NEW YORK, NY - City Comptroller John C. Liu stated the following on the approval of the "Taxi of Tomorrow":
"The failure to make the entire fleet wheelchair-accessible is a wrong-headed decision that should concern all New Yorkers, not just the current 60,000 wheelchair-users ihould have beenour City. People can become disabled at any point in their life. Perhaps if the Mayor required the use of a wheelchair he would see this issue differently."
Background: Comptroller Liu's testimony to the Taxi and Limousine Commission: http://comptroller.nyc.gov/
When the ALS clinic staff at Cornell met me at the door at my appointment on September 14, they had already heard from me for months about my wheelchair. The rep of the vendor kept promising me that he was "working on it" and very soon, all my wheelchair problems would be over. At my June appointment at the ALS clinic, the rep wasn't present and I learned he had left the company. It all made sense. When some people know they will be leaving a job, they often leave loose ends hanging. I was assured that the company had hired someone else and I figured it would take time for this new guy to clean up the mess left by the old guy. So when I came for my next appointment on September 14, Jenn from MDA informed me that the following Monday [September 17], I would have visitors to my apartment -- Pete, the new vendor rep, a man from the wheelchair manufacturer, and Pete's boss. In the meantime, Pete was in the clinic that afternoon and he spent a lot of time with me, the occupational therapist, the physical therapist, and my wheelchair. Together we all figured out what the issues were.
So the three men came on Monday and promised they would get the wheelchair to a more ideal vehicle for my needs, with a single footrest that lifts up, rather than two single footrests that were constantly breaking and came out to the side like wings for me to stand. They brou ght the wrong footrest. So they had to take the wheelchair away to their shop overnight and I had to use the manual transfer chair. This means that I couldn't move on my own and there is no headrest, tilt or recline. They promised to get the wheelchair back to me by 10:00 am. Of course the next moning came and went. With every passing hour in that manual transfzed er chair, I was uncomfortably waiting for the chair to come. It finally came with a technician at 2:30. I was not the happiest camper, but so relieved to have it. One thing they did as a result of my joking around when they asked before they took away the wheelchair, "Now before we leave, is there anything else we can do?" and I said "If you can make this wheelchair narrower, I would be very happy". It seemed that the wheelchair itself was no wider than the old one; the armrests were wider and the part that stuck out from the side footrests made the chair wider. So I was ecstatic when I got the wheelchair back, that it fit into places it hadn't, including under the table that holds Chelsea's bunny cage.
Untill four hours later-- at 6:30pm when I did what I have always been instructed to do when straightening myself in my wheelchair -- I tilted back and pushed against the footrest. It so happens that the footrest was in the "up" position, and when I pushed down on the footrest, I heard a click like something breaking. And I couldn't get the footrest back down. I could get out of the chair but couldn't transfer anymore. So back in the manual transfer wheelchair I went. In the meantime, we found a bolt on the ground, and the bolt had snapped in two. Great! No footrest again and I can't transfer, so I have to be in the transfer chair.
The vendor couldn't send a technician until Thursday morning. The tech got he footrest down again so I could transfer and use the motorized wheelchair again, but he told me to fold the footrest up and not use it until they came back to fix the bolt, which shouldn't take long to receive because it was still under warranty. Apparently the bolt that snapped off is a safety measure to get me to avoid banging the wheelchair and the footrest and thereby damage the wheelchair frame. Good to know, but too late. So far I haven't had use of a footrest for a whole month and it is really hard. The neck pain I have been having, is starting to radiate to my upper back, and my patience is wearing thin.