We Educate
We Empower
We Entertain
PO Box 220751
St. Louis, MO 63122

Ask Katie & Steve

Katie Rodriguez Banister will answer your on line questions! Click Here to submit a question.

Questions for Katie: (Click on the question to show Katie's replies)

Hello Katie,
I heard about a famous statement Yitzhak Pearlman made once about "sometimes an artist must figure out a way to make music with what he has left". This was in reference to his breaking a string during a performance one evening. Is there any way you can help me get the information on the particular event and the context? Thank you so much. - Connie Davis

Hi Connie,

I've never heard this quote before- but I love it! I have 2 suggestions.

1. I would start with a web search on Google or another search engine and try to find info on him.

2. Call or go to your local library and ask for the "Reference Desk". Ask for their help to find this info. I have found these folks to be open and well informed.

Good luck & let me know what you find out.

What disability does Paula Abdul have???- Tricia

Dear Tricia,

I must apologize for my late reply. I have been out of town. I am so sorry and I hope you understand.

Paula Abdul has been in the news most recently, not because of her 3rd year serving as a judge for American Idol, but because of her health. She has bulimia. While bulimia isn't thought of as a "disability" there are some common issues.

There are three types of disabilities; physical, sensory (hearing/seeing) and cognitive. I would describe bulimia as a cognitive disorder. The mind can be greatly affected by bulimia. Perfectly normal looking people can have this disorder. I searched bulimia on and found all kinds of information. Below is some basic information. If you have or know someone who has bulimia- please get help. Talk to someone- a doctor, a counselor, a therapist. This disease is hard on the body and you can't do it alone.

Bulimia, also called bulimia nervosa, is a psychological eating disorder. Bulimia is characterized by episodes of binge-eating followed by inappropriate methods of weight control (purging). Inappropriate methods of weight control include vomiting, fasting, enemas, excessive use of laxatives and diuretics, or compulsive exercising. Excessive shape and weight concerns are also characteristics of bulimia. A binge is an episode where an individual eats a much larger amount of food than most people would in a similar situation. Binge eating is not a response to intense hunger. It is usually a response to depression, stress, or self esteem issues. During the binge episode, the individual experiences a loss of control. However, the sense of a loss of control is also followed by a short-lived calmness. The calmness is often followed by self-loathing. The cycle of overeating and purging usually becomes an obsession and is repeated often.

Bulimia was only diagnosed as its own eating disorder in the 1980s. People with bulimia can look perfectly normal. Most of them are of normal weight, and some may be overweight. Women with bulimia tend to be high achievers.It is often difficult to determine whether a person is suffering from Bulimia. This occurs because binging and purging is often done in secret. Also, individuals suffering from Bulimia often deny their condition.

Sufferers consume huge quantities of food. Sometimes up to 20,000 calories at a time. The foods on which they binge tend to be foods labeled as "comfort foods" -- sweet foods, high in calories, or smooth, soft foods like ice cream, cake, and pastry. An individual may binge anywhere from twice a day to several times daily.

Hi Katie, I provide personal care for a young adult (15) with severe spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy. He has out grown his current car seat, but we are not ready to purchase a van with a lift. Do you know of car seats for adults or adapted captains chairs so that he can still sit in the regular seat? - Melissa

Hi Melissa:I just talked to Mike at United Access (314) 426-1010. He told me about a special seatbelt system made by IMEC. It is a strong and thick torso supportive belt. It can be attached to a captain's chair in a van. If you are not in the St. Louis area- another van conversion company could probably help you out.

Good Luck and thanks for being a caring caregiver!

Looking for half slip with protective barrier for working quad. - Iris

Hi Iris,
A protective slip- very interesting idea but I'm not sure if it's easy to find. You could call medical supply stores- they have therapeutic clothing such as stockings, under garments and gowns. I called my favorite supplier and he suggested doing a search on the computer. I suggest finding a seamstress to make what you want. Go to the fabric store, tell them what you want to make (measure yourself laying down to know how much material you need) and ask THEM for a seamstress referral. I did that when I wanted a new poncho. The material cost $11 and I found a woman to make it for $40.00.

Good luck!

