Rock Those Assistive Devices: Let Them Be Accessories, Too!

15 Nov
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Wheelchair and child decked out for Halloween. Photo from I Was Born This Amazing.

canes, clearcanes.com, disabled shopping, assistive devices, wefly2

My own cane from clearcanes.com.

Depending on our disabilities, some of us need help to get around. But that doesn’t mean we have to accept the standard-issue canes, walkers,

and wheelchairs we see in hospitals and medical-supply catalogs. Au contraire! Whether you want to let your freak flag fly or just want a cane in your favorite color, Googling an online merchant or putting your own imagination to work can turn your assistive device into an expressive as well as functional part of your wardrobe.

Buying a Cane and Turning Heads

“If I’m going to be gimpy, I’ll do it in style,” I told myself upon diagnosis. Finding clearcanes.com, I purchased the clear plasticene “twisted” model pictured above for about $65. I’ve had it for several years; the cane is durable, easy to grip and clean, and even draws compliments from strangers–an unexpected plus! Clearcanes.com offers other models in saturated colors and even carries a “pimp cane” for men! An online search will bring up other purveyors of specialty canes if you are looking for, say, a parrot-head handle.

Jazzing Up Your Current Cane, Walker, or Wheelchair

Feeling adventurous, but wishing to avoid a major investment? Why not decorate your own assistive device? It can be as easy as sticking on an emblem from your favorite sports team or college, tying on a scarf or bandanna, or applying some puff paint. Crafts stores are a big help with projects like this, as they carry everything from glue to sequins.

You may want to experiment but aren’t sure you want permanent embellishment, or worry that your assistive device will look as though it’s been through a fraternity hazing. Why not try a “sleeve” of stretchy fabric for your cane or the handles of your walker or wheelchair? You could even recycle long tee-shirt sleeves or cotton-spandex pant legs. Measure your device so the “working” part of the handle (as well as the tip of a cane) will be exposed. Cut the fabric based on your measurements; stitch a hem if you like, or have a friend or caregiver do it for you. Use embroidery, sequins, puff paint, beading or whatever you choose to decorate your fabric. You can even leave it plain if you prefer. Wait for puff paint or dye, if you use them, to dry. Then stitch the “sleeve” together. Cane sleeves may need double-sided tape or another adhesive at the top and bottom inside edges to hold the fabric onto the cane. Voila! You have a removable, one-of-a-kind fashion statement for your assistive device-cum-accessory!

There is something incredibly upbeat and gutsy about rocking a head-turning assistive device in a  world fraught with tension and complaints about–well, everything. The statement is, “Hey, world! I have a disability, but it doesn’t have me! No worries here!” That positive energy spreads. It’s amazing how one item of our wardrobes, even a utilitarian one, sends messages. As disabled people, we need to remain aware of that as we make our needs known to the fashion world.

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2 Responses to “Rock Those Assistive Devices: Let Them Be Accessories, Too!”

  1. Carol Fry November 16, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    Really good one sis!

    Sent from an iPad Zonie!

    • desiburger2000 November 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

      Always appreciate your support 🙂 Thanks, Carol!

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