325. Once you have the bracket, you can attach it to an electric scooter, instantly transforming your manual wheelchair into a power chair.

Game Fish From Your Chair

Robert, a quadriplegic from Australia, injured 20 years ago, has created a powerful fishing rod holder that enables quadriplegics to enjoy the thrill of fishing by allowing them to reel in their catch seamlessly. Dubbed Reel Keen, this game-fishing rod holder has caught fish up to 15 pounds in weight.

Source New Mobility

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