Frank Lackner fights for more accessibility in public spaces. In 1991, he and a friend founded the International Citizens' Initiative for Wheelchair Users' Interests, or INTERROLLI in short. What improvements he would like to see in disabled toilets and how else he rolls, he tells us on REHACARE.com.
Name: Frank Lackner Age: 56 City: Göttingen, Germany Occupation: Administrative employee of the City of Göttingen Disability: Spastic paraplegia
Frank Lackner: Having nice and helpful people around me, my work with the city of Göttingen and with the INTERROLLI citizens' initiative, if goals of the initiative are achieved.
Which auxiliary means or daily living aids are indispensable for you?
Frank Lackner: Active folding wheelchair and power wheelchair, as well as certain toiletries, as I could not be largely independent without them.
What would you like to see from society and your fellow people in dealing with people with disabilities?
Frank Lackner: More helpfulness towards disabled people and more interest in the concerns of disabled people. Especially after the corona pandemic, many people have become more indifferent and disrespectful towards disabled people.
Which assistive device would urgently need to be invented and/or improved?
Frank Lackner: More ramps and lifts should be built, especially in public buildings. For back-impaired wheelchair users who cannot do their emergency urination on a toilet (like me), more couches (no small and too high changing tables) would have to be installed in public disabled toilets at a height of 50 cm above the toilet room floor. In addition, there is not yet enough low-floor transport. The International Citizens' Initiative for Wheelchair Users' Interests (INTERROLLI), for example, is campaigning for these goals.
Frank Lackner wants to be able to participate in all areas of public life. This is what he is fighting for with his INTERROLLI initiative.
What has been your biggest challenge so far that you have mastered – and what has helped you?
Frank Lackner: Surviving blood poisoning twice, climbing onto changing tables (70 cm above the floor) when going to the toilet in ICE trains and using escalators in Hamburg, Essen and Vienna. The assistance of doctors and passers-by was very important.
What can the assistive technology industry learn from the Corona pandemic to make life easier and/or better for people with disabilities in the future? Frank Lackner: Nowadays, wheelchairs, for example, are made in the Far East using sometimes inferior materials with a shorter lifespan ("to break quickly") and spare parts are harder to come by. But that was already the case before Corona. Apart from that, disabled people should not be disadvantaged in hospitals due to triage.
If nothing was impossible: Who would you like to meet one day and why?
Frank Lackner: The Federal President of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the President of the European Commission, Dr Ursula von der Leyen. I like both of them very much and, because of their high political positions, they could perhaps make a difference for people with disabilities.
What was your best REHACARE experience?
Frank Lackner: REHACARE 2022, even though it was not that interesting for me in terms of the exhibition products. This was the first time I appeared as a product presenter for disabled toilet couches. By the way, I also managed to do the same at the IAA Transport Fair 2022 in Hanover and the Cable Car World mountain railway fair 2022 in Essen. What I wanted to say...
About INTERROLLI: The International Citizens' Initiative for Wheelchair Users' Interests (INTERROLLI) is an international group of physically disabled and non-disabled people who have got to know each other over the last 32 years, mainly through advertising and signature campaigns. INTERROLLI is committed to ensuring that public buildings and means of transport are as accessible as possible for wheelchair users, people with walking difficulties and people who use prams. The initiative, which has its headquarters in Göttingen, currently has 155 members from 15 countries.
INTERROLLI is currently working on the topics "Wheelchair-friendly equipment of railway trains and public buildings with disabled toilet couches and ramps", "Wheelchair-friendly equipment of vending machines in car parks and petrol stations" and "Equipment of public disabled toilets with toilet couches and improved emergency calls".