Blog Archives

Disabled and Nearly Invisible


Bob Bob Aronson

(Yes, we cover disabled permits, disabled parking and disability shopping carts)

Tdisabled cartoonhis is a blog about what it means to be disabled, who can claim that designation and what the rest of us can do to make life easier for those who fall into that category.

As an old journalist I am a pretty good observer.  I often see things that others do not see because my former profession taught me to look for things that are out of place or just don’t make sense.  Here’s one of them.  There are millions of disabled people in the world, maybe  close ot a billion  — yet they are often not seen or, to be honest, they are ignored.  “Why,” you ask?  Well,  year after year, survey after survey reveals that the average, healthy person is uncomfortable around disabled people. They are afraid of saying or doing the “wrong” thing so instead they do nothing.

Sometimes it is difficult to know who is and who isn’t disabled. Almost without fail the word disabled brings to mind the image of a person in a wheelchair.  Even the blue disabled permits you see hanging from rearview mirrors or embossed on parking signs are based on the wheelchair image and that, of course, reinforces the stereotype.

permit tag We have come to expect that if you have a disabled permit you are very likely in a wheelchair and if you are in a wheelchair it is quite likely you are unable to walk. At least that’s the logic that’s applied.  The result is that disabled people who can walk get a lot of “dirty looks.”  You have all seen it happen and probably reacted negatively to the sight of a man or woman who parks her car in a disabled spot, hangs the placard from the mirror and walks into the store without so much as a limp. It is common for people to jump to the conclusion that this person is cheating on the permit hanging from the mirror.   Some are even verbally assaulted for using a disabled parking spot when they don’t need one. about 15 years ago a poll revealed that there were 26 million Americans considered to have a severe disability and only 7 million of them use  wheelchairs, canes, crutches or walkers (U.S. Department of Commerce).  I am one of those healthy looking disabled persons.
At 6’4” and 200 pounds I look fit enough, despite my gray beard, to walk a long way.  Well, I am not in the least bit fit and cannot walk very far because I have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) which means I get out of breath with even minimal exertion.  Sometimes walking from the disabled parking space to the door of the store (a hundred feet or so) will cause me to stop to rest, but there are other disabilities, too. Some require wheelchairs, some don’t.

Upon researching this topic I was surprised to learn from the U.S. Census Bureau that about 56.7 million people — 19 percent of the population had disabilities in 2010.  We will break that down into specific categories later.

I always like to start my blogs with a definition of terms but the term ”Disabled” is very broad which makes it difficult to define. Finally, though, I selected three definitions because they seem to cover every angle of the subject.

The  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines an individual with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.

statute imageThe Social Security Administration says that to be considered disabled, individuals must have an impairment, either medical, psychological, or psychiatric that keeps them from being able to do substantial gainful activity (SGA). The impairment must have prevented SGA for at least 12 months, or be expected to prevent the individual from doing SGA for at least 12 months.

And, finally — Federal and state statute — the law books.  Federal laws define a person with a disability as “Any person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities; has a record of such impairment; or is regarded as having such an impairment.”  These impairments include walking, talking, hearing, seeing, breathing, learning, performing manual tasks, and caring for oneself.

Who Is Disabled?

For obvious reasons older Americans are most likely to be disabled.  If you are 80 or over you are eight times more likely to be disabled. If you are from 15 to 24 years old the chance of having a severe disability is one in 20.

What are the most common disabilities?

  • About 8.1 million people had difficulty seeing, including 2.0 million who were blind or unable to see.
  • About 7.6 million people experienced difficulty hearing, including 1.1 million whose difficulty was severe. About 5.6 million used a hearing aid.
  • Roughly 30.6 million had difficulty walking or climbing stairs, or used a wheelchair, cane, crutches or walker.
  • About 19.9 million people had difficulty lifting and grasping. This includes, for instance, trouble lifting an object like a bag of groceries, or grasping a glass or a pencil.
  • Difficulty with at least one activity of daily living was cited by 9.4 million noninstitutionalized adults. These activities included getting around inside the home, bathing, dressing and eating. Of these people, 5 million needed the assistance of others to perform such an activity.
  • The final inconvenience suffered by the disabled is that they are also monetarily handicapped. Adults age 21 to 64 with disabilities had median monthly earnings of $1,961 compared with $2,724 for those with no disability.  Those figures are from 2010, the last U.S. Census.

So, why do you need to know all of this?  Because I believe disabled people are almost invisible.  We don’t make much of a fuss about much of anything.  We don’t have huge conventions or demonstrations and we don’t demand very much from anyone.  For the most part we just want to be treated fairly, equally and with respect.

My experience as a disabled person mirrors that of others with the same diagnosis.  Most people just ignore us and they do so because they don’t know what to do.  In the supermarket the other day I was on my mobility scooter slowly going up the aisle to the jams and jellies.  Directly in front of me and stopped on the other side of the aisle was a woman with a regular shopping cart.  She looked up saw me and said, “Oh my God, I’m sorry,” turned her cart around and went the other way.  I have no idea why she did that or what she was sorry about.

Some people are uncomfortable talking with people with disabilities for fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and some people feel sorry for people with disabilities, and assume that they are bitter about their condition.  The fact is that people with disabilities are just like anyone else.  They learn to cope and lead their lives in as productive a manner as possible.

