Richard Ryder, marketing manager, Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) with Niall El-Assaad, creator of the free fuelService app for disabled drivers, The Association is the Irish charity partner for the app. Photo: Silver Image.
Disabled drivers in Drogheda will hopefully find filling up their cars a bit easier from now on as Niall El-Assaad, who invented the innovative and free fuelService app for disabled drivers, visited Ireland last week as a guest of the Disabled Drivers Association of Ireland (DDAI) to raise awareness of the app and encourage more Irish fuel retailers to join up to it.
The app is free for users to download while participating fuel retailers pay a small fee to be on it. The Disabled Drivers Association is the charity partner for the app in Ireland and Applegreen was the first fuel retailer in Ireland to sign up to it.
Supermac’s Motorway Services has just joined and will be going live within the next few weeks. Niall donates the entire proceeds to charity, with 50% to the charity partner in each country and 50% to spinal research worldwide.
Niall, who comes from Manchester, became disabled following a bike accident in 2013, used his own money and expertise gleaned from a decade or more working in IT to develop the fuelService app.
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Niall said, “If you’re not disabled, then you’ll probably never realise how difficult a simple thing like filling up your car can be.”
Niall himself never gave it a second thought until the bike accident left him paralysed from the chest down. Following five months in a spinal unit, he learned to drive using hand controls and he thought his problems were over.
That was until the first time he went to get petrol. “If you can’t get out of your car, then you simply have to drive from station to station trying to find one where the staff can help you, hoping you won’t run out of petrol before you get there,” said Niall.
“Once you arrive, there is no guarantee that staff will notice you and come to your aid. You can only hope for the best as you flash your lights, beep the horn or wave your disabled driver badge around, but that’s humiliating, particularly as other drivers have no idea you’re disabled and just see you acting as a crazy person!
“It was a situation that was crying out for a simple yet effective tech solution that could be used by disabled drivers worldwide, so I am delighted and proud at how well the app has been received so far.”
The DDAI hopes that other fuel retailers will follow the lead of Applegreen and Supermac’s and sign up to the app.
Richard Ryder, marketing manager, said “Niall’s app has literally changed lives, it’s hard to express adequately the difference it has made to the quality of life for our members.
“We’re meeting another major Irish fuel retailer during his visit and if they come on board, then it will extend the network of participating Irish stations even further, which is very welcome news for disabled drivers everywhere.”
To download the free fuelservice app, go to http://get.fuelservice.org