Mobilise Promoting mobility for disabled people Mon, 10 May 2010 15:50:42 +0000 en hourly 1 Mobilise issues new policy statements Mon, 10 May 2010 15:50:42 +0000 mobadmin You can download and read the latest Mobilise policy statements on our Policies page.

The policy statement on off-street parking has been updated, and two new policy statements have been issued. One covers Shared Surfaces planning, and its postential impact on disabled people. The other covers the use of scooters and other mobility vehicles.

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Karting for All! The Disabled Karting Championship Tue, 20 Apr 2010 10:08:29 +0000 mobadmin In this article from 2008, Sally Roe reported on the disabled motorists competing in the first UK karting championship using hand controls.

Disabled Karting Team

The Disabled Karting Championship team

Recently Helen and I were invited by Mobilise member Kumar Moorthy to attend the ‘Disabled Karting Championship’ at Cannon Raceway in Birmingham, to have a go on the adapted karts and to meet some of the drivers and organisers working to make this fantastic sport accessible to all.

Kumar is the brains behind the Disabled Karting Championship, and in 2006 he persuaded Keith Jauncy, the owner of Cannon Raceway, to pay for ten of his karts to be converted into hand controls. Since karts have no gears, the controls consist of a fairly rugged push-pull accelerator / brake lever, which leaves the other hand free to steer the kart.

As we arrived at the industrial estate where Cannon Raceway is based, Helen and I  were both a little bit apprehensive, as neither of us had ever been karting before. I’m a learner driver and I wasn’t too sure about my skills on the track, especially having to drive in front of a crowd of seasoned racers. For Helen, the main concern was whether she would be able to steer the kart effectively – we’d already been warned that there was no German power steering on these mean machines! Helen used the steering wheel socket from her own car and the helpful staff assisted in fitting this to the kart.

Sally modelling a blue hairnet

My lovely hairnet!

We then had to get kitted up in the babygros – sorry, boilersuits – and attractive blue hairnets before donning our helmets and climbing into the karts. The karts are very low (almost at floor level) and transferring from a wheelchair was not a particularly straightforward process. Seb Cook, a wheelchair user, explained the situation to me, saying “Obviously the karts are adapted for us, but we still have to adapt to them as well. It’s a bit rough and ready but the racing is the important thing.” Kumar hopes that as their funding increases in the future the group will be able to invest in equipment to make transferring in and out of karts easier.

The course itself is indoors, and the track is changed around monthly, so there are fresh challenges for those who use the Raceway on a regular basis. To my nervous eyes it seemed to consist of an endless series of hairpin bends followed by an incredibly high bridge that I was convinced I was going to come flying off. “Never mind,” I told myself. “The engines are so noisy, nobody will be able to hear me scream.” Driving back in to the pits after my practice lap, I soon deduced from the smirks that awaited me that this was not the case.

Helen found the steering stiff at first, but soon discovered that the faster she went the more responsive the kart seemed. Once her competitive streak came out she was whizzing round the track. Taking a leaf out of her book, I upped my speed as well, only to take a corner a little bit too quickly and end up wedged into a wall of tyres. With no gears, this meant I had to wait for trackside staff to come and haul me back onto the track – how embarrassing!

Mishaps aside, by the end of the race I could really understand the appeal. Regular racer Dave Levik told me that for him, it was all about the adrenaline – and most of the other drivers agreed.  Tommy Lau, winner of the championship, explained: “You can really push yourself to the limit. You don’t get that kind of excitement driving your regular car – well, you shouldn’t! There aren’t many opportunities for disabled people to get involved with motorsport and there’s a social side too, we’ve got a friendly rivalry going on and we have a real laugh.”

Seb agreed; “There’s a sense of camaraderie. I come from London to race here and it’s worth the trip. What we need now is more people to get involved, then more local karting centres might start adapting karts too.” For Seb, racing is also a chance to let off steam: “It’s a great way to get your anger out, it’s definitely therapeutic. When I became disabled, in hospital people were always telling me there were now limits to what I could do. I came here, crashed into a wall – and realised I wasn’t that delicate after all! But although there’s an element of danger, it is up to you how far you push yourself. It’s not a contact sport, it’s something you can take as far as you want without any pressure.”

Kumar Moorthy in his adapted kart

Kumar getting ready to race

The disabled karting at Cannon Raceway has gathered momentum over the last few years, and Kumar has big plans for the future: “In 2006 there were two races. In 2007 and 2008 we had four, and for 2009 we’re planning six events.” He also hopes to establish a charity to support the championships and to raise more funds. This will enable him not only to convert more karts to hand controls but also to increase the range of adaptations available. Kumar is already working with the Motorsport Industry Association and  BRDC Stars Of Tomorrow, the program that develops karting talent in the UK and supports young racers through the various stages right up to professional driving, and he hopes to develop a parallel system for disabled karters. This will involve setting up regional championships in other locations and increasing the number of drivers taking part.