A recent public opinion survey in Great Britain revealed that Two-thirds – 67 per cent – of those surveyed said that they would worry about speaking about disability in front of a disabled person, with many worrying they would say something inappropriate or use an offensive term by mistake —  so what do they do?  They totally avoid contact with disabled persons.
Obviously ignoring people is of no help to them so what do you do?  This list from the Diversity shop struck me as quite helpful.

http://www.diversityshop.com/store/10comvid.html

  1. Speak directly rather than through a companion or sign language interpreter who may be present.
  2. Offer to shake hands when introduced. People with limited hand use or an artificial limb can usually shake hands and offering the left hand is an acceptable greeting.
  3. Always identify yourself and others who may be with you when meeting someone with a visual disability. When conversing in a group, remember to identify the person to whom you are speaking. When dining with a friend who has a visual disability, ask if you can describe what is on his or her plate.
  4. If you offer assistance, wait until the offer is accepted. Then listen or ask for instructions.
  5. Treat adults as adults. Address people with disabilities by their first names only when extending that same familiarity to all others. Never patronize people in wheelchairs by patting them on the head or shoulder.
  6. Do not lean against or hang on someone’s wheelchair. Bear in mind that people with disabilities treat their chairs as extensions of their bodies. And so do people with guide dogs and help dogs. Never distract a work animal from their job without the owner’s permission.
  7. Listen attentively when talking with people who have difficulty speaking and wait for them to finish. If necessary, ask short questions that require short answers, or a nod of the head. Never pretend to understand; instead repeat what you have understood and allow the person to respond.
  8. Place yourself at eye level when speaking with someone in a wheelchair or on crutches.
  9. Tap a person who has a hearing disability on the shoulder or wave your hand to get his or her attention. Look directly at the person and speak clearly, slowly, and expressively to establish if the person can read your lips. If so, try to face the light source and keep hands, cigarettes and food away from your mouth when speaking. If a person is wearing a hearing aid, don’t assume that they have the ability to discriminate your speaking voice. Never shout to a person. Just speak in a normal tone of voice.
  10. Don’t be embarrassed if you happen to use common expressions such as “See you later” or “Did you hear about this?” that seems to relate to a person’s disability.

Effective communication can mean the difference between the success and failure of any given project, job or effort.  It is always important to give some extra thought to what you want to communicate and that is particularly true when working with groups of disabled persons.

The State of Illinois Department Of Human Services developed this list of tips on how to best communicate with those who have disabilities.

  1. The most important thing to remember when you interact with people with disabilities is that they are people.
  2. Their disability is just one of the many characteristics they have. People with disabilities have the same needs we all do: first and foremost among them is to be treated with dignity and respect.
  3. When you interact with people with disabilities, focus on their abilities, not their disabilities. People with disabilities are unique individuals who have a wealth of knowledge, skills, talents, interests, and experiences that add tremendous diversity, resourcefulness, and creative energy to our society.
  4. Remember, people with disabilities may do things in different ways than people without them however, they can achieve the same outcomes.

General Etiquette Tips

  1. Practice the Golden Rule. Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Think of the person first, not their disability. Don’t shy away from people with disabilities – relax and be yourself
  2. Always Ask Before Giving Assistance. Just because a person has a disability, they don’t necessarily need or want your assistance. Never help someone without first asking them.
  3. One woman recalls: “When I walked on crutches, I was once knocked down by two little old ladies who were going to ‘help’ me walk on an icy sidewalk. Without asking, they came up, grabbed me, threw me off balance, and down I went!”
  1. Think Before You Speak. Avoid using labels when you speak – they are offensive to everyone, including people with disabilities.
  2. Avoid Showing Pity or Being Patronizing. People with disabilities aren’t victims. As a person in a wheelchair said, “I am not a wheelchair victim. Wheelchair victims are the people I run into with my footrest at the supermarket.”
  3. When you talk to a person with a disability, don’t use pet names, such as “honey”. It is also very disrespectful to pat people with disabilities on the head or talk down to them as though they were children.

Interacting with People with Disabilities

  1. When you interact with people with disabilities, talk directly to them, not to their companions, aides, or interpreters. I am always amazed when Robin and I are on an outing and stop at a restaurant where I have to leave my scooter to walk in. Often the Maitre D’ will ask Robin, “Can he walk, in.”  What am I, a potato?  Here are some other ways to interact with people with specific types of disabilities:
  2. communicatingWhen you interact with someone who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing, remember that some individuals may be able to hear, some may be able to lip read, while others prefer to use sign language or assistive technology. Ask them how they prefer to communicate.
  3. When you interact with someone who is blind or visually impaired, always introduce yourself and let them know when you are leaving. You may offer your arm or elbow as a guide if they request assistance but never push, pull or grab the individual. Don’t pet or distract a guide dog. The dog is responsible for its owner’s safety and is always working – it.
  4. When you interact with someone who uses a wheelchair, do not push, lean on, or hold the person’s wheelchair. Try to put yourself at eye level when talking with someone in a wheelchair.
  5. When you interact with someone with a cognitive disability, speak to the person in clear, simple sentences. Be patient with them and give them time to communicate with you.
  6. When you interact with someone with a speech impairment, allow them as much time as they need to communicate. Be respectful and avoid trying to finish their sentences.

People First language

Always use positive, people first language that empowers rather than marginalizes people with disabilities.

Here are some examples of offensive language and language that should be used:

language

This next section is a cut and paste from a website.  The format simply won’t adjust to WordPress so I apologize for the poor placement, but I’m sure you will figure it out and get the meaning.  Thank you.

