National Mobility Awareness Month to Shine Spotlight on Auto Accessibility

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), automotive manufacturers, adaptive equipment manufacturers, automotive dealers and clinicians have joined forces to launch the first-ever National Mobility Awareness Month in May 2012.

NMEDA and its partners will use those 31 days to teach people about adaptive automotive equipment and the professionals who make up the industry. The awareness month project is far ranging and ambitious in scope, seeking to turn a national spotlight on an industry and a segment of technology that can bolster independence but remains unknown to the general public.

The awareness month's biggest splash will be a contest to award adapted vehicles to those who submit their life stories.

"The contest really becomes the center point," NMEDA's Executive Director Dave Hubbard says. "It focuses on encouraging people to deal with their disability, and it promotes life."

Contestants can upload videos on Facebook and encourage friends to vote. Winners will receive vehicles built and fitted by NMEDA members to individual specifications.

Because potential voters must visit a mobility dealer's Web site or store to receive a code to cast a ballot, NMEDA hopes people will learn more about the adaptive automotive specialty.

Toyota, Hubbard says, has already donated a vehicle to give away, and other manufacturers are considering similar donations. NMEDA's goal is to give the vehicles away on national TV shows, such as “Good Morning America” or “Ellen.”

NMEDA has also secured a spokesman, Mike Savicki, who is an ex-Navy pilot with dozens of athletic medals and is the only man in the world to run the Boston Marathon on foot and in a wheelchair. Savicki will be on hand to give away prizes.

One of the main goals of the awareness month is to reach out to seniors who might be growing into a disability.

“One of the things that happens is that if you injure yourself or you have a disease that puts you in a wheelchair, there are people around that can tell you about these products and materials,” says Hubbard. “But if you’re just slowly growing into your disability, you don’t always know. There’s an awful lot of people in this world that just don’t know what mobility solutions are available.”

Vehicle prizes will be awarded at the end of May.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.