Wheelchair Accessible Vans Defined

Wheelchair accessible vans are designed to accommodate people with disabilities requiring a wheelchair. The type of vehicles range in styles and size, but must be able to carry the weight of the wheelchair, or other mobility device. Their design is unique in that a standard modification would involve lowering the floor of the van and adding a lift or ramp. The ramp allows the wheelchair to be rolled into the van and safely seated. A lift raises the wheelchair up from the ground to the floor of the vehicle by hydraulic or other powered means.

Wheelchair Accessible Vans and Modifications

Wheelchair accessible vans can be purchased ready to go, or an existing vehicle can be modified. However, state laws vary as to what type of vehicle is acceptable for conversion. If planning to purchase a new van that is not wheelchair accessible, it is recommended to contact a local mobility dealer. The mobility dealer–a person specializing in equipment for the disabled–will be able to assist and steer you in the right direction. For example, a minivan cannot accommodate a power lift. A power lift can only be used with a full-size van. The minivan can, however, handle a ramp.

Where to Purchase an Accessible Van

A number of car manufacturers that offer wheelchair accessible vans and vehicles. They include, Dodge, Chrysler, Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford and Volkswagen. Moreover, they are able to outfit a van for accessibility, if choosing a vehicle not already equipped. Buying factory direct is also an option when looking for a wheelchair accessible van. Vehicles that are purchased direct from the factory are safe–this is a common concern. Factory direct vehicles are safety certified and offer a vehicle manufacturers warranty on new purchases.

Renting an Accessible Van

Perhaps you are going on a trip and a rental is necessary. Renting an accessible van is generally the same process as renting a non-accessible car. Many rental companies offer daily, weekly and long-term disability van rentals. Often a van can be purchased from a rental company. The try before you buy concept is popular for some people. This method of purchase is especially helpful to individuals, or families, finding themselves in the position of buying an accessible vehicle, for the first time.

Things to Consider

A mobility accessible van does not come in one size fits all. There are issues concerning the type of wheelchair the van will be seating. Such as, the height, weight and controls. The floors of an accessible van are lowered to allow for headroom, or the roof may be raised. Consideration to the number of people generally being transported also enters in to question. This will relate to leg room and mobility for the passengers while traveling. When these areas are satisfied, it is likely you will have the proper fit in a wheelchair accessible van.