Helen and I came away from our visit with a real sense of the potential of disabled karting, not only in terms of making the sport more inclusive and accessible, but also building the confidence of learner drivers. As Kumar pointed out, karting is a great ‘first step’ for those learning to drive with hand controls; “There’s no pressure, it’s fun, and if you mess it up you’re not about to crash your driving instructor’s expensive car into a lamppost!” The only downside of our trip was that the facilities at Cannon Raceway are not perfect. There is ramped access to the front of the building (via the Laserquest briefing area!) but there is still a short flight of steps down onto the track (although there are staff on hand to assist) and at the time of writing the toilets were not yet accessible. However, Kumar hopes that many of these access problems will be resolved in time for next year’s events.

This article first appeared in the December 2008  issue of Mobilise magazine, which goes out to all our members and includes reviews of adapted cars and mobility equipment, features on accessible travel and leisure, campaign updates, news, competitions and real-life stories.
Membership of our charity costs just  £16 per year and includes your monthly subscription to Mobilise.

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Member review: Nissan Note Tekna 1.6 Mon, 19 Apr 2010 15:17:19 +0000 mobadmin Mobilise member Daniel Anderson-McIntyre reviews the Nissan Note Tekna 1.6

Regular readers of Mobilise will remember my passion for Vauxhalls, but this month I am reviewing the other car I drive regularly, my fiancée’s Nissan Note. This is the top of the range Tekna spec with the 1.6 16-valve engine.

From the outside the Note looks quite long, tall and narrow and you might expect it to drive much like a van, but once on the road you find that the Note handles like a car. The driving position is higher than most, comfortable and offers a great view of the road all round.  The wheelbase is long with the wheels right at each corner which makes for great stability and a massive amount of useable space inside.

car interior with steering ball fittedThe Tekna comes with automatic lighting and wiper systems, alloy wheels, privacy glass, climate control, front fog-lights, flex board system, under-seat storage, cooled glove box, 6 disc CD changer, auxiliary input and a Bluetooth hands-free connection.

The Tekna has sport seats with part-leather trim.  The driver’s seat is adjustable for angle, height and reach.  Annoyingly for this particular driver, the height and angle adjustment are combined so you can sit high but with the seat angled downwards or sit low with the seat angled up.  There is also no lumbar adjustment, which could be a problem for some, but the driver’s seat does have a fold-down arm rest.  The steering wheel is adjustable for height but if you have hand controls fitted then this necessitates the removal of the adjustment lever – so make sure you have set the height correctly before the adaptation installers get their hands on it!

Speaking of adaptations, our Note is fitted with a Cowal Mobility push pull accelerator brake, an Alfred Bekker steering wheel spinner and an Alfred Bekker easy-release handbrake.  These were all installed by KC Mobility in Batley who, as ever, have done a good neat job which works perfectly.

Passenger comfort

The rear seat is adjustable too, sliding backwards or forwards to give either more legroom or a larger boot space.  With it fully in the rear position there are almost limo like levels of legroom in the back.  The limo theme continues with the rear privacy glass, keeping the interior cool and passengers protected from glare.  The windows themselves are also large, giving passengers a good view of the outside.  The rear seat can be moved from within the passenger compartment or from the boot.

Again for the rear passengers there are fold out trays to hold snacks toys etcetera, with integrated drinks holders.  There are large storage nets on the back of the front seats for books and magazines, and a central fold out armrest and 3 headrests.  A word of advice though – if you have kids and plan to use the rear trays to hold food items on a long journey it might be worthwhile getting some of those gripper mats that hold items in place – the trays have a small lip on them but we have found that items still slide around and sometimes off the trays whilst driving!

The front passenger seat contains a storage box under the seat base which is billed as a “secure hiding space for valuables” but, as we all know, you should never leave valuables in the car.  Thieves do know these supposedly “secret” hiding spaces too!  The front passenger gets a decent amount of legroom.

Storage up front consists of a large glove box, which in this spec level is cooled by the air conditioning when needed.  On the front of the glove box is a large slot with a deep hole which is perfect for storing books or paper work, or your Blue Badge.  In the centre console is a large space with two cup-holders and beside the driver’s seat behind the handbrake is a small slot perfect for storing your mobile phone.  There is also a useful shelf on top of the dashboard which runs the whole width of the car.

Nissan Note

Hi spec detail

The Tekna spec in-car entertainment consists of a 6-disc CD changer with radio and auxiliary input, so you can connect your iPod or other device via a 3.5mm headphone jack.  It also includes a Bluetooth hands-free system which routes calls to your mobile through the car sound system.  This system also displays the caller details on the dashboard and has a microphone just above the interior mirror.  The phone and sound system can be controlled from the steering wheel.  One noticeable downside of the sound system is that it does sound a bit tinny and quite nasty at higher volumes.