Offensive                                                                                Preferred

Birth defect                                        Person who is disabled since birth, congenital disability

Cerebral palsied                                 Person who has cerebral palsy

Cripple                                                            Person who needs mobility assistance

Deaf and Dumb, Deaf Mute              Person who is deaf and does not speak

Deformed                                           Person who has a physical disability

Emotionally disturbed                                   Person with an emotional disability

Handicapped                                      Disabled person

Hunchbacked                                     Person with a spinal curvature

Insane, deranged, deviant                 Person with a mental illness

Midget, Dwarf                                     Person who is small in stature

Mongoloid                                          Person who has Down Syndrome

Normal                                                Non-disabled, able-bodied

Retarded                                             Person with a cognitive disability

And, finally.  Disabled permits, disabled parking and mobility shopping carts.permits and licenses

First the permits.  Disabled parking permits are reserved for those who have been certified as such by a qualified physician.  Almost all states have the same criteria for issuing these permits and they include:

  1. The applicant named is legally blind or is a disabled person with a permanent disability that limits or impairs his/her ability to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest.
  2. Inability to walk without the use of or assistance from a brace, cane, crutch, prosthetic device, or other assistive device, or without assistance of another person. If the assistive device significantly restores the person’s ability to walk to the extent that the person can walk without severe limitation, the person is not eligible for the exemption parking permit.
  3. The need to permanently use a wheelchair.
  4. Restriction by lung disease to the extent that the person’s forced (respiratory) expiratory volume for 1 second, when measured by spirometry, is less than one liter or the person’s arterial oxygen is less than 60 mm/hg on room air at rest.
  5. Use of portable oxygen.
  6. Restriction by cardiac condition to the extent that the person’s functional limitations are classified in severity as Class III or Class IV according to standards set by the American Heart Association.
  7. Severe limitation in a person’s ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.
  8. Legally Blind (This is the only disability an Optometrist can certify.)

Physicians are put on notice in most states that their responsibility is a great one.  Most applications warn applicants and physicians that the permits are only for those people who are severely mobility impaired. Any physician who signs an application for someone who is not eligible can be fined $1,000 or one year in jail or both. All applications are tracked by computer and the number signed by specific physicians can be reviewed. Any person who applies and is not eligible can be fined the same as a physician.go to jail

Anyone who obtains or uses a permit that does not belong to them can be charged with a second degree misdemeanor – $1000 fine or up to 6 months in jail. Improper use of the permit is now twice the fee of a disabled parking violation. This should deter people from loaning their permits to family members.  It does not matter if you are running an errand for the person with a disability. If the person with a disability is not present — the fine is $1000.

Disabled parking is designated in that manner because some people need to get as close to the facility as possible.  There is usually a hefty fine for parking in a disabled spot if you do not have a permit hanging from your rear view mirror.  There is also a hefty fine for using a permit that was not issued to you.

WARNING  (this is the Florida law, but most states say the same thing. “Any person who knowingly makes a false or misleading statement in an application or certification commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in section 775.082 or 775.083, F.S.  The penalty is up to one year in jail or a fine of $1,000 or both.”

Now that you know about the disabled Parking permits you should also know:

  • It is not OK to park in a disabled spot just to use the ATM real quickly.
  • It is not ok to park in a disabled spot and leave the disabled person in the car while you run into the store.
  • It is not ok to use someone else’ permit
  • The laws offer no exceptions for parking in a disabled parking spot so it is not ok to park, run in to drop off your Wife’s lunch and leave again.

And finally, mobility shopping carts.mobility shopping carts

As far as we can determine there is no law requiring only disabled people ride the shopping carts provided by some stores, it is generally a common courtesy to leave the carts charged so a disabled person can use one when he/she needs it.  It is unlikely that store officials will ask people who ride their carts if they are in fact disabled.  Unfortunately there are many who do ride them for any one of a number of reasons, the least of which is having a disability.  I wish people who weren’t disabled would leave the carts for those of us who are and really can’t get around without one.  Children should be told in no uncertain terms that the carts are for people who have great difficulty walking, they are not to be ridden for the pleasure of the child.

Anyone who rides a supermarket or shopping center cart should return it to its original spot and plug it in so it is ready for the net disabled person who needs to use it.

bobaronsonBob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s over 4,000 member Organ Transplant Initiative (OTI) and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs. You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org.  And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.  You can register to be a donor at http://www.donatelife.net.  It only takes a few minutes.

Test Drive of The Amazing Tzora Titan Mobility Scooter


By Bob Aronson

If you have read this blog before read it again.  There are important new updates at the end.  The most recent was added on December 1, 2016

bob on scooter tiny pic As the new owner of a mobility scooter I’ve already had some interesting experiences and learned a lot about their capabilities and limitations.

This report is my opinion.  I am not associated with Tzora or any other scooter company in any way nor am I compensated by anyone for anything.  I am reporting on the Tzora scooter because it  is what I own and we paid the full price for it. Some of my comments, I’m sure, will apply to other mobility vehicles as well.

Before I get any farther into my report this warningWARNING.  There are many stores and internet sites preying on disabled people who need wheelchairs and scooters to be able to get around and take care of their needs.  Don’t fall for the ads that tell you that you can get one of these vehicles absolutely free because Medicare will pay for it.  They won’t.  Medicare will pay for 80% of vehicles that are used only IN THE HOME and they won’t pay for just any scooter or wheelchair you choose.  Medicare pays 80% for vehicles that meet their standards not necessarily yours.  They will not pay anything for any vehicle that is used OUTSIDE of the home.

