More and the money
The financial viability of offering disability tuition
Helping disabled people learn to drive will give you huge amounts of job satisfaction and a real sense of giving something back to society.
Of course, we must be realistic about what we are doing; we all need to earn cold hard cash and put food on the table. It raises questions about profitability, demand, costs for adaptations and training and so on. Starting off in this rewarding area of tuition can involve very little financial outlay. If you are helping people with learning difficulties and those with hearing impairments, you would probably be providing tuition in a standard manual or automatic car – an automatic would obviously be easier, though students often want to learn in a manual just like their peers. While paying for and attending specialised training courses would be beneficial, many ADIs have ‘learnt on the job’ or have utilised knowledge gained from helping look after friends or family members with these conditions.
Counting the Cash
Teaching those with physical disabilities is likely to involve more direct financial outlay. An automatic car and adaptations are more frequently needed or desired, but you can start with simple bolt-on controls like a steering ball or a hand brake easy release, and these are low cost and easily fitted. Stepping up to greater disabilities will probably need a visit to a professional adaptation fitter in order to get hand controls and possibly a left foot accelerator fitted. Disability Driving Instructors has negotiated a discounted package price for the basic adaptations: Push/pull hand controls with indicator, quick release steering ball and left foot accelerator are available from £500 + VAT, so the costs are manageable, especially when you consider the demand for these services and the prices an ADI can charge. Attending training courses is advisable at this level, ensuring that as an ADI you are fully familiarised with the adaptations being used, as well as an understanding of the medical conditions likely to be encountered. The costs can vary from a basic one-day course at £60.00, to a more comprehensive three-day course covering all aspects of disability tuition at £450.00. I will cover this area in more detail in future articles.
More and Less
If you are teaching people with learning difficulties or those with hearing impairments in a standard manual or automatic car, then obviously there will not be any problem teaching your existing students in the same car. However, if the car is fitted with adaptations there shouldn’t be any problem teaching non-disabled people in the same vehicle; the standard controls continue to be usable in the conventional ways, despite the adaptations being present. It means that you don’t have to have different cars for teaching your disabled and able bodied clients.
When it comes to automatic vehicles, it is noticeable that the general demand for automatic lessons is on the increase. If you do invest in a second automatic vehicle for your business in order to provide disability tuition, you are likely to attract automatic lessons generally too making the whole investment more viable. You may well soon find that the demand for automatic and disability tuition starts to outstrip the demand for manual tuition, and you soon find you are questioning whether you need to keep the manual car!
Paved With Gold
A few years ago Gary, a colleague in Worcester, was persuaded to start doing disability tuition in an automatic car after many years of teaching in a manual car, while specialising in teaching people with learning difficulties. From a standing start with no pupils on the books for automatic lessons, he went to a full book with a waiting list in just six months. If you promote your driving school effectively, utilising social media and appropriate disability websites (such as our own Disability Driving Instructors website), you can easily reach your target audience and, importantly, those people searching for an appropriately equipped ADI. The fact is that the demand is very much there, and while you need to invest a little to make the most of it, you will soon find that your outlay is paid back and earning you plenty more besides.
Read Gary’s experience at: disabilitydrivinginstructors.com/find-an-instructor/view/garfieldgough-pugh/