Wheeled Mobility Equipment Users, Use and Circulation Spaces

Ever wondered about the differences between types of wheeled mobility devices?

Manual Wheelchairs

  • Used by people who can push their own wheelchair or are attendant propelled
  • May be a person’s primary means of mobility or may be used part time/on occasion basis
  • Used with or without assistance (attendant propelled)
  • Can be customised to suit a single user or purchased as a generic item
  • Can be available to hire or borrow (e.g within airports, travellers aid, pharmacies)

Electric or Power Wheelchairs

  • For people who are unable to push their own manual wheelchair or push required distances
  • Often is a person’s primary means of mobility
  • Commonly incorporate customised elements, particularly postural support, or specific controls to enable independent control
  • Commonly scripted by allied health professionals
  • More costly
  • Require charging
  • Overnight are commonly stored located in bedrooms or in a common living area – depending on care requirements and a person’s ability to get to the wheelchair
  • Can be rear-wheel-drive; mid-wheel-drive or front wheel drive

Electric Scooters

  • Generally not for full time mobility – people who use mobility scooters can usually walk short/medium distances
  • Primary use is for community access
  • Not designed for use within all areas of a home or dwelling – just to the dwelling
  • Not customised. Cheaper than an electric wheelchair
  • Wide variation in mobility scooter types and sizes
  • Require charging
  • Storage can be a challenge. In residential aged care facilities dedicated scooter rooms are often designed on the ground level. These have the advantage of being staffed and secure environments for storage
  • Higher proportion of self-purchased items compared to wheelchairs
  • Commonly have a poor turning circle
  • Can be available to hire or borrow (e.g. some shopping centres)

Circulation Spaces

Advice within the Australian Standards for Access and mobility (the AS1428 series) on circulation spaces and clearances are for wheelchair access. The data used in these standards is based on manual wheelchair studies with resultant specifications representative of either 80 or 90 percent of wheelchair users in these studies.

Circulation space requirements for power wheelchairs is commonly assumed to be met through the AS 1428.1 series. Mid-wheel drive power wheelchairs have increased manoueuvrability and require less circulation space compared to a rear-wheel-drive power wheelchair.

The AS 1428 series does not incorporate circulation spaces for mobility scooter access. The circulation space required for mobility scooter access is not widely published – due in part to the large variety of scooters and their poor turning circles. Mobility scooters require increased circulation spaces for turning compared to a manual or power wheelchair.

For a person who uses a wheelchair/mobilty scooter the specific ciruclation spaces required to turn will depend on that person’s skills in manoeuvring the equipment.

Architecture & Access can provide specific advice for projects that wish to accommodate circulation spaces to accommodate mobility scooter access, provide enhanced power wheelchair access or designed for specific users.

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Posted in Access Consulting