If you are a disabled or handicapped person who uses a portable wheelchair, you might think that you have restraints upon you. Do you want to ride your car or your van? Well, the good news is that there is a special kind of a wheelchair van that can actually open many doors for you.
Freedom is a value that all we strive for. This is something people fought for centuries. Now you can get it too. A wheelchair isn’t a barrier.
Even if you don’t have your own vehicle but want to travel somewhere with your family or friends, you can find wheelchair van rental on the Internet.
We are aware that many people that use portable wheelchairs need some kind of special accommodation to drive a vehicle. Depending on your needs, you can get a great way of wheelchair transportation. You can drive your vehicle, or be a passenger. The scope of options is wide, so be ready for a whole new chapter of your life.
What is a wheelchair van?
A wheelchair van is a vehicle accessible to handicap or disabled person’s use. It is equipped with a wheelchair entry – ramp or a lift.
Side-entry and rear-entry vans
It doesn’t matter if you have a side-entry wheelchair accessible van, or a rear-entry accessible van, there are plenty of wheelchair ramps for vans that will ease up entering your vehicle.
A rear-entry van doesn’t provide you with the possibility to drive. Its advantage is that will leave all the normal passengers seating in place. This type of van is great for big families. Yet, you would have to sacrifice the trunk space.
Side-entry van gives you the option to drive, or you can choose the central row in the vehicle instead. This kind of accessibility will surely sacrifice the rest of the central row seating. You don’t have to sacrifice any of the storage space.
What kind of features is presented in handicap vehicles in comparison to regular cars?
- You have a hand control for the brakes.
- For people that are not able to operate pedals, there is an accelerator.
- This type of vehicle has an access ramp.
- You can build in a wheelchair lift for your van.
- Some of the seats might be replaced with the mechanism for a wheelchair.
- Some vans allow you an option to lock your wheelchair in the driver’s area.
If you are thinking about purchasing a wheelchair accessible van, here are some things to take into consideration:
- Inform yourself about all the options
Nowadays, there are more options than ever when we talk about assistive technology for vehicles. You will find dozens of wheelchair accessible vehicles, including wheelchair accessible vans.
Further, you can find wheelchair ramps for vans and lifts and driving aids that have the same purpose – to ease up the drive for a handicapped person.
Sometimes a wheelchair ramp might be a better solution, if you, for example, have the costs in mind. Getting a wheelchair accessible van costs a couple of thousand dollars, while you can get a wheelchair ramp for 10 times less money.
- Work with accredited dealers only
Make sure that you choose an accredited dealer. This means that some dealers work in organizations that are committed to the quality and safety of handicap or disabled persons.
On the other side, there are companies that specialize in a wheelchair van conversion. This means that you can get your own van converted to a wheelchair accessible van.
This way you can keep your vehicle while adjusting it for the specific needs at the same time.
- Don’t hurry
Surely that this is not a decision that is easy to make. Dealers will surely put some pressure on you, but take your time to decide which option is the best option for you at the moment.
How can you save some money on your wheelchair van?
We are aware of the fact that getting wheelchair transportation is worth every penny. This is a gold investment, as you won’t be any more dependent on your wheelchair. You will get the option to get around and enjoy new experiences.
However, even though it might look like you would have to spend a significant amount of money on it, things are, luckily, different.
New conversion vans are a bit pricey option, but surely worth it. However, used vans with a new conversion are a cheaper solution that can save you a lot of money. The third option is to get yourself or your loved one a used van with a used conversion.
This is surely the cheapest option. Maybe you don’t know, but you will find many used vans with used conversions. Further, this is an option that is already tested, which might give you a sense of security.
Don’t limit your search on online or local dealerships. You just never know. A solid chance might come up right around the corner, but maybe you would have to look a bit further. If you are on a low budget, you should consider this option, as you can search in both places according to price range.
Some of the handicap vehicles include a kneeling system. A kneeling system means that your vehicle would lower down to the ground as much as possible, so it reduces the slope of the ramp.
Even though this might be needed in some situations, many caregivers avoid using the kneeling system, which is, by the way, expensive.
Get into a secret mission. Investigate, read on the customers’ reviews – get as much information as possible. You can find out many useful things from testimonials.
Wheelchair ramps for vans
As you can see, finding the right wheelchair van takes some effort. You have to find a balance between quality, comfort, and price. This is a demanding task.
We already mentioned in the paragraphs above that you can customize your own van into a wheelchair van. You have a variety of options, but wheelchair ramps for vans are one of the most popular solutions.
Which types of wheelchair ramps for vans are on the market?
- Power ramps
Power ramps function via a press of a button. This is an already automated process, as you basically don’t have to invest any more effort.
After you press the button, a ramp will open the door to your van, deploy itself, and lower the vehicle.
You don’t have any assistance here, as no one has to raise or lower the ramp manually. It actually gives you more independence.
- Manual ramps
If you are searching for the most cost-effective solution, this is definitely the one.
You can get manual ramp both for the side and rear entry vans.
This solution is for those who travel a lot and always have a companion. The deployment is not a tough task, but as the names suggests – it is manual, so you might need help.
- In-floor ramps
Just like you can conclude, these ramps are set underneath the floor of the van. This gives more maneuverability to the users.
In-floor ramps are famous for safety features. Some of the other benefits are more cargo store, obstacle-free doorway, and a quiet ride.
- Fold out ramps
This wheelchair ramp is maybe something you and your van need the most.
Fold out ramp give you the strength and durability and these are a great option for low budgets.
The ramp sits on the floor, pressed against the door, and extends outward – everything into a folding motion.
If you are using a minivan, then go for a roll a ramp, as this is the best solution for this type of wheelchair transportation.
In-floor or fold-out ramp?
These two kinds of ramps are the most common when it comes to driving handicap vehicles. Each one of them has advantages and flaws, so we will try to help you with the pick with our simple advice.
In-floor ramp is easy to store under your van’s floor when you are using it. This means that this type of ramp doesn’t obstruct the entry to the van.
Fold out ramp should be folded when you are not using it, just as the name suggests. Because of this, the fold-out ramp might be a barrier to the entry for the rest of the passengers.
Here are some questions that will clear out the image of the perfect ramp for the wheelchair accessible van.
- Do you live in a rainy or snowy climate?
If your answer is yes, then you should be aware that your ramp would collect snow on it, when you are not using the ramp. Fold out ramp is not the happy solution here. In-floor ramp is a cleaner solution for snowy weather conditions.
- What happens with the front passenger seat?
With an in-floor ramp, you will have a full use of the front passenger seat. On the other side, fold-out ramp forms some type of barrier so the use of the seat is limited.
In-floor ramps are better in case you are traveling a lot, while the fold-out ramp is an acceptable solution when you are not using it for long road trips.
- Do you drive your wheelchair van in environments where there are tall curbs and/or steep gradients?
This type of environment surely poses a challenge in front of you. If your answer is yes, then go for the fold-out ramp, as a more suitable for these conditions.
Another way to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible is to use a wheelchair lift for a van.
What is a difference between a wheelchair van and using a wheelchair lift for a van?
Wheelchair accessible van:
- Is van, mini-van, converted, SUV, or structurally altered type of vehicle,
- It has interior access for a portable wheelchair or a power chair,
- Takes some modifications such as lowering the floor, raising a roof, re-wiring etc,
- It is possible to drive for a wheelchair seat in some types of vans.
Wheelchair vehicle lift for van:
- A lift is mounted on the outside of the vehicle,
- Has a transportation platform for a mobility device,
- Doesn’t require additional adjustments,
- Takes minimal effort.
If you want to hit the road whenever you want without leaving your portable wheelchair behind, then you should think of converting your van to a wheelchair accessible one.
Even if you don’t own a van, but you want to travel somewhere with your friends or family, you can find a wheelchair van rental.
Turning your van into a wheelchair van is not tough, but is a bit expensive task. We tried to suggest some solutions for low budgets also. However, we hope that our advice will help you in turning your vehicle into a wheelchair accessible van.