Selecting a vehicle can be a chore or as easy as picking out a new pair of shoes. The first thing is the fit. All wheelchair accessible vans do the same thing. They provide “Freedom Independence.” With a wheelchair accessible van you no longer have to wait for the bus to come, or stay home on the weekend when the buses aren’t running. However there are certain things we as Mobility Consultants need to know so that we can make sure you the customer are getting the proper vehicle to meet your or that of a family members need.
First thing we need is the height of the person in their wheelchair. Not how tall they are standing, rather how tall they sit in their chair. That will tell us what size door height and ceiling dimensions we will need. So, standing behind the wheelchair, take a tape measure, from the floor to the top of the head. This is the number we need. The average person is going to sit anywhere from 48” to 54”. A standard lowered floor mini-van has a door opening of approximately 54” with a ceiling height of 57-58”. (Note: a standard van from the factory has an opening of 44-45” with a floor to ceiling dimension of 47-48”.) With the height figured we can then determine the fit into the vehicle.
The next thing is width and where the client wants to sit in the van. Front right, mid-section or as a driver. Drivers will need extra equipment such as a docking device for the wheelchair and hand controls or a transfer seat
with hand controls. (Not all people drive with hand controls. If a customer is a first time user of hand controls, he or she must have a certification that he or she has completed classes. A doctor or physician will perform an assessment to determine driving needs and eligibility.)
There are several other things to consider when buying a van after the fit:
- Will the person be an independent driver?
- Will they have a care giver?
- Do they want access to the front passenger seating position?
- Can they transfer/do they want to?
These questions will determine the style of the van and its options for automated door openings or manual operation. Also side or rear entry.
Every family’s situation is different yet many have the same issues. We see everything in disabilities from birth defects to spinal cord injuries, stroke victims, along with multiple sclerosis, A.L.S. and the loss of limbs due to diabetes. Each case has the same need, but how it comes together is unique to the user and their family.
The final determination in the equation is how much does the family or individual have in their monthly budget for the vehicle. We have long term financing on new vans
and extended terms on used. Financing is based on individual credit. It’s customary to have 20% down either cash or trade. (We accept all trades, whether they are adapted or not.)
Some people qualify for assistance for different organizations. Since the list is extensive, it’s easier for us to help when we know the source of the disability.
- Injuries can be a Workman’s Comp. case.
- For those going to school or back to work, there is assistance from the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation.
- Veterans have programs that vary greatly by the nature of their disability and if it’s service related.
There are many other Government programs, so please let your consultant know which program you are on or ask what program you may qualify for. If there is help to be had, we’ll help to see that you get it.
Guest Blogger – Mike Stadtler (M.C. Mobility Systems Sales Associate)