Can you help to create a stylish wheelchair?

Can you help to create a stylish wheelchair?

How many wheelchairs have you seen that are useful, comfortable and stylish? I bet you can count the number on one hand, if you can think of any at all. Would you like to see one that encompasses all three of those key ingredients? Here’s how you can…

It’s the 21st century. Decades ago man walked on the moon and now we’ve got Star Trek-style communicators in our pockets (thankfully we’re not wearing Lycra body suits to match, although I give it till 2020, mark my words!).

So why, oh why, why are wheelchairs still trapped in the decade of flairs (that was first time around) and other ugly monstrosities we used to wear with pride. OK, that is just my view. But, I bet you, I’m not the only one…

My three-year-old son has just ordered his first wheelchair. The process was, how should I put it… interesting! Having took him to see some he said in disgust: “Mummy, that’s not for me is it?” How does a child so young have such an aversion to something he does not know, understand or have any great awareness of?  Thank God for the Wheelybug (in case you don’t know what that is, it’s the little red trailer with eyes that make it look like, you guessed it, a bug!) In his eyes it resembles a racing car; cool and fun.

But the wheelchairs of today are so far removed from this concept. During this shopping experience I found myself asking; “why would I buy one of these machines to put my beautiful child in?” The answer: I have no other choice!

I’m aware I am starting to rant. I could quite easily waste hours bemoaning the subject of these ‘machines’, devoid of innovation, style and any level of cool. I could discuss with eloquence my analysis of the market, manufacturers, vendors, prices, features and profits made on these ugly things, all with the bottom line that doesn’t really have the users’ desire to look good and be comfortable at heart.

Why, then, am I writing this article, you might ask? Well the answer is simple: I want to know WHAT DOES A GOOD WHEELCHAIR LOOK LIKE? I think I know, but who am I? I don’t use one, not at the moment anyway. But, frankly, I’d be amazed if anyone has ever actually asked this simple question? Ever!

And that is the key. To create a wheelchair that is the epitome of usefulness, comfort and style, you need to know from people who really use them, day in, day out. People who want to look good while living life freely as they do. People like you.

What does good look like? Please tell us in our quick survey. We can make a difference together… hopefully before we are all wearing Lycra body suits!

By David Rajan

Check out…

Accessibility with style.
Gilbey Films: showcasing disabled access.
21st century walking sticks.

Let us know about your experiences with mobility aids and wheelchairs by emailing us at editor@disabilityhorizons.com, tweeting us at @DHorizons or messaging us on Facebook.

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  • Zubee

    I agree we need to have more snazy wheelchairs that are not too expensive and easy to maintain. If you can’t drive or use public transport it’s a good way of getting around more quickly. It’s just like having your own car personalised with your requiremnts.

  • I wonder if it might be a mistake to identify the wheelchair as a vehicle (as the survey appears to do). For many people the wheelchair is, like a prosthetic limb, an extension of the body. Which is maybe why style and comfort are such important factors. I got to whizz around a bit on Andrew Slorance’s prototype a couple of years ago and was bowled over by its styling. But I have serious concerns regarding its robustness and suitability in an urban environment.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-18894180

    But check out the designs on this page (below):

    http://www.designboom.com/design/wheelchair-design/

    There are some very exciting wheelchair designs here, some currently in the early stages of development, some already in production. I’d like the lot of ’em so I could go out every day in a different wheelchair, just for the fun of it!

    But nothing beats functionality. Yesterday I accidentally wheeled myself through a pile of dog poo on the pavement. I feel I’d give my eye teeth to someone who could merely work out a way of keeping one’s wheels, handrims and clothes clean … after such a close encounter of the turd kind!

  • David Rajan

    Thanks to everyone who shared comments and completed the survey. Very interesting and useful. Much appreciated!