Gary Karp's Good Reading: Disability Awareness Information... and More.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
In This Issue
Why I Wheel Manually
Speaking In High Schools
More Free Webinars!
Help In Japan

People with disabilities in Japan have very specific needs following the earthquake and tsunami disasters.

Please make a contribution.

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Read My Latest Thoughts...

...about the eLEGS bionic exoskeleton.

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Books by Gary Karp
Life On Wheels
The A to Z Guide to Living Fully with Mobility Issues

From There To Here
Stories of Adjustment to Spinal Cord Injury

Disability & the
Art of Kissing

Questions and Answers on the True Nature of Intimacy
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Happily, I'm off the road for a bit.

I enjoy my travels, but Indiana and Ohio were COOOOOOLD last month.

So, from the warmer climes of Northern California, I wish you well, and hope you enjoy this new issue of Good Reading!

Why Strain Yourself?!   
Why I Use a Manual Wheelchair Instead of a Powered One

I'm asked the question so often; "Why do all that work of pushing a wheelchair instead of using a motorized one?"

Here's the answer...

My TiLite manual wheelchair is extremely lightweight, custom-built for my specific needs and physical ability and preferences. It's very design reduces the effort of propulsion; for one thing, it coasts so well that it takes fewer pushes to go a given distance, putting less long term strain on my arms and shoulders. 

Gary in TiLite Wheelchair
In my state-of-the-art manual chair.

In other words, pushing my chair is not at all as difficult or exhausting as people often imagine. Really, it's not as hard as it looks. 

In 1973, following my spinal cord injury, I went through an intensive rehabilitation process. Not only did they train me in wheelchair skills, they put me through extreme weight training. I'm still pretty strong at the age of 56, so wheeling manually is natural and easy for me.

Wheeling is good for my health. It keeps me somewhat in shape, burns off some calories (still wrestling with that chocolate addiction!), keeps my upper body stretched, and is good for my circulation. 

My manual chair allows me to drive a Honda Accord Coupe, because it's so feather-light that lifting it into the back seat is a breeze. Once, that is, I pop off the wheels with their quick release axles. If I used a power chair, I'd have to drive a (much more expensive) adapted van with a ramp or lift. 

I sometimes face situations where I need a lift up steps. With a couple of people of average strength and healthy backs, I can easily be wheeled up stairs (using a method that uses the wheels, and where I can contribute to the process). Not an option with a much heavier power chair.

My manual chair costs a lot less than a power chair - not to mention the cost of the above-mentioned modified van. It has fewer operating parts so less likelihood of maintenance issues. I am more agile in my manual chair, able to easily make small adjustments to where I want to be in space.

And I feel less disabled-looking in my manual wheels. 

Not that power chairs don't have their place. Au contraire. They have made huge leaps in design. But power chairs, for general daily use, are for people who don't have the physical capacity to push a manual chair over the course of a full day's activity.  When it's the right solution for you, then, just as my manual chair does for me, a power chair extends mobility and independence on a scale never before seen.  

Frankly, I'd love to have one of the heavy-duty outdoor power chairs to take the dogs out on the great trail system here in Northern California.  The $50,000 or so it would take (for the chair AND the van) is just not in the budget right now. 

One of these days power mobility will have a place in my wheeling life. Hopefully someone will be willing to pay for it.

Speaking to High School Kids   

Such a Ripe Disability Awareness Audience 

It's one of my favorite things to do: give young people a realistic understanding of people with disabilities.


They have questions, but no one to answer them. Their parents typically can't speak to this - or get it wrong.


In fact my high school talks typically start with the story of the little girl in the supermarket who yells out, "Mommy, Mommy! A man in a wheelchair!!" The mother shushes the kid, and I give her a big smile and shush her, too. The mother gets upset, saying that she's trying to teach her child manners. I say that I'm trying to teach the kid not to be uptight around people with disabilities.


That's the message kids often get, unintentionally. Those people are "different."

Las Lomas High School
Getting smiles from students at Las Lomas H.S.


















I had the recent pleasure of giving a diversity talk at Las Lomas High School in Walnut Creek, California. These kids totally got it, and they absolutely had all the right questions. Including the profound ones: "How did you get comfortable with yourself being in public in a wheelchair," for instance.  


Got a high school in mind where I can bring the message? I live in Northern California, but as you know, I travel a great deal. Check out where I'm going to be next on my published speaking schedule. Maybe I'll be in your area. Point the program and activities folks at the school to my Schools Web Page, and then invite them to contact me at 415.491.4280 or  

The Webinar Schedule
More Free Disability Insight


They're back! My two, very-well-received-by-the-many-tens-of-people-who've-attended-them webinars.  


That is, free webinars!


New Paradigm of Modern Disability Logo Time to get current with the radical changes in the disability experience. Register now. 


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Noon, Pacific, 3 p.m. Eastern   



Three Principles of Disability Etiquette logo A simple, clear approach that lets everyone relax and get the job done. Register now.  


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Noon, Pacific, 3 p.m. Eastern   


If your organization would like to have a dedicated delivery of either or both of these, contact me by email or call me at 415.491.4280 to discuss setting a date - just for you.

 Studio photos copyright,