Singing in the rain often isn’t that fun when it’s you who is being rained on. It’s time to introduce the Wheelchair Umbrella, a vision of pure loveliness when we consider going out in the European winter (or, let’s face it, anytime of the year, really!)
The Inadequacy of Coats
When I think of the disadvantages of being a wheelchair user (and to be honest, I can rarely think of many aside from the obvious being unable to walk/dance conundrum; there’s nothing quite like a good theme park queue-jump!), one that always springs to mind is wearing coats vs getting wet. Let me explain: most outerwear, or what my Nana would call a ‘good, solid coat’, is heavy, bulky and flipping hard to push your chair in. If the ground is wet the sleeves are soon soggy, and the nicely coloured coat gets ruined, so I am often stuck between the choice of black and a muddy brown, and if I choose a lightweight raincoat I’ll look exactly like it: an anorak.
Up until now, I’ve mostly braved the British winters with a rolled-up-sleeved cardigan and a handy packet of flu tablets. Not ideal, I know; the drowned and sniffling rat look never goes down well in meetings. Thankfully, I have found something that may have just solved all of my winter worries: the Wheelchair Umbrella.
It’s such a simple but effective concept: keeping dry and keeping your hands free at the same time, genius! The umbrella is attached to a clamp that can fit around chair handles come rain or shine, and for those of you like me who go handle-free, there are individual clamps out there that can connect to the bars at the back of your chair and allow you to choose a swanky brolly that suits your style. Beware though, these are not always as reliable in measurement as they appear; some contraptions will need to be prized apart with a bit more force than expected before being able to fit on more sporty chairs, or those with quite thick handles.
The Wheelchair Umbrella: One Size doesn’t always Fit All
As with anything, there are some things to be aware of before you buy. Firstly, make sure you get the height of the brolly right; there’s little worse than an umbrella blocking your vision and then nearly gouging your eyes out due to impatience and a lack of spatial awareness on your part. This applies if you have a friend pushing you, too – it’ll need to go particularly high! Get the positioning of the umbrella right before you go: most clamps and brollies are hard to adjust once you’ve set them, regardless of what they promise on the packaging. It’s also worth remembering that a wheelchair umbrella immediately likens you to a grounded helicopter. You’re massive now so keep your distance from other mere mortals on the streets; they may well be intimidated by your greatness. And lastly, something I definitely learnt the hard way: if possible, ask someone else to shake your umbrella off for you before going inside. There’s nothing quite like trying to do it yourself, soaking all of your clothes and wishing you’d worn that anorak in the first place….!
At an affordable price and of accessible to all, the Wheelchair Umbrella is highly recommended for those of you who wish to stay chic on even the greyest of days. And hey, it’s not often that such a well-known song goes hand-in-hand with a mobility product!