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Wheelchair users can now benefit from  greater safety when in transport due to BS 8603 Code of practice for wheelchair passport schemes. The standard was first developed by BSI, the business standards company, in the form of PAS 900 to meet the concerns for the safety of wheelchair seated passengers during vehicular transportation.

The passport is in the form of a document pouch that is intended to be attached to a wheelchair, is clearly visible to the vehicle driver or passenger assistant and is designed to give valuable information relating to the transport of the individual wheelchair user. The extent of  the information will depend upon the individual’s disability. The wheelchair passport is created as part of  an all-encompassing and multi-disciplined risk management strategy and may be used in conjunction with other risk assessments that have been made.

The liberty of individuals who use wheelchairs is very important to themselves, their families and their carers and much of this is afforded by the wheelchair passport. In fact the use of the name “passport” has a cross-boundary connotation and was coined to express the increased freedom that safe transportation can attain. While the wheelchair itself means added mobility, it can pose mechanical limitations when it comes to being used in transport.

The BS 8603 Code of Practice provides guidance and recommendations intended to ease such limitations. A completed passport will provide details of how to achieve wheelchair securement, provide correct occupant restraint and other needs of the wheelchair user to ensure risks are reduced to maximise transport safety and ensure social inclusion. The standard has been developed with input from a committee represented by County Councils, the Community Transport Association, Transport for London, the Chartered Society for Physiotherapy and mobility equipment manufacturers, as well as transport policy and social services transport management experts.Only information relevant to the specific wheelchair seated passenger should be included in  a passport and it should be prepared and attached to a wheelchair before the wheelchair user starts using a transport service. This will help to reduce the chance of problems occurring at the point of transport within the vehicle.The information contained within the passport includes: Personal information, Medical emergency information, Wheelchair and seating information, Transport requirements, A Generic Risk Assessment Template.

Anne Hayes, Head of Market Development for Governance & Risk at BSI says, “The passport is a real godsend to many wheelchair users, their carers and transport providers because it can help prevent some major logistical problems. For example when a transport provider arrives – they may simply look at the passport to gain information for effective wheelchair securement and occupant restraint. Without this key information the wheelchair and user may not be secured properly, which could have terrible consequences should the vehicle be involved in an accident. In this way the passport scheme can be employed to prevent risks and avoid undue distress."