Whether driving from work and school or running errands around town, operating a vehicle is a key part of most people's lives. Unfortunately, operating a vehicle can become overwhelming and impossible for some people who live with disabilities. If you are one of the 2.2 million people in the United States that require a wheelchair for regular tasks, you most likely understand the challenges of driving or riding in a vehicle. Thankfully, many vans are now easily converted to accommodate wheelchairs. By answering these questions before you buy, your purchase of a wheelchair-converted van will be successful.
Should You Get Side or Rear Entry?
When you start the shopping process, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the different makes and models of vans that are available. To narrow down your options, consider whether you will enter on the side or the rear of the van.
A rear-entry van is the more affordable option, since it is easiest to convert. However, entering through the rear decreases your ability to store items in the cargo area. In addition, entering in the rear and moving to the front seat to drive will be difficult or impossible.
A side-entry option allows you to move your wheelchair into the van and go directly to the front seat. This ensures you are able to sit in the driver's seat to drive or ride in the front as a passenger.
Also, moving the wheelchair in on the side of your van is a safer option, since you are able to park curbside or in a handicap parking space.
Can Your Van Help You Remain Independent?
Even though you have a disability, you will want to keep your independence. Fortunately, most wheelchair-accessible vans allow you to get in and out without a great deal of help.
If you can transfer yourself from the wheelchair into the seat, consider installing a power seat base in a van. The automatic button allows you to move the seat to a convenient part of your van, ensuring you can safely move from the wheelchair into the driver's or passenger's seat without any difficulty.
If you are unable to transfer yourself from the wheelchair into the van's seat, equipping your van with a wheelchair ramp is essential. Be sure the ramp is capable of supporting the weight of you and your wheelchair. Also, it should be connected securely to the rear or side entryway of your van.
Will My Wheelchair Fit?
You will need to consider the size of your wheelchair when selecting a converted van.
Measure the height of the wheelchair, from the floor to the top of your head. Then, measure the length, which is the distance between the back of the wheelchair to the footrests. Lastly, measure from side to side of your wheelchair, taking into account any armrests or equipment that is installed on the armrests.
Before selecting your van, ensure the opening of your rear or side entry van can accommodate your wheelchair.
Living with a disability is possible with the right support and equipment. With this guide, you can find a wheelchair-accessible van that suits your needs. To learn more, contact a company like Lone Star Handicap Vans.