I live in a condominium with 7 floors directly on the beach. We have some of our elderly residents in wheel chairs occasionally as well as a guest who has cerebral palsy. They are unable to use the pool or obtain access to the beach. What would you advise? Thank you - Charles

Hi Charles,

To answer your question regarding pool and beach access for people who use wheelchairs I suggest that you do a web search using .

Once there I just entered in "beach chairs for the disabled" , "disabled access for pools", "swimming for the disabled".

Find your local Center for Independent Living. Your local Vocational Rehabilitation Department should know this. Also, contact your local hospital's Occupational and Physical Therapy Department. I'm sure that they would have the resources you need or they could point you in the right direction.

Good luck!

I need to get some information on a musician with a disability? Can you help? - Alessandra

Yitzhak Pearlman has a disability and plays the violin, Stevie Wonder is blind and sings.

Contact the Media Access Office in CA. Do a search on "google" type their office name in and give them a call or email them. They have tons of info on performers with disabilities.

Hope this helps. Let me know if it doesn't!

Hi Katie - you were just at my school and I thought you were awesome. You really made me think and appreciate things more then I did before. Thank you. But I what I wanted to ask was my little brother might have a learning disability. We're not totally for sure but the doctor said that he doesn't think he does and that he's just a "slow learner." Sometimes I help him with his homework. He's young so it's just little books that he has to read every night nothing too big. What are some things I should look for or notice to see if there is any chance he might have a learning disability and then bring to see a doctor about it? ........Krystin

Hi Krystin,

First of all, you are a totally cool sister for even caring about your brother and wanting to help him. Boys (and girls) can sometimes have a hard time learning things. Maybe try making flash cards to teach him things like spelling & math. Make it fun. Reward him with an m & m for every right answer he gets. Also there are those electronic games that teach like "Leapster." Maybe that could be a birthday gift or something. Using those games makes learning fun. I think the other bran is called Leap Frog.

Also- talk to your school counselor about your thoughts. Just don't give up. Help your brother in whatever way you can. Doctors don't know everything but they try to do the best they can. So if you hang in there, your brother will learn, but it just may take extra time.

Good luck! I'm sure your brother doesn't realize how lucky he is to have a sister like you!

Dear Katie,
My uncle died how should I get over it?

I thought about your question all day and here is my reply. Don't be in a rush to get over your grief when someone you love dies. In fact make time to grieve. Whenever I'm really mad at the world, my therapist Susan asks me, "Katie, have you been grieving?" My answer is sometimes "No." You see, I have to make time to grieve about the loss of my abilities. I can't, nor do I recommend, living in a "state of hate" where you are mad at the world and you treat everyone like you don't care.

OK, so I have the following suggestions;

1. Cry your eyes out if you need to. Do it alone or with a trusted friend or relative. It really is ok to cry, although others may not see the value. But I applaud those of us who can do it.

2. Write a letter to your uncle,

Dear Uncle...

Tell him how much you miss him.
Tell him how angry you are that he's gone.
Tell him what you will miss the most about him.
Share your favorite memories.
Share your least favorite memories.
Apologize to him, if you need to.
Recall his favorite jokes, foods and tv shows/movies.
Write a poem in his honor.

And cry some more.

You know, I really think it takes a year to fully accept the passing of someone we care about- their birthday, holidays and such. So cut yourself some slack. I know I had to when I lost my dad in 1998. God, did it hurt.

But...I have felt him and his presence since then. (I hope that's not too over the edge for you.) But I have.

One more thing; after you've written your thoughts and feelings down- share them with another person close to your uncle. Then you can have a good cry, laugh and remember the cool dude you miss.

I hope this helps.

I have a 23 yr. old special child and he is looking for a site or information on handicapped communication skills. He is not very good at socializing with his peers. He is going to a Active Rehab program and that helps somewhat but we would like more info to continue at home. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, a concerned mom.... - Debbie

Hi Debbie,

Right off the bat, I would recommend that you call the following people/organizations:

1. Sue Fleming of The Recreation Council 314-726-6044. This group helps put people with disabilities into recreational opportunities. They know of a variety of recreational opportunities in the St. Louis area. Recreational programs might help to improve his ability to communicate.

2. Try calling Tom Evans with the Lifeskills Foundation at 314-567-7705. He's a really cool guy who answers the phone and might have some suggestions.