The boot has a large, square opening and on the Tekna model has the flex board system.  This consists of 2 boards which form a false boot floor, level with the rear bumper, so there is no lip.  These boards are carpeted on one side while on the other there is a waterproof wipe clean surface.  The boards can be removed completely to reveal more space underneath (as well as the handle to move the rear seat) and there are recesses in the real floor to hold them there.  The spare wheel and tools are underneath this real floor.

Visibility from the driving position is good, even with a full load of passengers.  The Note is easy to position and manoeuvre, making parking easy even in tight spaces.  Overtaking is easy with the 1.6 and when hitting the kickdown the engine does have a bit of a growl to it and pulls the car forwards at quite a pace.

Whilst the Note is good in the city and suburbs it is also comfortable and powerful enough to cope with longer journeys.  One downside, though, is that the 1.6 can be noisy at motorway speeds – a point that has been noticed by other reviewers.

As regards accessibility the Note’s high driving seat can make access and egress for some easier, the door opening for all doors is wide and the boot (contrary to Ricability’s report) will take a folding wheelchair with the rear seats in the upright position.  A rigid chair will also go in with the rear wheels removed and the backrest folded down.  The only thing that is necessary to achieve this is to take the flex boards out, place them on the floor, remove the parcel shelf and slide the rear seat forwards.  This still gives adequate legroom for rear seat passengers.


KC Mobility – – 01924 442386

Cowal Mobility – – 01494 714400

Alfred Bekker – – 01377 241700

The Nissan Note 1.6 Tekna is available through the Motability scheme with an advance payment of £599.  Motability estimates the average mpg at 41.5.  For more information contact Motability on 0845 456 4566.

This article first appeared in the October 2009 issue of Mobilise magazine, which goes out to all our members and includes reviews of adapted cars and mobility equipment, features on accessible travel and leisure, campaign updates, news, competitions and real-life stories.
Membership of our charity costs just £16 per year and includes your monthly subscription to Mobilise.

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Transport for Disabled People exhibition opens in Coventry Mon, 12 Apr 2010 13:42:26 +0000 mobadmin Grant Cobb MBE, President of the Coventry Warwickshire Leicester Group – Mobilise, on the opening of an historic exhibition in Coventry.

“Wonderful!” was how Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson described the new exhibition, which she opened at the Coventry Transport Museum on the 1st April 2010. For the first time in the history of British museums, a collection of vehicles specifically designed for people with disabilities has been brought together under one roof. From the earliest bath chairs to hi-tech models of the future, the exhibition gives a fascinating insight into both the development of these vehicles and the attitudes of society to the disabled people who used them.

The exhibition was the idea of the Coventry Warwickshire Leicestershire Group – Mobilise to commemorate their 60th Anniversary.  Their President Mr Grant Cobb and their Chairman Ms Norma Lewis had worked with the Museum staff for 18 months, planning the exhibition.

Baroness Tanni Gray-Thompson with Mobilise trustees and staff

Pride of place

Among the exhibits on show are a 1955 Harper Mark 1, and an Invacar Model 70, accompanied by various hand-propelled invalid carriages. Pride of place went to the 1947 Argson 198cc Tricycle, kindly loaned to the exhibition by Mr Denny Denley MBE, Joint President of Mobilise. It was with this vehicle that he successfully crossed the Swiss Alps in 1947. Following his alpine adventure, Mr Denley went on to found the Invalid Tricycle Association, later the Disabled Drivers’ Association, one of the two charities that merged to form Mobilise in 2005. The Argson, like many of the vehicles in this exhibition, represents the central importance of personal mobility to the lives of people with disabilities; something that Mobilise still campaigns for today.

Over 100 guests, representing Commerce and Industry in the City of Coventry, were present at the opening of the exhibition, together with pupils and staff of three Coventry schools for children with disabilities.  Representing Mobilise at the event were Chairman Adrian Stokes, Mrs Janet Sutton, Chief Executive Mr Graham Footer, Mr Jim Rawlings and the Committee of the Coventry Warwickshire Leicestershire Group – Mobilise.

Speakers included Mr Joe Elliott, Chairman of the Museum Board, Ms Norma Lewis and Mr Grant Cobb, who with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson highlighted the progress made over the past 60 years and the role of Mobilise in that progress.

The exhibition is open until 4th July 2010 and admission to the museum is free, so why not come and find out more about this fascinating aspect of motoring history?

Further information

For more information about the Transport for Disabled People exhibition, visit or call the Coventry Transport Museum on 02476 234270.

The majority of the museum is fully accessible (suitable for unaccompanied wheelchair users), including the café. Visitors should ask for assistance in accessing Model World. There are wheelchairs available for visitors to borrow and allocated parking for disabled visitors can be booked in advance of your visit by contacting the number above during the week.

