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Elk Grove Citizen

Sen. Dodd: Bill Lifts Barriers for Wheelchair Users

Feb 02, 2023 12:00AM ● By Office of Senator Bill Dodd

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, introduced legislation on Jan. 31, 2023, that would grant wheelchair users the right to have their own equipment repaired, eliminating manufacturer delays that could leave them immobilized while reducing costs to one of California’s most vulnerable populations.

“Wheelchairs are a critical lifeline for people with mobility issues,” said Sen. Dodd. “Unfortunately, they have been prevented from getting their wheelchairs fixed in an efficient way when things go wrong. This bill would forbid manufacturers from imposing onerous repair restrictions, ensuring those who rely on wheelchairs are back up and running as soon as possible.”

The $70 billion power wheelchair industry has historically profited by limiting what it spends on technicians and repairs, frustrating wheelchair users as they try to maintain their equipment. Last year, Colorado became the first state in the nation to address the issue, adopting a right-to-repair law that granted wheelchair owners and independent shops access to parts, manufacturer software, specialized tools and other items needed to ensure timely and affordable wheelchair repair. Manufacturers could be cited for failing to comply.

Sen. Dodd’s Senate Bill 271 would ensure the same right to repair for California wheelchair users. His proposal is supported by advocates including Sacramento disability rights activist and wheelchair user Russell Rawlings.

“If you have a power chair and are using it daily, it needs regular maintenance,” Rawlings said. “But the industry as it stands has very little interest in making repairs. There can be months if not longer of wait time. This bill seeks to change that by making it easier for owners and smaller shops to fill the repair need. Also, power chairs are increasingly controlled by software that is currently restricted to a small number of vendors. Owners having access to these tools would enable more freedom and ability to control their driving experiences.”

Senator Bill Dodd represents the 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Yolo, Sonoma, Solano, Sacramento and Contra Costa counties. More information on Senator Bill Dodd can be found at www.senate.ca.gov/dodd