3. Give Joann Noll with the St. Louis Special School District a call at 314-989-8100. If she can't help you find what you are looking for- she'll know someone who might.

I hope this helps and really.............thank you for being concerned enough to care for your son. A lot of parents don't. Good luck and let me know how things turn out or if you need more help!

Hi, I'm having trouble defining a switchback or dogleg ramp...can you tell me the difference? I need to add handrails to my ramp. Thank you - Becky

Hi Becky,

A dogleg would be an "L" shape, a ramp that comes straight out from the door, goes straight for several feet then turns at a ninety degree angle to the right or left, thus forming an L shape.

A "switch-back" ramp would go out from your door to a platform (at least 3 feet by 3 feet)and then it would travel parallel to your house at a grade of one foot out for every inch in height off the ground (1 to 12 ratio)this part of the ramp would come to another 3' X 3' platform and then the ramp would continue its decline in front of the first part of the ramp (like a zig-zag.) The switch-back ramp is for taller door heights, but you need more room to put the ramp in front of the door.

For more information contact the ADA Project at

Thanks for your question!

I work as a QMRP in a adult day care for mentally challenged adults. I am researching the options of finding a publisher to publish short stories and art of two of my clients. Do you know where to go to or do you publish other people's works? Thank you. - Christy

Hi Christy,
Thanks for your email. I self published my children's book "Aunt Katie's Visit" and it cost a pretty penny. I don't publish other people's work, but here are some ideas:

Pair up with agency that might help with the printing cost & share the profits.

Contact the Metropolitan Association of Philanthropy 314-621-6220. They may know of grants or monies to help you with your project.

Good Luck- this sounds like a cool idea!

What kind of reactions do you get from people in public settings? And how do these reactions make you feel? - Susan

Public Responses to my Chair

I've been paralyzed from the chest down for almost fifteen years and how people react to my paralysis never ceases to amaze me. Just when I think society is looking at me in a positive light, some saddened soul bursts my bubble. Let me break it down for you.

THE PITY LOOK These folks look at me with their eyes full of sorrow and disappointment. They see only my limitations and all the things I cannot do. I imagine if paralysis happened to them, they would see their life as over and unable to overcome the challenges my life brings.

AREN'T THEY SPECIAL? Some people look at me and label me as "special." I have mixed feelings. For instance, in St. Louis, Missouri we have "The Special School District" where the students who have profound physical and cognitive impairments attend classes. Granted these students need a lot more attention that those without disabilities do, but I think labeling them (and me because I use a wheelchair) as "special" is a little condescending and this feeds The Pity Look.

SUPER QUAD Because I live my life to the fullest, in spite of my limitations, others put me on the "disability pedestal," like I'm a heroine. I've met some parents of kids with disabilities who "pump up" their child so much, that the child becomes egotistical and difficult to be around. This treatment is in opposition of The Pity Look but it is just as damaging. Like everyone, I just want to be treated equally.

IGNORANCE ISN'T BLISS I've been in the company of others who simply ignore my presence; like I'm not even there. They can't handle even looking at me in my wheelchair. And some of these folks work in the medical field! On one such occasion, when my husband Steve and I went out to a restaurant the waitress asked him what I wanted! Steve responded with "Why don't you ask her?" Sometimes we get up and leave.

Other Interactions

One afternoon I was at Shaw's Garden, a beautiful place to visit, and was waiting in a line to see an exhibit. A lady, in her fifties, was standing in front of me smoking a cigarette and looked at my wheelchair and said with an arrogant voice, "I need one of those." I hesitated for a moment and then said, " get in a car accident, break your neck, you can't walk and you get one!" She "Well I guess not" and turned around.

When I was in my halo- the metal cage-like device I wore for three months that held my head while my neck healed- people looked at me like I was from another planet. Most of the time I ignored their stares, but when I had had enough, I would say "Take a picture, it will last longer!" Again, for my own sanity, I have to say what's on my mind.

Going out in a wheelchair means you're gonna meet some insensitive people. I've called places and asked if they are wheelchair accessible and find steps once I get there. Once place said, "Well we can lift you down the stairs." I said "No thank you" and left. If I can't get there on my own, I'm not going. I face enough challenges and I don't want to risk my safety.