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Accessible Hotel Rooms Tue, 06 Apr 2010 13:05:59 +0000 mobadmin Most towns and cities across the UK offer a wide range of hotels to choose from. As well as location and price accessibility is another consideration for disabled people. The big hotel chains all offer accessible rooms but as Helen Smith found out, no two are the same!

Yancey the Assistance dog checking out the facilities

One of the main variations between the rooms I visited at four different hotel chains in the Norwich area was the height of bed, bath and loo. I also wanted to find out if a shower or bath is on offer, as well as the width of the doors. Most chain rooms are pretty much exactly the same, whichever branch of the chain you are staying with, so I hope the following information will be useful if you’re planning to stay in one this summer.

Holiday Inn Express

As I drew into the car park I realised that the bay marked out for a disabled person was the same width the standard spaces; I had to straddle two parking bays to give myself enough room. The hotel itself was newly refurbished and all the doors to reception opened automatically. I was then shown up to my room, which was fairly spacious with a double bed and a sofa bed. If a carer needs to sleep in the same room the sofa bed is made up. The bathroom was a wet room and comprised a shower with a lovely big seat. Unfortunately for those who find bathing easier, a bath isn’t an option. I found the wetroom floor was very steeply sloped as well.

Door width into room: 86cm

Door width into bathroom: 86cm

Bed height: 53cm

Toilet height: 40cm

Basin height 72cm

Shower only

Premier Inn

At Premier Inn the parking situation was even worse! There was one disabled bay with cross hatching on the passenger side but two cars had managed to squeeze themselves onto the space and not surprisingly neither was displaying a Blue Badge! The car park was completely full so I double parked and went inside to ask about the disabled bay. I was told it was actually staff who had parked in the bay “to keep it free because otherwise vans park in it”. The staff then came out and moved their cars and I was able to park – but there were no signs to explain or a number to call. The Premier Inn room was the smallest of all the accessible rooms I saw. If a carer needs to stay in the room a folding bed is made up for them but this would then leave very little floor space. For people who like a low bed this room would be ideal at it’s only 44cm off the floor. Disabled guests can choose if they would prefer a shower or a bath.

Door width into room: 77cm

Door width into bathroom: 88cm

Bed height: 44cm

Toilet height: 41cm

Basin height: 73cm

Bath height: 46cm

Shower or bath


Travelodge had an NCP car park right next to it but I just parked up outside as I was only paying a flying visit. The room at Travelodge was fairly sizable and even if a foldaway bed was made up for a carer it wouldn’t be too cramped. The bathroom is a wet room and there is a shower with a little seat over it. I personally would struggle to balance on a seat this small when showering. I’m told that the staff at the hotel are always instructed to leave the shower head on the lowest setting so it can be easily reached – the fan was also stored on the floor rather than a high shelf, and the tea-making and storage facilities were low enough for a wheelchair user to get to. If you prefer a high bed Travelodge’s bed was the highest measuring 59cm off the floor.

Door width into room: 80cm

Door width into bathroom: 87cm

Bed height: 59cm

Toilet height: 46cm

Basin height: 74cm

Shower only

Holiday Inn

Holiday Inn was slightly out of the city so there was more space available for parking, but even so there was only cross hatching on one side of the bay. However, I was delighted to see a signpost with a number on in front of the bays for disabled people requiring assistance to ring. Holiday Inn was the most luxurious looking room in my opinion, but then it is at the higher end of the price scale. Accessible rooms all come with a bath but it has a shower over it and there is a seat which can fit over the bath. I was shown two accessible rooms and in one of them the bathroom was enormous! If a carer is accompanying you and no twin rooms are available you are offered a complimentary room for your carer at no extra cost. Holiday Inn also had a variety of equipment available to borrow from reception such as vibrating / flashing pagers, hearing loops etc.

Door width into room: 84cm

Door width into bathroom: 84cm

Bed height: 55cm

Toilet height: 52cm

Basin height: 72cm

Bath height: 43cm

Bath only

This article first appeared in the May 2009 issue of Mobilise magazine, which goes out to all our members and includes reviews of adapted cars and mobility equipment, features on accessible travel and leisure, campaign updates, news, competitions and real-life stories.
Membership of our charity costs just  £16 per year and includes your monthly subscription to Mobilise.

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My Invisible Disability Tue, 06 Apr 2010 13:05:30 +0000 mobadmin Photo of David JacksonDavid L. Jackson talks to Mobilise magazine about having an ‘invisible’ disability.
There is clearly an underclass in existence within disability circles.
Excluded from the able-bodied lifestyle by our diminishing physical abilities, and likewise from disabled communities by blinkered perceptions and prejudice, the underclass I am talking about are those who have an invisible disability.  In my case, we are talking about severe and often debilitating pain, a result of my unilateral decision to refrain from living on high-strength  medication in an attempt to live a fulfilling and rewarding life.

