Accessibility

Wheelchair user sat at a window in an airport watching a plane take off

Pioneering The Future Of Wheelchair-Friendly Flying

Pioneering the Future of Wheelchair-Friendly Flying – As a wheelchair user, I often imagine the destinations I’d fly to explore if I didn’t have the constant concern of my wheelchair being lost or damaged while flying. Air4all think they have the answer with their innovative approach. This would mean mine and your worries would be a thing of the past. Wheelchair users and air travel don’t normally go hand in hand as there are significant barriers for many of us. The horror stories we all read about seem to be getting worse, rather than better. With Air4all’s solution, these horror stories may become a thing of the past. Are we on the brink of a breakthrough in accessible air travel or is there still a long way to go?

Who Are Air4all?

My understanding after some research and visiting their website. Air4all is a company of three people (Nigel Smith – Director of SWS, Paul Priestman – Designer, Chairman of PriestmanGoode and Christoper Wood MBE – Founder of Flying Disabled) and Sunrise Medical. Have teamed up with an idea of how to enable wheelchair users to fly in their wheelchairs on commercial aeroplanes.

Air 4 All is a consortium formed of PriestmanGoode, Flying Disabled, SWS Certification and Sunrise Medical. Each member of the consortium has a personal and professional commitment to bringing dignity in air travel for everyone. Through a combination of industrial design, passenger experience design, aircraft cabin and airport accessibility, aircraft certification and regulation; and wheelchair design and manufacturing, the consortium has been developing the Air 4 All concept since 2019. It has been recognised as the winner of the Fast Company Innovation by Design 2022 Awards in the Accessible Design category, a finalist in the 2022 Crystal Cabin Awards and has featured in media and conferences dedicated to the topic of accessibility across the world.

Source: Progress on Air 4 All: the system that improves accessible air travel – PriestmanGoode

What Is The Concept?

The concept is to enable wheelchair users to be able to fly while remaining in our own wheelchairs. If this becomes a reality, this would be the next massive advancement for disabled people!  According to the different websites that I have researched. It claims we would enter the plane in our own wheelchair and manoeuvre into a dedicated wheelchair space. We would then be locked to a floor device similar to the ones found in wheelchair-accessible vehicles, or in other cases, tie downs.

Airlines would not lose any revenue as the space dedicated for a wheelchair user would easily transform from a passenger seat into a wheelchair space.

I’m sceptical due to the issues this gentleman has positioning his chair in such a tight space. Also, the amount of room he has used to get into the correct position is just not available on a plane. I doubt this amount of room will be given. So what if you have a wider chair? Is the space adjustable? I have to say, when he finally got in the correct position, he didn’t look like he was comfortable. What are your thoughts?

This video shows even less space available for manoeuvring and uses a locking pin. So does that mean all new wheelchairs are going to be supplied with this pin needed to lock into the floor of a plane? How will this affect those of us needing a pin to lock into our WAVs? All wheelchairs would need to be crash-tested too.

There are many parts to the Air4All project. Whilst the aircraft space will unlock a huge door that has been until now closed, it will be nothing unless a Power Wheelchair is not certified to fly. Working with Sunrise Medical, together we can explore the challenges around ensuring a Power Wheelchair is fit to fly. Design and certification being the primary test.

Source: Air4all | Sunrise Medical

Toileting

We’ve seen the tiny space wheelchair users are expected to get into but what about if you need the toilet? On my very first flight as a wheelchair user, I had to use the aisle chair to get to the toilet. I couldn’t believe what little space there was. (Check out my First time flying as a wheelchair user blog). There is no way I could have used that by myself, let alone get any wheelchair in there.

Conclusion

As much as this is an amazing idea and I can’t wait for it to become a reality. I think that’s all it can be for now, an idea. After seeing the videos above, my thoughts are that there is still a very long way to go. I have been hearing about wheelchair users flying in their own chairs for many many years now. We don’t seem to be any closer than we were all those years ago.

The space is not practical (IMO), airlines will not lose the space that would be needed to enable wheelchair user on the plane in their own chairs. Toileting will be no easier either. The way things stand right now, I don’t see this happening any time soon.

Would you fly more often if you could fly in your own wheelchair? I know I would. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

If you would like to work with me don’t hesitate to Contact Me.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Cruise liner coming into dock

Quick Guide To Cruising as a Wheelchair User: Tips for Accessibility and Enjoyment

Quick Guide To Cruising as a Wheelchair User: Tips for Accessibility and Enjoyment – As a wheelchair user, cruising can be an exciting and liberating way to explore new places and make lasting memories. However, it’s important to be aware of the unique challenges that come with cruising as a person with a disability, and how to overcome them to ensure an enjoyable experience.