How do these reactions affect me? It bums me out. I wish people could accept me as is and treat me equally. But you know what? Some people just can't. So I swallow my pride and move on. My mom always said "You can't get blood from a turnip."

My advice; be the best you that you can be, cry a little, laugh a lot and don't sweat the rest!

Thanks for the question!

How do you board an airplane in a wheelchair? - Pat

Hi Pat,
Thanks for your question. Traveling by airplane with a physical disability is not easy, but it can be done and this is how I do it. I leave for the airport 2 -3 hours before my departure. Most people I know do this too because of the long lines. I head for my departure gate and notify the staff regarding my wheelchair. They tag my wheelchair and usually tell me that they want to pre-board me before the other passengers. The airlines do this because people with physical limitations need time and space to load the plane.

Before I load the plane, I have my aide and my husband take me to the "family rest room" so that I can empty my bladder. The bummer part is that I need to lie down to do this. The family bathrooms are great because there is a lot of space but they only have a changing table that can hold a small child. So consequently my aide and husband transfer me to the floor to do my personal care. Let me tell you, those floors are pretty discussing but we put down a pad for me to lie on. I can go up to five hours before I need to empty again so I can only take 3 hour flights at the most. I could put a tube in me that would stay in all the time but I really don't want to. Everyone should do what's right for them.

OK, I have an empty bladder and I'm ready to be loaded onto the plane. I drive my electric wheelchair down to the open door on the plane. Then I'm transferred and strapped onto a skinny chair that will take me down the plain's aisle to my seat. Then my aide and my husband lift me and put me in my seat and I am belted in and ready to go.

My wheelchair is then brought down by an elevator or lift and loaded into the bottom of the plane with the luggage. In the old days, when wheelchairs had batteries with acid in them, the batteries had to be removed and boxed up separately. But now most chairs are powered by gel batteries or batteries that are sealed and safe for traveling. But as a precaution I tape signs to my wheelchair that states "This chair has gel batteries- do not remove them."

At the end of my flight, I have to wait for the rest of the passengers to depart before I'm again loaded on the aisle chair and then transferred back into my electric chair. One time my electric chair came back in different pieces because the airline staff mistakenly removed my batteries. Previous to the flight, I had told the staff at the check in gate that my batteries did not need to be removed but I guess they didn't communicate that with the baggage handlers. Thus the reason I now tape signs to my chair when flying.

I've been treated poorly by some airline staff. I see them roll their eyes in frustration as I roll towards the cockpit. They look at me and see a hassle. Something extra they have to do. It was so bad on one flight I wrote a letter documenting my poor service and got a letter of apology and free airline tickets! But most often I've been treated with respect. On one flight I got bumped up to first class. That was fun!

Overall, traveling by plane is a real hassle. I can do it but it's not convenient. Also if I fly some place I need a wheelchair accessible van to get around. Wheelchair Getaways and other businesses like them, rent vans with wheelchair lifts all over the US and other places as well. With proper planning, I've been able to go where I want to.

I live in Daytona Beach, Fl. We are having a open to the public meeting on monday to keep driving on our beach. The beach is hard sand and very easy to access by anyone with a disability. Please help me to find some organization here to speak up at this meeting. The press will be attending too. Will explain more if you e-mail back.. Thank You - Sarah

Dear Sarah,

OK- you need to contact

1. Your city's Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) department to find disability support agencies

2. Find your local Center for Independent Living (CIL) (VR should know them) enter in your state and "center for independent living".

3. Use and enter "beach chairs" or "disabled beach chairs" and you'll find wheelchairs the can roll on sand.

Email me with any other questions. I hope this helps. Good luck.

I live in a condominium with 7 floors directly on the beach. we have some of our elderly residents in wheel chairs occasionally as well as a guest who has cerebral palsy. They are unable to use the pool or obtain access to the beach. What would you advise? Thank you - Charles

Hi Charles,
To answer your question regarding pool and beach access for people who use wheelchairs I suggest that you do a web search using

Once there I just entered in "beach chairs for the disabled" , "disabled access for pools", "swimming for the disabled".

