Original Research

A qualitative exploration of community mobility experiences of wheelchair users

Jerome P. Fredericks, Surona Visagie, Lana van Niekerk
African Journal of Disability | Vol 13 | a1253 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v13i0.1253 | © 2024 Jerome P. Fredericks, Surona Visagie, Lana van Niekerk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 May 2023 | Published: 16 February 2024

About the author(s)

Jerome P. Fredericks, Division of Occupational Therapy, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Surona Visagie, Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation studies, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
Lana van Niekerk, Division of Occupational Therapy, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

Abstract

Background: Freedom of movement, which is dependent on community mobility, is a key contributor to good quality of life and important in the establishment of a person’s community identity.

Objective: To describe the community mobility experiences of wheelchair users who lived in a socio-economically challenged setting.

Method: The study setting was Paarl, a peri-urban area of the Western Cape province of South Africa. This article reports findings from phase 1 (a reflection on past community mobility and minibus taxi use experiences) of cycle 1 of a co-operative inquiry. Nine adult wheelchair users, eight caregivers, six minibus taxi drivers, and four community stakeholders participated. Data were collected during a focus group discussion and analysed using inductive thematic analysis.

Results: Four themes, ‘Knowledge, attitudes, and actions’, ‘Natural, manmade and mechanical environmental barriers’, ‘Health and safety concerns’ and ‘Poor community participation and quality of life’ were identified. The themes showed how difficult an everyday activity like moving around in the community were for wheelchair users, and how that limited their community involvement.

Conclusions: Wheelchair users living in a low-income peri-urban area struggled to participate in community activities meaningful to them because various barriers hampered community wheelchair mobility and minibus taxi use.

Contribution: The findings regarding community mobility struggles and specifically minibus taxi access guided specific recommendations and the further phases and cycles of the co-operative inquiry. The purpose of the co-operative inquiry was to allow co-researchers to find their voice and develop solutions to minibus taxi access for wheelchair users.


Keywords

wheelchair users; minibus taxis; community mobility; barriers; experiences; taxi drivers; minibus taxi drivers; natural manmade and environmental barriers.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 10: Reduced inequalities

Metrics

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