Having suffered extreme physical abuse and extensive burn damage to both feet during my early years, at one point there was some doubt over whether I would even survive, let alone be able to walk. However, thanks to an eminent surgeon and various plastic surgery specialists, I was eventually able to have an active and rewarding childhood. Pain was always there, but at that stage of my life it was manageable, and I felt it was worth suffering to experience the freedom I enjoyed.
Eventually I joined the military and served five years with the British
Army.  Excelling physically, I ultimately ended up serving with the
Airborne Forces. The Fire Service beckoned next, and again, physical endeavour was still within my capacity. I was a keen sportsman, and my activities ranged from rugby and football to climbing, parachuting and ski-ing.
But eventually I realised that in life most good things do eventually come to an end.

About seven years ago I saw the first signs of trouble on the horizon. The
pain in my feet and lower limbs was increasing in intensity and duration.
Although previously the pain had varied, there were no “good days” anymore, and the “bad days” were getting worse. Sometimes the pain brought tears to my eyes and my general mobility was decreasing. I was beginning to have serious doubts about my ability to continue working.
A visit to my GP confirmed the worst of my fears. The condition of my
feet was indeed deteriorating, the pain and overall discomfort would
progressively worsen; and there was pretty much nothing that could be done.
All they could offer was pain relieving medication and a blue badge
which would minimise the need to spend time on my feet when out and about. I took them both, but after a brief spell on the powerful drugs, I handed those back. Although they helped with the pain, they were leaving me in a trance-like state for much of the time. This was interfering with both my personal life and my work, and it didn’t take me long to decide that they were robbing me of too much.

I was now down to just the blue badge. But this was a trade-off too; as well as the help this gave me, I also had to deal with the prejudice I experienced from other blue badge holders as I parked in the disabled bay. I may look the picture of health, but appearances, as we all know, can deceive. The reality is that I am often in great pain.  I simply choose not to let it become all that I am. I choose to go training at the gym and cope with the pain afterwards.  I choose to use a treadmill and rowing machine at home, and to suffer the pain in private. I choose to ski, to walk, to drive –I choose to live, rather than let pain dominate my entire existence.

I also choose to use my blue badge only when I really need to, rather than whenever I can, which is why the sneers and comments of derision are particularly hurtful.  So, when you next see someone walking away from a blue badge parking bay, try and remember that although their disability may not be as immediately visible as yours, they may be suffering far more than you could ever imagine.  Their disability may well be every bit as real as those of an amputee, a wheelchair user or a person with impaired vision – you may just be unable to see it.

This is not about “my disability is worse than yours” or “your disability is worse than the next person’s” – it is about refraining from judging each other. As an organisation and as disabled people I think we have all been both victims and, sometimes, perpetrators of such attitudes. But if we choose to judge each other, we have no right to complain when we are prejudged and compartmentalised by society. If we are to achieve anything, we have to be united amongst ourselves, and to demonstrate the tolerance, awareness and understanding we demand from others.

This article first appeared in the April 2009 issue of Mobilise magazine, which goes out to all our members and includes reviews of adapted cars and mobility equipment, features on accessible travel and leisure, campaign updates, news, competitions and real-life stories.
Membership of our charity costs just  £16 per year and includes your monthly subscription to Mobilise.

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Have you had a great accessible holiday? Mon, 29 Mar 2010 10:35:50 +0000 mobadmin Perhaps you spotted them in our Classified ads section and had the holiday of a lifetime… or you turned up late at night, on the off-chance that there might be a room at the inn? However you found them, we want to know all about the best accessible accommodation you’ve stayed at in the UK.

From campsites to B&Bs, five star hotels to self-catering chalets, tell us about the comfiest beds, scrummiest breakfast, fluffiest towels and hottest spots for night owls. We’ll be publishing a series of your recommendations for other Mobilise members to read over the next few months, so that we can all get planning our summer holidays!

Recommendations can be sent to us using the Contact form or by post to Mobilise National Office, Ashwellthorpe, Norwich, NR16 1EX.

And if you’d like to write about your holiday experiences in more detail, just let us know – we’re always looking for great stories from Mobilise members. We’ll supply you with full instructions and support you all the way through the writing process, from the first idea to publication. Sadly the charity doesn’t have the resources to pay contributors to our magazine, but we will supply you with some free copies so that you can share your stories with your friends and family.

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Get Hooked on Accessible Angling! Tue, 23 Mar 2010 16:27:43 +0000 mobadmin Wheelchair user landing a fishIt’s fun, it’s healthy, and it’s growing fast in popularity – fishing is a great way to enjoy Britain’s beautiful waters.  Marta Bartosiewicz joins two disabled anglers during a carp fishing match in Norfolk to find out more about angling and accessibility.