The Titan I own and tested adds two special dimensions to mobility scooters, Power and Speed.  I fully realize that not everyone needs either of those features and that many people want smaller, more portable  and less expensive scooters.  I am sorry to say I tested none of them because I wanted one with the power and speed to meet our unique demands.  The first demand is for me to be better able to get around. The second is to help wife Robin set up at art shows and that means being able to transport heavy loads over a all kinds of terrain for fairly long distances in the dark.  This scooter meets and exceeds all those demands.

I own the Tzora Titan three-wheel model scooter.  It retails for about $2,000 and was a gift from my sister and brother-in-law.  It is a first class vehicle.  That’s me in the picture (top left) and to give you some perspective I am 6’4″ 180 pounds.  The scooter carries me easily and has plenty of leg room.

four wheel titanIt is also available as a four-wheel model.

The seat collapses to the floor and the tiller does the same so you can store it at a very low profile.   It has a lever in the middle that when titan in two pieces cropped and enlargedpulled separates the scooter into two pieces of just less than 50 lbs each making it fairly easy to get into and out of a standard car trunk.

The Titan I bought came with the complete lighting package, a cane holder, cup holder, basket, charger and heavy-duty coveback of titanr.

First let me provide a narrative of how I use it and what I found out about riding a mobility scooter outside of my front yard.  Then I will list the pros and cons of this particular scooter.  I suspect, though, that my critique will have some application to all mobility scooters.

This report and its updates covers a period of about two years in which I road tested the scooter about as thoroughly as possible and I did so in three ways. One is that I took it the 1.5 mile round trip to our neighborhood supermarket several scooter half size for wordpresstimes.  Those trips took me over curbs, uneven concrete, bumpy berms, sand, some mud and speed bumps.  They also took me on the street.  My second test was when I took it to Disney World and also on aeveral Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas, Key West and  Cozumel and…the third test was the toughest.  We took it to wife Robin’s art shows where we had to haul a truckload of show equipment (tent, poles, pedestals, boxes of jewelery etc)  Before I elaborate on the three tests….a safety tip.

While my vehicle has a big flag on the back and all the lights any vehicle would need I don’t think it or anything like it belongs on the street but sometimes it is unavoidable for two reasons. 1) There may not be any curb cuts, or 2)someone has blocked a driveway with two or three cars and you have no choice but to go on the street to get around them and then get back on the walkway.

My best advice is, get off the street as soon as you can.  That’s no place for anyone with a disability scooter or chair.  We are just too small and too close to the ground to be clearly visible to all drivers.  We are also much too slow.  The Tzora is faster than most but it will only get up to 10 mph max.  If you must go on the street and you have lights, turn them all on and attach one of those tall flags that lets everyone know you are there but get off the street as soon as possible.

If you need a scooter for things like going grocery or any other kind of shopping here’s what my test drive revealed.  When you drive the vehicle into a store be respectful of those who are on foot and only go into establishments that have enough room for both you and the people on foot.  Also remember you need room to maneuver.  Sometimes you can’t get through an aisle and that means you have to either turn around or back out.  If you back out be very, very careful.

You will find that your shopping experience in a supermarket is a lot different when you are in a sitting position and it will take longer.  When you are seated you are much more likely to study products than if standing.  That means you could be blocking the aisle so watch for other customers.  You may save money, too.  The basket will only hold a couple of bags of groceries and you can also place something the size of a 12 pack of soda on the floor behind your feet.

If your basket is in the back of the scooter as mine is, it is more difficult to either place purchases in it or to unload it when you are at the checkout counter.  Either way you will find that on occasion you will have to get out of the scooter to reach something.  Be sure that it is key is turned off when you leave the seat so if you accidentally hit the accelerator lever it doesn’t knock you or someone else off their feet.

Remember, too that your basket has a limited capacity and if you are going to go any distance when you leave the market you had better be sure everything in it is secure or you may leave a trail of tomatoes, apples and other goodies all the way home.  I always keep a couple of short bungee cords in the basket so I can tie down loose items.

My second test was taking it with us oto Disney world and on several Carnival cruises and riding it ashore at several ports of call.  On our first attempt to get it in the car and we found the advertising to be accurate. It broke into two pieces (not counting the two batteries) and both fit easily in the back of our mini van along with luggage, four adults and a 6-year-old child.

Upon arriving at the cruise ports we unloaded it from the back of the minivan plopped the batteries in place, turned the ignition key and Voila, we were on our way to the ship.

Inside the terminal it was a breeze.  Carnival staff were extremely courteous and helpful in making way for the scooter.  There were some relatively steep ramps but the Titan climbed them without difficulty.  Most mobility scooters are built in a manner that allows it to negotiate steep inclines. If you are going to buy a scooter ask about it’s ability to negotiate steep inclines from a standing start. It must be able to do that.

Our only real surprise was finding that the Tzora Titan was one inch wider than the door to the cabin aboard the Carnival Fascination.  But, no problem, once again we pulled the lever that separated the front from the back of the scooter, slid it in sideways and closed the door.  It really was a simple as that.  The whole scooter weighs less than 100 pounds (minus the batteries which weigh 20 lbs each and are easily removed.  We found on subsequent cruises, though, that not all stateroom doorways are the same size and on some of the larger ships we just drove the scooter right into the room.

If it must be taken apart because of a narrow doorway, reassembling it is very easy.  Just slide the scooter sideways through the door into the hall, quickly assemble it and ride it off the ship.

