For everyone I met and spoke with at Global Voices Citizen Media Summit I would like to pass on some information about mobility, disability, and wheelchairs. I got a lot of questions about my wheelchair and a lot of compliments on how well I get around. Here is my FAQ with some answers that people might like to know.
My wheelchair is a type called an ultralight rigid frame. It weighs 17 pounds (8 kilos) and though I am not particularly strong, I can pick it up with one hand. The wheels come off just like a quick-release bike wheel. I can take off the wheels in about 10 seconds, fold the chair, and put it into a car or into the trunk of a taxi.
A standard hospital wheelchair can weight 40, 50, 60 pounds (18-28 kilos). They are often designed to be pushed by an able-bodied walking person. With a lighter weight wheelchair, more people can gain independence.
The major manufacturers of ultralights are :
Quickie (Mine is a Quickie Ti)
But, these wheelchairs can be extremely expensive.
Here are two international projects to spread the availability of light weight, durable, low cost wheelchairs:
Free Wheelchair Mission is a project to ship very, very cheap and maintainable wheelchair kits to every possible country.
Getting the right size of wheelchair is also important. But, given a choice between the wrong size in a light weight, and the right size that's very heavy, I would take the lightweight chair.
One more thing, to answer the other question that you all are asking me: