Many-a-times, a birth defect or an accident restricts one's mobility confining the person to a wheelchair. This mobility vehicle helps you get around the house reducing your dependence on your relatives. However, for longer distances and outdoor travels, the wheelchair is not so much a convenient option.
For this reason, physically handicapped persons prefer to stay indoors. However, at some point or the other, one may find the need to travel outdoors in a vehicle. In such cases, a wheelchair accessible vehicle is your best bet.
Readily-available Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles
Trying to increase convenience to physically handicapped individuals, several automobile manufacturers are manufacturing ready vans with several features.
Firstly, the two main types of wheelchair accessible vehicles included those that allow the disabled to ride as a passenger (with someone else to drive) and those that let them take control as the driver. In the latter, the original driver's seat is removed so as to accommodate the wheelchair. A few have swivel seats so that the person can be simply transferred onto it.
The vans also differ in the number of passengers they can accommodate at a time. For instance, there are options such as 2 passengers and 1 wheelchair or 4 passengers and 1 wheel chair. It depends on the size of the vehicle.
Secondly, they are fitted with wheelchair ramps and lifts to allow easy entry and exit. The ramps are operated manually or automatically in those fitted with a motor. There are in-floor and foldout ramps. In-floor ramps fold into the floor. In-floor ramps take up a lot of space and hence reduce the headroom space. This makes it quite uncomfortable for taller passengers.
There are joysticks in place of pedals and controls to make acceleration and steering easier. Inside the vehicle, there are docking systems and straps to lock the wheelchair in place so that it does not move when the vehicle gets into motion. Try to get a test drive of the vehicle to make sure it is comfortable to handle.
Make Your Minivan Wheelchair Accessible
If your budget does not permit a new car, you can think about converting your existing vehicle into a wheelchair accessible car. In order to do this, you will first have to consider the entry point. Rear and side entries are the two most common options. The former is a great option for a small minivan while the rear entry makes a good choice for a larger vehicle. There are motorized ramps as well that lift the person up the ramp and into the vehicle.
You also want to consider the type of wheelchair being used. A manual one sits lower while an electric powered one is higher as the electric motor sits below the seat. You also need to give the company the dimensions of the chair. If there is not much headroom to accommodate one, the converting company will generally lower the floor or will raise the roof, whatever is most feasible.
You will also have to remove a few passenger seats to accommodate the wheelchair. It depends on the entry point you choose. Most automobiles have seat latches that allow you to do so.