Find your local Center for Independent Living. Your local Vocational Rehabilitation Department should know this. Also, contact your local hospital's Occupational and Physical Therapy Department. I'm sure that they would have the resources you need or they could point you in the right direction.

Good luck!

For a married couple - things to help with romance and our sex life - Jon

Dear Jon-

Sex and people with disabilities; you don't see those words together very often! But we all want to be loved and touched in a compassionate way. I am a quad and my husband doesn't have a physical disability. We have known each other since 1993 and he waited a year and a half for a kiss. I'm a lucky woman!

I was quite the "Barbie" girl prior to my paralysis. I loved dressing up and all that went with it. After I became a quad I thought my looks were gone. Well, I learned once again to put on make-up and that made me feel good about myself. And I think that that is the key to a healthy sex life; feeling good about who you are.

The second step to having great sex is communication. I tell my partner what I like and dislike, otherwise how else is he gonna know? Hold each other closely and share your deepest secrets and desires. Share your fantasies. So what if you can't fulfill these erotic thoughts. Just talking about them can be fun.

Try to set up "dates" for yourselves. Go to the movies and hold each other's hands. Then sit out in your car and make out or go home and make out, pretending that your parent's are upstairs. There's nothing like pretending you're gonna get caught to add to the excitement!

Read a book about improving your sex life, together in bed. Give each other a massage. I'm very limited in my movements and it really bums me out sometimes. But my husband really enjoys what I am able to do.

Leave each other loves notes in surprise places. Turn off all the lights and light up a bunch or 1 or 2 candles. I love fun smelling candles or burning incense. Turn off the phone and pretend you're not home. Or if you can, check into a hotel for a night. Maybe drive an hour or two out of town to do so.

Surprise your partner. Try to do things you've never done or haven't in a while; send a small bouquet of flowers, have a picnic in your living room, trying having sex in a place or position you haven't before. Be open and honest with the one you love.

We can all fall into a rut of boredom and it does take energy to pull ourselves out of it. But if you truly care about each other and your marriage, it's worth the extra effort.

There is a great book, "Enabling Romance" by Klien & Kroll about one partner with and one partner without a disability. The magazine, "New Mobility" has printed many issues on sexuality & disabilities. Go to "" then type in New Mobility.

Your questioning me on this subject, to me, means that you really care about the person you love and that you want to make your marriage stronger. Try some of these ideas. I have and the results have been a lot of fun! Good Luck!

I have been trying to get help and have been turned down by CAP. Is there someway I can get help in the state of NC? The state has given some others help and I need it too. - Linda


It is difficult to provide an answer to your question without having more information about you. Not knowing what your disability is and what your needs are limits the number of options we can offer you.

Ultimately, you need an advocate. You say you've been denied for CAP, your states Protection and Advocacy service, but you still need an advocate. North Carolina has five Centers for Independent Living (CIL) and you can find them at:

Someone from a CIL should be able to assess your needs and advocate with you and your appropriate state agencies to get the help you are seeking.

Thanks for the question & Good luck!

I have an antique wicker and wooden wheelchair with no ID plate or stamp of manufacturer. Can you direct me to a site that has photographs of and descriptions of this type of chair. I wish to restore the seat, but want to get it "period" exact before I attempt restoration.

My first action in finding a picture of an "antique wooden wheelchair" was to go to and type in just that.

I found a picture at

You can question others at

A small picture of a few are at

If this doesn't help, open your yellow book pages and start calling antique dealers. In addition, people who do wood stripping work on antiques may also help you.

You have probably already tried your local library, but if you haven't - call them and ask for the "Reference Desk." Tell them what you need. They may know sites and books that may help you. I call them all the time with many weird and unique questions.

Thanks for the question & Good luck!

Is there a product that fits between couch cushions that would provide a stable handrail to help someone get up?

The thing about "handles" between cushions on a couch is the need for stabilization. Handles would work while seated but get wobbly as someone stood up.

I checked my personal resources and they said it would be hard to do. The recommendation I would make would be to purchase a chair that helps a seated person stand up. The Lift chairs have a button and a motor to help a person stand up. These chairs start at $600 but can give a person needing the ability a sense of independence. Call your local medical suppler. Medi-Equip, at Manchester & HWY 270 in St. Louis, carries a cool selection. 314-965-9300. Tell them Katie sent you!