Nassau , Key west and Cozumel are accustomed to tourists but like cities everywhere they were not built to be accessible for disability vehicles so there are a number of challenges in getting from the street on to the sidewalks.  There are curb cuts but they can be found only where new construction has taken place.  On one occasion there was a curb that was well over the 5 inch clearance of my scooter and as we sat there and pondered the situation, three men came by, saw my dilemma and picked up the scooter with me in it to place it on the other side of the curb.  Very nice.  Otherwise the tour around the ports was uneventful.  Pedestrians and drivers alike seem to accept mobility vehicles for what they are and are quite patient with them.

arriving at ship smallerOn one cruise I found that upon arriving at the ship to re-board the ramp was not only at a significant incline it was also just a few inches from a curb.  I told my wife, Robin, I did not think we could make it up the ramp because there was no way I could get a run at it.  I had to approach the ramp, make a sharp right turn and then try to ascend it.  We had gone up a few ramps earlier but nothing as steep as this one and I doubted the Tzora would make it.  We had to board the ship, though, so we forged ahead thinking the worst that could happen is that we’d have to get someone to give us a push.

Feeling like an Indy driver testing a car for the first time I approached the ramp, turned the tiller to the right, pulled the accelerator lever and expected to stall.  Surprisingly the Titan went up the ramp as easily as it crossed the perfectly flat street leading up to it.  I’ll never again doubt the Tzora’s ability to make a grade.  I have no idea how they engineered this scooter but it has exceeded my expectations.

The third test was easily the toughest.  My wife is a jewelry artist and we travel to art shows all over the country.  Our Chevy Express 3500 van pulls a 30 foot travel trailer so we can take the comforts of home and our two dogs with us.

The Chevy Van is full of art show equipment and jewelry.  Some art shows are easier to set up than others.  The one we tested the Titan at was one of the tougher ones.  Because of construction there was no way we could get the van near Robin’s assigned tent site.   The closest we could get was 3 blocks away where our Travel Trailer was parked.  That means we had to “Dolly” everything to the site.  That’s a minimum of a dozen loads and it is over grass, sidewalks, curbs, railroad tracks and even some gravel.  It also requires crossing busy streets, going up inclines and avoiding the occasional Amtrak train.

I have Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease (COPD) so my ability to physically pull that dolly is zero.  Robin could pull it but It is a tough job — so enter the Tzora.  The advertising says it will hold as much as 400 pounds.  It says nothing about what it will pull.   I figured that at best we probably could pile some very light boxes on the dolly but not much more.  Well, I’ve been fooled twice now by the Titan.  The first time was when I doubted its ability to make it up the ramp going into the ship and the second time was with its pulling capacity.

To avoid the back breaking work of pulling a fully loaded dolly three blocks through all kinds of terrain we connected a regular four-wheel expandable dolly to the back of the scooter with a chain.  Not ideal, but we didn’t have a standard trailer hitch.

We made several trips to the tent site.  With each trip we piled more on the dolly and each time the Titan acted as though there was nothing back there.  On one load we placed 6 pedestals on the dolly (they are titan with full loaddifferent sizes and fit inside each other) along with other assorted items.  I won’t even guess at the weight but I built those pedestals and they are heavy and solid.  The sat atop a solid wood table apron.  I have to believe the load was at least 200 pounds maybe more.  The scooter didn’t hesitate once.

Our final trip was the biggest load — one both Robin and I felt would be way too much for the scooter.  It was at least 50 pounds heavier than the previous load.  It included a heavy table, the tops to the pedestals, drawers heavy with jewelry components and tools and some pipe for the tent.   I heaviest load yetmounted the scooter thinking, “You’ve been pretty good, scooter, but I doubt you will even move this load.”

I turned the ignition switch, pulled the accelerator lever and we moved forward once again as though there was nothing behind us.  Away we went over grass, sand, concrete, bumps, hills, up inclines and over railroad tracks with not a single hesitation.  What can I say?  I’m impressed.  And … with all those trips and pulling all that weight we still had 3/4 of a tank of electric charge left.

A final note.  One morning I had to take a trailer load of goods from the RV to the tent in the dark. I flipped the light switch and was amazed at how bright they were.  Many bikes and scooters have anemic lighting systems that are almost useless.  Not this one.  the lights are really bright which not only means you can see but just as important is the fact that you can be seen.

So there you have my assessment and my tests. Below is a simple pros and cons statement about this particular scooter along with a few updates on other journeys and tests.  I don’t know if all scooters will do what the Tzora can, you’ll have to test them, but perhaps after reading this you will know what to ask and what to look for. .

Pros

  • It has a lot of power and is fast by mobility scooter standards, about 8 mph top speed
  • I honestly don’t know what the pulling capacity is but it will pull a lot.
  • This scooter will carry about 400 pounds & that’s  big plus if you want to use it for shopping.  Ask about load capacity when you are scooter or wheelchair shopping.  Remember that the distance the vehicle will travel is directly related to the weight it is carrying and the speed at which it is being driven.  Weight and speed affect the power of the battery and therefore the range of your scooter.
  • Super lighting system. Very bright unlike a lot of battery powered lights.
  • It will climb relatively steep grades with ease
  • The basket will indeed hold a lot.  Not three full bags of groceries as they claim but certainly two and maybe a little more.  I also have carried a 12 pack of soft drinks between or behind my feet.  The floor offers plenty of room.
  • The batteries will in fact give you a range of ten miles and maybe more (depending on speed and weight) but be sure to recharge them.  I put my scooter back on the charger after every use.
  • The lighting system (head and tail lights, turn signals and hazard flashers) works great but will drain your batteries very quickly.
  • The batteries charge quickly and hold their charge for a long time and the gauge on the tiller is quite accurate.
  • It is amazingly quiet, you can’t hear it coming
  • It has a keyed ignition which is excellent theft prevention
  • The five inches of ground clearance is good but I’d like even more
  • The ride is ok…a little bumpy but it’s a scooter after all.
  • The arm rests on both sides will raise and lower which makes for ease of getting in and out
  • The turning radius is superb.  I can easily turn a full circle in the aisle of a supermarket.
  • It came with a rear view mirror and it should have two — one on each side.  They are essential because you use them just as you wold with a car.
  • I love the idea of having a cup holder but this one will only hold standard size soda cans…grossly inadequate
  • The cane holder is also a nice feature but only if you have a very skinny, round cane.  If you have a custom cane as I do or a walking stick forget it.  I took apart the one that came with the scooter and remodeled it to fit my custom-made cane.

