In the middle of the Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games, where the athletes of the Chilean Para team shone with a historic performance, the problems that people with disabilities face daily for their autonomy and mobility are revealed, among others.
Robinson Méndez is an exceptional Chilean para-athlete who excelled, first in wheelchair tennis for 19 years, then in the discipline of paracanoeing. A Parapan American medalist and present at the Paralympic Games in Athens, Beijing, London and Rio, he is today an active commentator for the Santiago 2023 Parapan American Games on Chilevisión.
It was there that he was seen arriving at the Park National Stadium parking lot in his Ford Mustang (2020) adapted for him. “I brought it back from the United States. This is the fourth car I’ve adapted in my life. Due to my disability I need the brake and accelerator to be manual and I did the process here in Chile with Roller Mobility, which is a certified company that has access to all the necessary accessories depending on the disability of the person. It’s true that at the beginning I did it with a mechanic who repaired my cars, but no one guarantees that the vehicle works properly. Here you know that any adaptation made to the car will not affect the car or its safety,” explains Méndez, who adds that “in Chile there are no regulations for this kind of thing.”
Diego Mendoza, executive secretary of the National Automobile Association of Chile, emphasizes that “in fact, I think that stricter regulation and supervision in this regard is lacking. We must advance the ad hoc regulation of today’s vehicles. For example, for electricity, we don’t know if there will be other procedures.
In Chile, there are thousands of drivers who have some degree of physical disability or a minor physical problem, such as lameness, for which they can obtain a stamp that allows them to park near the entrances to shopping centers and hospitals , among others. . To be able to access this service, the first thing to do is to register in the National Register of Disabled People (RND) and then request that the seal be affixed to the vehicle.
The procedure to access it is quite simple and can be carried out at any civil registry office and the following documents must be presented:
– Valid identity card in good condition.
– Certificate issued by COMPIN which declares you a disabled person.
– Identity card of the applicant and the person represented (if carried out through a representative).
Cars suitable for Chile
Today there are two ways to have a suitable car in Chile:
1. Cars that arrive adapted for people with disabilities and that have special entry into Chile and are therefore registered for circulation. They ask for the blue sticker with the disability cross to be able to park in preferential locations. These cars arrive in special quotas for disabled people, that is, the buyer must be a natural person registered in the national register of disabled people. And the car is registered at the RMV in your name.
This is particularly because the market for cars adapted for disabled people is still in the development stage, so the supply of properly modified cars is not very abundant.
2. Conversions in Chile: they can and are carried out with the installation of special elements or equipment. After installing them, the car is certified to be registered and bears the disability sticker.
In Chile there are a few companies that have been dedicated to vehicle adaptation for several years or that can advise you on vehicle import.
One of the best known is Roller Mobility, which has been present for more than 40 years in the automotive market seeking global solutions that combine the technical field with the clinical field, providing adaptation solutions for people with disabilities.
The company is today represented by a dozen certified brands in the European and North American markets, although the most important is medical assistance to those who arrive looking for mobility solutions.
One of the problems people with disabilities face is obtaining a license. There are no schools with special cars, so those interested must adapt a vehicle and then see if they approve it.
Roller Mobility, for example, first assesses the possibilities for driving rehabilitation with an occupational therapist, taking into account whether the person has the range of motion and muscle strength necessary to press the accelerator or brake. . “If the conditions are met and it is allowed to have a license, we will proceed with the adaptation,” Neil Rollano, owner of the company, told MT La Tercera some time ago.
Another company dedicated to adapting vehicles for people with disabilities is Tecnoaccessible, which does not only focus on people’s ability to drive (they adapt accelerators to the steering wheel, hand brakes, adapting pedals and levers), but also to move. in public transport (retractable or portable ramps).
Autoriver, for its part, is an importer that advises disabled people on the importation of vehicles already adapted to different types of driving.