Jeans Designed for Wheelchair users

A paralyzed designer has created comfortable and stylish jeans specifically for women who use wheelchairs.

When you think about it, most of our clothing is made around a standard design without much consideration for the needs of people with disabilities. This is now set to change because of the influence of a lady called Heidi McKenzie, a T4 paraplegic who has designed a whole new jeans collection canned Alter Ur Ego, which have been created with people who use wheelchairs in mind.

Discovering a niche

Heidi, who was left paralysed at the age of 21 from a serious car accident, first came up with the idea when she discovered she was not alone in experiencing difficulty finding comfortable yet flattering clothes that could fit a seated figure.

Heidi took part in Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky 2012, and after talking with her fellow competitors about their own issues with suitable clothing, she sparked off an idea in her mind that would lead to her branching into the fashion world.

Now aged 29, Heidi teamed up with designer Kristin Alexadra Tidwell, and together they came up with the design for a functional and adaptable pair of jeans that would feel comfortable and look good on a wheelchair user.

Not just for the ladies

The jeans have been adapted to fit both men and women, include large side pockets that are easy to access, are made with Spandex for ultimate comfort, as well as being cut with a high-waisted back and tummy control panel. There is also a discreet catheter opening.

Designed to fit the needs of wheelchair users, Heidi has done away with the useless front and back pockets found on regular style jeans, as well as incorporating a hight fit on the waist that prevents the jeans cutting into your hips while sitting. The special design also makes the jeans easier for users to pull on and off.

Heidi had always wanted to work in fashion, and that is what she was concentrating on before her tragic car accident. After her recuperation, she restarted her plan and graduated from a small business programme before taking an accelerated course on how to start a clothing line.

Changing focus

Originally, Heidi wanted to own her own fashion retail store, but her accident helped her to realise that she could design her own range of clothing for wheelchair users because of her first hand experience.

While researching and studying, she found that most adaptable clothing has always been targeted towards the elderly, and what she was seeing was not really fashionable or flexible enough for people to express their own individual tastes or personalities.

The main aim for her designs, other than fashion and comfort, is for the wearer to be able to feel confident while wearing their jeans because they were made for wheelchair users.

A bright future

So far, Heidi has received nothing but compliments for her forward thinking designs, even to a point where non-wheelchair users have noticed the useful side pockets on the jeans, and have asked where they can buy a pair.

The great news is that Heidi is not going to stop at only designing jeans for her Alter Ur Ego range. She also plans to design and launch a whole range of sustainable clothing that will include dresses, jackets and blouses.

All the new designs she has in mind will be specifically for wheelchair users, and she hopes that her new clothing ranges will help to give her customers confidence to express themselves, and to break down more social barriers.

Mobility Scooter Pensioner Loving His McDonald’s drive-through

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Mobility Scooter Pensioner Loving His McDonald’s drive-through

Eyebrows were raised in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, after a pensioner drove his mobility scooter through a McDonald’s drive-thru.

The grandfather was seen to join the drive-through queue at his local McDonald’s restaurant rather than use a car parking space provided by the restaurant for their customers who choose to enter by foot.

Bemused drivers watched as the elderly gentleman pulled up to place his food order at the window, then after his food was delivered, put it carefully into the shopping basket on the front of his mobility scooter.

Customer Jonathon Owens was in his car in the queue just in front of the hungry pensioner, and at first thought that he was intending to cross the road in his scooter, but instead he watched as the gentleman pulled up behind him to wait his turn.

Mr Owens than reported that the pensioner collected his order, and drove off down the road with a Big Mac in his shopping basket. He said that the McDonald’s staff who were serving at the drive-through appeared highly amused with their elderly visitor, as they waved him happily on his way.

Photographs of the pensioner, taken by Mr Owens, riding his scooter around the drive-through have been circulated and liked on Facebook, with one commenter claiming that the gentleman was his grandfather. Commenting, Luke Griffin, said that his grandfather was a unique guy, and everyone in town knows him.

