BBC Outside Broadcasting – Wheelchair access to mobile production vehicles
The BBC Outside Broadcasting team use a series of production trailers for outdoor events, such as football matches and need to offer access for members of staff that use wheelchairs. The challenge was to offer a solution that accommodated a variety of mobility devices, was portable, required no power source and could be used in all weather conditions and on a variety of terrains.
- There is only one access point to the trailers, therefore the solution has to be quick to deploy and to remove
- The solution has to be versatile and has to work with both manual and electric wheelchairs
- Because the trailers are used all round the country and abroad, the solution has to be portable
- Due to restricted access to external power sources, the solution needs to operate without a power
- The trailers are used throughout the year, therefore the solution needs to be resistant to all types of weather conditions and more importantly, has to be able to operate in all weather conditions
- As the vehicles are used at busy sporting events such as the Olympics, space is at a premium and therefore the footprint of the solution needs to be kept to an absolute minimum.
Bentley Fielden recommended a portable wheelchair lift – the Mobilift CX. The Mobilift CX is a manually operated and fully portable lift, this meant that the Mobilift could be loaded into a vehicle to be transported from location to location and because it’s manually operated, it requires no external power source. The portable nature of the Mobilift means that the unit can be positioned in a matter of seconds, used and then wheeled away; this means that access to the vehicle for other staff members is not compromised. At approximately 1m x 2m, the Mobilift offered the ideal solution in terms of ‘footprint’ too, essential where available space is minimal. Originally specified for the Canadian rail industry, the Mobilift has been designed for some pretty harsh weather conditions and can certainly cope with even the most miserable British winters and you’ll not be surprised to hear, can certainly cope with our slightly less miserable summers.
The Mobilift worked perfectly, allowing wheelchair access to a number of production trailers and am happy to say that the BBC have enquired about purchasing a second lift for another department.
Manchester University and Bristol University – Offering wheelchair access to stage for graduation ceremonies
Both Manchester and Bristol University wanted to enable students in wheelchairs the opportunity to access the stage to receive their degree certificates in the same way as the rest of the graduates. The main constraint in both cases was the ‘listed’ status of the buildings involved; meaning that it wasn’t possible to make structural adaptations to the buildings and the other issue was the lack of space available for any sort of ramped solution.
- The buildings at both universities are ‘listed’ and therefore they were prohibited from making any structural changes to the buildings, this prohibited the installation of any sort of permanent lift.
- The stage height in both cases was in excess of 1m, precluding the use of most portable wheelchair lifts due to height and hindering the use of ramps because of the length of ramp required.
- Because the buildings are used for multiple purposes throughout the year and in many cases, wheelchair access isn’t required, they wanted a solution that took up minimal space when in use and could be moved into storage when not required
- One of the stages also had a set of steps to negotiate, restricting normal vertical access
Manchester University – We supplied a standard Mobilift CX which is a fully portable wheelchair lift, meaning it can be wheeled into position when required and wheeled into storage when not. The standard Mobilift CX lifts to a maximum height of 1.52m, therefore the stage height was no problem and because the Mobilift requires no installation, there was no issue with making adaptations to a ‘listed’ building.
Bristol University – We again supplied one standard Mobilift CX for the stage with no steps and also supplied a Mobilift CX with an an extended ‘Bridge Ramp’, with self-locking handrails, to bridge over the set of steps.
Both Universities now have quick and simple access for all disabled students and have the advantage of being able to use their Mobilifts at multiple sites across campus.
Sunderland City Council – Wheelchair Access to Roker Mobile Education Pods
Sunderland City Council have situated three mobile pods on the seafront at Roker and need to ensure that there is wheelchair access to all three. The key issues were to provide a solution that was easy to use, could be moved quickly from pod to pod, could be stored away for security and could operate in the harsh weather conditions. The unit also needed to be operational without power, due to the costal location.
- Due to the fact there will be numerous staff members using the equipment, the equipment provided needs to be simple and safe to use.
- There are three pods so the equipment needs to be able to be moved between the pods quickly and without any installation or disassembly being required
- The unit needs to be able to be transportable by vehicle, in case the pods are to be moved to an alternative location
- Because the pods can sometimes be staffed by one person, the unit needs to be operational and transportable by one person. It also needs to be portable enough for one person to be able to move it to the nearby storage facility
- Due to the coastal location of the pods, the unit has to be operational in all weathers.
- The unit also needs to be operational without access to a power source
We took a Mobilift CX demo unit up and then spent time liaising with the pod designers to try and come up with the best configuration. The Mobilift CX proved to be ideal for the situation and needed no adaptation because of its portability, simplicity of use and its manual operation. The Mobilift sits on 4 permanent castors and therefore it can be instantly wheeled from pod to pod in a matter of seconds, then by simply turning the crank handle half a turn, it’s secure and ready for use. The same process can be used for when moving the lift into storage and both processes only require one person. The manual operation of the lift was essential due to lack of an available power source, the Mobilift was perfect for this, utilising a highly geared crank system, simple to use and requiring very little effort. The final issue was the selecting a solution that was resistant to the elements and because the Mobilift CX was initially designed for the Canadian Rail Industry, it again ticked all the right boxes.
Sunderland City Council hired the lift for an initial assessment period and then opted to purchase their own Mobilift unit. They now have access to the three pods and am pleased to say that the Mobilift has proved to be the ideal solution.