Category Archives: Wheelchairs

Wheelchair enabled Uber vehicles added to London fleet

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Uber launches 55 wheelchair-accessible vehicles in London that can be booked via the Uber app. Calling the new fleet of specially adapted vehicles ‘UberWAV’, the vehicles will be able to be called with a simple push of a button for the same rate as UberX fares.

The efforts towards improving vehicle accessibility for disabled travellers has been seen as a positive move by many, and accessibility charities were able to help in the development of the new Uber service. This will also help Brighton councillors with their decision to grant Uber a licence to operate in the town after questions were raised about options for wheelchair users.

Uber have announced that they are to invest more than £1m into the scheme over the next 18 months to help establish the project in London. The launch of UberWAV has been supported by Scope, Whizz-Kidz and Transport for All.

The new wheelchair-accessible vehicles will be fully equipped with a rear-entry ramp, winch and restraints, allowing wheelchair users to travel with one additional companion. 55 new vehicles are being introduced into their current fleet, but the company plan to increase this number to more than 100 vehicles over the next few months.

The UberWAV project is being launched with an expected waiting time of about 25 minutes in Zones 1-2 and around 40 minutes in Zones 3-4 during the first few weeks of the roll-out.

As the service expands the company hope to improve on the waiting times with the introduction of more adapted vehicles. The project is making the headlines as one of the biggest investments ever to happen in the area of accessible private hire in London.

Despite facing opposition from already wheelchair accessible black cabs, the new Uber service is seen as a step in the right direction from leading disability charities such as Whizz-Kids. The introduction of the new initiative has been welcomed because it will give disabled people living in London more choice when planning their travel around the city.

Currently, London is the only place in the UK where UberWAV has been implemented, and Uber hope this will be the catalyst for expansion into other cities around the country. It is thought that the company have been keen to launch wheelchair accessible vehicles for a while. A recent court case settlement in California after Uber drivers had been accused of turning away disabled passengers with guide dogs is thought to have also added to the pressure to roll out adapted vehicles across their fleets.

Black cabs in London are already able to carry disabled passengers due to their large doors, folding back seats and ample available space. This presents obvious competition to Uber, so launching adapted vehicles has given them more chance to be competitive in the private hire market.

The introduction of the adapted vehicles has come at a time that has seen the launch of a potential rival to Uber in London. Karhoo is an app that allows travellers to compare prices and book licensed taxis and private hire vehicles – this includes everything from black cabs to executive cars.

Karhoo will enable users to access more choice with over 30,000 vehicles in London. There will be no surge pricing during peak times, unlike Uber, and users can book multiple journeys and be given a final price at the time of booking. The company offer their customers better transparency with their bookings to make it easier than ever to travel in and around London.

Wheelchair Users in the Wirral are Streets ahead with Taxi Services

With the introduction of new rules about carrying disabled passengers, Wirral taxi drivers have come out ahead of the game over their legal duty to carry wheelchair users.

According to new legislation, taxi drivers across the UK face a legal duty to carry wheelchair using passengers. In an announcement made by Transport Minister Andrew Jones, he said he aimed to implement anti-discrimination measures by the end of the year after bowing to pressure to end two decades of inaction after the law was first approved by Parliament.

Taxi drivers in the Wirral have shown renewed support for these measures, however they are already well ahead of the new laws as they have been enforcing these rules locally for the past 14 years!

The forward thinking Wirral Council had already adopted the rules, and since 2002, it has been a requirement that all hackney taxis licensed by Wirral Council have had to be wheelchair-accessible.
This rule has been part of the conditions of licence by the council for a number of years, and they stipulate that hackney carriage vehicles must have wheelchair ramps and securing straps within the vehicle at all times.

A council spokesman commented to local press, “Before the council grants a licence for a hackney carriage or private hire driver licence, the applicant has to obtain a recognised qualification.”

A course undertaken by taxi drivers leads towards this qualification, and includes a module that covers the legal aspect and practicalities of safely transporting wheelchair users. The course is for both hackney carriages and private hire vehicles operating in the Wirral area, and reinforces the rule that all drivers must carry guide dogs at no extra cost. This has been the case in the Wirral area since the introduction of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Any complaints received by the council from the general public about these requirements not being adhered to properly have been quickly addressed, and the system has worked well for many years.

Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, guide dog and wheelchair users cannot be refused access to taxis and other private hire vehicles. However, only the guide dog sections were ever brought into force, leaving many wheelchair users unable to use many taxi and private hire services, despite the wheelchair provisions being included in the Equality Act of 2010.

According to the legislation, a taxi must carry a passenger in their chair at no extra charge and “take such steps as are necessary to ensure that the passenger is carried in safety and reasonable comfort”. Taxi drivers must also allow disabled passengers to ride in the passenger seat if they so wish, and transport the passengers wheelchair along with them at no extra charge, and give the passenger such mobility assistance as is reasonably required.

Disability campaigners welcomed the news, but were also concerned about the enforcement of the rules, especially with regard to guide dog owners. Many disabled people with guide dogs have complained about them still being refused by some drivers.

With the laws now being tightened up, it is hoped that taxi drivers will realise they have a clear duty to assist passengers with guide dogs and wheelchairs, and making it a criminal offence to charge them extra for carrying wheelchairs or guide dogs.

Champion Wheelchair Fencer now training for Rio Olympics

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Ranked as world number one in wheelchair fencing, Piers Gilliver from Gloucestershire has now set his sights on scoring gold in the Paralympic games to be held in Rio de Janeiro this year.

Piers, aged 21, can be regularly found training for his sport through the Cotswold’s Fencing Club in Churchdown and at the Innsworth Community Hall. After taking up fencing as a hobby in 2010, his love of the sport was truly sparked off as a result of watching the fencing at the 2012 London Olympics, and he had since dreamed of going up against the top-ranked fencers he saw at the games.

In the four years since the London Olympics, Piers trained long and hard to learn the sport inside out, and strived to reach his goal of becoming the best. He has certainly come along way from simply fantacising about taking part in the Olympics to actually go ahead to target a gold medal at the next Olympic games.

In an interview with local press, Piers said, “It is just bizarre to think that I am now world number one.”

However, his dreams of attending the games in Rio all hang on his place being confirmed. The Olympic qualification period ends in May, but as Piers is ranked as world number one in the sport, it is thought to be more than likely he will win his place and be attending.

Piers, from Drybrook, has been focused on his training at the Innsworth Community Hall for the next Olympics for the last five months. He told the press: “Gloucester has been brilliant for me; it has really helped my development as a fencer. I think it really important to keep these local connections.”

Despite being wheelchair bound since the age of 11 due to a neuromuscular disorder, Piers has managed to overcome all challenges thrown at him, and has progressed from a novice fencer to world number one in just six short years.

Talking about how he first got started in the sport, he said: “I had always been interested in it as a sport but I started just by chance in Churchdown.” Piers was trained by Kevin Nelson at the Churchdown club, who himself had to take a training course to learn how to train wheelchair fencing. Piers went on to take part in his first ever international event in July 2012.

To achieve world number one ranking is an amazing achievement, and his mother couldn’t be more proud of her son. Jo Gilliver, mother of Piers, told the press: “It is fantastic for me to see my son doing so well. For him to be the world number one is a just the result of a lot of hard work that he has put in, I am so proud.”

We shall all have to keep an eye out for Piers when he goes for gold in Rio this summer! We would like to wish him all the luck in the world. You can follow Piers on twitter https://twitter.com/piersgilliver

Santa Dash Challenge Sees Jacob Ditch his Wheelchair

Brave teenager, Jacob Hunter, ditched his wheelchair to take on a Santa Dash despite suffering from cerebral palsy.

Jacob, from Bolton-on-Dearne, completed his dash just a few days before his 18th birthday, and even managed to cross the finish line in just 39 minutes. Jacob has limited mobility that means he sometimes relies on his wheelchair to get around, but was determined that he would walk the one mile route that was held at Clifton Park in Rotherham on Sunday.

Heidi Hunter, the teenager’s proud mother said during an interview with local press, “I’m very proud of him. It has been such an emotional day in so many ways. Watching Jacob reach his own goal was amazing. I am still speechless at how quickly he did it. Thank you from the bottom of both our hearts. We are just two normal people helping raise money for a good cause.”

