Getting around

In this first part of two features, MANDY LATIMORE brings you the latest information on all aspects of transport for both everyday living and leisure pursuits

CAR HIRE

The different car hire companies require different lead times to make the specific vehicle available for rental, so you need to make your arrangements as far in advance as possible. The hand control systems vary and may not be suited to everyone’s needs. Get detailed information about the specific system prior to committing yourself to the rental.

There are some car rental companies that offer adapted vehicles with hand controls. Avis chauffer drive www.avis.co.za

QASA has vehicles for rental in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg (031 767 0348) secretary@qasa.co.za

Bidvest Car Rental promises you a comfortable journey. This service offers a range of hand control units that can be fitted to vehicles www.bidvest.co.za

Easy Drive Western Cape – This new service for long-term rentals has just been launched. It targets international tourists or locals who would like to travel throughout South Africa. The vehicle is a VW Caddy manual, with a lowered floor for passengers only and has ramped access. Contact: 021 851 9592.

AIR TRAVEL

All major airports have staff members who are specifically employed to assist passengers who require help moving from the drop-off areas through the airport buildings and onto the plane. It is important that you book assistance and get it confirmed BEFORE you arrive at the airport. Once you have made your booking online and received your reference number, you need to contact the airline and request your assistance. Some airlines require you to fill in and submit a form; others will take your details over the phone. If you are booking through a travel agent, give them details of what assistance you require, and notify them if you have any mobility aids. Should you have a good or bad experience, please contact the ACSA Customer Care by SMS to 32691 with details of your flight and the experience and also advise QASA on info@qasa.co.za

MOTOR VEHICLES and adventure

All motorists who drive in any form of adapted vehicle must have an endorsed licence stating they are licensed to drive an adapted vehicle. Individuals who previously had a valid licence before an injury or onset of a degenerative condition are required to be re-tested at a DLTC and have their licences reissued. Certain features can assist people with mobility impairments to get in and out of the vehicle and drive it – such as extra-wide doors, the height of the driver’s seat in relation to the wheelchair, electronic seat adjustments, power steering and boot space. It is highly recommended that an assessment is done by an occupational therapist to offer the best guidance regarding the type of vehicle and adaptations that will optimise the drivers’ abilities. Caroline Rule from Rolling Rehab is considered the expert in this field and can refer you to experts in other areas. rule@global.co.za; www.rollingrehab.co.za

Off-road Wheelchairs & Adaptations

An All-Terrain Wheelchair needs to be able to transition from urban to rural life, which means that it needs to have a strong frame and rear tyres that do not puncture. The front castors need to have a larger than usual diameter to offer an easier path through sand or over uneven surfaces. Most wheelchair suppliers will have a wheelchair frame that suits and then will be able to fit the adaptations for the user.

Driving Schools

There are increasing numbers of driving schools that offer tuition on adapted vehicles.

A list of driving schools is available on the Rolling Rehab website www.rollingrehab.co.za

Rebates

There are a number of criteria when looking at rebated imported vehicles for people with disabilities. You may choose to import the vehicle yourself, or through a motor dealer.

There are three different categories: driver, passenger or organisation. As a driver you need to be assessed by a panel in order to confirm that you will be eligible. The application forms are available from NCPPDSA and GPAPD. You may only sign the vehicle order to purchase once you have received the rebate permit, which takes six to eight weeks. However, you will need documentation from the dealer about the vehicle, which needs to be submitted with your rebate application. NCPPDSA 011 452 2774; GPAPD 011 838 3012/16.

Transfer Methods

There are various devices to assist with transferring into and out of a vehicle for both driver and passenger. One needs to find a secure leverage place to grip, and position the legs to suit the individual, and have sufficient strength to move from the chair into the seat of the vehicle. There are many assistive devices including:

Transfer board – this enables the user to slide across instead of lifting. Most wheelchair companies supply these.

