Whether they use public transportation or their own vehicle – self-determined mobility is paramount to people with disabilities. So much so that it prompted the emergence of a new branch of industry that caters to the unique needs of this target audience with increasingly customized services and supports.
Mobility comes in many shapes and sizes. For some, the right wheelchair with the proper fit that enables participation in public transport or wheelchair accessible ridesharing services like BerlKönig is just the ticket. Others prefer more flexibility and adapt motor vehicles to meet their specific needs. Whether it’s a regular car or a VW Bulli Bus – the sky is the limit when it comes to vehicle modifications.
Depending on the physical impairment and disability, there are many options for adapted vehicles. People with disabilities simply need to select the right option for them. Considerations should already start with the car door. Do you need a wheelchair lift to help you inside the car? Or do you need a transfer seat to access the driver or passenger seat? The latter is often not an easy feat for new wheelchair users. That is why F. Sodermanns Automobile GmbH decided to develop a mobile training assist device that helps drivers to practice wheelchair to car transfers.
The transfer from wheelchair to car can be trained with the REHA-SLIDE.
"The REHA-SLIDE is a car training device that features a rotatable and pivoting slide board, and a steering wheel that is adjustable in height and length," explains Sodermanns consulting specialist Jochen Rieß. He talks about the targeted environment for the training device and describes the specific opportunities it provides for wheelchair users in a REHACARE.com interview.
Once drivers have mastered the art of getting and transferring to their cars and installed all needed car adaptations, there is nothing stopping them from enjoying self-determined mobility. However, sometimes they might consider testing and practicing their driving skills – especially when it comes to car modifications – to warrant continued safe travels. Many providers in Germany offer driver safety training programs. Some are geared towards drivers who are newly wheelchair bound after an accident. One of these providers is the Berufsgenossenschaft der Bauwirtschaft (BG BAU, the German Social Accident Insurance Institution for the Building Trade). It offers basic and advanced seminars.
Safety plays a major role in road traffic – whether with or without disabilities.
"Our goal is to help participants learn about the latest developments in adaptive technologies and allow them to test their skills as part of our seminars," explains Thomas Lucks, press officer for BG BAU. "The team of moderators consists of a mobility expert who is severely handicapped following a motorcycle accident, a disability driving instructor, and a sports rehabilitation therapist. This setup ensures effective support." Learn about cases where these seminars are especially helpful in our article "Mobility: Safe travels with adapted motor vehicles".
Whether the issue is transferring between car and wheelchair or learning how to use adaptive vehicle controls – driving expertly and safely is the key to getting and staying mobile with a disability. Self-determined mobility is twice as much fun when knowledge of traffic laws and safe driving practices have become second nature.