by Nazim Erdem, AQA Practice Leader

A few weeks back, we ran a Community Wheelchair Skills day with Yarra Trams. The two main aims of the session were to reintroduce people with physical disabilities to confidently using public transport, and to give them the opportunity to gain confidence navigating footpaths, curbs, gutters, roads and traffic lights.

Thanks to Yarra Trams, we had exclusive access to a tram. This allowed participants to board, position themselves inside, and exit the tram safely in a controlled environment, without the pressure of being in the public where people are fighting for space.

By building the necessary skills and techniques for using trams in a wheelchair and navigating their local and wider community, this peer-led program aims to expand people’s confidence and independence, whether they are newly injured, or want to brush up on their skills, therefore promoting great independence with everyday living.

As part of the session, we heard presentations from AQA, Yarra Trams, and TravellersAid.

This program is about: 

  • Being aware of processes (tapping on, boarding, positioning, getting off)
  • Gaining confidence engaging with the community, and getting out
  • Increasing independence with moving and communicating 
  • Using your wheelchair more effectively, choosing a path, and positioning 
  • Navigating footpaths and crossings
  • Negotiating uneven terrain and obstacles 
  • Ascending and descending ramps/gradients and tackling kerbs and pedestrian crossings 
  • Pushing technique and basic manoeuvres 

Participant feedback:

Overall it was a very great learning experience. Thoroughly enjoyed learning how to board and disembark the tram and what to do in the tram once inside. I will now use the tram system with more confidence.

… in general practising wheelchair skills in a larger group in the community is good as it’s more realistic, and easy to have social engagement given you know there’s something to talk about , e.g how good or bad the paths are , or the weather – easy ice breakers.

  • January 31, 2024

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