Medicare will typically help with a small reimbursement for the motor. I wish there was a less expensive way but I hope this helps.

Thanks for your question & visiting our site!

My grand-daughter is severely disabled. She is 21 months old and can no longer use an infant carrier but we can't get a car seat that suits her disabilities. We need a lot of items, such as cups, bath aids, and everything for ADL's. Where do we go and help for her?

If you reside in St. Louis, Missouri, I have the following suggestions. First things first; your grand-daughter needs to be evaluated by a certified occupational therapist and/or a physical therapist to determine her needs. I did my 2 months of hospitalization at Barnes hospital and the 4 months of intense rehab at St. John's Mercy Medical Center. St. John's would be a good place to start to have your child looked at or they might be able to steer you in the right direction; 314-989-9199.

An important issue at hand is what type of medical insurance your grand-daughter has. For many years I was covered by Medicaid and then 2 years after my disability, I became eligible for Disability Social Security. Do you have private insurance? If so, call them and find out what they will and will not cover.

I use to find so many things. Click on the link, type in "disability equipment" or "disability medical supplies" or "St. Louis Missouri Rehabilitation resources." Other searches I've done are "disabled clothing" and "occupational therapist" "Physical therapists." Maybe try contacting the Shriner's Hospital on Ballas Road in West County. I hear they are a wonderful resource. Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital on Grand Ave might be a good resource as well. Easter Seals might be of assistance as well. If you live outside of St. Louis area, look for these types of facilities in your area. Most states have state run programs and services for children with disabilities, to find these, search on your states government web page.

I have to congratulate you on your desire to get your grand-daughter the things she needs. She's going to need strong people to advocate for her and on her behalf. Please don't let the "system" get you down. If one door won't open, look for another!

Thanks for your question & visiting our site!

How did Marlee Matlin (deaf actress) have a successful career in spite of her disability?

Thanks for you question regarding Marlee Matlin. She became deaf after a bout with measles when she was 18 months old but that has never slowed her down. She is an actress, wife and mother of two hearing children. Her children's cries set off lights so mom is always at the ready! Her children have learned sign language as well. She is an Oscar winner and is a recurring guest on two TV shows; The West Wing and The Practice. Children today can catch her on the cartoon, Blues Clues where she teaches children sign language. Marlee loves her husband, Kevin, who helps out raising the kids. From what I've read, family is everything to Marlee.

Marlee has survived her disability because, to me, she doesn't live as a victim. Her being deaf doesn't keep her at home. She has searched for acting opportunities and found them. Yes, I'm sure being in the right place at the right time has helped, but she puts herself in the driving seat.

She's a great actress and I think she has helped the deaf community in similar ways that Christopher Reeves has for those of us with spinal cord injuries has. These "famous" people have increased an awareness of disabilities, what they are and ways to get past them.

I don't know her entire history, but after I got your question, I went on the web and used and typed her name in. I found her website and other links about her. I love to google! That link helps me almost every day.

Again, thanks for your question & visiting our site!

Do you know of any famous actors who have narcolepsy?

Answer: The only person we were able to find who reportedly had narcolepsy was abolitionist, Harriet Tubman.

To find out more about narcolepsy, please check out the following websites:

Center for Narcolepsy at Stanford School of Medicine offers a very good history of narcolepsy:

Center for Narcolepsy Research (Chicago)

Narcolepsy Network (US)

Narcolepsy Association (UK)

Katie R. Banister

What is the requirement for ramps for wheelchairs like height of rails, degree of slope and width?

Answer: The Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) states in section 4.8 that the maximum slope of a ramp can be 1:12, which means for every vertical inch of the step or rise, the ramp shall protrude out 12 inches (so if you have a 12 inch tall step to be ramped, the ramp would have to be a minimum of 12 feet in length.) It is preferable to make the ramp longer, via a switchback or dogleg design. A longer ramp makes the slope smaller and easier for the person with a disability to use.

The minimum clear width of a ramp shall be a minimum of 36 inches.

Edge protection is necessary on the sides of the ramp floor so wheelchair wheels and canes won't fall off.

