Swivelling seats could be the solution for many people with disabilities who find it difficult to get in and out of cars. Now a Toyota Yaris 1.0-litre T2 fitted with a prototype purpose-built driver's seat has been loaned to the Derby Regional Mobility Centre (DRMC) by Toyota for a six-month evaluation.
The centre, staffed by technical and medical specialists, provides advice and assesses people with a disability who wish to start or return to driving. Now its clients will be invited to try out and report their findings on the Yaris.
The handover took place on 9 July at the Making A Difference day, appropriately held in the Toyota Suite at Pride Park stadium, the home of Derby County FC. This event, organised by the National Demonstration Centre in Rehabilitation, gives people with disabilities the chance to sample devices that help them to live independently.
DRMC's Rehabilitation Technology Services Manager Lynne Murray-Hogsflesh and Senior Occupational Therapist/Driver Evaluator Maggie Moorcroft received the Yaris from Alistair Crawford, Motability Specialist for local Toyota dealership Inchcape Derby, and Toyota's Mobility Account Manager David Shaw.
The lever-operated swivel seat can be fitted for driver or passengers, and Toyota hopes to learn more about users' attitude to such aspects as swivel angle, seat height and lateral adjustment.
The loan Yaris, which is also fitted with more familiar adaptations such as hand controls and a steering ball, made a big impression at the recent Mobility Roadshow 2003 at Castle Donington, where hundreds of visitors were able to take the controls. Falklands war veteran Simon Weston OBE also drove it for a week leading up to that event. "The Toyota swivel seat aims to encourage disabled people into a car," he said at the show. "If manufacturers can cure small problems for mobility customers, such as easier access to the vehicle with a swivel seat, it can transform people's lives."
"It is possible for users to obtain swivel seats from third-party suppliers but these don't necessarily match the standard seating as this prototype does," said Tim Copland, Toyota's National Leasing, Rental & Special Sales Manager, responsible for Motability business. "We understand how important it is to our Motability customers that adapted vehicles should appear as much like standard models as possible, and we are committed to listening carefully to their requirements and responding accordingly."
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