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News

  • Wheelchair motorbike for amputee

    So its always good to read stories like this where someone who has had a fairly severe set back in life is able to turn the tables and get back to one of the things that they loved.

    In this case its a man from Edmonton in Canada who was left wheelchair bound following the amputation of his right leg in 2000 due to a complication with diabetes. But thanks to a gift from a stranger, Gordon Cameron is back up to speed – up to 70mph – in his customised motorbike that allows him to steer from his wheelchair in the sidecar.

    Friends of Gordon saw an old motorbike for sale complete with side car. After extensive modification to accept the wheelchair Gordon is now able to wheel himself complete with self propelled wheelchair in to the side card and off he goes!

    Being a Hondamatic there is no need to change gear as it has an automatic box which leaves the accelerating, braking and steering. Although Gordon uses the wheelchair converted motorbike for local errands he says it is great to feel the wind in his hair. A year later, he catches people’s attention wherever he goes. Some take photos, others give him the "thumbs up."

    Read more here

  • Strictly Wheelchair Dancing comes to town

    Strictly Wheelchair Dancing is a Manchester based dance group including folk of all ages and abilities whose motto is “You can do it”!

    Using both electric or manual wheelchairs, the club welcomes everyone regardless of their ability or their disability as they put it.

    Wheelchair Dancesport is becoming more popular thanks to clubs like this and involves individuals with a physical disability that affects the lower limbs. Having said that you wouldn't believe what they can do.

    Wheelchair dancers as they are known can participate in “combi” style dancing with an able-bodied (standing) partner or “duo” style dancing where two wheelchair users dance together.

    Sticking to a fairly conventional menu,wheelchair dances include the Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot and Quickstep. Latin-American dances include the Samba, Cha-cha-cha, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive. There is even Group Formation Dancing for 4, 6 or 8 couples at a time.

    So a bit of fact about this sport / art: Wheelchair Dancesport became an IPC Championship Sport in 1998 but is not yet part of the Paralympic programme. It is governed by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and co-ordinated by the IPC Wheelchair Dancesport Technical Committee, which incorporates the rules of the International Dance Sport Federation (IDSF).

    Wheelchair Dance Sport is widely practised by athletes in 22 countries. Read more here

  • Brits rule at the wheelchair tennis doubles masters

    Its great to follow the wheelchair tennis doubles masters tournaments currently although its a shame I can't find it on television. What's more encouraging is that there are 4 British players in the semi-finals ITF Wheelchair Tennis Doubles Masters in California USA.

    Many of us have heard of Jordanne Whiley who is playing against fellow Paralympic bronze medallist Lucy Shuker in the ladies semis today. Louise Hunt is in the other semi while Gordon Reid is into the last four of the men's doubles.

    Wheelchair tennis at any level is a very involved game and requires great fitness strength and mobility. Their wheelchairs are specialist models with great rigidity and are ultra-light allowing them to make the alarmingly fast turns and sprints on court. Having found some coverage on YouTube it is great to see the dexterity of these wheelchair users and all the better to see that their grit and determination has helped them to become the top in their sport.

    So back to the tournament, from what I can tell Whiley and her Japanese partner Yui Kamiji, who are the defending champions also won all four majors in this year !

    They are now up against Shuker and Germany's Sabine Ellerbrock and face a tough semi-final match. Shuker and Ellerbrock won both of their pool games and won a tournament together in South Africa earlier this year so they definitely have their work cut out. Good luck and keep it up. Hopefully we can get to see more wheelchair sport on TV before too long.

  • No parking for wheelchair users

    With Internet news we're able to see local news from virtually everywhere so we often follow the US news and came across this wheelchair user revenge article which we thought was worth a post. Essentially wheelchair users protested in Georgia as they were fed up with able bodied motorists taking the disable parking spots all too often. So they teamed up with a group called Tree Of Life and took to the streets. Armed with dozens of wheelchair including self propelled and transit but no powerchairs, they blocked off parking spaces outside the city's Rustaveli metro station using 2 wheelchairs per parking bay to prove their point. Organisers were clever and left only one parking space unblocked and reserved for people with disabilities.

    See the photo here.

    Of course, there were a few who were no so impressed by their protest which comes ahead of the United Nations Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December but all in all the campaign was deemed a success and backed up by wheelchair users and general public alike. As most folk commented, its not uncommon for disabled spots to be taken by the lazy and not spared for wheelchair users.