Quadrislide – is a slide with a seat that moves along two tracks of marbles www.transferboard.co.za

Transfer Platform or Tip up Plate – these are fitted next to the seat and swivel down next to the seat in a horizontal position for the transfer and then either removed or swivelled up and away when not in use. If there is a large height difference between wheelchair and seat, the platform can be adapted to an electronic version, which will lift the user from the door sill height to the seat, and back. Shoprider 012 653 1817, EZ Drive 071 362 9350, Easy Drive WC 021 851 9592.

Handibar grab handle that fits into the door latch – Shoprider 012 6531817.

AutoAdapt Turney Seat & Guidosimplex Transfer System Lift – lifts the entire seat and swivels it out of the car and lowers it to the preferred height for transfer, and then takes the individual back up and into the car. Shoprider 012 653 1817, EZ Drive 071 362 9350, Easy Drive WC 021 851 9592.

Loading Methods

Driver and passenger solutions to load the wheelchair or mobility aid include:

Ramps These may be portable, which would include flat plate type or separate “gutter” type and fixed ramps that are electronically or manually operated.

Hoists They lift the wheelchair into the vehicle. They are available from Shoprider, EZ Drive, Easy Drive WC, Leda Medical 021 557 6774 and Barry Edy 082 657 3734. The roof OMNIGO hoist is locally made by SWC Lifts 082 872 2290, which lifts the wheelchair onto the roof of the vehicle.

Conversions

A range of custom-built conversions are available from several companies throughout South Africa. Driving conversions include hand and ancillary controls, assistive steering devices, adapted foot pedals and adapted seats.

Chairman Industries has been developing, manufacturing and improving radial hand controls for over 30 years. It is one of the most popular systems available, with a 10-year guarantee. The system fits any automatic vehicle and can be transferred from one vehicle to the next with minor adjustments with installation only taking a day. The action for this control is pushing forward to brake and down towards your lap to accelerate. Extra care is taken to match and preserve the interior of the vehicle. Chairman Industries hand control fitment takes only one day at the workshop in Jeppestown, Johannesburg. The hand controls are also fitted by the company’s agents around the country, as well as in Botswana and Zimbabwe. Contact: 011 624 1222 or www.chairmanind.co.za

Other companies that provide similar services are: EZ Drive Pretoria 071 362 9350; Easy Drive Western Cape 021 851 9592; Easy Rider 082 778 0735; Lee Motors 083 661 0117; Leon Pistorius 083 264 5815; Ronnie’s AutoMobility 074 942 8204; Shoprider 012 653 1817; VS Hydraulics 082 411 0889.

Nicky’s Drive is a registered NPO that assists people with disabilities with funding for car adaptations. Nicky Abdinor 021 555 3298, www.nickysdrive.com

Lifts

They lift the passenger and wheelchair into a vehicle and can be supplied by: Shoprider 012 6531817, SWC Lifts
082 872 2290, EZ Drive 071 362 9350, Easy Drive WC 021 851 9592, BusTruck 011 826 3222, Angelo Kater Motor trimmers 021 552 9485, Climatic Technologies 021 905 6193/4, GEA Refrigeration 021 555 9000, Unicape 021 951 6262 / 031 701 2575 and Leda Medical 021 557 6774.

Off-road Tyres

Extra-large tyres with treads are used for sand and snow, while the standard 25” with a width of 2,5” tyre with a deeper tread may be used for rough terrain. Most wheelchair suppliers will supply these.

Freewheel

The Freewheel is an extra wheel that clips onto the front of the wheelchair, lifting the existing front castors off the ground and allowing east access over any terrain. www.chairmanindustries.co.za

Power Assist devices

SmartDrive clips onto a manual wheelchair and as you push normally, the SmartDrive maintains the speed. To brake, tap the push rim. www.cemobility.co.za;   Benoit Light Drive is a drive system that converts a standard push wheelchair into a power chair with easy clip-on batteries, power and control unit. www.sitwell.co.za

Next issue: We look at public transport, and more.

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