Cons

  • The scooter has no switch in the seat which disables it when no one is on it.  That means that if the key is on and you are standing and hit the accelerator lever the scooter will move and that could be unsafe.
  • There is no backup signal, no beep.  There should be
  • It can pull a lot, it should come with a ball trailer hitch 🙂
  • The tires on my model seem to need air often.. In two years I’ve had three flats so I always carry a spare inner tube.  I am not sure if it is just the tires on my scooter or if they are all like that.  No matter which scooter you buy get a small bicycle tire pump and attach it to the scooter so you always have it.  Nothing worse than finding a tire is flat and no pump or compressor anywhere to be seen.
  • The scooter will tip over if you make too sharp a turn at too great a speed at an incline.  Three wheel scooters are not as stable as their four-wheel cousins.  This is not a criticism but a fact that one should be aware of.
  • It has five inches of clearance which is great.   After riding it for a while I wish it had more although you will have real trouble finding a scooter with that much, never mind more and if you do you can expect a significant increase in price.
  • The horn didn’t work when I got it and the batteries were defective.  The company responded quickly to fix both.
  • It comes apart easily but when you put it back together you have to be sure you have made the connection or the scooter won’t go.  Not a big problem but it doesn’t work perfectly every time.
  • There is no noise and no indicator when you use the turn signals so it is easy to forget they are on and drain the battery.
  • The company should provide a second mirror, one is not enough.
  • There is a “Free wheeling” lever on the back that allows you to push the scooter or its parts when you are not on it (like getting it into a ship stateroom).  If the lever is in the free wheeling position when you get on the scooter it will not go.  You must remember to take it out of that position when you want to ride it.
  • Remember that these vehicles are ELECTRIC and electricity and water don’t mix.  electricity and waterIf water gets into the electronics you will come to an abrupt stop and may not get going again.  If you are caught in the rain, wait until it lets up a bit but if you must ride through it do so slowly to avoid splashing water into the electronics under the scooter.  While some mobility rides have sealed the electronic elements fairly well not all do and even so some parts are exposed.  High ground clearance helps and is another reason for seeking a mobility vehicle with the highest clearance you can afford.  All mobility vehicles carry the water and electronics warning.  But…they don’t always offer it in big bold print and they should.  Best advice…keep your mobility vehicle away from water.

That’s my assessment of my mobility vehicle.  I hope you found some information that was or is useful to you  I will close with this. A mobility scooter or wheelchair is a major decision and can be a major investment. Do your homework.   You should not only get on the internet and find out more you should test drive those that meet your criteria.  You need not pay thousands for a scooter or wheelchair, they come in all ranges.  What you buy depends  entirely on how and where you plan on using it, but think it through very carefully.  This is a big decision.

UPDATE NOVEMBER 17, 2013.  Recently my artist wife decided to try a new lighting scheme in her booth…2 12 volt AGM batteries.  They work beautifully but each battery weights in at 40 lbs.  Now I not only pull the trailers full of art show supplies, weights and tent components  I have added 80 pounds worth of batteries to the load and still, no difference in operation.  The Titan pulls it all with ease over any terrain and up grades.  Incidentally, I carry the two batteries on the floor of the titan and still have enough room for my feet.

Lest I be misunderstood, the Titan is no Jeep.  You can’t go off-roading with it and I wouldn’t try to attach a snowplow to the front so you can clear your driveway but it sure exceeds what I expected from a mobility scooter.

Best of all riding on the Titan is like having a bright red Corvette convertible in a neighborhood full of brown Chevrolets.  Everyone wants to know about the sports car.  The Titan doesn’t look like your average mobility scooter and people notice that.   There’s a Carnival Cruise Lines employee at the Jacksonville, Florida Cruise port who does not know my name but recognizes the scooter whenever I drive in and always greets me with…”There’s that super scooter again…welcome back.”  It’s nice to be noticed.

bob magic kingdomUPDATE JANUARY 12, 2014.  Yesterday was the first all day endurance test of the Tzora.  Wethings go better with coke went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida with granddaughter Lily Grant.  The Tzora Titan had wheels on the ground at 9 AM and traveled through nearly every street in the magic kingdom until 6 PM.  9 hours of almost continuous operation without a hitch.  When the day was over the battery gauge registered 3/4 full.   The day was made up of a lot of stop and go riding and up and down some fairly steep inclines.  I have no idea how long those batteries will last but I would not have been surprised if we had another 4 or 5 hours of charge left….maybe more.  After several months of owning the Titan I am more impressed than ever.