  • Access to work scheme disappointing for wheelchair users

    Access to work scheme disappointing for wheelchair users

    In October we heard of yet more cut backs that will affect wheelchair users and make it harder for the disabled to work. Now it seems that things are looking worse as the Access to Work scheme meets more hurdles.

    The initiative is now 20 years old and was originally a scheme that was intended to provide anything that helped from wheelchair ramps to interpreters for the deaf. The recent study suggests that the scheme is in fact making it harder and denying some folk their right to employment.

    The Work and Pensions Select Committee report found that staff often failed to understand the needs of disabled people although the scheme does seem to have helped 35000 people find work in the past 12 months.

    Access to Work assists disabled workers by paying for specialist aids such as wheelchair ramps and building adaptations typically aimed at making wheelchair access easier and ensuring that all facilities can be accessed by those who need them.

    Some of the report findings did actually clearly display that the scheme has worked and that it "transformed the lives of disabled people", many of whom would be unable to work without it.

    Let's hope there is some continuation in improvement and that the scheme does offer hope for all disabled who are trying to find work. Interestingly, earlier this month the Minister for Disabled People Mark Harper urged all British businesses to take on someone with a disability for a work placement in 2015 so we will see what happens in the new year and hope that further cut backs don't get in the way of us wheelchair users.

  • Hypocrite Harpers office inaccessible to wheelchair users

    Hypocrite Harpers office inaccessible to wheelchair users

    Having bleated on about how all shops and restaurants around the UK should improve access to wheelchair users, it must have come as a bit of an embarrassment when Mark Harper was accused of hypocrisy when it was found his own high street constituency offices were not accessible by wheelchair with a lack of suitable ramps and door ways wide enough.

    His office in Cinderford High Street invites all including the disabled however the large stone step outside his front door provides a bit of an obstacle for wheelchairs. having launched a survey only last week stating that a fifth of shops were excluding wheelchair-users, this must be a tad awkward for him.

    You can see the survey here@ http://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2014/12/disabledgo-study-shocks-the-government-with-evidence-of-inaccessible-british-high-streets/

    That confident, Mr Harper told businesses that they were “missing a trick by not doing more to tap into this market” and that improving accessibility was “a no-brainer”. He was the one who launched the Accessible Britain Challenge where he challenged all communities to make accessibility easier for all disabled including improving wheelchair access.

    To be fair, Mr Harper went on to say "If any wish to meet me to discuss an issue in person at a surgery, then I hold these on a regular basis in accessible venues around the constituency. A small proportion of constituents call at the office in Cinderford in person. If a wheelchair user was to do so, then we do have a ramp available.”

    However, his constituency team has repeatedly refused to answer key questions from DNS about the access arrangements in the office.

    This lead to Mr Liam Proudlock, a disabled access consultant to interfere, stating that he was not too happy about this. Having looked in to it further he assessed the access and states it could be possible to use a temporary ramp to allow access for some wheelchair-users, but because of the slope it would need to be “quite a specialist ramp that has a wedge at one end, and turning through the narrow doorway and over the threshold would in fact be very difficult”.

    “In fact, the Disability Discrimination Act required physical adaptations as long ago as 1999 and ‘reasonable’ adjustments including physical alterations to premises should have been complete by 2004. So Mr Harper really doesn't have a leg to stand on ! and needs to sort our wheelchair access real soon.

  • Bus operator wins wheelchair court judgement

    Rightly or wrongly Bus companies are not required legally to force parents with babes in buggies to make way for wheelchair users in designated bays on vehicles, senior judges ruled on 8th December 2014. Having experience of both we can see it from both sides and agree that people should vacate designated spaces for disabled users if they are able to.

    This all kicked off about 3 years ago when Doug Paulley a 36 wheelchair user was denied access to a First bus going to Leeds when a woman with a pushchair refused to move because her baby was asleep. Paul who wanted to board the bus in Wetherby to visit his parents in Leeds in February 2012 was told to wait for another one. At that time First Bus, the operator concerned, had a policy of "requesting but not requiring" non-disabled travellers, including those with babies and pushchairs, to vacate space needed by a wheelchair user.

