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Monthly Archives: June 2016

  • Apple Watch evolves to improve the lives of wheelchair users

    Apple have upgraded their Apple Watch with a new feature specially designed for wheelchair users. Employees using chairs were invited last week to test the new wheelchair mode, which will be available on watchOS 3.

    In a process that has taken over a year to complete, Apple Watch becomes the first to offer a wheelchair fitness tracking feature. This revolutionary change enables activity customisation specific to wheelchair users: workouts have been created to boost fitness levels; all-day calorie goals now incorporate pushes; and the update has evolved to use more inclusive language such as "time to roll" instead of "time to stand".

    Apple are clearly dedicated to offering some of the best and most innovative accessibility features from smartphones to smart watches. This latest update ensures that wheelchair users are even further benefited in terms of accessibility, with big improvements to iOS, tvOS, watchOS, and macOS.

  • Wheelchair-bound shooting victim becomes inspiration

    Tayloni Mazyck, 14, proved that her disability does not define her after giving an inspirational speech to her fellow graduate students at her middle school in New York City.

    At the age of 11, Tayloni became another victim of gun violence, and was subsequently paralysed after she received shots in the neck and face.

    Tayloni refused to become dormant in her condition and now chooses to look past the limitations of her paralysis: "I won today. Today I am a winner. My mishap does not define me, it does not limit me, it just helps the fighter in me stay alive."

    Her mother supports her in her endeavours, arguing that her wheelchair is "her only limitation". The family are still struggling against problems with transportation, citing accessibility issues with trains and elevators.

    Despite this, Tayloni continues to strive for her dreams of becoming a medical lawyer when she grows up, moving on to the High School for Law Advocacy and Community Justice.

    Both Tayloni's classmates and fellow family members have been inspired by her boldness and bravery, pushing them to grasp any opportunity regardless of any limitations.

  • John Smiths wheelchair is returned !

    John Smith has his wheelchair back at last. Para-athlete John Smith, who competes in the T54 classification, said the chair was taken from his van outside his house in Kent.

    John didn't hang about and turned to Facebook immediately to report the loss of his wheelchair and the knock-on effect was meaning that he would not be able to attend the the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

    The local constabulary was investigating the theft of the wheelchair from outside his home in West Kingsdown near Sevenoaks. "The wheelchair had been stored inside a locked van," the force said. "There was no reported damage to the van and enquiries into the theft are ongoing."

    If you want to read more or see a video of John in his wheelchair.

    It makes you wonder what goes on in anyones mind when they take an item like this. It's worthless to anyone else and cannot be used as a wheelchair by another as it is entirely bespoke to Johns measurements and needs. Now that the wheelchair has been returned John is back on track for the Rio visit and training is back to normal.

  • Vehicles for wheelchairs launched by Uber in London

    Uberwav as it has been named is a new service providing wheelchair-accessible vehicles to folk in London. Uberwav can be requested at the touch of a button using their app however this is only in affect in London to begin with.

    One refreshing fact for all wheelchair users is that the Uberwav service is available at the same cost as cheaper UberX fares. Their fleet of 55 wheelchair friendly vehicles in use already and the scheme is proving very popular indeed. On the back of this success other councils are considering granting Uber a license including Brighton who were quick off the mark.

    Many accessibility charities were involved in the new service's development so we hope that there has been consideration given to the real needs of wheelchair users and that the drivers are also trained on how to help.

    Transport for All, Scope and Whizz-Kidz are all supporting the launch of UberWav, and Uber states that it is investing over £1m in the first 18 months to establish the service.

    Uber spokesman Tom Elvidge said "We're proud to be making one of the biggest ever investments in accessible private hire in London and will be working hard to keep waiting times as low as possible as the service expands". The vehicles have been adapted and include a rear entry ramp including a winch and restraints and will allow the transport of the wheelchair user plus one additional passenger.

    Mr Elvidge also stated that he would expect a wait of "around 25 minutes" in Zones 1-2 and "40 minutes" in Zones 3-4 during the first few weeks of the new service.

    The new service was launched as Uber had experienced competition from London's black cabs that are already wheelchair friendly although less suitable to their bespoke converted vehicles. One consideration we should all make is to assess whether your chair is crash tested and there for safer to use in one of Ubers converted vehicles. If you are looking for a crash tested wheelchair please click here.

  • Dream tree house for wheelchair user Hayden

    Every child's dream is to have their own tree house but how do you make it happen if your child uses a wheelchair ? In the US the dream happened for 7 year old Hayden Trigg who was born with both spina bifida and cerebral palsy.

    However, with a little help from the Make A Wish foundation and a local building company who specialise in tree house construction Hayden was in luck and can now roam the home in his wheelchair!

    Using ramps and a 200 year old Oak tree in the back garden Hayden is now able to access his tree house using his wheelchair and celebrated its opening by inviting his entire class to see the new dream home.

    With a pitch roof and 2 floors, big windows and wheelchair friendly doorways this tree house has it all and suits Haydens play time no end. If you need wheelchair ramps then please take a look at out selection here.

