Lifestyle, Transport

Which Car Hire Companies Support Drivers who use Steering Aids?

I asked Enterprise, Hertz, Avis, Sixt, and Europcar:

1) Can I hire an automatic car with steering aids fitted?

2) Can I fit and use my own steering aids in a hire car?

Below I have outlined which companies it is possible to hire a car from if you are injured or disabled and require steering aids such as a steering spinner or indicator extension.

This information is correct for car hire in the UK as of June 2021.

What are steering aids?

Typically steering aids are removable and bolt onto the steering wheel or indicator stick. They include steering spinners which allow one-handed steering, and indicator extenders which allow control of indicators or windscreen wipers from the opposite side of the steering wheel. Read more about the steering aids I use in order to drive one handed.

Who benefits from steering aids?

Steering aids in combination with automatic transmission enable people with a hand or upper limb disability or injury to drive a car. People with disabilities like arthritis, weak grip, hemiplegia or injuries affecting the hand, wrist, or arm may require steering aids. Aids may help with gripping the steering wheel and controlling the car with one hand.

Are hand controls the same as steering aids?

No- Hand controls replace foot pedals (brake and accelerator) and are designed to help people with lower limb disability. Several car hire companies have information about hand controls on their websites and provide this service for free. Hand controls will NOT make it easier to drive a car if you have a hand or upper limb disability.

Enterprise- Full Support

With 48 hours notice, Enterprise provides Lynx steering aids including a steering ball or quad/tetra grip steering wheel attachment, indicator extension to left side, and assisted hand brake release (as well as hand controls for those with lower limb disability). This service is free.

When I spoke to them on the phone, they also agreed that I could rent an automatic car and attach my own steering aids with less than 48 hours’ notice. The Enterprise website states that they are committed to supporting disabled customers and also offer a free surrogate driver option, and hire of permanently adapted vehicles.

One thing to note is that the Enterprise website says vehicle hire is possible using a debit card. This process requires an approval step and is not possible for all customers.

Avis- Partial Support

Avis do not provide steering aids but would allow drivers to use their own. They did stipulate drivers would be responsible for fitting their own aids for liability reasons, but could ask for assistance with this at the rental office. Their online chat function was helpful and allowed me to get clarification very quickly.

Europcar- Partial Support

Europcar do not provide steering aids but do let drivers provide their own. Their website did not have this information available but it was confirmed by emailing their customer service team.

Sixt- Partial Support

Sixt also do not provide steering aids in the UK, but do allow drivers to bring and fit their own. This information isn’t available online but was confirmed by email.

Support and information for disabled drivers in the US is available at https://www.sixt.com/customers-with-disabilities and states “Sixt is committed to providing a range of Adaptive Driving Devices for our customers with disabilities. Adaptive Driving Devices include left and right hand controls, and spinner knobs”.

Hertz- No Support

Hertz do not provide steering aids, and do not let drivers provide their own. I was told this was because their insurance would not cover it.

Overview

Enterprise had the most detailed and comprehensive options for disabled drivers on their website. If you have a credit card, this is your best bet for making a spontaneous booking.

By contacting customer services, Avis, Europcar and Sixt all confirmed that providing your own steering aids was possible when renting a car. This isn’t an ideal solution for everyone, but does give some additional flexibility and choice of hire company if you already own removable steering aids.

It was very disappointing that Hertz did not provide any options for customers requiring steering aids especially as they are well-known international company.

I would recommend booking car hire over the phone or by email, as most websites do not offer steering aid options as an add-on at checkout. Additionally, individual branch staff might not be aware that steering aids are supported, or what the company regulations are. The option to provide your own steering aids was not a standard anywhere, although when asked, several companies were able to accommodate this. The issue of liability was raised by Avis which highlights the need to get detailed confirmation in writing. Clearer information on car hire websites would be useful and save time contacting customer services.

If you have had a good experience or cautionary tale from hiring a car as a disabled driver, please leave a comment below. So far I’ve learned that research and preparation in advance is key!

Extended arm with hand straining to hold a phone. Black and white image
Lifestyle, Tech

5 Smartphone Grips to Make Holding Your Phone Easier

Holding phones in an awkward way can cause pain flare ups for those with chronic hand and wrist complaints like arthritis, RSI, carpal tunnel or EDS.