    In September 2014 during a court hearing the county court judge said the firm's policy was in breach of the Equality Act 2010 and so Mr Paulley was awarded £5,500 in damages and Lord Justice Lewison commented: "The judge seems to me to have thought that the needs of wheelchair users trumped all other considerations".

    So is this reasonable ? Mr Pauleys lawyers don think it is and are already trying for appeal in the supreme court, being the highest in the land to try to overturn this ruling which is of course of paramount importance to many of us wheelchair users.

  • International flight for wheelchair users

    A friend recently travelled to Australasia taking his wheelchair with him and was very impressed with the help and service he received from Air New Zealand. They seem to cater for wheelchair users and their travelling companions better than most airlines and provide a range of graded packages to match your dependence on your wheelchair, ranging from total dependence on your wheelchair for mobility to wheelchair use for long distances only plus your requirements for transfer to the seat.

    Manual and electric wheelchairs are catered for - read more here

    It would be good to think that other airlines could get as accommodating when it comes to booking options for people with wheelchairs. They also publish some excellent material on their services for wheelchair users and seem to have a very well organised policy for those who would require assistance in the case of an emergency.

    Read more here

    Using SSR codes, that is Special Service Requests they seem to have move eventualities covered and certainly make wheelchair users feel very welcome. Although all airlines use these codes to help identify just what level of assistance you require Air New Zealand seem to provide the most detailed service including catering for electric wheelchairs although they do point out that powerchairs that do not fold cannot always be accommodated on certain smaller aircraft types.

  • Wheelchair users paying more for taxi rides !

    For some time some taxi operators have been charging more for carrying wheelchair users than they would for others.

    There is now a call for a ban on taxis charging wheelchair users more being headed up by Ian Austin the MP for Dudley, backed up by disability groups who say that equality law needs to be strengthened to tackle this seemingly widespread practice of overcharging of passengers with wheelchairs.

    Nottingham, Hull, Middlesbrough, Manchester and a number of other places have been making this excessive charge. So Mr Austin has been on to the Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan asking that they try to ensure that wheelchair users pay the same fares as others.

    Let's hope this can be legislated sooner rather than later. Whereas i can see that carrying a wheelchair may be a little more involved than your average fare, it does seem insensitive and suitable to increase the tariff for the user of a wheelchair.

  • Dogs are wheelchair users best friend

    Dogs are wheelchair users best friend in more than one way it seems. Many time have i heard the story that a wheelchair users dog is a social ice breaker and helps to encourage communication that may not otherwise occur.

    We have experienced this too, whereby if we go out with the wheelchair we seem not to attract much in the way of passers by in the park or on a walk. Introduce the dog in to the equation and its a different ball game entirely. Suddenly we become dog owners who happen to need the use of a wheelchair.

    Dogs are notably mans best friend and this is just one of the ways we can see why. I read a great article in the mail newspaper about a lady who is wheelchair bound and depends on her trained assistant dog for more and more including unlikely chores about the house, including washing, shopping and even collecting the post.

    Formerly a teacher, Mrs Cornwall was left semi paralised following a climbing accident in the 1980's. She has continued to work most of the time since and aims to lead as normal life as is possible. So not content with getting her dog to fetch the post or her slippers she has managed to train basil her Bishon Frise Poodle cross to do much more.

    Dog aid is a charity that provides canine help to disabled folk including wheelchair users. They do this by encouraging disabled dog owners to train their own pet dog to assist them with daily tasks. The training usually takes place at the client’s home and in their normal environment; occasionally it may be appropriate for the client to attend classes held by their trainer.

    Mrs Cornwall, whose injuries included a collapsed lung, broken bones in her neck and back and a broken spinal cord, is heavily reliant on her wheelchair for much of the day both at home and out and about. She comments:

    "Basil inspires confidence in me and gives me a lot of practical help as well as being very loving. Before I got him people would feel uncomfortable speaking to me because of my wheelchair, but now they open up"

    Which is something we have heard many times from all users including those with electric wheelchairs. So why not read the article and see if a pooch can feature in your life, there are also some great photos !

    'People see me as a dog owner who happens to be in a wheelchair rather than as a disabled person. Basil is delightful and very much a part of our family.'

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2909607/Basil-Bichon-Frise-helps-wheelchair-bound-owner-washing-collecting-post-doing-shopping.html

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