  • Buggys make way for wheelchairs

    The ongoing case about wheelchair users rights on public transport buses has progressed further today. The case is being brought by a man from Wetherby, near Leeds in West Yorkshire. Mr Doug Paulley was denied use of the wheelchair space on a First Group bus because it was already occupied by a young mother with a sleeping baby in a buggy.

    The bus company in the spotlight is FirstGroup, who have a policy of requesting but not requiring able-bodied travelers to vacate the space for wheelchair users.

    The supreme court will soon rule whether wheelchair users get priority over mothers with baby buggies on buses after judges overruled the decision originally stating that it was not discriminatory and so will now go before the most senior judges in the land for a final hearing. The appeal judges rejected Mr Paulley's claim of unlawful discrimination.

    Last year Mr Paulley attempted to board a bus that displayed a sign saying: 'Please give up this space if needed for a wheelchair user.' However, under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people, a judge at Leeds County Court ruled the policy was discriminatory and in breach of a duty .

    If you want a source of reliable information, please visit the Citizens Advice Web site here

  • Tonys campaign for wheelchair friendly toilets earns him an MBE!

    Tony Clough has at last been recognised for his hard work campaigning for the provsion of wheelchair-accessible toilets. Tony who is 38 and lives in Lichfield has campaigned long and hard requesting for Changing Places toilets with space for the user, their carer, a changing bench and a hoist, basically all that is needed to make life compfratble.

    And his reward ? Tony has been appointed an MBE ! Tony is not a wheelchair user, It all started when he reaslised how difficult it was for his mother to meet the needs of his disabled sister who is a wheelchair user and needs to use public conveniences when out and about. Tony's reaction to the MBE was very modest and he said that he felt humbled by the nomination.

    The campaigning went on for many years and he kept his efforts up even while he was being treated for a brain tumour so is clearly one of lifes battlers. He said: "I am just a carer for my sister. I see myself as a normal bloke who just sends a few emails and makes a few calls. "Hopefully, I can use the honour to help raise awareness, open more doors."

    Wheelchair user friendly toilet layout Changing Places wheelchair user friendly toilet

    A fellow campaigner for the same cause Mr Martin Emery said Tony has "been instrumental in the success of campaigns, including my own campaign to get Changing Places at Old Trafford. Tony was the first person to ask Manchester United for these facilities... and a Changing Places facility is now in place at Old Trafford."

    Better toilet facilities for wheelchair users

    In addition to Old Trafford, Tonys work has lead to more than 830 'Changing Places' being opend accross the UK, including the addition of Changing Places facilities at Manchester Airport.

    It's not a lot to ask for to have suitable toileting facilities for a wheelchair user and to see progress like this being made is good news for all of us, let's hope that more of these facilities are rolled out throughout the UK soon.

    Tony is not alone in campaiging for better facilites as many others around the country want to see a batter level of care for those with disablities and or mobility issues. In Hampshire, Sarah Brisdion, who has a five year old son with cerebral palsy, cannot use baby changing facilities as he is too heavy.

    For more info from the Government web site on building regs please see here.

    Frustratingly for all campaigners the Government regulations do not make providing such facilities a legal requirement and, according to charity Changing Places, there are only 750 appropriate toilets in the UK.

    Mike Le-Surf, of Changing Places, has said the problem is so bad that it is stopping some folk  from leaving their own home.  The building regs that were reviewed in 2013 didnt include adult changing tables but did include wide wheelchair freindly doorways.

  • Roma wheelchairs survive Invictus Games

    Prince Harry's Invictus Games prove to be a big success for all involved including wheelchair manufacturer Roma who are based in Bridgend in Wales.

    A total of 44 Roma wheelchairs were used during basketball and rugby matches at Prince Harry's Invictus Games and were surely tested to their limit surviving the most brutal of crashes and colisions.

    Innovative Roma Wheelchairs made in Wales

    Roma have been making wheelchairs for many many years and are one of the few manufacturers left in the UK. Their innovative design team have built a number of specialist sports wheelchairs at the request of the games' officials. Basketball and rugby demand models that will withstand the harshest of use so the team put their heads fown and came up with these models in the 6 week timeframe as requested.

    Once built the games commenced and the technicians who designed and built the chairs travvelled across the atlantic to be pitchside during the games in case of any technical emergencies.

    Orlando hosted the first Invictus Games which is an international sporting event, dreamed up by Prince Harry, for wounded, injured or sick servicemen and women. For manufacturer Roma it was an exciting opportunity to create brand new sports wheelchairs knowing that they will ehlp the games and its competitors.

    Simon Dalton, managing director of Roma Sport, said: “We were at the side of the pitch all the time.Due to the nature of the game we had to be ready to run onto the pitch if any tyres got punctured, for example.We also had to make sure the athletes were in the right chair for them".

    “Some had a spinal injury and so we had to put in extra strapping. “We made sure they were all comfortable with their chairs and given the right ones for them.”

