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New coalition works to secure independence

New coalition works to secure independence

Alex BennewithWASHINGTON – United Spinal Association is working with a broad coalition of stakeholders, including wheelchair manufacturers, to develop securement standards that can be applied to ground transportation. 

The SecureRide Coalition launched in November with support from General Motors, VW, Invacare, Ki Mobility, NCART, Permobil, Pride Mobility Products/Quantum Rehab and Sunrise Medical. 

“We definitely need this coalition – it’s been a long time coming,” said Alexandra Bennewith, vice president of government relations for United Spinal. “This is a huge issue that impacts so many of our members who aren’t able to access ground transportation, be it personal vehicles, trains or buses.” 

The coalition, which is also engaging with the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration and the U.S. Access Board, will work in three stages: 1) develop a concept, 2) engage with organizations to test and publish standards, as well as advocate for policies, and 3) deploy a plan and engage with federal agencies and legislators. 

The foundation of the coalition’s work will be the ANSI/RESNA WC19 and ISO 7176-19 standards, which specify design requirements, test procedures and performance requirements for wheelchairs used as seats in vehicles. 

“We’re looking to build that out,” Bennewith said. “We need to see, how can we comply with those existing standards, do they need to be adapted and what are some other options? We’re also looking at the myriad of wheelchair configurations out there and how those work with the existing standards. We’re in the thick of that right now.” 

Brad MeierThe coalition’s timing is good, with the U.S. Department of Transportation issuing a final rule over the summer requiring airlines to make lavatories on new single-aisle aircrafts large enough for two full-sized adults, plus an onboard aisle chair. 

“A light has been shined on transportation issues for people with disabilities at a federal level,” Bennewith said. “It’s our chance to jump on that and make a difference.” 

It’s exciting to be part of a coalition that will make such a big impact on wheelchair users, says Brad Meier, a product manager for power bases at Quantum Rehab. 

“It’s something we always want to be a part of – our customers being able to use our products fully and get where they need to go,” he said. “Our CEO says, ‘We don’t want the people in our products to have a bad day.’ If they can’t make an appointment, they’re having a bad day. We want to do everything we can to limit that.”


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