Can Mobility Scooters legally use a Drive-through?

This event does raise the question should mobility scooter users be allowed to use drive-through restaurants.

According to the McDonald’s restaurant website, mobility scooters that are road taxed and are licensed to use the road can use their drive-through’s like any other motor vehicle. The drive-through lanes have been custom built to accommodate motor cars, vans, and road-worthy mobility scooters, so the restaurant have no problem with licensed scooter drivers using the restaurant’s drive through facilities.

However, the McDonald’s website also states that the health and safety of their customers and employees is of top priority. It is for these reasons that drive-through windows are unable to serve customer on foot, bicycle riders, horse riders, or any horse-drawn vehicles. This also extends to mobility scooters that are not built for road travel.

Customers on mobility scooters that are not built for road travel are welcomed in their restaurants, and should be able to ride their mobility scooters directly into the restaurant wherever possible, via disabled access and purpose built ramps.

Disabled mother banned from drive-through

Despite the rules over mobility scooters being very clear on the restaurant website, one lady was banned from a McDonald’s drive-through when she took her 5 year old son as a passenger, and attempted to use the window to place her order.

Tina Cougill has now been barred from using the drive-through while carrying her child. The disabled 48 year old was too unwell to walk into the restaurant with her son, so instead she sat him on her lap while using her scooter in the drive-through.

The McDonald’s restaurant in Keighley, West Yorkshire, stated that the vehicles are allowed in the drive-through, but for health and safety reasons – not while carrying extra passengers.

From Wheelchair To Tank? The Story Of An Epic Transformation

A Shropshire man pays tribute to his WWII Veteran dad by making over his wheelchair to look like a tank.

Peter Shaw, 60, hit upon the idea for the transformation after his father’s standard wheelchair became stuck in the sand while visiting a beach. His idea was to convert the wheelchair to be able to manoeuvre just like the tanks that his father bravely fended off in action during his military service.

Community help

After discussing his idea for the conversion with a few friends, news of his project got out to the local community. People were happy to help, and his makeover was given a helping hand with many parts being donated by local businesses.

With the kind assistance of three friends, it took Mr Shaw just 30 hours over one weekend to perform the transformation, and cost around £500 in total for the rebuild.

Powered by a 4.5 bhp Honda engine, which was fitted into the frame of a motorised wheelbarrow, the wheelchair is still operated from behind.

The inspiration behind the build

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Mr Shaw said, “My dad was attacked by tanks during the Second World War — so I thought it would be fitting to create him this. He never got chance to ride them but managed to fight one off with anti-tank missiles. Now this is his chance to have his own little tank.”

With a top operational speed of 8 mph, the tank-chair is able to reverse, making it easier to navigate in and out of confined spaces, and Mr Shaw even fitted a van seat to the framework to make journeys more comfortable for his father.

Now that his wheelchair has been modified, mainly using a motorised wheelbarrow and some tank tracks, the new tank wheelchair means that Eddie Shaw, 96, can now visit the beach as many times as he likes without trouble. He is reported to be really pleased with his new wheelchair, and has successfully road-tested it on the beach where he first became stuck.

Eddie Shaw served as a sergeant during world war two, supplying essential ammunition and fuel to soldiers fighting on the front line and in enemy territory. He courageously fought off a German tank attack with an anti-tank weapon, while serving in an Algerian minefield in 1942.

New-found freedom

The wheelchair does bring back memories of the war for Mr Shaw, but he is more than thrilled with the new upgrades made to his chair by his son and his son’s friends, and this will now allow him better access to enjoy the beaches and the Welsh countryside that he has longed to visit for some time now.

The new-found freedom that Peter Shaw has given to his father has been life-changing for the both of them. For Eddie, being confined to a wheelchair isn’t exactly fun, but with the new and improved manoeuvrability of the chair, both father and son can now enjoy environments that were previously off-limits to them.