Smartphone grips for small hands, weak grip or subluxing joints can make holding a phone more secure and comfortable. Below are some of the different options for phone grips and key search terms to help find them online. Adhesive grips can be positioned in the optimal place for each individual’s hand size and left- or right-handedness.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links and I will earn money from qualifying purchases. I use and would recommend the Frienda elastic straps linked below but have not tried the other products. Clicking on an image will take you to its Amazon product page.

Elastic Strap

Search for: Adhesive elastic strap, phone finger grip, phone stand

Relatively slim, and can be used with one to four fingers. Some come with a kickstand, and/or a card holding pocket. I find this type of strap comfortable and secure, making the phone easy to hold without having to grip.

Popup Grip

Search for: Popsockets, popup grip

This plastic grip is adhesive and is clasped between fingers. It can be flattened or extended with a push, and can double as a prop stand. There are lots of different colours and patterns and they are widely available on Etsy and Amazon.

Ring Holder

Search for: Phone ring kickstand, adhesive, magnetic

A metal or plastic ring that can be folded flat into the phone, for one or two fingers. Some can be used as a stand when folded out, and may contain a magnet for mounting onto an in-car stand. Rings can be adhesive or come as part of a case. Many have 360 degree rotation allowing different holding positions.

Silicone Strap

Search for: Universal silicone strap/grip/band/loop

This strap is attatched by the inside of your phone case which has to have a camera hole (case usually not included). They are long enough to fit 4 fingers and the angle can be set as preferred.

Slide Up Finger Grip

Search for Pela, Speck GrabTab, Momostick, slide up phone finger holder/ grip

These grips are relatively low profile when not in use. They usually fit one finger and can double as a stand. Some brands include card-holders or biodegradeable design.

When choosing remember to check which surfaces an adhesive is compatible with!

Lifestyle, Transport

Driving one-handed: Six months on

Updates and insights into driving an automatic car one-handed

At first it was a bit overwhelming to have so many changes at once, but now one-handed driving feels natural. Driving an automatic is lovely, stop-start driving and pulling away from junctions is so much easier without having to change gears manually.

Since getting the steering knob and indicator secured in their optimal positions 5 months ago, they haven’t come loose. I keep a hex key set and pliers in the glovebox though, just in case something ever needs adjusting when I’m away from home.

The steering knob is so helpful for parallel parking and I find it easier than steering with both hands now because it makes turning the wheel faster. The one I used temporarily rattled around a bit which made it difficult to make small adjustments like when driving on the motorway. The Alfred Bekker one I’m using now is more sturdy and doesn’t have the same problem (my steering aids review here).

Maintenance has been tricky as I struggled with unscrewing things that had been left very tight like the oil and tyre pressure caps. I found out the hard way that under-inflated tyres make the steering heavier so I’m making sure to keep an eye on tyre pressure regularly.

Overall I love having the freedom of driving. It’s meant I can live in a less central area and don’t have to rely on public transport and supermarket deliveries. The steering aids help me to drive confidently and I’m not limited by pain or instability in my wrist.

Related Posts

white pills arranged in the shape of a question mark on a bright yellow background
Health

Should I use an Online Pharmacy?

In the UK, you can now nominate to send all your electronic prescriptions to an online pharmacy. You can then order medication online, and have it delivered to your door. This post is about my positive experience using an online pharmacy this year, and how to get around ordering issues.

Pros of Using an Online Pharmacy

  • Saves travelling to a pharmacy and queueing in person
  • No extra cost
  • Easy to use with prepaid prescription certificate
  • Get reminder emails when it’s time to order repeat medication

Cons of using an Online Pharmacy

  • Need to order a few days in advance
  • Have to remember to specify alternative pharmacy at your GP if you need medicine ASAP (like antibiotics)
  • If you pay for prescriptions, payment may be taken automatically when your GP orders for you

My Experience

I started using an online pharmacy in April because I wanted to reduce the time spent ordering and collecting medication as well as decreasing my risk of Covid-19 exposure. I have found it so convenient that I don’t think I’ll switch back.

I used to have to phone the pharmacy (multiple times because the phone was usually engaged), then call ahead a few days later so they could prepare the medication, then go to collect in person and usually queue. On top of this, my local pharmacy had supply issues a couple of times, which meant I had to go back every few days to collect a few tablets at a time. I’m on several medications long-term so cutting out pharmacy trips has made ordering and picking up prescriptions so much easier.

I have a prepaid prescription certificate and I could select this as a payment option online with no problem. It was also easy to change my delivery address and re-nominate the same account from my new GP surgery when I moved house.

The only problem I’ve had was forgetting to ask my GP to send a prescription for antibiotics to my local pharmacy instead of online. This did take several phone calls to sort out but was fixed the same day.

Help! My prescription was sent to an online pharmacy but I need it ASAP

If your nominated pharmacy is online and your GP prescribes you medicine to start taking immediately, it’s best to ask them to send it to your local pharmacy as a one-off. There will be a delay if it’s sent to a nominated (online) pharmacy due to packing and delivery times.

If you forget, and the order hasn’t been shipped by the online pharmacy, it’s not too late.

To rectify an order sent to an online pharmacy by mistake, phone the online pharmacy and tell them you need to collect ASAP from another pharmacy. Then, ask them to put your prescription back on the NHS ‘spine’. This will cancel your order with them and make your prescription available to order elsewhere. This might take a few minutes and they might have to call you back. They’ll then give you a long number code. You will need to phone your local pharmacy with this code, tell them your prescription is on the spine and give them your details and the code. This should allow the local pharmacy to prepare the medication for you.

I would recommend online pharmacies…

If you have repeat prescriptions and want to cut down on pharmacy trips. This has saved me so much time going to the pharmacy, as well as reducing my risk of exposure to covid-19. I haven’t had any problems with supply which has been an issue over the past year at my in-person pharmacy. It’s easy to order and I don’t have to wait in a phone queue or in person at the pharmacy any more.

The pharmacy app or website also makes it easy to see when you last ordered your medication, and can send email reminders when it’s time to reorder repeat prescriptions.

It might not be worth it if…

You order medication infrequently, and need medication on the day more often. It’s also worth noting that if you pay for prescriptions and save your payment details with your nominated pharmacy, you could be charged automatically when your GP sends a prescription through.

To nominate an online pharmacy

You can ask your GP, use the NHS prescriptions app, or most online pharmacies allow you to nominate them through their website. When choosing an online pharmacy, make sure that it is reputable and properly licenced, the NHS guide to ordering prescriptions online is here: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/pharmacies/how-to-order-repeat-prescriptions-online/ .

NHS-listed online pharmacies:

Boots (free delivery in England only) (https://www.boots.com/online/pharmacy/)

Echo by Lloyds (https://www.echo.co.uk/)

Pharmacy2U (https://www.pharmacy2u.co.uk/)

Health, Lifestyle

Wrist Splints Review

My recommendations for wrist supports to prevent subluxation and clenching at night.

I have a pain response where I tightly clench my fist and arm in my sleep. This causes my wrist to sublux (joint pops partially out) and stretches and irritates my median nerve, which was damaged in an accident. Both of these things cause more pain and perpetuate the cycle so a year ago my doctor recommended wearing a wrist splint at night to prevent these things from happening.

Recently I had to replace my splint and was a bit bewildered by all the different options, so I have tested and reviewed six supports below. All the splints cover the palm and include a metal bar up the inside of the wrist and bent into the palm. It’s more comfortable than it sounds and the bar helps to stop the fist from folding in towards the arm. When putting a splint on I clench my fist and arm muscles with my arm straight so that I won’t make the splint too tight or restrictive.

In an ideal world, consult with your doctor for the best advice. I appreciate we don’t all have the access we need at the moment and sometimes a quick fix or stopgap is helpful. For the same reason, although I try to avoid it, these are all links to Amazon. They have a huge range of wrist supports, and a decent return and refund system.

