Improving the quality of life for wheelchair users.
One of the most significant factors to influence the quality of a wheelchair user’s professional and social life is transport. It is estimated that mobility-impaired individuals are 50% less likely to travel for social, leisure, or sporting activities than non-disabled individuals. Research also suggests that the second biggest contributor to unemployment among mobility-impaired individuals is the lack of efficient and reliable transport.
During his research, Faisal Anabah identified a particular problem that wheelchair users who rely on their own private transport have to contend with. Standard wheelchair frames are fixed and the typical diameter of the wheels is between 20-24 inches. By contrast, the space between a car’s driving seat and the steering wheel can be as little as 18.5 inches. When the driver gets into the car, the remaining space between themselves and the steering wheel can be less than 11 inches. This means that wheelchair users either require assistance to load their wheelchair into the car or they must take it apart themselves before every journey. It takes the average wheelchair user between 7 to 15 minutes and an incredible amount of effort to get themselves and their wheelchair into a car, compared to less than 15 seconds for a non-disabled individual.
To address this problem, Faisal designed a completely new wheelchair that has a collapsable frame and uses a different mechanism for propulsion to power highly compact wheels. The Dave Granshaw Foundation was able to support the project by providing the funds for equipment and arranging access to professional engineering workshops, allowing Faisal to build a working prototype, as well as putting him in contact with a disabled sports charity who could provide user interviews and usability tests.