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The following letter was sent to the authors of the Code VVR and parties involved in the transport and wheelchair provision. Because there are currently two Codes I use the term Code VVR (SFM) here. The code was published by Social Mobility Fund as secretariat on behalf of the Platform.
For me, safety and cooperation in the workplace are particularly important in the provision of wheelchairs and in transport.
The Hague, 15 October 2020
Sociaal Fonds Mobiliteit
mr. H. van Gelderen
4100 AD Culemborg
subject: Open letter Code VVR
cc: co-authors Code VVR
Koninklijk Nederlands Genootschap voor Fysiotherapie
Ministry of Health Welfare and Sport
• afdeling Doelgroepenvervoer
• programma Onbeperkt Meedoen
Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management
• Inspectie Leefomgeving en Transport
Minister van Gehandicaptenzaken
Nederlandse Vereniging van Revalidatieartsen
NEN Standards Committee Wheelchairs
Stichting Vast = Beter
Vereniging Gehandicaptenzorg Nederland
Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten
Dear Drafters of the Code VVR
The Netherlands has a long tradition of working on the safety of wheelchair transport. In the past, this has resulted in a Code VVR that functioned properly. A new, much stricter VVR code is now on the table, drawn up under the responsibility of the Social Mobility Fund.
This code VVR states that from 1 January 2021 wheelchair passengers may only be transported in a wheelchair that complies with ISO 7176-19. This code directly restricts the accessibility of transport for a significant group of wheelchair users.
In the case of such a rigorous change, it should be clear:
• what is the legal basis for this procedure,
• the size of the excluded group of wheelchair users, and the impact of the introduction on them
• what solutions will be offered and what the costs of this will be
• what the introduction of this VVR Code will do to improve safety, weighed against the additional costs to society and the impact on the excluded group of wheelchair users.
In the code introduction, you write:
“The principle of accessibility in the UN Convention on Rights for People with Disabilities states that everyone has the same rights in terms of accessibility and participation in society. This includes the right to free choice of means of mobility.“.
Wheelchair (taxi) transport is part of the public transport chain for people with disabilities and should therefore be accessible, it is part of the free choice of mobility aids.
- You specify in the Code:
“In the interests of passengers, drivers of wheelchair vehicles and the organisations in which they operate, the code describes the (legal) rules to be complied with.”
Can you specify exactly what legislation wheelchair passengers should only be transported if their wheelchair complies with ISO 7176-19?
- How large is the group of wheelchair users who will not have access to an ISO 7176-19 wheelchair on 1 January 2021 because their current wheelchair is not yet in need of replacement?
- What are the costs if all these people need to replace the wheelchair much faster than usual? Has there been consultation with wheelchair providers on this issue? In terms of the financing of this accelerated replacement as well as the lead time for applications and the provision of new wheelchairs and any necessary adjustments?
- What are the possibilities for these excluded wheelchair users to be able to be transported? The code refers to “individual transport”. Has there been consultation on this solution with the parties who contract and finance wheelchair transport? Have agreements been made that this “individual transport” will actually be delivered to the target group?
- How large is the group of wheelchair users who cannothave access to an ISO 7176-19 wheelchair on 1 January 2021 because they need a custom ade wheelchair due to the nature of their limitations?
- What are the costs if all users of tailor made wheelchairs have to use “individual transport”? Has there been consultation on this issue with the parties that contract and finance wheelchair transport? Have agreements been made that this target group will indeed receive “individual transport”?
- You specify in the Code:
“If a party makes a custom-made device, because the treating physician or another expert prescribes it, that party is a manufacturer and assumes product responsibility. In these cases too, the manufacturer must comply with the European Transportability Directives. It has a responsibility to demonstrate that the product meets the standard or to indicate that it does not meet the standard.”
Can you specify exactly which ‘European Transportable Directive’ is referred to here?
- Given the contents of ISO 71760-19, it is not possible for a custom made wheelchair to meet this ISO standard. This group of wheelchair users will never be able to meet the requirement for the availability of an ISO 7176-19 wheelchair required by code VVR.
You specify in the Code:
“For people in a combination of wheelchair chassis and orthosis superstructure or seat, solutions are now available that make it possible to be safely transported by wheelchair.”
Can you explain why the solution directions that make it possible to be safely transported with a custom made wheelchair have not been elaborated in the code VVR when a hard effective date of 1 January 2021 has been given after which this target group may no longer be transported?
- The VVR code has a profound impact on the accessibility of wheelchair transport. Can you indicate the improvement in the safety of wheelchair transport is opposite? What risk analysis has been carried out for this purpose?
I would like to receive a clear answer to the above questions. If you do not agree with me in any of the above questions, please make a clear argument as to why you see it differently.
Answers to these questions are in the interest of a good Code VVR jointly supported by all parties. And not in the last in the interest of the (wheelchair) passengers and the drivers.
I’d look forward to your response,
Ir. Roelof Veenbaas
roelof (at) arenlezen.nl