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Fuel Service: Smartphone app for disabled drivers

Taking the Guesswork out of Fueling Up

When Niall El-Assaad conceived and developed the fuelService app, it was to solve a very real problem; connecting drivers with mobility disabilities to the gas stations that had confirmed they had the ability to come out and help people fuel up and accept payment.

As a person with a spinal cord injury, Niall funded the app and first launched it in the U.K. It was very well received, and proved to be a great fundraising tool as well as for research into spinal cord injury recovery. “There is a definite need for a solution to connect gas stations to the community of people with mobility disabilities who drive. fuelService makes that connection.” says El-Assaad.

Fuel Service: Smartphone app for disabled driversFast forward to 2017, and fuelService is now available in Canada, with a pilot project starting this spring at over 50 Shell Canada locations in the Greater Toronto Area. Drivers with mobility disabilities will now be able to download the free app, and select the station nearest to them to confirm service. A confirmation is received by the user and they can then go to the gas station with the knowledge that they will get services they need when they arrive. Unlike the current situation where fewer and fewer full-service stations means a driver with a mobility disability has to potentially travel to a number of stations and be denied until they finally find one that can spare an attendant to come out and assist them.

And even if you find a station that can assist you on the first try, there is still the problem of how to get the attendant’s attention from your car. There are a few creative solutions that people use of course, (honking, frantic waving) but none of these are ideal. Feedback from the initial pilots in Surrey, and Langley, B.C., suggest that one of the things drivers with a spinal cord injury like most about fuelService is that the attendant knows that they need service as soon as they arrive, and they don’t have to struggle to get his or her attention.

With the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) now in the compliance phase, the time is right for accessible solutions for all drivers with mobility disabilities.

Everyone deserves the right to choose when and how they would like to travel, and an app like fuelService puts drivers with disabilities in charge of their own schedule. To quote Zosia Ettenberg, founder of the advocacy group Pos-Abilities, “People using wheelchairs are thinking, we want a life too. We want to be able to do just what everybody else does.”

To download the app, visit Google Play app store and search for fuelService.

By Jessica Basset Spiers

Corporate Partnership Coordinator, Canadian/American Spinal Research Organizations

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