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November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Holiday Tragedy REMINDER: Buckle Up and Say No to Buzzed Driving !!!

Remember me and my story this Holiday Season. Buckle Up and Say No to Buzzed Driving !!!

We left for home Thanksgiving day in the twilight, filled with Grandma Cleo’s cooking, lots of hugs and our heads filled with family stories shared in laughter.

The drive on Palmdale Highway 138, a two land undivided road, was lined with cars coming and going like bumper cars. I always hated this part of the drive and kept checking my speed to stay at 55 MPH, which was not my normal routine driving practice.

After about ten minutes,  feeling overly cautious, I looked over at my son in the front passenger seat and noticed his seatbelt was not fastened and sharply told him to “Put on your seatbelt, NOW!”, and glanced over my shoulder to make sure my other son was buckled up!”

Thirty seconds later a small car driven by a drunken women with five children, only one two year old in a restraint system, swerved from the oncoming traffic right in front of me. There was no way to avoid the accident. I slammed on my brakes to attempt to stop in time. Her oncoming speed and my oncoming speed were equal to at least 110 miles an hour. Not enough time to stop.

That moment of impact will be imbedded in my soul forever. Three of the five children were killed instantly. The woman driver killed her only daughter and two of her sister’s children. The driver (She) survived along with the two year old in the car seat and one other young boy cousin.

Continue reading "Thanksgiving Holiday Tragedy REMINDER: Buckle Up and Say No to Buzzed Driving !!!" »

June 23, 2011

Ride for MS with Jon Lancaster Toyota and Ask Patty

Lancaster Bike MS

It's time again for the Jon Lancaster Toyota MS Fundraiser!  Each year the Jon Lancaster team tries to make the event better than the last. Last year  was a very successful event, they raised just shy of $4,700. This year their goal is $6,000 for the Wisconisn MS Foundation.   Here's their official release:

Continue reading "Ride for MS with Jon Lancaster Toyota and Ask Patty" »

December 21, 2010

Toyota & Braun Donate Wheelchair-Accessible Vehicle to Paralyzed Veterans of America

Braun-toyota-entervan If you needed some holiday spirit, look no further than this story.  Toyota Motor Sales USA and the Braun Corporation, the world’s largest manufacturer of wheelchair-accessible vans and wheelchair lifts, recently announced that they would be donating a 2011 Toyota Sienna with a BraunAbility Rampvan® XT conversion, to the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA).  The Sienna Rampvan will serve as one of the primary transport vehicles for members of the PVA’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Continue reading "Toyota & Braun Donate Wheelchair-Accessible Vehicle to Paralyzed Veterans of America" »

June 05, 2009

Designing an Accessible Garage

Ah-garage When I came home from the hospital after my spinal cord injury 10 years ago, my husband parked the car in our three-car garage, helped me out into the wheelchair, then pushed me outside and around to the temporary wooden ramp at the front door and up into our home. It seemed odd coming into my home through the front door, typically reserved for guests. But due to the three steps at the entry from the garage to the laundry room, my typical route of entry into the house was no longer accessible.

Most of the time when a garage is attached to a home, there are steps at the door between them. Building codes in many locations have required this in order to prevent carbon monoxide produced from gasoline engines from entering the home. I have found that many building codes have changed and many variances are given when the future occupants request that the garage floor be level to the entrance of the home. As a precaution, the code may require additional outdoor venting with an exhaust fan.

Another way to prevent carbon monoxide from entering the house is to have a self-closing door. It’s always a good idea to have a carbon monoxide alarm inside the home located near this entry. When the building code allows a no-step entrance at the door between the garage and the living space, it is possible to gradually slope the entire garage floor from front to rear so that water drains away from the house. When pouring the concrete, provide a level area at the entry to the home.

When building codes restrict a no-step entrance, ramps are needed for wheelchair access. I prefer a ramp sloped 1:20 over the commonly used 1:12 slope. For every foot of height, there needs to be 20 feet of ramp. Include a level landing at the top of the ramp.

