Accessibility December 28, 2018
Specially modified vehicles gives disabled people wings to fly
Most of the times, people with disabilities, especially those on wheelchairs, are forced to be confined inside their homes due to lack of accessibility. For most of them, travelling is a nightmare because bus and railway stations and even airports and not disabled friendly. Owning your own car and being able to drive around independently is one of the best feelings ever. Did you know that all cars and two-wheelers can be modified and made accessible for disabled people? NewzHook spoke to people who modify cars for disabled people and how it has changed the lives of many for the best.
Musthafa Thorappa’s tryst with modifying cars
Musthafa Thorappa from Malappuram in Kerala started modifying cars since 1999. His company Perfect Vital Care Centre has already modified cars for over 1360 disabled people from across India. Thorappa modifies vehicles according to the needs of a disabled person.
It all started when he met with an accident and had to be on a wheelchair permanently. It was a depressing phase for him because he knew he had lots to do going ahead in life but had mobility limitations. Being a wheelchair user, Thorappa knew the hardships faced by disabled people who wanted to move around freely. That is when he decided, why not modify cars and two-wheelers for disabled people. Being a trained mechanic, Thorappa did not look further.
In the early 90’s, I have seen wheelchair users in other countries driving around. So I thought why not try the same thing in India. I wanted to start off by modifying manual cars. During the first few months, I had to struggle a lot. But on 1 January 1999, I got it right. I could introduce my first modified disabled car on that same date. It was a turning point in my life- Musthafa Thorappa
Thorappa always wanted to visit the Taj Mahal. So he went on a drive from Kerala to New Delhi in his modified car driving over 2700 kms. He also made a stop at the Taj Mahal enroute to Delhi. Thorappa has won many state and national accolades for his technological expertise.
Rates of modifying a car vary from 6000 Rs to 16,000 Rs depending on its modifications. Disabled drivers are given instructions on how to use the vehicle, especially when there is an emergency. Thorappa who is also a farmer, is enjoying every bit of his life.
“Earlier, facilities were restricted. Now, everything is available at your fingertip. People with all kinds of disabilities can drive now. Nothing is impossible”, says Thorappa.
Prajith Jaipal is a wheelchair user from Kerala. He is also a disability rights activist. He drove 8500 kms from Kerala to New Delhi to meet Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his car that was modified by Thorappa. Jaipal was in the United States for over two months to attend the ability expo which he plans to bring down to India by 2020.
“At the expo, I met many people who are working on modified vehicles for disabled people. I hope we can bring down all the latest technologies to India very soon. No automobile giants manufacture exclusively modified cars for disabled people. So all of them are modified after its purchase by the owner. I believe gearless vehicles are perfect to be modified because you can avoid the risk of driving a car with gear. Mobility is one of the most important factors for wheelchair users. So driving your own car is indeed a great feeling”, says Jaipal.
Happy smiles of customers is Jose David’s asset
Jose David from Thrissur in Kerala has already modified over 400 cars. His specialty is that, he goes to homes of his customers and modifies their cars in front of them. The car owner will be able to witness how his vehicle is being modified. It also gives them a better and detailed insight into their own cars.
David got his license to modify cars in 2005. His venture Padikkala Associates ensures that aspiring disabled drivers get nothing lesser than the best. David first got introduced to modified cars when he met his friend’s father who met with an accident, but started driving his own modified car. David found that interesting and started exploring on his own. He started off by learning on automatic clutches. Today, they do accelerator and brake modifications as well.
After modifying a disabled vehicle, it is inspected by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) that gives a go ahead for the disabled driver to apply for their license.
“It is a great feeling to see disabled people drive their own vehicle. It feels like how caged birds are set free. Many people call me and talk about how they go with their families on long trips in their own cars”, says David.
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