My original splint (Praxis)

My doctor gave me this splint when I first said I was having problems clenching my fist overnight. The strap around the wrist and arm is fully adjustable as it can attach to anywhere on the neoprene and provides enough support to stop my wrist from subluxing. It’s easy to line up and put on one-handed because of the way the big strap wraps around. The neoprene gives some additional warmth which I find nice except for on very hot nights. This splint comes quite high up over the palm of the hand so the design and the metal bar inside really stop the wrist from being able to flex.

I love this splint and find that it works really well and is very comfortable. The only downside is that attaching the Velcro to the neoprene causes it to fuzz and become less sticky over time. I think the lifespan of this splint if you wear it every night is probably around six months before the Velcro stops working. You can sew Velcro on top of the neoprene to increase the lifespan which I did but after about 12 months it’s really frayed and stretched beyond repair.

Splint #2 (Praxis, £5.99)

I bought this splint as a replacement for my worn out one. It’s the same brand, but a slightly altered design. They’ve changed the type of velcro on the wrist wrapping part, maybe to try to avoid the neoprene fuzzing. I’m not sure if it’s an improvement as I found this made it less sticky at the edges.

It’s one size fits all; I have small hands and wrists and find it comfortable and supportive enough. It restricts wrist movement curling the hand towards the wrist best, but doesn’t totally restrict wrist movement side to side.

Splint #3 (Actesso, £9.85)

I was looking for something that would be more breathable and cooler to wear in the summer. The design of this splint is quite a common one with panels of stretchy, breathable fabric at the sides. It’s quite difficult to put this splint on because has multiple straps and it’s tricky to hold the splint closed and line them all up. I chose this splint specifically because it looked the most breathable, but unfortunately because it has both elastic and thin parts, it doesn’t prevent my wrist from bending very much.

Splint #4 (BodyTec, £6.49)

This splint has a similar design to the one above but is made of neoprene. Again, from the side view it can be seen that the fabric of the splint doesn’t actually overlap itself. This does cut down on bulkiness but if you’re looking for a sturdy wrist support, it might be too stretchy. It was still possible for me to flex my hand inwards and sublux my wrist so I found this splint too flimsy and didn’t brace my hand well enough.

Splint #5 (Zofore, £13.97 but currently unavailable*)

If splints are like a prison for your wrist, this splint is Alcatraz. It’s very well made and sturdy, and the design ensures that skin doesn’t get trapped in the join. The straps are not stretchy and the middle strap wraps all the way around the arm and back on itself, making this splint the most supportive that I tried. It’s possible to tighten the straps so that you have no flexion in the wrist at all. I ordered the smallest size but the top strap is still a little long, so has to be positioned at an angle. Overall the fit is fine for my wrist and arm though. It is made of breathable fabric but now it’s cooler I haven’t noticed whether it’s effective.

The ‘strengths’ (literally) of the splint are also its weaknesses. Three straps are quite difficult to coordinate with one hand, especially the long middle one which sticks to everything when I’m trying to put it on. The first few times it was difficult to find the correct fit and not over tighten it, which led to me cutting off my circulation in my sleep, because it’s not so stretchy.

* Correct October 29th 2020

Wrist support (Dr Arthritis, £12.95)

Not a splint, but I sometimes use this wrap-around neoprene wrist support during the day. Although not as supportive, I find it useful if my wrist is feeling very weak and I have to do something where I need wrist flexibility like yoga or moving heavy things around. The neoprene strap that wraps all round the wrist gives the extra support I need to stop my wrist subluxing. Again because it’s neoprene it showing signs of wear, but I’ll probably replace it with the same kind because it is very comfortable.


I can’t speak for how well these splints will help for other wrist conditions like arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome- you may find that you don’t need as much support or restriction of movement, or prefer to wear something less bulky. Several of the product pages state that they are used by the NHS although I’m not sure how you’d check that.

For preventing wrist clunching and subluxation at night, my top recommendation would be the Praxis splint, as I find it the easiest to put on and the most comfortable. Its only downsides are that it wears out relatively quickly (this may have been improved by the new design) and it can be hot to wear. The black Zofore splint was the sturdiest splint that I tried and was very supportive. I did find it difficult to get the fit right and coordinate the straps at first but have got the hang of it after a couple of weeks. I’d recommend putting a new splint on an hour or so before going to bed to get the fit right and avoid overtightening.

