Disabled University Lecturer Continues Campaigning
Frank Adams, 50 from Holmfirth near Huddersfield who lives with severely restricted mobility, has continued to campaign and educate academic and non-academics about disability, thanks to a remarkable drive-from-wheelchair Sirus car.
The majority of his career has been focused on improving accessibility for people living with disabilities. He was diagnosed with Polio at a young age however this condition and its serious after effects, have not held Frank back from successfully completing many achievements. These have included working for his local authority as its Specialist Mobility and Access Officer; establishing a new Disabled Living Centre, Shopmobility scheme; managing a Disabled Information Advice Line; through to his current voluntary campaigning and position at Huddersfield University.
Frank is a key member of the educational team within the Health and Human Science Department where he lectures to students training to become Occupational Therapists, Nurses, Physiotherapists and paediatric consultants. His unique knowledge of disability, both in terms of living with a condition and wider accessibility and inclusion issues, is invaluable to these academics – only made available by Frank’s ability to drive independently.
Desire to be independent
Despite being unable to stand or walk and using a powered wheelchair to remain mobile, Frank is still able to drive to the University on his own, in his wheelchair, thanks to an innovative ‘i-Can’ converted car built by Sirus Automotive. Sirus is a leading car conversion company that re-engineers many types of vehicle, including the Volkswagen Caddy, so that a wheelchair user can drive it without the assistance of a carer or relative. The Caddy based ‘i-Can’ as owned by Frank, allows the driver to enter the vehicle via a rear ramp, position their manual or powered wheelchair in the driving position and then operate the car with hand controls.
Frank explains: “Living with the effects of Polio has been challenging for me but I have always remained positive. Even when I experiencing a bad fall 10 years ago that resulted in my better leg being broken and the need for a wheelchair, I have always remained optimistic. Saying that, the thought of not being able to drive and losing independence from a practical point of view was a real concern.
Motability Road show since 1983
I first discovered the ‘i-Can’ drive-from-wheelchair car when visiting an exhibition called The Mobility Roadshow. This fascinating national event showcased all the latest product innovations that help individuals like me live an easier life – I enjoyed it that much I have been to every annual Roadshow since it started in 1983! I was eventually made an Ambassador to the show, which was a great honour. Without my Sirus car, I simply could not continue my work at the University as there are no low floor buses or accessible taxis operating in my local area. I am currently campaigning for this to change however improvements for people with disabilities can take some time.”
Importance of the Sirus car
Frank continues: “In addition to my work at the University, I am actively engaged in supporting local GP surgeries, Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Police in terms of reducing disabled hate crime. All this would not be possible without my Sirus car and the Motability scheme. As I decided to take early retirement from my earning career due to my developing condition, my voluntary work since then has been essential in terms of life satisfaction. I have also had the privilege of working for the BBC in a reporting and presenting capacity focused on disability issues and thanks to my Sirus car, I intend to continue my mission to achieve access for all.”