Wheel­chair plan blasted

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - OPINION - Josh Zim­mer­man

WHEEL­CHAIR user Eric Cook, who is quad­ri­plegic, says pro­posed changes to wheel­chair and mo­bil­ity scooter reg­u­la­tions will leave some users house­bound.

A Stan­dards Aus­tralia draft doc­u­ment pro­poses a new blue la­bel sys­tem that would re­quire pow­ered wheel­chairs and mo­bil­ity scoot­ers to com­ply with a raft of new con­di­tions, in­clud­ing weight, size and speed spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

Any de­vice that does not com­ply would be pro­hib­ited from pub­lic trans­port, road­related ar­eas and foot­paths.

Mr Cook blasted the pro­posed new stan­dard, specif­i­cally the 300kg max­i­mum weight limit for a wheel­chair or a scooter and its oc­cu­pant.

“My chair alone is 170kg. I’m 193cm tall and not unusu­ally over­weight but I’m al­ready on the brink of the limit,” he said.

“If I end up de­vel­op­ing di­a­betes or even just get stuck in bed with an ill­ness and put on weight, sud­denly I’m not al­lowed in a taxi, on a bus, a train or a ferry.

“Peo­ple stuck in wheel­chairs tend to be heav­ier be­cause it is much more dif­fi­cult to ex­er­cise.

“The prospect of be­ing con­fined to your own home is in­cred­i­bly de­press­ing and plays a huge amount on your psy­che.”

Mr Cook also raised con­cerns with a pro­posed 140cm min­i­mum height re­quire­ment for an oc­cu­pied de­vice.

If oc­cu­pants are too short when seated, they will have to at­tach a flag to their wheel­chair or scooter.

Other re­quire­ments are a low speed mode, ini­ti­ated by the oc­cu­pant, which lim­its the mo­bil­ity de­vice’s max­i­mum speed to 5km/h.

Any mo­bil­ity de­vice weigh­ing more than 120kg would also be pro­hib­ited from go­ing on cer­tain types of com­mer­cial air­craft, in­clud­ing the Air­bus A330, and Boe­ing 777 and 737.

As­sis­tive Tech­nol­ogy Sup­pli­ers Aus­trala­sia (ATSA) ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Chris Sparks said the pro­posed new stan­dard would drive up the cost of elec­tric wheel­chairs and mo­bil­ity scoot­ers, the vast ma­jor­ity of which are man­u­fac­tured over­seas to meet less strin­gent in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

“A unique Aus­tralian stan­dard with no global rel­e­vance would re­quire ad­di­tional test­ing and la­belling of im­ported de­vices, which adds cost,” he said.

Mr Sparks also said close to 30 per cent of the mo­bil­ity de­vices cur­rently in Aus­tralia, clas­si­fied as Class A, would be au­to­mat­i­cally ex-

Eric Cook is con­fined to a wheel­chair.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.