Isabelle Weall is an inspirational social media influencer and National Trampoline champion who shares her life experiences as a young person who suddenly became a quadruple amputee, and the many challenges she has overcome since.
In her latest post, Isabelle tells us about her search for the adaptations she needed in her new Motability car, the process she went through matching the adaptations to her prosthetic limbs and how the company providing them found ingenious ways to simplify the controls in the car to make driving as easy and safe as possible. Alongside her video, Isabelle also talks about how adapting each feature and instrument has had a positive impact on her ability to learn to drive and pass her test, giving her freedom out on the road at just 17 years of age.
A really important part of my journey has been the adaptations that I had made to my car, enabling me to learn how to drive, drive independently and making the general use of my car easier day to day.
Following my initial assessment at Derby DrivAbility they put me in touch with a local specialist vehicle adaptation installer (Des Gosling Mobility in Derby) who they suggested would be a great company to help with all the adaptations I needed. This was because they had recent experience of fitting adaptations to a Motability car for another quadruple amputee with similar needs to me.
One day after school, I went with my mum to visit Des Gosling where we talked through every possible situation that I may experience while out driving. This was to find out which adaptations would work best for me. I spent lots of time sitting in a Des Gosling adapted vehicle so I could practice with some of their equipment. This meant that we could come up with a list of all the standard features I should look for when choosing my Motability car, as well as working out which specialist adaptations would need to be fitted to the car after it had been built so that I could safely drive it.
After I had ordered my new car (a Ford Focus from TC Harrison Ford) one of the engineers from Des Gosling visited the Motability-accredited dealership in Derby to make sure that all of the adaptations I needed would work on that specific vehicle.
My car eventually arrived at the Ford dealership, and soon after it was transferred over to the installer so that they could start fitting the adaptations I needed.
The fantastic team at Des Gosling fitted dual controls to my car so that my driving instructor would be able to control the vehicle while I was learning. I also had the car adapted from a traditional foot pedal control system so that the primary control method works via a 'radial' system (so the vehicle accelerates when I push the control one way and then brakes when push it the other). This means I can control the car without having to using the foot pedals, because they wouldn’t work properly with my prosthetic legs.
I also had a special 'cup' fitted to the steering wheel so that I can accelerate and brake with one arm while controlling the direction of the vehicle with the other.
Some of the smaller and less obvious adaptations that I had fitted to the vehicle included a bleeper system positioned precisely so that I could control things like my indicators, the horn and windscreen wipers by tapping my leg on to it.
I also had a few switch modifications added, including things like moving the seat adjusters and window controls higher, so they were positioned in a place on the car that makes it easier for me to control. One of the simplest adaptations was the addition of a strap on the boot lid so that I can easily reach up to pull the boot down, ensuring that I could still access and use the space in the rear of the vehicle.
Take a look at the video to watch a brief overview of the Motability adaptations I had fitted to my car and how they work.
I absolutely love how my car has turned out. It’s now really easy for me to use whilst still looking relatively normal, which is what I wanted.