Here are a few features to consider when designing a garage to make it more accessible to people who use wheelchairs for mobility, as well as modified vans, trucks and cars:

  • A minivan or full-size van with a wheelchair ramp on the side will need the space of at least a one-and-a-half car garage.
  • The interior space of the garage needs to be deep enough to accommodate a large van with rear-door openings.
  • Height clearance must be adequate for the full size wheelchair van with a raised roof. Include proper clearance of the motor housing for the overhead garage door opener.
  • Provide for enough floor clearance to allow a person in a wheelchair to travel around the parked vehicles in the garage.
  • Install an electric overhead garage door opener with a remote control located at an accessible height for a seated person.
  • Include motion sensor lighting with the garage door opener as well as on other lights in the garage.
  • Skylights can provide additional day lighting as a safety factor.
  • Add a long cord to the electric garage door opener emergency release system so that a person seated in a wheelchair has access to pulling the cord.

As we designed our new garage for the Universal Design Living Laboratory (, we added a utility sink. This will come in handy for gardening purposes as well as cleaning items too large to bring in the house. We also included a door in the back of the garage that goes to the backyard. This will save us many steps bringing items to and from the back patio areas.

Since we will be storing many tools, gardening supplies, and recreational equipment in our garage, we are installing cabinets, organizers and work counters against the wall. We have selected Premier Garage to supply and install these products to enhance our garage ( It is important to take into consideration the height of the countertop as well as knee space that will be needed in order to work from a seated position. There can be multiple heights of countertops (30 inch, 34 inch, 36 inch) included to accommodate various people’s needs. Cabinets with full extension shelves and drawers will also need to be installed at accessible heights.

If you look at the cost per square foot to build the garage versus the cost per square foot to build a home, there is cost savings involved in building a garage. As you analyze the items that you need to store, consider the relative expense of storing them inside the home versus in the garage. You can also create work areas in the garage when the weather is mild and lighting is adequate. A garage can be multifunctional, serving not only as a storage unit for your vehicles, but also as an occasional shelter for informal parties that you host, or place for you to tinker in your workshop.

Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. is building a national model universal design home in metropolitan Columbus, Ohio. To learn more about the Universal Design Living Laboratory go to

Contact Rosemarie with your ideas for future articles, questions, and accessible home problems she can solve at:


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February 13, 2009

Cutest Little Girl On Wheels

Josie-wheelchair-dogThose of you who know me, know about my two dogs, Rigby and Roxy. They are the loves of my life... after my husband, of course. Well, maybe before, but we don't have to let him know.

I would do anything for my pups, no matter what. Several years ago our corgi, Roxy, was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that cause her growth plates in her front legs to close too soon. Luckily it was corrected with a few surgeries, but not every pup or pet is so lucky. Some dogs are born without any front legs at all!

This is the story of Josie, the two-legged Chihuahua that rolls around on wheels, sharing love with any person who passes by. This story comes by way of

Josie was rescued by Jill Schultz in Wichita, Kansas, who works at her family's business - Hanger Prosthetics, where they make prosthetics for people!

Continue reading "Cutest Little Girl On Wheels" »

January 08, 2009

Accessible Taxi Service for Wheelchair Users in New York City


The United Spinal Association ( encourages wheelchair and scooter users in the New York City metropolitan area to call 311 to request a wheelchair-accessible taxi via the new Accessible Dispatch Program.

This system links passengers who use wheelchairs with accessible vehicles through a central dispatcher. Residents and visitors to NYC can call 311 for a pre-arranged service. 311 connects the passenger to a dispatcher who collects the passenger's pick-up location and communicates electronically with participating drivers. The closest available driver accepts the dispatch and picks up the passenger.

The fare for an accessible cab trip is the same as the metered rates for all New York City yellow taxis. The Accessible Dispatch System is for passengers who use wheelchairs or scooters only.

