Isabelle Weall is a 17-year-old YouTuber and National Trampoline Champion who has used her platform to share her story of overcoming her disability. Isabelle is a quadruple amputee after being diagnosed with Bacterial Meningitis at the age of 7. In this article, Isabelle shares her recent experience of getting her own Motability car, including visits to the dealership in Derby, finding a vehicle with all the features she wanted and how it felt to finally be able to pick up her own car.
Ever since I was young, driving has always been something I was interested in doing despite not knowing if it would even be possible with my disability. I am a very determined person and I am always up for the challenges that my disability presents me with. Over the years leading up to getting my licence I saw other quadruple amputees driving so knew it was definitely a possibility for me to do as well.
Learning to drive is something that I have been really motivated to do for years as I recognise the added independence driving would give me.
After I got my provisional driving licence (which I could apply for at 16), I had an assessment with Derby DrivAbility (who are a part of the Driving Mobility network) to assess whether I was safe to drive and to find out which adaptations I would need on my new Motability car. This involved driving one of their modified vehicles to see how I adapted to each adaptation and driving in general. We drove around for around an hour practicing junctions and other driving skills. I remember how exciting it felt to finally know that I was able to drive.
After this I went around various Motability-accredited car dealerships with a huge list of different things to ask about, and to find out which features were available on their cars. This included things such as keyless entry, a stop/start button and it had to be an automatic car. I was aware of the Motability Scheme as my mum previously drove our Motability vehicle, so I knew how much the scheme could help a disabled driver to gain independence, even as a learner driver.
As a first-time car buyer, I found the whole process of searching for my perfect car so exciting as I had never done it before.
When we went to the Ford dealership in Derby I was amazed by how much of what I wanted was included with the Ford Focus Active X model. The Motability team at the garage explained all the features of the car to me and I knew right away that it was the perfect decision. We were told more about the Motability Scheme and how it allowed me to drive the car as a learner and then as qualified driver.
After giving it plenty of thought I returned with my mum to the TC Harrison Ford dealership in Derby and ordered the Ford Focus through the Motability Scheme and awaited its delivery.
As soon as my new car arrived it was transferred to Des Gosling Mobility who fitted all of the adaptations that I had previously been allocated by the Derby DrivAbility team.
Soon after, the exciting day came where I got to collect my car, and after a great handover from Caroline at TC Harrison I could finally start driving it. And now? Well I’m learning to drive, despite having parts of my arms and legs amputated, and I’ll be taking my driving test soon…wish me luck!