Sarsota art show loading up 3UPDATE FEBRUARY 15, 2014.  At the Sarasota, Florida Art show the Amazing Tzora Titan was even more amazing as these pictures tell the story.  The first shot is of us loading up the dolly to be pulled by the scooter at the campground  three blocks from the show.    Sarasota art show...now that's af ull loadThe second picture is the arrival at the art show to the amazement of other artists and —  the final, third shot is what made the load even more incredible.  Besides the dolly load behind usSartasota art show full load and two forty pound batteries I was carrying two 40 lb batteries on the floor of the Titan,  the batteries are used to power the lights in Robin’s tent.  The Titan pulled this load with no sign of strain and did it with the lights on and the hazard flashers blinking so that we could be seen crossing busy intersections very early in the morning.  Even with using the extra power for lighting our way we noticed no difference in the scooter’s ability to move the load.

Update, March 6, 2014,  I recently had a flat tire n the rear with no load other than me on the vehicle.  The inner tube had a hole in it.  I watched the repair person closely and he didn’t even need a tool to change the tube, just pulled the old one out, put the new one in, pumped it up and it was ready to go. I now carry an extra tube with me    Tires on the Titan are 12 1/2 X 2 1/2  and the tubes are very cheap. Usually available at any bicycle repair shop.

Update June 6, 2014.  Yes, i still love the scooter but because of COPD and osteoarthritis I began to have difficult loading and unloading the scooter from the van despite its easy disassembly and assembly.  The two 50 lb pieces are too bulky for me to maneuver so we had to find a way to get the scooter aboard our Chevy Express van through the side doors in one piece, batteries, basket and all.  There is a wide assortment of devices that are made to lift and transport scooters and wheelchairs and all are expensive.  I wanted something that i could handle without costing a small fortune.  We did it for about $500 which is approximately a fourth the price of other devices on the market.

Wide shot of electric wichFirst, brother in law Guy Guittar remodeled  the inside of the van to accommodate an intact scooter, but with the seat and tiller folded down so we could have storage room on top.  Once the opening was built we bought a Superwinch through Amazon for a little over $100.  We also purchased aElectric winch on special shelf used to pull scooter into van folding five foot aluminum ramp for about $200 and a Jump Starting  AGM battery to power the winch  for a little over $100.  I built a shelf for the winch to sit on and we attached the shelf to the far wall of the van.  The two leads from the winch were attached to the AGM battery which sits between the front seats of the van but toward the back wall of the compartment.  The  winch has a remote control on about a 12 foot cord.  We placed the ramp against the open side doors of the van, drove the scooter up about a foot, attached the winch cable, turned on the power supply, released the lever on the back of the scooter to allow free wheeling and pushed the”in” switch.  Slick as can be the scooter was pulled into the van in less than a minute.  I re-locked the wheels of the scooter, folded the ramp and slid it into the compartment, turned off the power supply and drove away all in less than a couple of minutes with little or no strain.

Update July 27, 2014   The only fault I can really find with the Tzora is inferior tires and tubes. I think the tires should be bigger and better. I have had several flat tires, none while pulling a load and all of them are the result of leaking  inner tubes.  My best advice to owners is to either buy solid rubber tires or to carry a couple of spare inner tubes.  I suggest you buy the thorn proof tubes many bicycle riders use, I got mine through Amazon.  They will stand up to almost anything and they are easy to change.  If a tire goes flat on the Tzora simply disconnect the two parts of the scooter and turn the part on its side with the flat tire.  If the flat is in the back you don’t even have to take the wheel off of the unit, just pull the old tube out, put the new one in and pump it up.  If it is in front, the wheel must come off in order to change the tube. And…don’t forget, always carry a small tire pump.  You are going to need it.

Update December 1,2016 Finally after almost 4 years of riding the Titan for many miles hauling heavy loads over all kinds of terrain, I had to replace the batteries.  You should know that the batteries are contained within the gray case with the handle. Just take out the screws open the case, check on the manufacturer and model number of the batteries  and then Google it to find a supplier. I found one that charged me about $115 for both batteries and included free shipping. There are many suppliers so you should do some shopping but I recommend buying the same brand that is in your scooter now. There are lots of aftermarket products that aren’t any good. Buy what the manufacturer buys to be safe.

Af

 -0–

Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s nearly 3,000 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues. Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.

This List Could SaveYour Life


The 2012 Frankenstorm that started out as hurricane Sandy had a devastating effect on the eastern seaboard of the United States.   In situations like that it is critically important for the sick, elderly and those who are recovering from organ/tissue transplants and other procedures to be specially prepared to provide accurate medical information to emergency responders.

Being prepared for Frankenstorms is essential but mini storms pop up every day.  You never know when for no apparent reason your blood pressure increases dramatically,  you have difficulty breathing, you experience unexplainable weight gain or an angina attack sends you to the emergency room.  When that happens someone is going to ask what meds you are on, how often you take them, their dosage, contact information for your medical team and insurance info.  Under pressure and when sick it is not uncommon to forget important information.  That’s why I developed this list.   If you have already done what I recommend then review and update your effort.  If you haven’t, do it now while you have the time.

Developing the following information could save your life. There is nothing that can help emergency responders or medical professionals more than providing them with the information suggested below. It is critically important to your life that you take the time right now to do the following:

Information to include on an emergency medical information fact sheet: (sample at the end of this blog)

  • Your full name, address and phone number
  • Next of kin or person(s) who should be notified in case of your emergency including contact information (names, phone, address, email, cell phone)
  • Your Primary care physician name and phone number
  • Specialty care physicians names and numbers
  • The pharmacies you use (include phone numbers)
  • Health insurance company, agent and policy numbers (If on Medicare or Medicaid include that notation with account numbers).
  • Prescription insurance numbers
  • List all the medical conditions for which you are being treated
  • List all surgeries
  • Blood type
  • Write down every medication you take whether by prescription or over the counter.  Include milligrams for each, how often you take them and for which medical condition.