Tips for choosing a wrist splint:

  • Fewer straps will make it easier to put on
  • A strap that wraps all the way around the wrist will give better support
  • Stretchy and breathable materials might not provide enough support
  • Neoprene is a comfortable and warm material, maybe too warm
  • Doctors may advise against wearing splints in the day to avoid deconditioning muscle. Always speak to a doctor for the best advice

Amy is smiling into the camera, she has brown hair with a fringe and is wearing glasses.
Lifestyle

‘How I’m Handling It’: Amy Hetherington, Journalist

I chat to journalist Amy Hetherington about growing up with hemiplegia, access to music at school, her career path, and one-handed horse riding

I reached out to Amy whilst researching the feasibility of finding an instrument to play one-handed. Currently I can only play the piano in short bursts due to nerve pain and have mostly given up playing the clarinet, but would love to get back into music somehow. I found the website for the One-Handed Musical Instruments Trust (OHMI) and saw Amy’s blog there. I was so grateful to talk to someone else with an upper limb disability who had experience of music (but not at an elite and unrelatable level). We branched out into other topics because I haven’t had much chance to speak to other disabled people lately and I wanted advice on more than just music, so I’ve split the article I was planning to write on OHMI and the Accessible Instruments Showcase into a separate post (coming soon).

Amy and music

Amy grew up with her ability to use one hand affected by hemiplegia. Her early memory of music at school was feeling upset to be left out and bored in group music classes, particularly when learning the recorder, a rite of passage for many children. Instead, she took up the trumpet, but found it heavy and difficult to play using only one hand. Although trumpets appear one-handed by design, with the right hand operating three valves on the top of the instrument, the left hand helps to support the weight of the (heavy) solid metal instrument. At a professional level, some trumpets also have a fourth valve to extend the range which complicates matters further. Amy settled on singing, where the problem of a heavy choir score book was more easily solved by using a conventional music stand.

The OHMI trust

Amy highlighted the problem of a lack of accessible musical instruments to her father Dr Stephen Hetherington, who founded OHMI with the goal of making one-handed instruments more accessible. The initial problem was that only a few expensive instruments. For this reason, OHMI holds a yearly competition to design a one-handed instrument, equipment to adapt or support an existing instrument, or a concept to help solve issues with design or supply. Over the last 9 years, winners have created a 3D printed one-handed recorder, stands to support brass instruments, and a one-handed clarinet amongst others. Although OHMI has a strong focus on providing options to increase inclusion of disabled children in music at school, adults can also rent or buy instruments through the trust.

One-handed horse riding?!

Amy’s other hobbies include horse riding, which she says is great for core strength. One-handed horse riding sounds terrifying, but Amy talks about it in a very nonchalant way. To make it work, she uses adapted reins and a mounting block. Then once in the saddle, the technique is not much different from riding in the standard way; it sounds like horses are able to adapt to humans as much as the other way around, as riding the same horse frequently allows them to learn how to respond to a rider’s particular movements and even voice commands.

Any one-handed tips?

When I ask Amy about any adaptations or tips for living one-handed, she replies that growing up with a disability means she’s trained one very dextrous hand which allows her to do most things. Because she’s adapted her own ways to do things, Amy finds some adaptations even make things more difficult.  She prefers one-handed typing on a small keyboard over using voice recognition software (which I agree is very temperamental) and tying shoelaces rather than using pull-elastic ones which are tricky to get tight enough.

Archaeology and Journalism

Amy recalls being a storyteller from childhood and writing from an early age. She discovered a passion for History at school which led her to study archaeology at university. After trying out both the excavation and admin side of things, Amy decided to return to writing which she describes as ‘a long love that was sadly forgotten’. She is currently working as a freelance journalist and writes the blog for OHMI.

Links (open in a new tab)

Amy’s website

The OHMI Trust website

Lifestyle, Transport

Adapting My Car for Hand Disability: Choosing Steering Aids

The aim: steering one-handed and driving without having to grip with the right hand. (Disclaimer, I have two hands, but one can’t be trusted to turn the steering wheel safely).

