Pandemic. It’s a word that has dominated our lives this year. The COVID-19 pandemic has truly impacted everyone’s life in one way or another, so it’s no surprise that Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com have declared “pandemic” the Word of the Year.
For electric wheelchair users and individuals with disabilities, the pandemic has changed many aspects of their daily lives. Working from home has suddenly become the norm. Accessibility has expanded in ways never thought possible. Masks are worn in all public spaces and for electric wheelchair users, cleaning and disinfecting power wheelchairs has become a lot more involved.
Working from Home in a Pandemic
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been mandated that any individuals who can work from home should do so. This is a great step forward for the disability community. Individuals with chronic illnesses, disabilities or narrow electric wheelchair users often request remote work due to transportation barriers, medical appointments or other health reasons. Unfortunately, people with disabilities have often struggled to win the reasonable accommodation to work remotely. No longer! Today, everyone is encouraged to work remotely and it has proven that people are able to be productive when working from home. Furthermore, it has demonstrated that working from home can occur on a long-term basis.
Wheelchair Accessibility Problems Turn into Solutions
Because the pandemic requires all individuals to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19, this mandate has solved many accessibility problems for narrow electric wheelchair users or people with disabilities. In terms of socializing, we utilize video chat programs such as Zoom or FaceTime to connect with loved ones. This new way of socializing has taken a lot of the stress off narrow electric wheelchair users, who don’t have to worry about accessibility when going to a friend or family member’s house or eating out at a restaurant. For many states, mail-in voting has become the norm due to the pandemic, and individuals with transportation barriers or chronic illnesses can exercise their right to vote easily with a mail-in ballot. These are just a few examples of how wheelchair accessibility problems have become solutions in 2020.
Disinfecting Wheelchairs and Wheelchair Cleaning Checklist
Due to the coronavirus, narrow electric wheelchair users must take greater precautions beyond washing their hands for twenty seconds. As an extension of their bodies, individuals should clean and disinfect their power wheelchairs daily. When disinfecting power wheelchairs, individuals should use EPA-approved wipes that contain an alcohol solution of at least 70 percent. If you don’t have wipes, the CDC recommends a spray bottle with one quart of water and four teaspoons of bleach. For electronic components on your power chair, we recommend silicon-based cleaners to avoid causing damage to the electronics. Check out our wheelchair cleaning checklist for more tips. While all this extra cleaning has certainly been challenging, it’s necessary to make sure that individuals with power chairs stay safe.