David Goose and Mike Ridealgh are passionate about fishing. Members of the Norwich Disabled Anglers Club, for which David is Secretary and Treasurer, they are both wheelchair users who enjoy a spot of competitive angling. They were more than happy to be bombarded with questions on accessible angling and suggested we meet at Barford Lakes, a fishery based in a secluded and picturesque part of Norfolk. In fact Barford Lakes was so secluded that I had some trouble finding it! I felt I was about to discover angling’s best kept secret.

Commercial fisheries like this one are regarded as the most accessible places to enjoy fishing as the majority of them have installed platforms. Barford Lakes were nestled among lush greenery and had well arranged pegs on raised platforms and plenty of places to park. I was told that the fishery offers some of the best fishing lakes in Norfolk and has a capacity to suit everyone from the casual angler through to the specimen specialist. The surroundings were serene and peaceful, ideal for of fishing. When I arrived many of the anglers had already occupied their pegs, and were deep in concentration, focusing on landing a prize winning catch.

I joined David and Mike when they took their break from the competition to find out more about their organisation. David, one of the original members, explained what had inspired the founding of the club: “The idea to form Norwich Disabled Angling Club was sparked when the founder, Mike Stanley, offered to help a disabled angler to set up his gear. They both never looked back.  In those days there was not much available for the disabled anglers. However, over the years things have changed a lot. There are now many disabled fishing clubs which have sprung up due to the huge demand all over the UK. Like many other clubs, the beginnings were not easy. Nevertheless, the club has been very successful over the years, and is still going strong. All the venues around Norwich are now accessible and will help in any way they can”.

“Angling is largely a very inclusive sport” explained Mike. “Disability only becomes an issue when you need access, an adaptation and sometimes help to get to your allocated peg. In some places parking may be a problem too.

But after that it largely depends on your skill and knowledge to become a successful angler. There is no reason why a disabled person may not become a champion in angling. ”

Establishing the club has made a big difference to disabled anglers in Norwich.  David summed it up “If it wasn’t for the club I would not be able to fish today”. Without it, explained David, many members would not be able to fish easily on their own. A buddy scheme helps members manage the health and safety issues inherent in being so close to the water. Many members also need help with transporting their fishing gear. But it’s not just all about practicalities.  For both Mike and David belonging to the club makes fishing an enjoyably social experience, and one that enables them to take part in physical activity outdoors.

Raising the game across the UK

Man with fish

Nationally the popularity of disabled anglers is soaring. There are now 54,000 disabled people who hold rod licenses, of whom 1,000 fish competitively. Driving this has been the British Disabled Angling Association (BDAA) which helps to develop opportunities for people to fish in the UK.  Founded in 1996, the association has seen astonishing growth and can now boast over 24,500 members.

One of the association’s main roles is to advise fisheries and local authorities on access and how to create a safe environment for disabled anglers. The Association’s guide Inclusive Angling addresses issues from accessible pathways to platforms and parking. However they also concerned to make fisheries an attractive and fun place to visit.

Terry Mosley, the chairman of BDAA and an international angler who represented England on the international stage for six years, winning one gold and two bronze medals, detailed the association’s work. “BDAA have invested, thanks to fundraising and the generosity of the members, in schemes, publications and programs such as introduction days, disability awareness courses, and much more to enable disabled people to try fishing, possibly for the first time”

According to Terry there is still much more work to be done to improve access, and ensure that facilities meet standard. However fisheries and clubs are working to alter this situation with guidance from the Environment Agency and BDAA access audits. The charity is also able to work with other bodies such as Dreamstore which allows the association to expand campaigns for increased access and participation. Thanks to the partnership BDAA carried out over 120 audits last year alone.

Getting the right gear

One complaint among disabled anglers is that adaptations can be difficult to get hold of in the UK and it’s something the BDAA have been working on. “We have been developing ‘Adaptive Angling’ programs to bring in new designs” explained Terry. “Initially we tried to import some but unfortunately it became costly due to import duties. The information on our website points out what equipment is out there but clients now need to purchase them directly from the sources”.

The majority of the products come from the United States, where the disabled angling suppliers are generally considered the most advanced in the world. Adaptations such as: the ‘Lightning Strike’ rod holders, the ‘One Armed Fishing Bandit’ adaptation for people with amputations or the ‘Strong Arm’ for anglers with limited or no gip, have really helped open up angling to people with disabilities.

But there are also some highly useful adaptations manufactured in the UK.   These include wheelchair frames by Octoplus, which allows fishing equipment to be close at hand, the ‘Cobra Baitstick’, a device for people who cannot use a conventional catapult to get the bait out to the fish, and the revolutionary ‘ONROD electronic bite indicator’, which is ideal for people with a visual disability.

For a full list of adaptations visit the BDAA website for a downloadable leaflet, (see the contact details below).

