An Industry Unites for National Mobility Awareness Month

National Mobility Awareness MonthAs industries go, adaptive automotive accessibility is a fairly narrow niche — and that’s why the success of National Mobility Awareness Month is so noteworthy.

Several years ago, members of the industry decided to raise the profile of adaptive automotive equipment and the freedom it can offer to people who use wheelchairs or have mobility-related conditions.

The result has become a popular and exciting tradition — one that reaches more consumers, caregivers and clinicians each year and educates them along the way.

“The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is proud to announce that we will promote May 2016 as National Mobility Awareness Month for the fifth year consecutive year and launch the Local Heroes Contest in mid-April,” said Chuck Hardy, NMEDA VP of quality assurance & compliance. “Again this year, we expect to receive donations from our generous sponsors that will allow NMEDA to offer completely adapted lowered-floor minivans, customized to their needs, to three deserving winners. Chrysler, Toyota and Honda have all supported the program with vehicles in the past, along with conversion manufacturers BraunAbility, Vantage Mobility International and ElDorado National.”

One reason for Mobility Awareness Month’s expansive reach is the format of the vehicle giveaway, which encourages interactivity among consumers who participate, their families and friends, their local NMEDA dealers, and adaptive automotive OEMs, conversion manufacturers and accessibility component manufacturers.

“The contest will be structured similar as previous years,” Hardy explained. “People who have a disability or their caregivers can enter the contest by submitting their written or video story explaining what makes them a ‘local hero’ in their communities. That is, what have they done to give back to others and become an inspiration to those around them? The stories are placed online, and the contestants get their friends and relatives to vote. The idea of the contest is to spread the word, creating awareness through social media about the types of automotive mobility solutions available that can contribute to a person’s freedom and independence, while showing how inspirational and giving people with disabilities can be in their everyday lives.”

While the contest is energizing and engaging, NMEDA and program sponsors also use it as an opportunity to teach and share.

“People can earn extra votes by answering questions about mobility solutions and becoming better educated about mobility products,” Hardy said.

The results speak for themselves.

“Over the past four years, National Mobility Awareness Month has generated more than 5,200 entries, which were viewed by more than 12.5 million Web site visitors and produced more than 3 billion media impressions,” Hardy said. “NMEDA member dealers and healthcare providers get involved by helping contestants write and promote their stories. This is the single largest consumer outreach program NMEDA sponsors, and so far it has increased awareness tremendously among people with disabilities and the general public.”

Does that sound like your idea of fun, advocacy and education? Find out more about 2016’s National Mobility Awareness Month and previous Local Hero winners at mobilityawarenessmonth.com.

This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Mobility Management.

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