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Carbon Black wheelchair changing perceptions, says designer

Carbon Black wheelchair Image copyright Carbon Black
Image caption Its designer says the Carbon Black is a wheelchair with racing car looks

A designer has spoken of achieving his goal to shatter perceptions of how wheelchairs should be.

Nairn-based Andrew Slorance was paralysed by a spinal injury suffered in a fall from a tree when he was 14.

With his wife Mary, he set out eight years ago to create a carbon fibre chair that looked "more racing car" than "medical equipment".

Following the first UK sales, the Carbon Black chairs look set to be distributed in the US from July.

The Slorances' early efforts to get the wheelchair on the market was covered in the BBC Two Scotland documentary, My Perfect Wheelchair, in 2012.

Image copyright carbon black/Andrew Slorance
Image caption Andrew Slorance and his wife Mary started work on Carbon Black eight years ago

After a false start in producing Carbon Black, Mr Slorance said the first chairs were sold in the UK 18 months ago.

He said: "I have achieved the first goal I set out to reach - to produce a wheelchair that changed perceptions of them.

"Going out in public in a wheelchair for the first time was something I found very hard to do, and can still be hard to do.

"People see the wheelchair and you are immediately labelled. People think: 'Oh, you use a wheelchair'."

"For some people a wheelchair is a bit of an iceberg.

"I've want to move away from having a piece of medical equipment towards a wheelchair that gives a positive first impression, to be an icebreaker rather than an iceberg."

Mr Slorance added: "When I go out now in my wheelchair it is a talking point. People see it is made from carbon fibre and say it looks like a racing car."

Image copyright carbon black
Image caption Mr Slorance has had a long held ambition to create a wheelchair that changes perceptions

From July, a distributor in the US should start selling in California, Nevada and Arizona following a number of initial sales in the States.

Mr Slorance said: "If you are a wheelchair user California is where you want to be. It has the climate suitable to an active, outdoors lifestyle and excellent facilities for wheelchair users."

The business has also been exploring sales in Dubai, Italy, Norway, Spain and Germany.

Next month it will find out if it has been successful in securing funding from the Scottish EDGE business awards.

A Carbon Black is also to go on permanent display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

However, Mr Slorance said making the enterprise work has been challenging.

He said: "I've been asked, knowing what I know now, if I would do it all again and I reply that I would find the prospect terrifying.

"Every day seems to bring a new challenge."

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