The Santa Dash event was organised in aid of the Rotherham Hospice, and has become an annual event. This year it was run on the 13th December, and even though Jacob had originally set himself a target amount of £200 to raise, he has actually far surpassed this figure and managed to raise £415 so far.

Jacob said in an interview with local press, “I enjoyed every minute of the Santa Dash today at Clifton Park. I would just like to say a big thank you to my wonderful mum for putting my name down. I would just like to say a big thank you to all my friends and family for sponsoring me – I really appeciate it. I didn’t think that I would be able to walk one mile round Clifton Park but I did it and I’m very proud of myself. I’m definitely going to do it again next year. I loved every minute of it.”

The annual event organised by Rotherham Hospice sets the scene for hundreds of people dressed up as Santa to complete a one-mile dash around Clifton Park. Everyone taking part is sponsored, and all the money collected goes towards paying for care for the hospice patients and their families. The hospice is only part funded through the NHS, so it has to rely on fundraising events such as the Santa Dash to raise the extra funds needed to keep the hospice running and to continue to provide free care for the patients.

The Santa Dash is open to all ages, and everyone that takes part is awarded with a commemorative medal on completion. Whole families can take part if they wish, and you don’t have to run the mile-long course if you are not up to it, instead you can jog, dash or stroll around at your own pace, and your registration fee even includes a free Santa suit so entrants can dress up just like Santa.

If you would like to donate to Jacobs challenge, see www.justgiving.com/Jacob-Hunter

England win the Wheelchair Rugby League European Championship

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England claim victory and win the Wheelchair Rugby League European Championship beating the former world champions France 28-24.
England team Captain Jack Brown scored the needed points with a hat-trick try after Joe Coyd’s try took the game into extra time.

The chairman of Wheelchair RL, Martin Coyd, said: “England and France are the best two teams in the world.

“We haven’t been near them since 2011. The calmness of the players was fantastic.”

The European cup was held at Medway Park in Kent, and a five team tournament with Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and England competing.

Had you previously heard that the England wheelchair rugby team had been in and won the European Cup?, do you think it needs more exposure in the media?.

How Beach Wheelchairs Are Making UK Coastlines Accessible To The Disabled

Northumberland has some amazingly beautiful beaches, and designer Phil Pugh has been working hard to help disabled wheelchair users have access to the local beaches where they may have had difficulty before.

Working closely with Northumberland County Council and Active Northumberland, Mr Pugh has been looking at specially adapted makes and models of wheelchairs that can move across sand. His project has enabled a local Northumberland boy to experience the joys of the beach for the first time in many years.

Harry Purdy, aged 10, helped to test out the new designs, and his mum Debra, commented in a press interview that she thought the chairs were fantastic. She has not been able to take Harry to the sea front since he was 3 years old.

Debra added: “I would use the chairs regularly and I imagine a lot of other parents would too. I hope the trials continue and the new models are available soon.”

The team, working on Blyth beach, tested out the Tundra model, which is designed to take standard manual wheelchairs, and also the Desert model, which is still in the design stages, should eventually be able to take a whole range of designs.

Trials are still ongoing, and are part of a county wide scheme to help more wheelchair users access the local beaches in the area. It is hoped that feedback from the trials can be put forward during a meeting in October with councilors and Active Northumberland to explore the funding potential to provide beach wheelchairs locally.

You may be surprised to learn that there already are specially adapted wheelchairs made by by some wheelchair manufacturers, and many beach wheelchairs are in use in popular holiday destinations across the world.

Being physically disabled doesn’t mean that you should be deprived of a quality lifestyle, or not to be able to go where you please. So if you love the beach but feel it would be impossible to enjoy it because of your wheelchair, then this will be great news to you!

If you live by the sea, or like to visit the beach regularly, there are some models of beach wheelchairs that have become more affordable recently, and can be an appealing investment if you are going to get good use from it.

Just like with standard wheelchairs, you can get beach wheelchairs in either manual or electric versions. The manual versions are operated by the user, and the electric versions are controlled by either buttons or a joystick.

When you choose to buy a beach wheelchair, you can have it customised to suit your needs, in just the same way as you would with any other sort of wheelchair. So you can choose your favourite colour, upholstery design etc.