Research

The first step is to research the cruise line and ship before booking. Not all cruise ships are equipped with the same level of accessibility, so it’s important to look for ships that offer accessible staterooms, public areas, and dining options. Some ships may have wider hallways, larger elevators, and even hydraulic pool chairs to accommodate wheelchair users. It’s also important to check the ports of call to ensure that they are accessible and offer tours or excursions that can accommodate wheelchair users. Some ports of call are by tender only, so make sure you do check this out.

One challenge that wheelchair users may face on a cruise is finding accessible shore excursions. It’s important to research the accessibility of each excursion before booking. Some excursions may be more challenging for wheelchair users, while others may be more accommodating. It’s also a good idea to ask the excursion provider about the level of accessibility, as they may be able to provide additional accommodations such as a ramp or accessible transportation.

When booking a cruise, it’s important to communicate your needs to the cruise line. Let them know that you are a wheelchair or full-time wheelchair user or will be travelling with a wheelchair and any other equipment you may require, such as a shower chair or hoist. This will give the cruise line an opportunity to prepare and make necessary accommodations.

Onboard

Once onboard the ship, you may find that some areas are more accessible than others. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the layout of the ship and its facilities. The crew and staff are there to help you, so don’t be afraid to ask for assistance if you need it. They can help with embarking and disembarking, carrying luggage, and even getting on and off shore excursions. The crew is there to ensure that all passengers have a safe and enjoyable cruise experience.

When it comes to dining on a cruise, most ships have accessible dining options. It’s important to inform the cruise line of any dietary restrictions or requirements in advance. This will allow them to prepare meals that meet your needs. Some ships may also offer room service as an option if dining in the restaurant is not feasible.

Conclusion

Overall, cruising as a wheelchair user can be a wonderful and memorable experience with proper research and communication with the cruise line. While there may be some challenges, the crew and staff are there to assist and ensure that your cruise experience is enjoyable and comfortable. So, don’t let your disability hold you back from experiencing the adventure and excitement of cruising.

If you would like to work with me don’t hesitate to Contact Me.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Links

Services available to disabled people

Facilities Available To Disabled People – Are You Aware?

Facilities available to disabled people – There are many facilities available to disabled people. The problem is, not everyone is aware of them, hence why I have written this blog. Today, I hope you find a facility that you weren’t aware of before and indeed benefit from it.

I will talk about Motability, Taxi card schemes, freedom passes and even Radar keys. Don’t worry if you are unfamiliar with any of these, you will understand more as I take you through them!

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Eurokey Project

Eurokey (similar to the Raday key)

The Eurokey Project is a facility similar to the Raday key. It enables physically impaired people to independently gain access to disabled sanitary facilities and facilities with a unit key (presumably) across Europe. At the time of writing this, there is currently a time frame of up to 8 weeks for orders to be processed.

Cost: Key – 28.90 Euros
Key with Locus Disabled Toilet Directory: 30 Euros (correct at the time of writing this). Please always check the website for an up-to-date price.

Eligibility

The key is only handed out to people who are dependent on disabled toilets.

The German severely disabled person’s pass is considered an entitlement if
• the mark: aG, B, H, or BL
• or the mark G and the GdB from 70 and upwards is included.

As soon as the severely disabled person’s pass or proof of entitlement is available or has been transmitted with the order, we will send you the invoice in advance.

The following are still entitled to subscribe:
  • severely/exceptionally handicapped;
  • Wheelchair user;
  • stoma carriers;
  • Blind woman;
  • severely disabled persons who are in need of assistance and may need an assistant;
  • multiple sclerosis,
  • Crohn’s disease,
  • Ulcerative colitis sufferers and
  • People with chronic bladder/bowel disease.

Medical proof is always considered sufficient if a disability cannot be proven otherwise. This applies in particular to persons from countries that do not have a comparable identification system. The European parking card for severely disabled persons can also be used as proof here.

Source: Euro WC key: CBF Darmstadt (cbf-da.de)

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Just Can’t Wait Toilet Card

Just can't wait card from bladder & bowel company

Just Can’t Wait Toilet Card is from the Bladder and Bowel Community. They use the universally acknowledged W.C. signage, giving you the benefit of discreet and clear communication for those moments when you just can’t wait to use the toilet.

The Just Can’t Wait card is now available to download to your phone.

