Tuesday, September 30, 2008

October is Disabilities Awareness Month

One in five Americans lives with at least one disability, and most Americans will experience a disability at some time during the course of their lives. In fact, statistics reveal that as we age, the chance for acquiring a disability increases significantly. While some disabilities are easy to see, others, like a developmental disability or a chronic condition, might not be. There are so many disabilities many are hard to catalog, and the same disability can affect each person differently.
If you have a disability or know someone who does, perhaps this month you can treat yourself, or them, with a bit more tenderness. Find out what might feel special to them and see if you can make that happen. If you do not have a disability or have not yet known anyone with a disability, this might be the month you take a moment and do a bit of research. The Centers for Disease Control has a number of special articles this month highlighting various disabilities, helping us all understand more about them. (Visit cdc.gov/Features/DisabilityAwareness for more details.)

Here in Colorado, Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. has proclaimed October 12 - 18, 2008 as Assistive Technology Awareness Week. Capabilities is participating in these awareness activities during the month of October in a number of ways. Check Events for specifics over the coming days.
You might be wondering what Assistive Technology (AT) means. Assistive Technology refers to the tools and resources used by folks to help improve their quality of life, such as a hearing aid, a talking alarm clock, a knee brace, manual and power wheelchairs or, it can be more sophisticated, such as a voice-activated computer systems or stair climbing wheelchairs. AT tools assist someone with dressing or cooking, and help people stay in contact with friends and family through electronic adaptation devices such as computers, or special telephones. AT helps people on the job, at home and in the community. AT tools and services are necessities, not luxury items, that empower people to control their lives and their futures.

Capabilities carries one of the largest selection of AT devices in the Denver metro area. We work closely with the state-run Assistive Technologies Project and with Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapists, doctors and other health care professionals across the region to provide individuals with the tools they need to lead independent lives.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Capabilities Turns Three

It is hard to believe! We have been making our list of just how much has changed in three years, of how far we have come. We are mostly struck mostly with how many more people we serve today. Sometimes in those early days we used to wonder if we needed to get out on the street with a sandwich board. We are grateful to all our customers, to the health care community who trusts us with referrals, and to our suppliers and business partners who help us provide such a wide array of products.

Speaking of products, we are also amazed at just how many more products we carry now compared to that opening day three years ago.

So how exactly does that happen? First of all, we take our lead a lot of the time from our customers, who come in with special requests or describe their needs and their wish lists. In some cases, we find exactly what they need with one of our suppliers already on board. Occasionally, we have to go on the hunt, wondering if such a thing exists. This was the case with gas cap wrench, one of my favorite products discovered early on because of a particular need expressed by one of our customers.

We also discover products because they find us. As you know from reports of our annual New Product Showcase, we are presented with new ideas all year long, some from local inventors and suppliers, others from companies and individuals from around the country. We are recently hearing from companies abroad who are discovering Capabilities.

Pam and I also like to shop! So, we go to shows around the country. And, not just medical trade shows. We like to attend gift shows and kitchen shows; meetings for folks with specific physical conditions, such as the Possibilities Fair and conference for folks who are blind or suffer low vision; fitness shows; specialty events. Making the rounds, when we can, exposes us to all kinds of wonderful tools and products that we would not otherwise find or think about perhaps. Such was the case with the Buddha Board, which we happened upon quite by accident, but which has given a unique flare to the gift giving habits of many of our customers.

A major source of new products is our suppliers, most of which are always looking for improvements, for ways to enhance their offerings. For example, we have just discovered the Diamond Rollator, a streamlined four-wheeled walker from Drive Medical, with a “straight-leg” design, making it easy to maneuver, fold and store. We had one on the floor as a sample, and within days this product was scooped up, with a bit of a waiting list already.

We have a lot of fun expanding our collection, introducing new products, working hard to satisfy both practical needs for mobility and the ever-important need for comfort that we all have as humans.

Please let us know if there is a product you want us to know about or to be sure we have.

And, thank you so much for supporting us these three years! We are very excited to begin our fourth! Watch this space for news soon on our brand new website! You will be able to find lots of our products easily as you do research or make purchases for yourself or someone you care for.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Capabilities Opens First Mobile Art Show on September 16

We are delighted to announce that we launch the first of what we expect will be many art shows on the walls of Capabilities on September 16, 2008, the third anniversary of Capabilities. We feature our Mobile Art Collection, hand-painted mobility equipment designed and crafted by local artist, Amy Vicioso, and Gae Miller, artist from Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Amy has developed a unique gold-leafing process to create fashion canes and crutches. Her latest “graffiti” technique uses symbols and color to bring home themes of healing and comfort.

Gae Miller creates whimsical designs and patterns that integrate lifestyle and comfort. Inspired by her own journey, Gae began painting canes and crutches as she faced her own challenges with disability.

You can meet Amy Vicioso on September 16 as she joins us to unveil our Mobile Art Collection at 5:30 p.m. at Capabilities. You can view these unique creations through October 31. You can also purchase this Mobile (and functional) Art at Capabilities.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Capabilities Makes Louise's Day!

We write a lot about how amazing it is for us to be part of so many people’s lives, helping families solve very real problems every day. Having a business with such a big purpose keeps all of us focused on what is important. Occasionally, we come upon situations where the need is great and the resources available to an individual or an organization are few. We had such an opportunity come our way recently when the good people at Bessie’s Hope asked our help. Bessie’s Hope is a not-for-profit organization in the Denver metro area that brings community participation into nursing homes through volunteer programs. Each year, several thousand volunteers and several thousand elders are impacted by this life-transforming work. In addition to the elders, these programs are especially beneficial to "at-risk" youth. They told us about Louise who lives in a local assisted living community who has had trouble getting out and about. Because she needs to be in a wheelchair all of the time now, her caregiver was having increasing difficulty managing her manual wheelchair. We suggested a transport chair and after hearing more about Louise and her situation, we made the decision to donate the transport wheelchair to make Louise’s life a bit richer.

What a delight for us to meet Louise, her caregivers and the great folks from Bessie’s Hope who showed up on September 5 as Louise tried out her snazzy new transport chair. Check out these smiling faces on that happy day.

As Capabilities continues to grow, we know we will continue to touch so many lives in countless ways. We also know that we will continue to be touched and made better by people like Louise.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Final Thoughts on Our Week at the DNC: Day 5

We walked for hours through Denver’s streets last night, amazed to be here, to live here. We happened upon the Weston Hotel just as the motorcade carrying Barack Obama pulled out into the street crowded on its edges with screaming fans and hoards of police. This is the place, we said, where we will watch his speech. Once the motorcade pulled away, the smiling police waved us through. This contingent was glad that their responsibilities went off without a hitch. We sat at the bar with others, some Denverites, many from out of town, and watched history being made.

And now, as we get back to life off the streets, we offer many thanks to David Kennedy, Disabilities Coordinator on the Denver Host Committee. After months of trying to connect with the right people to offer Capabilities’ services during the DNC, David met with us almost as soon as he came on board. He listened to our idea of a mobile wheelchair repair service, which no other Democratic National Convention had offered previously. He supported it and made it happen. We appreciate his focus, sensitivity and accessibility to us throughout the whole process. We heard many compliments about him, his staff and the whole Host Committee during our week on the streets of Denver. Congratulations to them all, congratulations to Denver for a spectacular experience!

Thanks, too, to the many who chose Capabilities as they planned their trips to Denver and when they arrived. We appreciate you and everyone who give us so much reason and purpose everyday. We can’t wait to take our mobile unit on the road again! Stay tuned.