DISABILITY AID - THE SCOOTER




Introduction

The scooter is respected worldwide as a disability aid that provides unparalleled ease for the movement impaired. The ease of mobility provided by scooters creates a sense of independence and freedom especially for students and even non-students that are unable to walk or stand for extended periods. This article will consider a brief history of scooters, types of scooters available, important expert considerations when choosing a scooter, regulatory authorities in Malaysia and regulatory authorities in the world that provide standards of manufacture and operation.


Brief History

The scooter is a mobility machine known to originate from Italy. Initially designed by Enrico Piaggio after the Second World War and touched up by Aeronautic Engineer Carradino D’Ascanio in 1946, the scooter or Vespa emerged to be the preferred mobility machine due to its low-cost and the ease it provided from congested urban transportation systems in cities and colleges (Scully, 2005). Carradino D’Ascanio’s design included a gear in the handle, the engine neatly and carefully planted in the side, a front cover that protects the riders legs from puddle and wind, small wheels and a bench for a passenger and rider. Its simple design and low gas consumption continues to appeal to many people today. Modern designs are more efficient conforming to tighter pollution laws and equipped with anti-theft devices (Wallace, 1996). The attractive versatility of the scooter and increasing populations of old and disabled people contributed to the adaptation of the scooter to its ‘mobility design’ - the disability aid to ease the mobility burdens of the old, movement impaired and other disabled persons. Today’s mobility designs incorporate additional features such as navigation and location guidance, collision avoidance and additional vehicle control functions (Velazquez et. al, 2012). Mobility scooters must be used with caution as they are considered pedestrians in most countries. This is especially important for the hearing and vision impaired. While various bodies are working on scooters for people with low vision, until then, caution on scooter usage must be exercised by those with poor eyesight (Ong and Ong, 2011).


Important considerations for students

Students interested in this disability aid – the scooter – must have these factors borne in mind as suggested by Personal Mobility Engineers:

  1. A personal analysis of the requirements and need of the scooter must be clear including any safety needs.

  2. The level of comfort required must be specified since scooters have wider product ranges nowadays.

  3. A budget must be specified.

  4. Reliability needs of the scooter must be discussed and agreed with the agencies.

  5. In the case of an emergency, how will you and the scooter be managed (tyre puncture, battery failure or electronic components malfunction)?

  6. Do you have quick access to trained and certified technicians to effect repairs on the scooter if it fails?

Like any vehicle or mobile disability aid, proper research should be carried out in association with a licensed provider to ensure the suitable choice is made.


Regulatory authorities in Malaysia

  1. Malaysia Motorcycle and Scooter Dealers Association (Includes Motorcycle and Scooter Assemblers and Distributors Association of Malaysia).

  2. Auxiliary functions provided by the Road Transport Department of Malaysia (under the Disabled Vehicle Application renovation).

Regulatory authorities in the world

  1. International Standards Organization (ISO 7176 – 21: 2009).

Conclusion

The purpose of this article was to consider a brief history of scooters; important expert considerations when choosing a scooter, regulatory authorities in Malaysia and regulatory authorities in the world that provide standards of manufacture and operation. It was explained that important considerations when choosing a scooter includes ascertaining the needs and requirements of the scooter, budget, comfort, reliability, safety and access to maintenance personnel. It was advised that scooter use should be preceded with caution especially with the visually impaired and scooter discussions should involve a licensed provider to avoid problems in its operation and use.


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References

Ong and Ong (2011), ‘Removing the blinkers’, Independent Living, Vol. 27, Issue 4, p. 22-5.

Scully, J (2005), ‘Hot wheels’, Time, Vol. 166.

Velazquez, R, Pissaloux, E, Eck, D, Schilling, K, Abdul-Majeed, A, Thielecke, J, Richter, P, Boronat, J., G, Schens, I, Thomas, B, Willinger, B and Lang, F., R (2012), ‘Mobility assistance for older people’, Vol. 9, Issue 1, p. 69-83.

Wallace, C., P (1996), ‘Scooters on the roll again’, Time International (Canada Edition), Vol. 148, Issue 14.



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