Eligibility

No requirements, just a few questions.

Cost: FREE

Source: FREE Just Can’t Wait Toilet Card – Bladder & Bowel Community (bladderandbowel.org)

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Disabled Persons Railcard

Example of disabled rail card

Disabled Persons Railcard can save you a 1/3 off train travel for you and an adult companion. Average savings of up to £91. They are available digitally or as plastic cards.

Eligibility

If you are disabled or have a progressive medical condition you are eligible for the Disabled Persons Railcard if you:

  • in receipt of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or Adult Disability Payment (ADP)
  • receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Child Disability Payment (CDP) at either:
    • the higher or lower rate for the mobility component, or
    • the higher or middle rate for the care component
  •  visual impairment
  • hearing impairment
  • epilepsy
  • receive Attendance Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance or Pension Age Disability Payment (PADP)
  • get War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement
  • receive War or Service Disablement Pension for 80% or more disability
  • buy or lease a vehicle through the Motability scheme

Cost: 1 Year – £20 3 Years – £54

Source: Disabled Persons Railcard | Official Retailer | National Rail (disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk)

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Fuel Service

Fuel service app to get help when filling your car at a petrol station

The Fuel Service app provides disabled drivers with all they need to refuel their cars. FuelService tells you which nearby stations have assistants available who will refuel your car. You can also use fuelService by dialling our interactive voice service or by sending an SMS TXT message.

Cost: FREE

Source: fuelService – Helping disabled drivers refuel their cars

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Blue Badge

Blue Badges help people with disabilities or health conditions park closer to their destination. You can apply for a badge for yourself, on behalf of somebody else or an organisation that transports people that need a Blue Badge.

People who automatically get a Blue Badge

You automatically qualify for a Blue Badge if you are aged 3 or over and at least one of the following applies:

  • you are in receipt of the higher rate of the mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • receive a Personal Independence Payment (PIP) because you can’t walk more than 50 metres (a score of 8 points or more under the ‘moving around’ activity of the mobility component)
  • registered blind (severely sight impaired)
  • you receive a War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement
  • received a lump sum benefit within tariff levels 1 to 8 of the Armed Forces and Reserve Forces (Compensation) Scheme and have been certified as having a permanent and substantial disability that causes inability to walk or very considerable difficulty in walking
  • you receive the mobility component of PIP and have obtained 10 points specifically for descriptor E under the ‘planning and following journeys’ activity, on the grounds that you are unable to undertake any journey because it would cause you overwhelming psychological distress
Eligibility

There are many other reasons you may be entitled to get a blue badge, please visit the website for a full breakdown and more information.

Cost: Individual councils charge different prices, please contact your local council for more information.

Source: Who can get a Blue Badge? – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

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Motability

White circle of petals next to the word Motability on a blue background

Motability is a scheme where you can exchange your qualifying mobility allowance for a brand-new car, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV), scooter or powered wheelchair.

Eligibility

For a full list of benefits and more information about eligibility, please vist their website: Allowances and rates | Motability Scheme

Cost: Individual to each applicant

Source: Motability Scheme | Lease a car, WAV, scooter or wheelchair

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Disabled Persons Freedom Pass

Freedom Pass – The travel pass for disabled people allows free travel across London and free bus journeys nationally. A Disabled Freedom Pass is valid all day every day. London Councils fund all the journeys that are made at those times. Full details: Bus | London Councils

Eligibility

To be eligible for a disabled persons Freedom Pass:

  • Your sole or principal residence in London And

Cost: FREE

Source: Disabled persons Freedom Pass | London Councils

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Taxicard

Taxicard offers subsidised travel in licensed taxis and private hire vehicles to London residents with serious mobility impairments or who are severely sight impaired. It enables members who have difficulty in using buses, trains and tubes to get out and about.

Application details: Apply for Taxicard in your borough | London Councils

Eligibility

I haven’t been able to find any information regarding this on their website.

Cost: Again, I’ve no information. I believe the card is free and you just pay a subsidised taxi fare.

Source: Taxicard | London Councils

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Radar Key

Radar Key The National Key Scheme (NKS) offers disabled people independent access to locked public toilets around the country. Toilets fitted with National Key Scheme (NKS) locks can now be found in shopping centres, pubs, cafés, department stores, bus and train stations and many other locations in most parts of the country.

Eligibility

None

Cost: £5.00 (price correct at time of writing this)

Source: The official and only genuine Radar Key – Disability Rights UK

Passport Services If You’re Disabled

There are free services and facilities to help you with your passport application if you’re disabled.