    Like the BMW designed wheelchair, Roma too have the technology for making body wrapping seats however the wheelchairs for the Invicta games were to be used by a number of different athletes preventing the use of bespoke seats. They have worked with many different materials, all loightweight and strong, including titanium, aluminium, and testing the possible use of magnesium - the ultimate lightweight metal.

    Roma sports wheelchairs for basket ball and Rugby

    Simon added: “The rugby wheelchairs had to be very robust because they take such a hammering. They are involved in crashes and collisions which is all part of the game.

    “As basketball is more of a non-contact sport the chair needs more agility and has to have a lighter frame.We didn’t have to do any repairs to our chairs during the matches.“When you see some of the hits and crashes you wonder what will happen but we were very pleased with the chairs and they stood up to the job".

    “The games are so inspiring to see and it’s great that they have this opportunity.“We feel honoured to have been asked to be part of this and being there was a fantastic experience.”

    We're proud to supply Roma chairs and even better that they are made within the UK! See our Roma wheelchair range here

     

  • So you want a fast wheelchair right ?

    You may remember that in 2014 BMW released some images and information on its newly designed racing wheelchair, well now in preparation for this year's Paralympic games that takes place from 7 August to 18 September in Rio de Janeiro.

    So the giant car brand has invested much time and money to improve on the original design and has worked closely with the US Paralympic team to create a racing wheelchair that they reckon is both faster and more comfortable than the previous model. The speed increase seems to be as a result of a reduction in drag of about 15% but its hard to see how they did this as it looks very very similar to the last wheelchair they built. However fine detail reveals the use of carbon fibre in the frame and a slight change in the wheelchair frame angles.

    The BMW design team started frok the basic by scanning an athlete whilst sitting in the chair and then made a replica model that could be used for testing andf ultimately for the redesign of the wheelchair. From there, they developed a computerised model that could simulate changes in actual aerodynamics, from this they learned that approximately 50% of the aerodynamics actually comes from the athlete's body, which could ultimately be modified by addressing the clothing and headgear.

    Take a look at the BMW Racing Wheelchair for Rio 2016 Paralympics

    The carbon fibre used in the wheelchair frame has lead to a stiffer platform that is more responsive and helps to keep the wheels straight, which avoids the dreaded encounters that occur when you get a wobble on! Further improvements were made to the wheelchair seat design and each athlete has a bespoke form fitting seat to fit their posterior.

    Finally gloves are being custom made for each athlete and there is talk scans of each users hands being used to create 3d printed inserts that will fith the wheelchair users hands and rims perfectly.

    These changes were summed up by BMW associate director as:

    "There's an interesting psychology to all of this," he said. "The comfort of your equipment, the repeatability – when you have that mould, you know how it’s going to feel every time. That's one less thing for them to think about."

    If you are interested in raching wheelchair see more here on the Mistral racing wheelchairs

  • Holiday season is coming how about a wheelchair friendly cruise

    We soon to be entering holiday season where all of us fancy the idea of getting away from it all and having a holiday elsewhere. Cruises are more popular than ever and we've been finding out what considerations there are when thinking of a cruise with your wheelchair.

    Cruising is probably the best way to travel if you are in no rush, you get to see a bunch of different places in a short time. You can check places out and decide where you might want to go back to for a follow-up holiday.

    So many cruise liners state that they are wheelchair accessible but its always worth checking by speaking with the ship operators and check the obvious things like doorway widths and if you use a heavy duty wheelchair or a bariatric model you need to ensure you are catered for. Next up is the shower and is it a rool in shower. Its worth asking for pictures of the room if there is any doubt, so you can understand what the space is going to be like. Bed height is another important consideration to see how the transfer from the wheelchair is going to work out. Once you are happy that your living quarters are suitable you can begin to assess the ship and check that all decks are accessible.

    Once this is covered its worth a look at the destinations and how accessible they are and whether there are wheelchair friendly facilities to make sure you can relax and have a good time. Then, does the ship dock at the ports or does it anchor offshore and then provide tenders to get ashore. If so , you will want to check that these boats also cater for you and your wheelchair. See what the sand is like on the beaches to check whether your wheelchair is going to cope. Some sand is far firmer than other making it easier to move along.

    Anywhere in the Caribbean is generally pretty good, although it can vary, with western Caribbean, most ports can allow the ship to dock making life easier. The eastern Caribbean is less accessible with many ports reached by tender. The Bahamas are really great, the Mediterranean can be a bit challenging, as far as ports so make sure you make specific enquiries. Some ports cater for disability well providing wheelchair rental and electric wheelchairs and scooters can be hired for a single day or up to a week.

    On board the ship its worth seeing what is on offer for entertainment and that there are secluded areas where you can rest and have some peace and quiet, again check that these are fully wheelchair friendly. Think hard about what you really out of the holiday. Do you simply want to drink, eat and lounge the whole time and then go to the shows ? if you really couldn’t care less about getting off the boat then a cruise could be a very nice holiday and exactly what you need to really wind down and fully relax.

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