Continue reading "Accessible Taxi Service for Wheelchair Users in New York City" »

December 16, 2008

Make a United Spinal Holiday Season Tribute Donation

Uunitedspinal banner
You can help Veterans and paralyzed Americans by visiting the website and make a Holiday Season Tribute Donation. The Holiday Season Tribute is an excellent way for an individual to show their love for someone special during this time of year, as well as support the valuable work that we do at United Spinal. The donor will receive an online acknowledgment, and the honoree will be notified that a special tribute has been made in his/her name.

Despite some economic challenges, our efforts as an organization have been profound and far-reaching to both our members and the disability community. During this past year, we have:

    * Provided support and assistance to hundreds of disabled veterans across America through VetsFirst, United Spinal’s benefits counseling program. VetsFirst’s accredited team of national veteran service officers provides advocacy, support and guidance through the VA system, ensuring that veterans receive their rightful benefits and services.
    * Conducted our inaugural Disability Leadership & Policy Summit, a forum that featured a productive, interactive exchange of ideas and solutions between some of today’s national leaders in the disability community and Americans living with a disability.
    * Expanded the Annual Independence Expo, a two-day program for individuals with disabilities and their family members and caregivers that focuses on enhanced lifestyle and independence.
    * Seen the growth of Accessibility Services, as their team of accessibility specialists continues to remain at the forefront of providing training and consulting services to architects/design professionals, thus ensuring access in and throughout public facilities across the country, including the new Yankees Stadium and Mets Ballpark projects.
    * Brought hope, encouragement and shown endless possibilities to children and their parents through our 4th Annual Kids Sports Spectacular, an event that introduces children with disabilities to sports and recreation and emphasizes the importance of fitness, exercise, team work and fair play.
    * Promoted independence and access through our Wheelchair Repair Clinics, a community-outreach series providing free, technical assistance and repairs to individuals’ wheelchairs and/or scooters.

These are just some of the ways that United Spinal is making a difference in the lives of paralyzed Americans. And, now more than ever, support and contributions are needed to help us to continue our important work in the upcoming year.


December 06, 2008

Donate This Holiday Season to - Help Paralyzed Americans

Donate image of a boy in a wheelchair giving a man in a wheelchair "high five" Ways To Donate
Give A Gift Online
Regular Recurring Online
Memorial Gift
Tribute Online
By Mail or Telephone
Gifts of Securities
Electronic Transfer of Funds
Planned Giving
Donate Your Unwanted Vehicle
Get A United Spinal Credit Card
YOU can help us create the Opportunities that make dreams come true.
There are a variety of ways that you can help:
Your gift will go a long way in creating opportunities. Online giving is the most convenient way to help United Spinal Association. It’s a private, safe and secure way to make a financial contribution.
Your recurring donation will provide United Spinal with the ongoing support needed to sustain its programs and services. Gifts on a recurring basis are especially valuable to us as they allow us to plan ahead with confidence. Regular recurring donations allow you to give in a convenient, safe and secure way.

Continue reading "Donate This Holiday Season to - Help Paralyzed Americans" »

July 19, 2008

AskPatty Kicks Up Her Feet at BlogHer in Second Life

Blogherconferencearea_001 BlogHer's annual conference is like no other -- it is the thrilling diversity of the blogosphere come to life! Thousands of women Bloggers have assembled in San Francisco to experience technical labs, educational workshops, intense discussion sessions, relevant sponsors, speakers from every corner of the blogosphere, and plenty of opportunities to network and socialize.

And in Second Life, hundreds of other women are enjoying a virtual version of the conference, featuring both live streaming of the BlogHer 2008 keynotes, and exclusive in-world programming by, for, and about Second Lifers.

Pattystreeter While BlogHers are enjoying the conference in real life at the Westin Hotel in San Francisco, Second Lifers are experiencing their own virtual version at the United Spinal Motorability Island with our own seminars focused on such subjects as Dating in Second Life, The Intersection of Blogging and Second Life, Online Security in Second Life (with our own Jody DeVere on the panel as Patty Streeter inworld, pictured to the right), panel discussions on using Second Life as an Educational/Training Tool, and using Second Life for Good in the real world.

Continue reading "AskPatty Kicks Up Her Feet at BlogHer in Second Life" »

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