By JOHN VAN KLAVEREN
A NIFTY gadget on her car’s steering wheel has made a world of difference to Belmont’s Deb Haygarth.
With multiple sclerosis gradually stealing her mobility, the digital driving knob allows her to keep motoring.
“My left arm is pretty buggered and I was having trouble so this gadget lets me drive with one hand,” Deb explained.
The digital device allows her to control the indicators, lights, wipers and horn, all with the touch of a finger.
Deb admitted the prospect of giving up driving was upsetting.
“It was the loss of independence more than anything.
“It’s not as if I drive great distances. I visit my mum an hour or so away and that’s the furthest I go, so I was really happy to be able to keep driving for now.
“It took a little adjustment to my driving technique but now I use it without thinking.”
The National Disability Insurance Scheme provided the solution to her driving predicament and included some other pieces of assistance technology to help overcome the creeping MS symptoms.
She now has an electric wheelchair that can be pulled apart and put in her car’s boot as well as a lightweight wheelchair that’s easier to transport.
Partner Joe Micallef said he relieved Deb was able to maintain her independence.
“It’s a great piece of technology designed for people with one arm to use,” Joe said.
“It makes it so much easier for Deb to drive. It’s something we would never have been able to afford without the NDIS and it’s done wonders for her confidence and self-esteem.”
The pair was keen to share their story as part of International Day for People with a Disability, this year focussing on assistance technology.
“We’ve had nothing but great outcomes dealing with the NDIS and, to be honest, it’s been a breath of fresh air for us,” Joe said.
“While we can’t find a cure for Deb’s condition yet, it’s good to know there’s an organisation out there helping to make life easier for her.”
Geelong conference to discuss NDIS outcomes – page 11