Can you use a wheelchair for office work?

If you are using a wheelchair, is it possible to use that wheelchair for office work? In theory yes you can, but there are certain considerations.

1. What type of desk are you sitting at?

Wheelchairs tend to be lower than a standard office chair. If the desk can’t move up and down then the person in the wheelchair might not be sitting at the right height. If you’re not sitting at the right height it puts additional strain on the shoulders and wrists and could cause RSI issues in the long term. In this video we explain how to find the right sitting height for you, it doesn’t feature a wheelchair user, but the principles are exactly the same. the desktop needs to be parallel to your wrists and forearms.

Wheelchair user working at a too low desk

The best solution is a height adjustable electric desk, then the desk can be easily lowered to the correct height for the individual in the wheelchair. But you need to make sure the electric desk comes down to a suitably low position. So the electric desk range needs to starts at about 625mm for a wheelchair user.

To find out if your desk is suitable for a wheelchair it might be work considering have a workstation assessment, a big focus of ours is to assist people with long-term or progressive mobility disabilities or medical conditions by making their workplace suitable.

95% of the time a workstation assessment involves making suitable alterations, recommendations and education on how to make the most from their workspace. However, 5% of the time it will require a specialist solution to give the individual the confidence to continue working with their disability or mobility challenge.

2. Can you easily transfer to an office chair?

Some wheelchair users may prefer to use an office chair when working at a desk. In order to do so they need to be able to safely transfer between the wheelchair and office chair. The key function here is to have a brake on the office chair, so that during the transfer process, the office chair can’t move.

Chairs such as the Vela Tango, are great for this.

3. What is a chair with a braking system?

The Vela Tango chair has a brake that can be placed on either side, but when it is activated via a simple lever, it locks all four wheels. This means the chair can’t move at all, so someone can safely transfer from wheelchair to office chair.

The highly customisable chair has stable armrests, making it easier to get into and out of the chair from a wheelchair or standing. The user can confidently lean on the armrest and the chair will not move, benefitting users who have problems regarding mobility or balance.

It’s also got the option to specify the specialist chair with either manual or electronic height adjustment and stability belt means that the user can rise to a ‘standing’ height if working or reaching for higher surfaces, or lowered to allow for the safe transfer to a wheelchair or mobility aid if necessary.

In addition to a multitude of additional variations to suit the individual’s disability, from our perspective, it offers an ergonomic sitting position to allow for a comfortable working day:

  • The electronic or manual height adjustment (and optional foot-plate if necessary) allow the individual to sit at the right height at their desk whilst keeping their feet supported. This can go higher than your average office chair allowing the user to work from standard desk height to counter height. This makes it particularly useful for people who work in laboratories.
  • The armrests whilst fixed for extra stability, also enable the user to comfortably rest their forearms whilst sitting as close to the desk as possible
  • Available in 14 base models with the ability to specify bespoke hard-wearing fabrics and bariatric weight limits, the VELA tango range also allows us as assessors to build a chair that suits the condition from the ground up, regardless of the shape and size of the person. This ‘buildability’ also gives the chair we specify longevity, as we can adapt it for progressive disabilities.

4. What conditions is it suitable for?

It’s also suitable for conditions such as multiple sclerosis (MS), cerebral palsy, chronic arthritis and Ehlers Danlos syndrome can come with mobility challenges. For these conditions when it comes to choosing an office chair, we would always recommend a solution with a central brake to ensure stability when getting in and out of the office chair.

For us, this is beyond making reasonable adjustments at work or compliance, but about creating a workspace where the individual feels comfortable and confident at work regardless of their mobility challenge.

Please contact us if you have any questions or would like some advice on choosing a specialist office chair for mobility issues. Call us on 0330 332 0880 or email us at

Do you need some advice about your workplace?

Get in touch and one of our team would be happy to help answer your questions.

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