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Welcome to UK Wheelchairs - the home of value and quality

Monthly Archives: December 2017

  • Wheelchair accessible vehicles - the basics

    Like many we use a normal estate car to go about our daily routines and when needs be a wheelchair can be put in the boot with ease and it is no great inconvenience. Others who are less independent and who are both wheelchair users and drivers may well be fortunate enough to have a wheelchair accessible car that has been adapted to provide for those disabilities and to cater for the wheelchair with ease. Most of these vehicles server a valuable job and do so with ease, so what makes these vehicles so special and is there and formal approval required ?

    In a world where there are stats for everything we do, it seems that there are no official statistics or records when it comes to safety of those in wheelchairs when travelling in wheelchairs. But when it comes to adapting a wheelchair accessible vehicle there are many regulations in place to ensure that they comply to some fairly strict rules.

    Some of these rules are inherited via the EC and this includes the European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval or ECWVTA as it is referred to and these tests ensure that WAVs are compliant and that their wheelchair passengers are safe.

    Most wheelchair accessible vehicles on the UK roads are adapted versions of standard cars that are available to the UK market. The adaptation process is quite involved and generally includes both the passenger compartment aspect and the accessibility aspect i.e. the ramp on which the wheelchair travels to enter the vehicle.

    For more information you can visit the here the trade association for manufacturers of wheelchair accessible vehicles

    When a WAV manufacturer adapts a new model then there are several stringent tests that have to be satisfied before it is deemed safe for use with occupants in a wheelchair. These include physical tests on the seatbelt anchorage points, testing of the seat strength and more testing of the wheelchair restraint systems that literally keep the wheelchair in place during a journey and in worse scenario in an impact from a collision. To ensure fair governance, these tests are always carried out at an approved testing facility and independently witnessed by the government’s vehicle certification agency.

    These tests are essential and give you the wheelchair user the peace of mind and confidence needed to use a specially adapted vehicle. Once a new vehicle model has been approved there is a follow-up process called COP or Conformity of Production that is in place to ensure that all other wheelchair adapted models of the same type continue to meet the stringent standards laid out.

    So once such a vehicle has been designed and created we can be confident that it meets certain criteria required for safe use by a wheelchair user which include good access by wheelchair, safe transit of the user which includes structural integrity of the entire vehicle making sure that all occupants are as safe as they would be in a non-adapted car.

    This compliance is referred to by its code which is PAS2012 and includes all the WAV Industry Guidelines Adopted by Motability. These need to be in place in the following situations:

    • You are a wheelchair user who needs to travel in your chair
    • You are a local authority, health service or care home, which provides transport for wheelchair users
    • You are a taxi company or community transport service
    • You are an organisation which provides information to people with mobility difficulties
  • Festive flights and wheelchairs

    With the festive season coming up many of us will be making trips to see family and friends across the UK and further afield overseas. If you are a wheelchair user and are traveling this Christmas then now is a good time to start to plan your journey and inform the airline of your plans to travel with your wheelchair or powerchair.

    Not all of us need extra help to get to and from flights but sometimes it is comforting to request the assistance in case you need it on the day. For others less fortunate a trip or fall before the flight might mean that you require wheelchair assistance but have not been able to give the airport and airline sufficient notice about your need for wheelchair assistance.

    With airports getting bigger the distance for the entrance to the terminal and the departure gate can sometimes be hundreds of meters which mean that wheelchair users are more likely to require help to get to their gate on time. This is particularly the case when gate openings are announced late due to delays with the airline. Once at the gate further assistance will be needed to get you to your seat and the wheelchair stowed in a suitable way.

    If you need to arrange connecting flights then the challenge is greater when you are a wheelchair user. If you have arranged assistance then your wheelchair should be ready for you when your flight lands. Each time you need to check in please give yourself adequate time as you may need to wait for the wheelchair attendant to arrive to help you particularly during peak travel times like Christmas.

    If you do require a wheelchair attendant it is helpful if you let them know what you can and cannot do before you get to the security screening area. If you can stand and walk it will be a different process than if you need to go thru security seated in your wheelchair as pat down screening can take a while longer.

    Are you taking your own wheelchair ?

    Assuming you are traveling with your own wheelchair then having a disassembly plan is important. Some of us rarely take their wheelchairs apart so waiting until you are under pressure to do it swiftly might not be the best plan.

    Once you reach your destination airport in theory your wheelchair attendant should be ready and waiting to assist. Generally, he or she will offer to take you to the baggage claim area in the airport. If you need to stop and use the facility then this is a good opportunity depending on the duration of your remaining travel plans.

    If you are using the train or other public service travel then we will be posting on this soon.

    We wish you well with any travels this Christmas and hope that you and your wheelchair, manual or electric reach your destination in a timely and comfortable manner !

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