Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Helping Hand for the Winter

For those of us in colder climates, it's Snow Time! Yes, for us in Delaware and for the other Basement Heads around the country, it's time for old man winter to come along and pelt us with lovely snow for a few months. While snow can make beautiful scenery, it doesn't typically move itself. So that leaves us to shovel it (unless the enterprising kid from down the street decides to try to add money to his video game fund by shoveling your walk)!

While there are many different types of snow shovels out there, we are finally seeing the emergence of ergonomic snow shovels. There are quite a few made by different manufacturers. While I haven't had the chance to try them out, I have heard that they can be great. The difference between the ergonomic snow shovels and a regular snow shovel is that the ergonomic shovel does not requite you to have to bend as much to lift the shovel. Since you're not bending as much to lift, you're not placing yourself at as much risk for a back injury.

Ergonomic Snow Shovel

Ergonomic snow shovels can cost between $20 and $60 and can be found everywhere from Wal-Mart to You can also check out your local hardware store to see if they have them.

If you simply can't part with your beloved snow shovel, You can help yourself by adding a second handle to it. The Motus ergonomic grips let you do exactly that. The Motus grips are add on handles you can add to your snow shovel, broom, mop or really anything you need to push and lift.
Motus D-style Handle

Motus T-style Handle

Simply slide the grip into position and tighten. There are two styles of grip-- a D-style and a T-style which looks more like a peg than a T. Either of these handles can improve how well you can maneuver the shovel. Both styles are available through Green Heron Tools. Still, whether or not you're using and ergonomic shovel or one of these add-on handles, it's important that you use proper snow shoveling technique (yes, there is such a thing). Here are a couple of links to information to keep in mind when you're out shoveling.

CBS News Snow Shoveling Safety (

Spine Health "Snow Shoveling Techniques to Prevent Low-Back Injuries" (

See ya next time!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday AT Bargains

I had a few bargains come in to me that I wanted to make sure I passed along to the rest of you. The first comes from Cynthia Ingram with the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults. It's the ila Wedge Door Alarm from ila Security.

Cynthia writes, "I saw this brief article recently for a device that I commonly recommend to my consumers who either live alone or work in an environment where they are often interrupted by surprise. Some like it and others a startled by the piercing sound, but that is in fact what scares off intruders. Just thought I would share it with you in case you have not seen it or showcased it in your newsletter."

The unit is a wedge-shaped part that simply slides behind a closed door. When someone tries to come in, the wedge makes it more difficult to open the door and it emits a shrill alarm. 
ila Wedge Door Alarm

As Cynthia pointed out, the user should not have issues with a startling reflex at the loud noise. They should also be able to hear the alarm for it to be truly effective. This could also be beneficial to people who take care of individuals who tend to sleep walk or wander out of the house.

Cynthia found the wedge door alarm at the Hand Picked Gift Store online ( for $19.95 (not including shipping and handling).

I was able to find a similar model on for $4.99 plus shipping and handling.
Door Wedge Alarm from Amazon

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

So what is AT and why do I care?

This is a question I get a lot. Just what in the heck is AT? Well, AT stands for Assistive Technology. Assistive technology is something that an individual with a disability can use to help improve their ability to do different things. Technically speaking, it can be a single device or a system of devices. So a cane is assistive technology, eye glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids too! Magnifiers can be if I'm visually impaired or if I process text better if it's bigger for me to read. Even something like an MP3 player can be assistive technology. How? Well, suppose I can't read a book or an article or a memo for whatever reason, but I can listen to it and get all of the information. I could have the book, article, or memo read and recorded as an MP3 that I can listen to on my MP3 player! The main thing to keep in mind with AT is that your mind should always be open to the possibilities. Otherwise, you could miss that special everyday tool that can just make the difference in your or someone else's life.

Assistive technology isn't always a device. No, it can also be a service. Part of the legal definition of AT is the differentiation between AT devices and services. The above definition is for an AT device. An AT service would include training someone in how to use an AT device, helping to maintain that device, and updating that device to keep it current with the user's needs. This is where most education and clinical professionals come in. The therapist who works with someone in learning how to drive a power wheelchair is providing an AT service. Same can be said for the teacher pulling together vocabulary for her student's communication device. Often when treatment plans are developed, in a clinical or educational setting, AT services aren't fully considered. An important part of having AT work for someone is to make sure that we fully consider them too. This can include things like adding time in the plan for training and education, maintenance, and providing any equipment updates necessary.

Until next time, I bid you peace!

Welcome to the AT Bargain Basement

Hello, True Believers, and welcome to the AT Bargain Basement's new blog home. This blog is born out of my column in the Delaware Assistive Technology Initiative's newsletter The AT Messenger, "The AT Bargain Basement." In the column, I try to find all of the assistive technology I can for under $100. Some of the stuff you can buy in traditional stores. Some of it you can only get by mail order or internet order. If I can try the products out first, I will, but just because I mention them doesn't mean I'm endorsing them. Not at all! If I endorse something as a great product, I will say so. You are also very welcome to submit your own AT Bargains, and I'll post them up for everyone to check out while giving you 1000% (yes one thousand percent!) credit for the find.

So whaddya say? Shall we take this journey through AT Bargains together?