DO NOT GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT AT LEAST A WEEK’S SUPPLY OF YOUR MEDS!   This is especially important during a disaster situation in which transportation, emergency and other services are strained, temporarily unavailable or even suspended.

Some people, transplant patients and recipients in particular must take certain medications to stay alive.  In situations like storms or other natural or unnatural disasters and emergency situations you could be faced with a situation in which you are unable to go home to retrieve your medications and other important belongings.  I suggest you do what I do and that is to keep a shoulder bag packed with your meds and other medical equipment that is within your reach at a moment’s notice. If possible you should also try to stash some cash in your emergency bag.  You might find yourself in a situation where checks and credit cards are useless.

If you have a cell phone and an extra charger, put it in your meds bag.  If you don’t have an extra charger keep the one you have in your meds bag when you are not using it. There is nothing worse than being unable to get to your charger when your phone is going dead.  That phone could be your link to safety and treatment.

If you wear a medical necklace or bracelet, make sure it is up to date and accurate.  If you don’t wear one and have time, get one.

When you have completed the medical emergency list (it should all fit on one sheet of copy paper) make two or three copies, fold them carefully and put them in your purse or wallet.  Emergency medical people can be of the most help if they are aware of your medical history, current medications and other treatments you may be getting.  Having that list in your possession and providing it to medical experts could save your life.  While you may know all of this information, do not depend on your memory.  One omission could prove to be catastrophic.  You must also remember to update the list every time you get a new medication, quit using one, or have any change in your medical condition.

A separate list should be developed for your personal use.  It should include phone numbers of emergency services you might need and iportant family and friend contacts you might need (include cell phone numbers and email addresses).

Sample Medical Info Sheet to Carry With You

HEART TRANSPLANT RECIPIENT

Best Hospital USA  August 21 2007  Immunosuppressed

John Doe

Birth date 2-17-1950

9180 orchard lane Anycity, USA

Home 555-555-5555  Cell phone 555-555-5555

SS # 555-55-5555

Spouse; Jane Doe; Cell phone 555-555-5555

Physicians:

Primary, Dr.Sawbones Anycity USA.  Address, phone numbers

Transplant Pulmonologist,  Dr. Breatheasy best clinic USA. 
Address, phone numbers

Transplant Cardiologists, Dr. Heartthump best clinic USA. 
Address, phone numbers

Transplant Coordinator:  Nurse Jane best clinic USA/
Address, phone numbers

 Pharmacy: 

Primary:  Best Pharmacy USS. 
Address, phone numbers

Secondary: Second best pharmacy USA. 
Address, phone numbers

 Health insurance:

Primary Medicare part A, Hospital, part B, Medical. Policy number other info

Secondary, AARP Medicare Supplement .   policy number other info

Medicare part D Prescriptions, AARP Medicare RxEnhanced policy number, other info

 

ALLERGIES:  Penicillin, cats, all seafood/fish, mold, dust.  

 BLOOD TYPE: B Positive

MEDICATIONS

 Heart related medications

  • Anti-rejection Cyclosporine 200 mg  twice a day
  • Anti-rejection — Cellcept  1000 mg twice a day
  • Anti-cholesterol — Prevastatin 20 mg once a day
  • Blood Thinner – Aspirin 81 mg once a day
  • Blood Pressure – Amlodipine Besylate 5 mg twice a day

Other medications

  • Reflux – Omeprozole  (Prilosec) two 40 mg twice a day
  • Thyroid — Levothyroxine .088 MG once a day  (upon arising)
  • Asthma – ProAir albuterol  rescue inhaler as needed
  • COPD – Foradilinhale one capsule twice a day
  • COPD – Spiriva inhale one capsule once a day (upon arising)
  • Depression-Remeron  7.5 –mg once a day-

 Supplements

—  Calcium – 600 mg tablet with Vitamin D twice a day

—  Multi-vitamin– one tablet once a day

Medical Conditions

  • Asthma, hay fever, allergies diagnosed 1951
  • Non-smoker
  • COPD diagnosed October 2000
  • Restless leg syndrome diagnosed 1996
  • Chronic lower back pain

Surgeries

  • Heart transplantBest Hospital 
  • Anywhere USA August 2007
  • Cholecystectomy 1994
  • Total left knee replacement 1998

This list is on my computer and on my cell phone.  Also, I carry two paper copies in my wallet at all times and update it whenever there is a condition, prescription, insurance or medical team change.  Every time I hand this list to ER personnel, or anyone else who asks for it they all say the same thing, “Everyone should carry a list like this it is of invaluable help to us and could save your life.”

Bob Aronson of Bob’s Newheart is a 2007 heart transplant recipient, the founder of Facebook’s over 3,000 member Organ Transplant Initiative and the author of most of these donation/transplantation blogs.

You may comment in the space provided or email your thoughts to me at bob@baronson.org. And – please spread the word about the immediate need for more organ donors. There is nothing you can do that is of greater importance. If you convince one person to be an organ and tissue donor you may save or positively affect over 60 lives. Some of those lives may be people you know and love.

Also…there is more information on this blog site about other donation/transplantation issues. Additionally we would love to have you join our Facebook group, Organ Transplant Initiative The more members we get the greater our clout with decision makers.

%d bloggers like this: