As someone who has lived with a disability all her life, Emily Ladau knows the value of assistive technology. As a child, she used a walker to get around, but it wasn’t easy for her. When Emily finally started using a power chair in high school, it was like a door had opened.
“I wasn’t completely exhausted from forcing myself to walk everywhere,” Emily said. “I had more energy to focus on school and socializing.”
Born and raised on Long Island, Emily lives with her parents. Both Emily and her mother, Ellen, use the Edge® 3 Power Chair with iLevel® technology. Their chairs are almost identical, except for the color! Emily’s chair is Deep Purple, while Ellen’s chair is Raspberry Beret. Together, they use their wheelchairs and iLevel® to help each other.
“When I need assistance taking my socks off, I can raise my wheelchair up to iLevel so my mom can reach,” Emily said. “When my mom needs assistance putting shoes on, she can raise her wheelchair up to iLevel so I can reach.”
When elevated at iLevel, Emily has greater confidence and visibility. She can reach higher shelves at the grocery store and reach the microphone at a podium when giving a speech.
“I like that I’m able to raise myself up higher using iLevel, but I can still ride around at a speed that allows me to keep up with people walking alongside me,” Emily said.
As the editor in chief of the blog, Rooted in Rights, Emily knows the importance of providing authentic narratives on the disability experience. The experiences of Emily and her mother are very authentic! According to Emily, they may cause their own little “traffic jams” in the kitchen with their power chairs, yet they find ways to get things done.
“There’s also a certain art and beauty in the way we navigate together and around each other,” Emily said. “We like to call it wheelchair ballet.”
Emily also co-hosts the “Accessible Stall” podcast, which discusses a wide range of disability issues. She believes it’s important to share stories of individuals living with disabilities and advocate for a world where people have access to the tools and technology they need, so they can feel empowered.
“iLevel makes me feel empowered, not just because I’m high up, but because I have access to a piece of assistive technology that enables me to make that happen,” Emily said.