Most beach wheelchairs feature sling style seats to ensure a comfortable ride. Some even allow you to attach a sun parasol to the frame so you can enjoy a sunny beach without the risk of sun burn.

Beach wheelchairs are quite flexible because although they have been specifically designed for the beach, you can use them elsewhere too, so a great idea for a beach holiday where you may not want to keep switching chairs each time you leave the beach.

With the UK having more than 1,200 beaches, having the use of a beach wheelchair means that more of the coastline can now be opened up to the disabled, and taking a UK beach holiday is no longer as restrictive as it was before.

It is worth checking if a holiday destination have a beach wheelchair available. So far there is no definitive list of places that do have one, and of the 102 Blue Flag beaches, around 90% are wheelchair accessible, but less than 50% of these actually provide a beach wheelchair for public use.

British woman wins wheelchair tennis Grand Slam

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Jordanne Whiley has become the first British woman to win wheelchair tennis Grand Slam

23 year old Jordanne Whiley from Birmingham is the first British woman to win a wheelchair
tennis Grand Slam singles title after she won the US Open on Sunday 13th September 2015. It was the first womens
single Grand Slam Final that Jordanne had played in.

Jordanne beat the defending World number 3 champion Yui Kamiji of Japan 6-4, 0-6, 6-1, winning the game on the ninth championship point.
She is no stranger to tennis as she is already the UK’s most successful tennis player. After suffering with brittle bone disease doctors told
her she would never play sport again, how very wrong they were.

Jordanne and Yui were previous doubles team mates and are also best friends, it was hard for them to compete against each other but a great match
and Jordanne showed she was the best player, earning the well deserved Grand Slam singles title.

Wheelchair basketball: Great Britain women win Euro bronze

The GB Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team are celebrating after their victory to earn their fifth consecutive European bronze medal!

With their target in mind of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, the Great Britain Women’s team headed out onto court inspired to put in their best performance for the finals of the 2015 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships.

The team struck bronze by convincingly rising to a gritty challenge thrown down by France, and defeated them with a 69-39 win to successfully defend their 2013 bronze medal.

The European Wheelchair Basketball Championships were held this year from the 28th August to the 6th September at the University of Worcester Arena. The championships form part of the UK Sport’s National Lottery funded ‘#EveryRoadtoRio programme’, that supports UK athletes as they prepare and qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Wheelchair Championships saw 19 teams from across 12 nations compete, with the top five men’s teams and top four women’s teams earning their Rio 2016 Paralympic place.

Our GB Women’s team successfully earned both a place in Brazil and the European Championship semi finals achieving 4 out of 6 wins in the group stage of the event, beating Turkey (76-23), France (79-37), Italy (69-10), and Spain (54-50), and only losing out to Germany (39-53) and the Netherlands (52-64).

The bronze medal game saw a nail-biting start with the opening shots not fall for either teams. However, GB forged ahead to be first on the scoreboard after Jordanna Bartlett skilfully managed to sink a fantastic shot (2-0).

France came back to level the game on 2-2, but the GB Women proved too strong, and took it to a 12-2 lead at the end of the opening 10 minutes.

Great Britain continued to put the pressure on, and inspired by their early lead, continued to push forwards in the second quarter, playing their way to a 21 point lead within five minutes. France came back hard to score some points, but in the end Great Britain edged out their opponents by 27-11 to enter half time with a 39-13 advantage.

The third quarter, and the GB Women rallied once again to dominate play at both ends of the court increasing their lead by 59-21 with just 10 minutes left on the clock.

France dug in and put up a gritty performance, but in the final quarter the GB Women’s Team closed out a 69-39 victory, ensuring the nation’s fifth consecutive Women’s European Bronze Medal.

In a press interview with Head Coach Miles Thompson, he said: “Our goal was to get to the final, so it’s disappointing to come in third. But this team, the athletes, are so strong in spirit and the way they approach all the hard work that I couldn’t be prouder and I couldn’t be more optimistic about Rio.”

The Championships have been a result of a collaborative partnership between the British Wheelchair Basketball (BWB), the University of Worcester, with support from Worcestershire County Council, Worcester City Council and Worcestershire Local Enterprise.

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.

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.