My Manicure Mission

Life in a power chair can sometimes make difficulties when one is trying to receive basic cosmetic services. I have been on a mission for several months to find a new place to get manicures. Nail salons are a dime a dozen and most full-service salons will offer nail services as well, but for someone like myself, who uses a power wheelchair, finding an accessible place can be daunting.

I’m not talking about standard wheelchair access because almost all hair salons or nail salons I have ever visited are wheelchair accessible, i.e., easy access into and out of the building. The problem that I have with most places is that they use manicure tables, or booths, that I cannot drive my wheelchair up to and get my legs under the desk so that I can reach my hands to the manicurist. The top of the table is the correct height, but then there will be some sort of an apron, or a front panel, that comes down about 8 to 10 inches which I cannot get my legs under.

I used to go to a wonderful manicurist who had a manicure table that I could drive right up to and not hit my knees on the front of the table. Not only that, she did such a wonderful job that she had spoiled me for life. When she moved away two years ago I started going to another person at the same salon, however, she didn’t give the same level of service. Then that person moved to another salon which had accessible manicure tables, but I really wasn’t satisfied with the experience. I began looking elsewhere but encountered inaccessible manicure tables everywhere I went. So I kept going back to the other lady, but a few months ago she went back to school to study nursing. For the past four months I have been doing my own nails but it’s very, very difficult for me since I don’t have good manual dexterity.

I’m not the kind of woman who wants to have artificial nails 3 inches long with rhinestones or decorative air brushing. I just want to keep my nails looking neat and trim so that they don’t bother me in when I’m working at my computer or fidgeting with my hands while I’m waiting for something. My hands are small and my skin is very soft because I don’t do dishes. I like someone who gives a gentle manicure experience and does a thorough job of shaping and trimming my nails. Occasionally I will get them polished, but mostly I like a natural look. My style is not one of high fashion or a high maintenance look. I keep my hair nicely trimmed, and don’t wear makeup anymore so getting my nails done is one of the treats I do for myself.

By now you’re probably very bored with this story. Don’t worry it’s almost over. After three or four months of searching at least two dozen different salons in my area, I struck gold today and found a good place with a great manicurist. Hooray!


  1. pb
    Mar 18, 2006

    Try a place where manicures are not the primary business. You will probably have to go by word of mouth. I’ve been to places where they use a sort of hospital tray table that’s adjustable, and swings around. But I’ve never seen one in a “nail place.” Just in salons where they do nails while hair is drying. Look for that.

  2. Vanda
    Mar 18, 2006

    Good for you Karen. I’m glad you found someone at long last. I remember trying to get John a hair cut when he was in a wheelchair after the stroke in 1990. It was so hard in those days finding somewhere that was wheelchair friendly. I eventualy found someone who would come to the house.

  3. Karen of Scottsdale
    Mar 20, 2006

    The place I go to now for manicures is a full-service hair salon. I get my hair done at a different salon, but they don’t offer nail services there. It has never been a problem getting my hair cut because the stylist will cut my hair while I’m in my own chair. The only thing they can’t do is wash my hair, so I do that before I come.