After thirty-plus years of using and adapting vehicles to carry Tim in his wheelchair, we may have learned a thing or two about what to look for when buying an accessible vehicle. Hopefully, these tips can be helpful to you when you're shopping.
When looking for an accessible vehicle, the first question is are you going to be the driver, passenger, or a little of both? This matters so that the driver's spot can be modified for you if you're going to drive. If you're not driving, you can save money by leaving the driver's seat just as it is.
Let's start off with drivers...you'll need to have the seat removed (you can also use a removable seat so that others can drive, too, such as the Step and Roll seat) and, if the floor of the vehicle is lowered, you'll need to lower this part of the floor to the same level. Most of the time, the vehicle will be a van which you will probably enter via the back side door, or the back door, and roll into the driver's position.
You may need to have hand controls installed to operate such controls the accelarator, brakes, and maybe a knob for the steering wheel.
Your wheelchair will need to be strongly secured so it does not shift while driving. Four point straps are usually used for passengers but if you're an independent driver, these may be very hard to strap on yourself. You'd probably want to use an automatic docking system such as the EZ Lock.
A ramp is more basic than a lift and can be manually operated or power operated. Ramps are nice because they don't need as much maintenance and are more reliable that a lift.
Your other choice is a lift. This will be power operated and acts like an elevator to lift you and your wheelchair from the ground to the floor level of your van, where you can then roll in. These would normally be installed on a full-size van or other larger, higher clearance, vehicles such as a bus.
Next, you will probably need to have your van modified by a certified body shop to either lower the floor or raise the roof, unless you are not very tall in your chair. For example, our son is 52 inches tall in his chair and the space from the floor to the ceiling in our previous van was 55 inches meaning he could ride inside without modifications other than the lift. He did have to lower his head to fit through the door, though.
In the United States, Sure-Lok and Q-Straint are the leading manufacturers of wheelchair restraint systems. Fortunately, this is one thing that isn't incredibly expensive. A restraint system can be installed in your vehicle for between $500-$1000.
Copyright 2022 - All Rights Reserved