Reply To: Wheelchair or Scooter Advice

  • schroth-sensei

    March 20, 2024 at 6:01 am

    Hello Gimom!

    I don’t know how much help I can give in choosing the right chair for you, your healthcare representative may be able to give you the best advice, but I can provide some information that may assist you.

    (1 & 3) It may be best to avoid the Mobility Scooter or Handle-type Wheelchairs. These scooters can be harder to maneuver in tight spaces, which is still seen as problematic by some train companies in Japan.

    Check out this post on Accessible Japan for more info: Mobility Scooters in Japan

    (2) The size of the chair probably wouldn’t matter much for accessing smaller stores as walkways/hallways may be too skinny anyway or accessible via steps. You can keep looking and you may find other nearby accessible options, but as you suggest it is possible to leave the chair out front if there’s room (no one will probably mess with it but locking it up won’t hurt).

    (4) A motorized wheelchair should be allowed in the same locations as a manual wheelchair, only an exceptionally heavy wheelchair may have concerns (which a collapsible wheelchair is not). As for Scooters, in the link mentioned above, this could have issues.

    (5 & 5.5) I haven’t personally used the wheelchairs you mentioned, I would recommend contacting a local medical equipment dealer or your healthcare representative and inquiring about a few things with them. Here’s a few things to consider:

    · When choosing a portable motorized wheelchair, you may find chairs with small assist motors don’t climb steep slopes well without assistance (i.e. without being manually pushed). This may not be a big concern if you are primarily in a big city like Tokyo.

    · Some models do have manual control options, you may want one with breaking controls accessible to the person manually pushing.

    · Battery mileage per charge, look for one that will meet your needs.

    · Make sure the charger is a 2-prong plug, otherwise it’ll require a converter.

    (6) Renting means you won’t need to pack a wheelchair or check it into the airport, only deal with your luggage until you get in Japan. Bringing your own, you can use it all the way up to boarding of the plane itself, and then get it back when you exit so it may be available to you almost always.

    Accessible Japan can suggest some rental companies. However, most have stopped renting scooters since they cannot be used at every station.

    Here is the rental form:

    (7 & 8) Only those with resident status in Japan can get an Official Government Disability ID, so if you are a foreigner on vacation in Japan you cannot get this. You may still be able to get disability related discounts without this, but don’t count on it. The US itself doesn’t have an official Disability ID, there are websites selling such things, but they are not legitimate documents (and may be considered illegal if used).

    I hope that helps,

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