Some disabled people may need very specific and individual adaptations which cannot be bought commercially. If this is the case the charity REMAP, (Rehabilitation Engineering Movement Advisory Panels) can help.  They specialise in designing or adapting existing equipment for individual needs, which includes for fishing. All the equipment is custom made by volunteer experts and is given free of charge.

The organisation has 87 panels, or local groups, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while the sister charity, Remap (Scotland) has 14 panels. To find the group nearest to you contact REMAP. See the information box below for contact details.

Fancy a go?

If you feel that you would like to give angling a go then contact the BDAA for further information. They can advise on what type of fishing could be most suitable for you, what to do next and what equipment to buy. BDAA can also give you information on any disabled angling clubs in your area

Getting started needn’t be costly. Starter kits costs around £30 -50 or you can try your skills at a taster session – contact BDAA for details. Once you’re hooked BDAA offer advice on training opportunities and how you can get involved in competitions.

If competitive fishing sounds a bit serious how about booking a holiday with facilities for onsite fishing? Disabled Holiday Information has compiled a downloadable list of “Accessible Accommodation with Fishing”.

This article first appeared in the June 2009 issue of Mobilise magazine, which goes out to all our members and includes reviews of adapted cars and mobility equipment, features on accessible travel and leisure, campaign updates, news, competitions and real-life stories.
Membership of our charity costs just £16 per year and includes your monthly subscription to Mobilise.

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InfoPoint : Dogs and Taxis Mon, 22 Mar 2010 11:55:31 +0000 mobadmin We had reported to us recently an incident when a member, with her assistance dog, was refused carriage in a London private hire vehicle by the Muslim driver. Islamic tradition warns Muslims against contact with dogs because they are seen as impure, and in recent years a number of Muslim drivers have been prosecuted and convicted under the Disability Discrimination Act for failing to comply with the regulations set out under the DDA. The regulations clearly state that:

Drivers must:

Carry assistance dogs accompanying disabled people;

Do so without additional charge; and

Allow the dog to remain with the passenger.

Operators must:

Accept bookings made by or on behalf of a disabled person who is accompanied by an assistance dog;

Accept bookings made by a person who will be accompanied in a Private Hire Vehicle by such a disabled person; and

Not make an additional charge for carrying the dog.

An assistance dog wearing a Canine Partners jacket

Assistance Dog Yancey wearing her Canine Partners jacket

Types of dogs covered

Guide dogs: trained to guide a visually impaired person. These dogs wear a high visibility harness.

Hearing dogs: trained to assist a Deaf person. These dogs wear a yellow jacket with the words ‘Hearing Dog’.

Other assistance dogs: those trained by ‘Dogs for the Disabled’, ‘Support Dogs’ or ‘Canine Partners’. These dogs should be wearing a jacket inscribed with the name of the relevant charity. The owners of these dogs should also carry an identity card with the name of the relevant charity.

It is important to remember that assistance dogs are highly trained animals and will remain on the floor of your vehicle. They are unlikely to damage or dirty it in any way.

Failure to comply

If a taxi driver fails to comply with these duties they will be guilty of an offence and, on conviction, liable to a fine (currently up to £1000). The enforcement of these duties is the responsibility of the licensing authority.


Drivers can seek exemption from these duties on medical grounds only. There is no exemption available for operators. The law does not allow for an exemption to be granted on religious grounds.

If the driver has a medical condition, such as severe asthma, which is aggravated by contact with dogs, or if they are allergic to or have an acute phobia of dogs, it may be possible for them to qualify for an exemption. Applications should be made to their local licensing authority.

We contacted the Muslim Council of Britain, and a senior Muslim cleric confirmed that is not against Islam for a Muslim taxi driver to carry a guide / assistance dog in their cab. Chair of the Inter-Faith Relations Committee of the MCB, Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, said that in this case the driver had been ill-informed about Islamic law which says that Muslims should wash before praying if they come into contact with dog saliva, which is considered unclean. Shaykh Mogra said: “Muslim law lays down general laws, but there are circumstances where allowances have to be made.” A Disability Rights Commission spokesperson said that the Muslim Shariah Council confirmed four years ago that assistance dogs can accompany disabled people into restaurants or taxis managed or staffed by Muslims. The MCB have recently embarked on a mutual awareness and learning process with Guide Dogs and the Muslim community to reach a position of mutual understanding.

This article first appeared in the March 2008 issue of Mobilise magazine, which goes out to all our members and includes reviews of adapted cars and mobility equipment, features on accessible travel and leisure, campaign updates, news, competitions and real-life stories.
Membership of our charity costs just  £16 per year and includes your monthly subscription to Mobilise.

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Disability Cricket – The Umpire Strikes Back Mon, 22 Mar 2010 08:00:31 +0000 mobadmin As the weather finally begins to warm up, Jim Rawlings’ thoughts turn to the most summery of sports; cricket! He finds out about the opportunities for disabled people to participate in this increasingly accessible sport.

