As regular readers will know, I am a bit of an advocate when it comes to accessibility and mobility issues and, from time to time, do address these subjects. Those subjects are of particular interest to me as I have to use a wheelchair as my mobility is severely restricted because of multiple sclerosis.
Occasionally, I come across something that simply deserves to be highlighted because it fulfills a need that people with disabilities have. For example, someone who needs a wheelchair to get about has a general choice of a manual or motorized one.
A manual one either has to be self-propelled, if the user is physically able to do so, or be pushed, so the wheelchair user has to relinquish independence and rely on someone else.
The alternative, as I have discovered, is not much better. Motorized wheelchairs are great to use, easy to maneuver and control and give the user the feeling of real independence. However, they have a major downside too – and that is their weight. They are so heavy.
In fact, anyone that uses a motorized chair and wants to take it to different places needs a specially adapted vehicle with either a hoist, ramp or elevator platform to load the chair on board.
BUT, there is an answer to the problem. There are now good quality, lightweight, folding motorized chairs that make the old problems disappear:
- They give the user the independence provided by all motorized chairs;
- They fold-up in seconds to go in the boot (trunk) of even a small car;
- They are light enough to be lifted easily into and out of a car by one person;
- Their batteries simply pull out in seconds to be transported separately on aircraft;
- They are light enough to be carried on and off tenders if the user is going on a cruise holiday.
Talking of cruises, here is a report from Emma. She had just taken delivery of one such folding motorized chair from Better Products for Disabled People. This is her story:
Earlier this month my husband and I set off on our first ever cruise, heading to the Norwegian Fjords. We had been recommended cruising for its excellent accessibility but had no idea what it would be like.
We were taking my new folding motorized wheelchair but were concerned after the warnings from the cruise company about narrow doors and door thresholds. We need not have worried.
For a week I had more freedom than I’ve had at any point since my MS took most of my eyesight; I could navigate the ship just fine, the wheelchair took it all in its stride. Door thresholds were no problem; narrow corridors and doors were only an issue because of my lack of sight and skill and I improved quickly.
The battery handled it brilliantly; I spent at least eight hours a day in the wheelchair zooming around deck, attending shows, going to meals or out on excursions and never had a single problem.
What I did have were lots of admiring glances which turned into questions about where I got my wheelchair from and how I like it. Who would have thought I would be a travelling sales woman? BPDP folding electric wheelchair you are an international lifesaver.
Now, you cannot say better than that. Much to the relief of my wife, Lisa, my BPDP chair is on order. When it arrives, we’ll have the best of both worlds. I’ll get my independence back as I use a motorized chair and it will come out and go back into the car as simply as a manual chair.