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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

Monthly Archives: August 2017

  • Our top tips for eating out in a wheelchair

    When it comes to eating out, it can be a little daunting when you are in a wheelchair. There are many fundamental considerations we like to make as a wheelchair user before we feel we can commit to the meal knowing that it will be an enjoyable experience and a relaxing one.

    There are of course many guidelines set out in the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 which are intended to make things easier and more accessible for wheelchair users in relation to the provision of goods and services including restaurants where the owners and operators are bound to make their premises accessible to wheelchair users. These include making sure that doorways, aisles and walkways are of a minimum width and that the height of table tops and counters need to be of a certain height to make them comfortably accessible for wheelchair users.

    So we've been able to get in to the premises in a wheelchair and get to a suitable table where we plan to eat. What other considerations can there possibly be ?

    Knee room under the table is important. Although some table look spacious on top, they might not have sufficient space under the table top to accommodate the wheelchair with ease. Then there is the whole business of using the comfort room as they call it in some countries. To you and I, the toilet needs to be accessible with ease. The door handles have to be in easy reach for the wheelchair user and the force required to open the door must be suitable, as we know some have ridiculously strong springs that make pushing them open from within the wheelchair can be a challenge in itself. Once in the toilet there needs to be adequate space to manoeuvre and accessible grab bars needs to be installed both behind and on the sidewall that is nearest to the toilet.

    We don't want the task to be too daunting when considering attending a meal in a wheelchair and often as not a call prior to booking or arriving can sort many of these potential hazards out to check that it is suitable. Here is our list of the sort of questions it is useful to ask:

    • Where is the nearest suitable parking ?
    • Is there a ramp for wheelchair access ? or are there any steps to be negotiated and if so how many?
    • Is the toilet wheelchair accessible and friendly?
    • Do the tables fit a wheelchair?
    • Is there enough room to move the wheelchair?

    If you feel we have missed out any important bits please let us know. We hope that this is helpful and helps you to prepare for a good night out and that your venue is well equipped for the wheelchair.

  • MP bravely volunteers a day in a wheelchair

    The MP for Hertsmere in Hertfordshire has volunteered himself to spend a day in a wheelchair so that he can really experience the challenges set by wheelchair users on some of the countries more challenging roads.

    Oliver Dowden MP for Hertsmere has previously undertaken similar 'challenges' including spending the large part of a day blindfolded in his constituency so that he could experience what is was like including the hardships made worse by excessive bumps and potholes and pavement with adverse camber.

    The core of the challenge is to to travel up Shenley Road, Borehamwood in a wheelchair where he will see first hand the diversity of issues that wheelchair users face when they travel everyday. The challenge was proposed by another wheelchair user named Lara Croft and has gathered a lot of support through Social Media, with many folk commenting about the difficulties of using wheelchairs,  crutches and other mobility vehicles in the area.

    The areas pavements and roads are looked after Ringway on behalf of Hertfordshire County Council. SO it is thought that there will be some presence in the area in the first week of September when event is likely to happen.

    There are many aspects of daily life that are made far harder for wheelchair users by inadequate thought and planning and inadequate spend. But second place only to narrow doorways and parking bays is pavements in the list of the most inconvenient daily issues faced by wheelchair users, where Uneven and rough terrain particularly with sloping surfaces make moving manual wheelchairs virtually impossible.

  • Air travel with wheelchairs is it improving ?

    It seems all to often that we post about damage to wheelchairs that occurs during air travel. This is a time that we hope and trust that the handlers, who move many thousands of items each day, take good care of our precious wheelchairs and that they recognise that wheelchairs require a little more care than the average suitcase or backpack.

    Travel can be stressful enough for anyone in these times of heightened security whether you are a wheelchair user or not. Queues seem longer and the various checks seem to become more involved at ach end of your flight. In some respects there are benefits of travel in a wheelchair ! yes we do at least have somewhere to sit the whole time and often as not we get some form of priority when it comes to boarding.

    The downside as we all know is the unknown treatment of our mobility equipment and in particular the wheelchair. The potential problems of air travel as a wheelchair user start fairly early on and include the obvious issues of actually getting on the plane, then moving on to difficulties checking in any equipment, and then once on the plane being able to go to the toilet is also a challenge that many of us cannot overcome.

    So any resulting damage to wheelchairs is the biggest concern of all. From reading a number of articles of the past few years it would appear that both electric wheelchairs and manual wheelchairs are having the same types of problems that ultimately are preventing some trips.

    Some electric wheelchair users have resorted to using a manual model with a powerpack to reduce the chance of damage to their power chairs. Mainly because when flying, the motor can be stored in a suitcase where the idea is that the more breakable parts are kept safe.

    Having read up on various folks experiences it seems the whole wheelchair travel saga can be broken down in to some simple but reoccurring issues:

    1              The handling of the wheelchairs by airport staff

    2              The handling of compensation post incident

    3              The provisioning of a replacement wheelchair to facilitate continuation of holidays or everyday life

    In the eyes of the airline industry, it seems that a wheelchair is the same and equally as robust as any other piece of luggage and can therefore be being flung on to a trolley of suitcases and powerchairs can be left lying on their sides while being moved on conveyor belts.

    In addition, it is often the more fragile wheelchair accessories including supports and removable parts that get the worst treatment and sometimes simply go missing as they could not be reattached.

    We all know that all wheelchairs are different, but you would think that given some basic training all airport staff would do a better job and it would benefit all wheelchair users in the meanwhile. It would also help to keep their costs down as repairing broken wheelchairs and particularly powerchairs is not a chap pastime.

    As for any compensation, it is often made incredibly difficult to successfully claim fully for the loss and inconvenience. So much so that one man has who set up an organisation called Reduced Mobility Rights after experiencing the challenges of travelling with his disabled son and his wheelchair. Roberto Casiglioni now helps others to make successful compensation claims for damage and or mistreatment.

    The unfortunate downside of all of this is than many folk find themselves unwilling to entrust their all important wheelchair to an industry which all too often seems not to recognise their value and get it wrong. So any final tips for those who are embarking on some air travel this summer ?

    Remove all detachable parts such as head rests, arms rests, footplates and joysticks from the wheelchair and carry them onboard.

    If you can, then why not submit a Special Declaration of Interest before flying, allowing compensation claims above the usual cap to be made should there be a problem.

    Label wheelchairs clearly with instructions on how to move them and which parts should not be used to lift and carry.

    These simple steps should go a long way toward protecting your cherished wheelchair and allowing you to travel safely and not fretting about your wheelchair.

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