The eco-friendly values of expeditions in all-terrain wheelchairs: A means of strengthening the visibility of the disability difference

Research papers
By Éric Perera, Roland Thaler, André Galy

Using an All-Terrain Wheelchair (ATW) allows disabled people to gain access to natural spaces. This activity provides social experiences and feelings of proximity to nature. Even more remarkable, expeditions carried out using ATWs follow slow rules by integrating contemporary ethical and ecological preoccupations. Indeed, the ATW spirit, generated by the pioneers of this practice in France in the 1990s, still remains and consists in creating adaptations in order to access nature, and not the opposite.
However, the carbon footprint of long-distance expeditions using ATWs questions the image of an eco-friendly outlook. This footprint is all the more of an issue because the new generation of handiathletes promote handicapacity in a quest for the highest level of autonomy possible. Indeed, studying the organisation of an ATW expedition (Chile) revealed that developing innovating ATWs using electrically assisted hand-cranks tends to relegate eco-friendly concerns to second place. However, the search for performance does not necessarily deviate from an eco-friendly approach, since it implies seeking a minimal use of modern assistance means, and thus having a smaller environmental impact. These ATW expeditions, which by nature have an impact linked to transcontinental transport means, require a balance between handi-capable engagement and eco-friendly designs.

  • ATW
  • expedition
  • handisport
  • eco-friendly
  • innovation
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