Mobility Scooters To Be Better Catered For On Some Public Transport

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Despite the difficulties experienced by some mobility scooter users while trying to use the nations network train services, other public transport sectors are looking to improve their service for passengers with disabilities.

For the first time ever, mobility scooter users are going to be able to travel aboard buses and trams as part of a new trial being introduced by transport bosses.

Disability organisations and charities have long been campaigning for a change to allow disabled people to have equal rights regarding the use of public transport. Fortunately, Transport for Edinburgh listened to the concerns being voiced, and are introducing a trial on not only on their bus services, but also on their trams too.

Scooters not allowed

Up until now, mobility scooters have not been allowed on board due to the obvious challenges of manoeuvring them on and off vehicles. The potential risk of accidents and injury to fellow travellers was too great to be allowed, especially during peak times with crowded vehicles.

Disability campaigners were outraged to learn that scooters were not to be allowed on the city’s new tram system when they first started running last year. They called the decision ‘outright discrimination’, and was deemed as humiliating for the city’s many scooter users.

However, the concerns of disabled passengers were raised at the Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams board meeting, held in July this year. It was agreed that the company will facilitate a trial to include both the bus and tram service, a paper is now being drawn up, and the implementation of the trial will be delegated by the respective transport boards.

Issues to overcome

Obviously, the health and safety concerns of all passengers must be considered, and Edinburgh Trams are currently discussing the technical issues with vehicle manufacturers and infrastructure engineers, in partnership with the city council.

Lothian Buses are also paying close attention to the Confederation of Passenger Transport guidelines regarding the carriage of mobility scooters aboard buses, and are taking into consideration any difficulties that scooter users face while using public transport services in general.

Campaigners may be glad that transport bosses are taking their issues seriously, but if the trial proves successful, it could mean a ground-breaking move has been taken for the rights of disabled passengers in other parts of the country too.

In an ideal world, no disabled person should be discriminated against while assessing public transport services. If this trial proves successful, it could mean the adoption of new industry standard guidelines for catering for disabled mobility scooter users.

Logistically, it is anticipated that allowing mobility scooters aboard trams will prove easier that for buses. There is more space available aboard trams that can allow for greater manoeuvrability.

Further details of the trial will be discussed at a meeting scheduled for October. Transport bosses are keen to improve their transport provision across all of their services, but they are aware that buses and trams are very different in structure, so careful consideration will be given to the practicalities of each form of transport when drawing up a final plan.

Other considerations

Other issues that will need to be considered is for mobility scooter access during peak commuting times where buses and trams may already be full to capacity. Mobility scooters come in a wide range of sizes, so it will be difficult to cater for every type of scooter on buses that are already packed with passengers.

Space allocation for mobility scooters aboard both trams and buses is also another tricky area. We have to remember that a mobility scooter user wanting to travel into the city to go shopping will undoubtedly need to return home carrying any number of shopping bags, which can add to the difficulty of accessibility, and for passengers to easily move past scooters that are positioned near the door.

There may also be additional issues with mobility scooter users with limited ability to manoeuvre safely on and off public transport using a confined allocated space.

Possible objections

There may also be concerns voiced by non disabled passengers who may be worried that allowing extra time for mobility scooters to use the services will result in the service slowing down. This could impact negatively on traffic congestion, as well as potentially causing passengers to be late for work, and possibly miss other timed appointments.

There could also be difficulties with deciding who gets priority for an allocated space when there is both a wheelchair user and a mobility scooter user vying for the same spot.

Most buses already in operation across the city have provision for wheelchair users. However the access ramps used by wheelchair users will probably not be sufficient for use by anyone driving a mobility scooter on board. There is a weight restriction on access ramps, and it is thought that an average mobility scooter would already be close to, if not over the maximum weight allowance without the added weight of the scooter user.

Wheelchair allocated spaces on public transport would also be considered as too small to accommodate the much large size of mobility scooters aboard buses and trams, so this will also need to be addressed before the trial begins.