After some research on the Motability website and getting cleared to drive by the DVLA (see ‘Adapting my Car for Hand Disability: Timeline‘). I was ready to start adapting my car.

Choosing the steering aids

I did all my research online with the help of Motability online resources. If there hadn’t been a pandemic I would have preferred to try a range of aids in person as I had a bit of trial and error to find the best steering spinner and indicator extension. Steering spinners bolt onto the wheel and rotate so the driver can keep turning without letting go. An indicator extension allows control of the lever from the other side of the wheel. Having help to fit these tightly was essential as I couldn’t have done it by myself (thanks family). These steering aids, along with automatic transmission enable me to steer left-handed, while my right hand controls the indicator and windscreen wipers without the need to grip anything.

Not for me: The steering peg (£59 + £6 postage with VAT exemption, Alfred Bekker)

a hand holding the handle of a steering peg that is about 15cm long. It has a base which bolts onto the steering wheel
Alfred Bekker Steering Peg

I liked the quick-release feature, and it felt sturdy and well made. Unfortunately the angle for my wrist didn’t feel comfortable and it was difficult to turn the wheel by pushing upwards. It also stuck out from the steering wheel more than expected (~15cm) so I had to sit further back. This might not be such a problem if you have long legs. (Hex key needed but not included).

Other variants of steering peg exist, including a version with attached glove for extra support.

Budget choice: Steering mushroom (£12.99, Hypersonic on Amazon)

The wrist position for this one was much more comfortable and it was easier to push the steering wheel upwards by using the heel of my hand. The size was fine, even for my small hand. The head isn’t padded and feels a bit flimsy but the bolt on part is metal. I drove using it about 10 times and it didn’t slip on the wheel at all. there is some play on the spinner head itself which made it a bit difficult to make very small adjustments. Hex key included.

a steering knob attached to the steering wheel. It is bolted on
Hypersonic steering spinner
hand holding a steering spinner from the side
Alfred Bekker Steering Mushroom

Best investment: Steering mushroom (£59 with VAT exemption, Alfred Bekker)

The customer service team for this company were honestly so helpful and agreed to exchange the steering peg I’d bought for a mushroom one.  It felt more sturdy and hard wearing than the Hypersonic one and didn’t wiggle at all. I like the quick-release function in case someone else needs to drive my car and I want to remove it temporarily. It sticks out further than the Hypersonic spinner so it can be gripped from the top or the side. (Hex key needed but not included).

Steering spinner installation

This was a bit of an issue, each spinner came with minimal placement instructions. I originally thought the ideal place to install would be at the bottom of the wheel at 6 o’clock but it was actually 10 o’clock for me, steering left handed.

Indicator extension

Fitting this was a nightmare! The indicator extension comes as a long, straight wire that requires bending to fit it over the back of the steering wheel, to the other side. Someone strong had to do this for me using a vice and pliers. Again, it came with minimal instructions as all car indicator stalks are different. The indicator stalks in my car are tapered and the extension bolts on, so it kept sliding to the centre where there was no leverage for it to work. Attempts to pad the stalk with electrical tape were partly successful, until we had a hot day and the tape melted and everything slid off.

The solution was to cut some bike inner tube to the exact width of a thin, non-tapered part in between the twisting parts of the stalk controlling the lights. This allowed the extension to bolt on to the stalk without restricting the lights controls.

Wire extension (£25 with VAT exemption, Alfred Bekker)

When it was finally fitted it was great and worked just as hoped. It’s very easy to flick up and down and doesn’t require gripping. Fitting was incredibly difficult and time consuming (may be different for other vehicles) but there’s no better alternative in this price range.

The dream: Wirelessly controlled indicator and lights system. Price on application

Car functions like indicators and lights can be mapped to buttons on a steering spinner, or elsewhere in the car. I couldn’t find any prices for these online, and they require professional installation. This would be a big investment but I imagine with some customisation this would enable total one-handed control of the car if needed. I’ll be sticking with my £25 alternative for now though!