When someone mentions cricket, do your thoughts turn to balmy sunny days lazing in a deck chair with a glass of Pimms in your hand? Do you imagine dozing to the sound of buzzing bees and genteel ripples of applause, interrupted only by the crack of leather on willow or a shout of “Howzat!”

Or are you the type to view a match from the comfort of your sofa or shouting at the radio in response to a view expressed by Geoffrey Boycott on just how a shot should be played? Cricket means many things to many people; the ideals of fair play and courage enshrined in the classic poem Vitai Lampada by Henry Newbolt:

“There’s a breathless hush in the Close to-night

Ten to make and the match to win

A bumping pitch and a blinding light,

An hour to play, and the last man in.”

So are you ready to “Play up! Play up! And play the game”? If so, you might be interested to hear that cricket has never been a more inclusive sport, with new leagues and organisations springing up across the country to cater for disabled sportspeople.

Cricket has been played by people with disabilities for many years. There is a well established structure for competitive cricket “from playground to test arena”

The British Association for Cricketers with Disabilities was formed in 1991; its aim is to promote the game of cricket to people with disabilities nationwide. It works to encourage participation in all levels of the game and in all roles, including players, umpires, scorers, coaches and administrators and to organise matches at all levels.

Cricket for those with visual impairment was first played 60 years ago and there has been an organised structure in place for over 20 years. In 2008 England hosted the West Indies visually impaired team before successfully defending the Ashes in Australia at the end of the year.

Deaf and hearing impaired players have also played since the 1950s, and there are now regional leagues, a national cup and international competitions. The England Deaf Cricket team has played in the Deaf Cricket World Cup since 1996, and in 2009 have the World Cup in New Zealand in prospect.

A more recent initiative has been the development of cricket for people with a physical disability and also those with learning difficulties. Currently a national county championship of 14 teams operates competing in two leagues; one played with a standard “hard” cricket ball and one using a softer ball known as an “Incrediball”.

For cricketers with a higher level of disability than might be found in the county championship the Cricket Federation for People with Disabilities was formed. CFPD organises many regional cricket matches, and have also taken the lead on introducing women into disability cricket, regularly staging womens’ matches.

Currently there is no global classification system for people with physical disabilities so consequently no recognised international cricket is played. In 2008 a regional tournament for cricketers with physical disabilities was introduced where the best physically disabled players from within the existing disability county championship represented their regions in a Twenty20 competition, at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) National Academy in Loughborough.

Learning disability cricket rules state that you must have an IQ of 75 or less, as assessed by an educational psychologist. This allows the individual to participate in international sport against players that have been assessed to the same standard. In 2009 our cricketers with learning disabilities will travel to Australia to compete in the third tri-nations series competing against the host nation and South Africa.

Bill Higginson, Chairman of the BACD is extremely positive about the future of disability cricket, saying: “As a former professional player/coach I became involved with cricketers with disabilities in Wales six years ago. I quickly realised that their enthusiasm and infectious humour was very rewarding, together with a willingness to listen and learn. I am of no doubt that the standard has greatly improved in recent years and since our ‘partnership’ is now firmly established with the ECB, more opportunities are being provided for these dedicated players. The BACD’s re-introduction of a National Indoor Tournament and semi-finals being added to the keenly contested County Championships will open more doors for players. This has attracted some welcome sponsorship from Surridge Sports to enable the launch of the 2009 County Championship, for which we are most grateful.”

Disability cricket at all levels is being developed across the country (and internationally) so if you’d like to play the game yourself, or fancy taking part as an umpire, official, coach or scorer, why not contact one of the relevant organisations to find out what’s going on in your area? And don’t forget, matches need spectators too. So dig out your whites or pack up your picnic basket – either way, a game of cricket is the perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon!

Further Information:

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB)

ECB National Disability Cricket Manager

Ian Martin

Tel: 07824 600325

England & Wales Cricket Board

Lord’s Cricket Ground



British Association for Cricketers with Disabilities (BACD)

BACD Chairman

Bill Higginson

01544 260 315

Cricket Federation for People with Disabilities (CFPD)

CFPD Chairman

Dick Wildgoose

01691 650 554

Blind & Visually Impaired Cricket

Chairman of British Blind Sport Cricket Section

David Gavrilovic

07866 751 646

England Cricket Association for the Deaf

ECAD Secretary

Lucy Riding

Stefan Pichowski – 07967 174391 (Voice/SMS)

Peter Dixon – 08704 605678 (Voice)

08701 121331 (Fax)

This article first appeared in the April 2009 issue of Mobilise magazine, which goes out to all our members and includes reviews of adapted cars and mobility equipment, features on accessible travel and leisure, campaign updates, news, competitions and real-life stories.
Membership of our charity costs just  £16 per year and includes your monthly subscription to Mobilise.

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