Source: Passport services – Gov.uk

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More Facilities

I haven’t gone into too much detail as each website explains things about each facility and there is no point boring you with repeating the information. I hope you have found something that helps you and you can benefit from. Of course, if you have any questions, do drop me a line and I will do my best to help you.

As I become aware of more facilities, I will add them to this list so keep checking back. If you know of a facility that can help disabled people, please leave a comment below.

Related Blogs

Blue Badge is Changing

Disabled Facilities: Do You Abuse Them? I Bet You Have!

If you would like to work with me don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

Cartoon strip about facilities for disabled people
Inside an aeroplane toilet to show how small they are.

Stressed & Embarrassed by Taking A Pee With The Door Open & Staff Loitering!

The Degradation Of Peeing With The Door Open & Staff Loitering! – Is this something you would tolerate flying on your hols? I guess not but that is exactly what disabled people are expected to do! That is what I had to do! Oh, and that is IF you can use the toilet in the first place!

Airline Failures

Flying & disability are not two words airlines want to put together!

I’m due to travel to Las Vegas later in the year and one of my big fears among many is what if I can’t use the toilet!  My flight is 11 hours long, I can’t hold myself all that time!  I shouldn’t be expected to either but that’s exactly what airlines are expecting us to do. Anyone who has flown will know just how small the toilets are on an aeroplane. How on earth is any wheelchair user expected to use one is beyond me. More importantly, why are airlines still getting away with this blatant discrimination??

While going through my Twitter, I came across another lady who is also flying in the near future and was asking if anyone knew how she could find the dimensions of the toilet on the type of plane she will be flying on.  This made me realise I wasn’t the only one needing this kind of info. So, I took this opportunity to find out how one would go about searching the dimensions of an aeroplane’s toilet.

I got in touch with BA who couldn’t help, I contacted other airlines but no luck there either. I even contacted several companies including Boeing themselves who I might add never responded.

It Turns out, airlines don’t actually hold this information. I’m left hoping that a nice member of the cabin crew will take the dimensions and pass them on.  So far, trying to research this information has been practically impossible.

Stressed & Embarrassed by Taking A Pee With The Door Open & Staff Loitering! - Aeroplane with an image of what a standard toilet looks like inside the plane.

Availability

Why is this type of information so hard to source? Why can’t airlines have this info available from their accessibility team? Because they don’t want disabled people flying! That’s why! The way airlines treat disabled customers and their wheelchairs/aids are beyond incompetent and disgusting!!

  • This information should be readily available.
  • it should NOT be this difficult to obtain this kind of information directly from the airlines.
  • Information of this nature should be available from their accessibility team.

Now we all understand the business concept of making money but when you are clearly making changes that exclude sections of society because of said business concept, surely this can be deemed as discrimination?  So why, are these airlines allowed to not only continue this behaviour but actually make the situation worse? 

Airlines are doing all they can to discourage disabled people from flying!!!  Oh and it’s not just disabled people, large people also are affected.  People who may need 2 seats instead of 1, (we know how small the seats are too) who also wouldn’t be able to use small toilets.  So why is there not more public outrage??  I’m truly baffled!!

Discrimination

As I’m typing up this blog, the lady on Twitter has just got back to me saying she went into the airport and spoke with the airline in person and got the information she needed.  Why should she have to do that?  Couldn’t the airline have given her the info over email/telephone when she/I first asked? An able-bodied flyer wouldn’t have had to do this!!

Equality Act 2010 Says
Equality Act 2010 logo

What is discrimination arising from disability? (new)

Discrimination arising from disability occurs when a disabled person is treated unfavourably because of something connected with their disability and the unfavourable treatment cannot be justified.

Discrimination arising from disability is different from direct discrimination. Direct discrimination occurs when a service provider treats someone less favourably because of the disability itself. In the case of discrimination arising from disability, the question is whether the disabled person has in practice been treated unfavourably because of something connected with their disability.” Source: Equality Act 2010

So what should have been a simple task, cost that lady time, energy, petrol/travel expenses and frustration! Being disabled is a full-time job, believe me! Disabled people are faced with tasks of this nature DAILY and several times a day. (No wonder I’m always bloody tired!)

The most frustrating aspect of this is, that the majority of the research we have to do is unnecessary. If companies were more inclusive, we wouldn’t have to fight for basic information!

Links

Boeing

Equality Act 2010

If you would like to work with me don’t hesitate to Contact Me.  Feel free to leave a comment below.

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