For transferring wheelchair users safely out of their chair and into a community transport vehicle, a lift such as the Meyland Carlift (shown right) is convenient.
It fits to either side of the vehicle, with the arm fitted just inside the door, and the motor is powered by the car battery. Pushbutton controls can be operated by an assistant, or by the person being transferred. It has a sling seat, with three fixing points for a secure lift. The lifting arm can be left in place during the journey, or removed.
There are also automatic systems that lift and store a wheelchair, either in the boot or on the roof of the vehicle, and bring it back to the door when required for the user to transfer into it.
Swivel seats are a neat access solution for passengers with mobility impairments. They move through either 90° or 180°, enabling the user to get in and out without having to turn themselves.
There are some models which slide out of the car to make access even easier.
An extra refinement is the Carony seat, which slides out of the car, and docks with a wheelchair base, allowing the user to remain in the same seat, whether they are travelling in a vehicle or in their chair.
Access in a wheelchair
Buses which carry 22 or more passengers must comply with Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations 2000 (PVSAR), enabling disabled passengers access to the vehicle. A ramp, or some other access arrangement, to get a wheelchair user on board is one requirement, along with priority spaces for wheelchairs.
Coaches do not need to comply with these regulations until 2020.
Smaller community transport vehicles may use portable ramps, which can be deployed to wheel a chair or scooter into the vehicle. They then fold down to be easily transportable themselves.
There are multi-fold designs available that open out into a single ramp suitable for either a three or four wheeled scooter.
If the vehicle has a low enough floor and enough space, the user can remain in the wheelchair while it is propelled up a ramp.
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Access to air travel
Getting wheelchair users in and out of aircraft presents challenges at many airports.
One solution adopted in some airports is a stairclimbing wheelchair which can be used to lift the wheelchair user into the plane, and they can then travel in the wheelchair without the need to transfer again.
Heathrow Airport has recently introduced slings that don’t require a hoist, with which wheelchair users can be transferred safely and with dignity from their chair to the cabin seat.
These allow a number of assistants to participate in moving the passenger, so that the risk of injury is also minimised. It is a system that works well in areas where space is too limited to use a hoist.
Further reading and resources
We have best practice guidelines for safe transportation of wheelchair users
The Department for Transport is considering a universal assistance card for passengers with a disability.