Handrails (section 4.8.5): ADAAG states, "If a ramp run has a rise greater than 6" (150 mm) or a horizontal projection greater than 72" (1830mm), then it shall have handrails on both sides. Handrails are not required on curb ramps (see section 4.7) or adjacent to seating in assembly areas. Handrails shall comply with section 4.26 and shall have the following features:

Handrails shall be provided along both sides of ramp segments. The inside handrail on switchback or dogleg ramps shall always be continuous.

If handrails are not continuous, they shall extend at least 12" (305mm) beyond the top and bottom of the ramp segment and shall be parallel with the floor or ground surface.

The clear space between the handrail and the wall shall be 1-1/2" (38mm).

Gripping surfaces shall be continuous.

Top of handrail gripping surfaces shall be mounted between 34" and 38" (865mm & 965mm) above ramp surfaces.

Ends of handrails shall be either rounded or returned smoothly to floor, wall or post.

Handrails shall not rotate within their fittings."

Katie R. Banister

How can I fix my house for a person who uses a walker and a wheel chair?

Here are a few guide lines to welcome people with disabilities into your home:

  • First & foremost you are already ahead of the game; your desire to welcome those with disabilities into your home.
  • Try to eliminate steps with a ramp of some sort. This could be as simple as a piece of plywood.
  • Create smooth surfaces from the welcome mat at your door to every room in your house (including the bathroom.)
  • Remove small decorative rugs that someone may slip on or trip over.
  • Walk around your household without lifting your feet to test your floor surfaces.
  • Create open spaces, eliminating furniture that is not essential to the room (permanent verses temporary is an issue; a visitor or someone living with you.)
  • Bathroom access is tricky and on an individual basis, depending on who visits you or is living with you. When in doubt, ask the person with the disability what they may need. You may or not be able to meet everyone's specific needs, but provide the best accommodations you can; a clean open free from clutter space.
  • Katie R. Banister

    What is the history of the wheelchair?

    Thank you for asking a question that I didn’t know the immediate answer to. But I knew the people to help me investigate and find your answer. I called Paraquad, an independent living center and talked to Sara, the information and referral specialist.

    According to WheelchairNet in Pittsburgh, PA the earliest found image of a wheelchair was in the 6th century in China followed by King Phillip of Spain who used an elaborate "rolling chair" in the 16th century. In 1700 King Louis XIV used a "roulette" that turned him around while he recovered from an operation.

    The first chair to resemble today’s wheelchairs was developed in the 18th century with two large front wooden wheels and one caster in the back. Then in the 19th and 20th centuries, following the American Civil War and World War I, the first wheelchairs were built with wooden frames, wicker seats, adjustable arm rests, foot rests and large spoked wheels.

    In 1894 a US patent was filed for the first self-propelled wheelchair and in 1932 Herbert Everest (an injured mining engineer) and Harold Jennings (a mechanical engineer) designed the first folding chair and formed the now popular company E&J. Sam Duke also developed a folding chair at the same time. In the 1950’s E&J developed the first powered wheelchair. They followed the development of transistor-controlled motors and adapted their interest by adding a motor to their manual wheelchair at the same time.

    Wheelchair sports started taking place in 1952 in England and the first Paralympics took place in Tokyo, Japan in 1964. In 1975 Bob Hall completed the Boston Marathon in a manual wheelchair.

    The 70’s and 80’s brought on lighter weight chairs with designs specific to wheelchair sports. The 80’s gave wheelers microprocessor-controlled wheelchairs, which allowed for the customization of controls, to meet specific "driving" needs. Finally the 90’s established a revolution in powered wheelchairs based on design, style, range and method of travel.

    Thanks again for the question. I learned a lot and I hope you did too!

    Katie R. Banister

    What does a person do when they become disabled? What resources are there to meet the needs of people with disabilities?

    When A Disability Hits Home

    First & foremost, take a deep breath and focus your energy! When you are or become a person with a disability, life is full of challenges. We all have "disabilities." In my opinion, no one can "DO" everything. Specifically, there are three types of disabilities; physical, sensory or cognitive.

    I became a c5-c6 quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down, after an auto accident in 1990 at the age of 25. My family had no clue as to how to muddle through this one! I’m the sixth of seven siblings and as a family we have survived leukemia, bone cancer, a gun shot wound and developmental disabilities. But paralysis was something new.

