So much of the American dream is tied to our cars — preferably with a full tank of gas, a roadmap, blue skies and nothing else to do on a Saturday afternoon — that being unable to drive or enjoy the ride as a passenger automatically robs us of our freedom.
Before and after: In the right combination, hand controls can equal automotive freedom for wheelchair users.
Consumers with mobility-related disabilities or illnesses often face a double challenge: remaining independent in their personal mobility, and then also maintaining their independent mobility on a larger scale. And much as a mobility assessment is an individual experience, so too is creating an accessible automotive solution.
“No two things are ever the same,” says Darrell Frank, sales and service manager of Lift-Aids, Inc. in Euless, Texas. “That’s what’s kept me here for 25 years. It’s never boring.”
Indeed, when asked to give a general overview of the process of getting fitted for an accessible vehicle, Frank can’t answer the question. He wants to know if we are talking about paras or quads, because the level of injury means different abilities and therefore different strategies. Are we talking about manual or power chairs? Different equipment means different vehicles, different lifts. Are we talking about stroke? The side that’s paralyzed makes a big difference in figuring out how someone will open and close the door. Does the person have multiple sclerosis? This progressive disease means different equipment at different stages. Is it ALS, a disease that moves very fast? Finally, Frank explains that there is no standard process.
See how Frank creates a driving system for a consumer affected by thalidomide at TheMobilityProject.com.