The Finalised Setup

view of steering wheel with steering knob and indicator extension

Top tips:

  • Research and try things out if you can
  • Allow some time to get things fitted correctly
  • Get help with the installation

New Update! Driving One-Handed: Six Months On

Advice for hiring a car: Which Car Hire Companies Support Drivers Who Use Steering Aids?

This was not a sponsored piece.

Lifestyle, Transport

Adapting My Car for Hand Disability: Timeline

My main barrier to driving was the instability in my right wrist which can cause sudden subluxation or partial dislocation when I put pressure through it. It didn’t feel safe steering while turning so I decided steering left-handed was the way to go.

Self-assessment and research

I wasn’t eligible for the Motability scheme, but I found their guide to different adaptations (PDF link) useful and easy to understand. This gave me some idea of how I would be able to adapt a car and what I’d need- automatic transmission, a steering spinner, and some form of indicator adaptation.

Under normal circumstances I’d have liked to have gone to an assessment centre and had the chance to try things out in person, but it was too difficult with lockdown. Instead I looked at product catalogues and videos online to get some idea of how things would work.

DVLA declaration

I had a full driving licence, although I had stopped driving since I became disabled through injury. To get driving again, I had to declare my disability to the DVLA as I would now need adjustments to drive safely. Neuroma and wrist instability aren’t pre-defined diagnoses on the government website, so I had to fill out a form for upper limb disabilities. I had to provide my doctors’ contact info, a brief explanation of how I’m affected and the vehicle adjustments I would need to drive safely. The form had to be sent off by post with my old driving licence.

Wait time: 6 weeks

My licence was amended and returned to me, complete with new restriction codes. I was allowed to keep driving! The new restriction codes stipulate that I can only drive a car which is automatic with steering adaptations.

The car

I wanted a smallish car that would still be safe and reliable. It had to be automatic which really narrowed down the options. Luckily I had some great family advice and found a second hand Honda Jazz that ticked all the boxes: automatic, light steering and good enough visibility for a short driver.

Car insurance declaration

When buying car insurance there’s a section to declare any modifications that have been made to the car. The example given will be something like a bigger exhaust but this can include aids for disabled drivers. My insurer (Admiral) said I did have to notify them, and I was able to do this easily over their webchat.

Choosing and fitting steering aids

This was easier said than done, especially during a pandemic. It needed its own article, coming later this week.

Summary of my steps:

  • Needs assessment and research

  • Declared disability to DVLA (6 weeks for a decision)

  • Bought a car

  • Declared adaptations to the insurer

  • Bought and fitted adaptations

  • I’m good to go!

If in doubt, talk to the DVLA, or call an adaptations centre for advice

Links to Resources (links open in new tab):

  • Motability adaptations guide- PDF link
  • DVLA homepage for reporting medical conditions- Link

Hobbies and Sport, Lifestyle, Work and Study

Welcome to ‘I’m Handling It’

‘I’m Handling It’ is a project documenting hand and wrist adaptations that hopes to be a source of ideas and resources for others.

Hi, I’m Hope! I’m a part-time research postgrad student living in the UK and writing my thesis from home. I have wrist instability and chronic pain caused by nerve damage from a road accident, both on my dominant side. After surgeries and physical rehab I’m now investing time into adapting all aspects of life to get my independence and old hobbies back. This usually involves trying to adapt things for one-handed use.

What will be on the blog?

I’ve especially missed playing instruments, baking, doing art, and crafting so will be looking for ways to make these things more one-handed friendly. Around the house I’ll be looking for adaptations and hacks to make cleaning easier, and for recipes and food preparation techniques that are easy to do one-handed. The successes, failures and recommendations will be published here in the hope that it can help others looking for advice.

I also want to share what I’ve learnt from being a disabled student at university and the adaptations that have been helpful so far. I am a Biochemist/Immunologist who used to work in a lab, but for the past year my work has been computational so I have made lots of changes to my computer set up and the technology I use.

I especially want to learn from other people experiencing upper limb disabilities and hope to feature interviews to talk about their experiences and advice. It would be great to highlight adaptation and disability services that already exist for all kinds of upper limb disabilities and injuries, and to bring them together in one place. If you have any suggestions for things you’d like to see, or to propose a submission or collaboration, please do get in touch here.