    There are organizations out there that can help, but you have to work the system! Nothing comes easy. There are waiting lists to get your name on and you have to be thorough and diligent in phoning for information. Stay on top of who you are calling, take notes and follow up if your calls are not returned. While the squeaky wheel gets the oil, don’t forget to be polite!

    Listed below are organizations that I have used and there are other resources throughout this website. While I do not have all the answers, I wanted to share what has worked for me.

    There are two forms of acceptance that can help this process move a long. Acceptance of the given disability and the acceptance of the dependency it brings. Good luck in your pursuit of independence!

    Organizations & Agencies who assist people with disabilities

    Call them with you’re your situation and ask questions about the type of assistance they offer. Write names down and treat these people with respect. There are a lot of people out there wanting help and your follow through can make a difference.

    1. MO Division of Aging- can assist with home care
    2. MO Department of Family Services- a wide variety of supports.
    3. Centers for Independent Living: Personal Care Attendant Program waiting list, support groups, Circuit Breaker Program: receive money back on housing expenses
    4. MO Vocational Rehabilitation: assists inn further education & employment
    5. Local Churches- could be a place to look for an attendant.
    6. Medicaid: Medicaid Spend Down, PASS Account 7. Medicare: SSI, SSD
    8. St. Louis County/City Housing Authority: I was on their waiting list for 7 years
    9. Ford Mobility Program: assists people with disabilities on newly purchased vehicles. Up to $1000 towards the purchase of adaptive equipment/conversion and they offer special financing for people with disabilities.

    These organizations were keys to my independence. Take charge in your pursuit to be as independent as you can. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it!

    Are there many famous people with disabilities?


    Ludwig von Beethoven (composer)—Deaf
    Alexander Graham Bell (invented telephone)—learning disability
    Sarah Bernhardt (actress)—amputee
    Napolean Bonaparte (French ruler)—epilepsy
    Chris Burke (actor)—Down’s Syndrome
    Julius Caesar (Roman emperor)—epilepsy
    Truman Capote (writer)—depression
    Lewis Carroll (writer)—stutter
    Ray Charles (musician)—visually impaired
    Vic Chesnutt (musician)—spinal cord injury
    Winston Churchill (British Prime Minister)—learning disability
    Max Cleland (U.S. Senator-GA)—triple amputee
    Tom Cruise (actor)—learning disability
    John Denver (musician)—depression
    Charles Dickens (writer)—epilepsy
    Walt Disney (cartoonist)—learning disability
    Jean Driscoll (U.S. Olympian)—spina bifida
    Thomas Edison (inventor)—learning disability
    Albert Einstein (physicist)—learning disability
    Annette Funicello (actress)—multiple sclerosis
    Judy Garland (actor/singer)—depression
    Whoopi Goldberg (actress)—learning disability
    Goya (Spanish painter)—Deaf
    Chuck Graham (MO State Representative)—spinal cord injury
    Stephen Hawking (physicist)—Lou Gehrig’s Disease
    Helen Keller (teacher/activist)—visually impaired & Deaf
    Marlee Matlin (actress)—Deaf
    John Mellencamp (musician)—spina bifida
    Burgess Meredith (actor)—manic depression
    Patricia Neal (actress)—stroke survivor
    George Patton (US General)—learning disability
    Teddy Pendergrass (musician)—spinal cord injury
    Itzak Perlman (violinist)—polio
    Richard Pryor (comedian)—multiple sclerosis
    Christopher Reeve (actor)—spinal cord injury
    Franklin D. Roosevelt (US President)—polio
    Carly Simon (singer/songwriter)—stutter
    Harriett Tubman (abolitionist)—narcolepsy
    Vincent Van Gogh (artist)—depression
    George Washington (1st US President)—learning disability
    Victoria Williams (musician)—multiple sclerosis
    Bruce Willis (actor)—stutter
    Bill Wilson (founder Alcoholics Anonymous)—recovered alcoholic
    Woodrow Wilson (US President)—learning disability
    Stevie Wonder (musician)—visually impaired

    ©2019 Access-4-All
    PO Box 220751
    St. Louis, MO 63122