Category Archives: Ramps and lifts

Ramp and lift controls for wheelchair van and vehicle users in New England, Boston MA

How To Properly Insure Your Accessible Wheelchair Van

Everyone understands that it’s a legal requirement to have their vehicles insured and recognizes the value of being properly insured in case of an accident. But, most people are not insurance experts. In fact, some aspects of vehicle insurance confuse many people.


In order to keep your accessible van as safe as you can make sure you’re protecting it with the right types of commercial auto insurance. Here are the primary types of insurance you’ll need:

Liability Insurance

Liability insurance is normally required by law in all parts of the United States. This coverage is designed to protect other people from suffering losses that are caused when your wheelchair van causes an auto accident. Liability insurance primarily focuses on two coverage areas: Bodily injuries and Property Damages.

  • Bodily Injury – This section of your liability insurance policy helps pay for any injuries inflicted on other people from an auto accident. If your mobility van causes, or is found to be at fault for, an auto accident that causes people to get physically hurt, the bodily injury portion of your coverage pays for their medical expenses. When an injured person must be transported to the hospital for example, your bodily injury coverage can pay for the ambulatory bills and expenses. It also pays for the emergency room care, doctor’s visits, prescription medications, physical therapy, rehabilitation and other medical bills that are caused due to the auto accident. Bodily injury also pays for a person’s lost wages when they must miss work due to recovery times, and it pays for pain and suffering of the victims. When a person is killed in an auto accident, your bodily injury insurance can pay their funeral expenses as well.
  • Property Damage – When a vehicle or other property sustains damages from an auto accident that was caused by your handicap van, the property damages portion of your liability insurance will pay for the cost of repairs.

Liability insurance can provide your wheelchair van with protection at varying levels, based on the amount of coverage you select. You can choose a standard split level policy or a combined single limit policy as well.

A split limit policy sets maximum benefit limits on two separate portions of an auto accident claim. Split limit policies will pay no more than the set limit per person for bodily injuries but no more than the total combined limit for all bodily injuries in an accident. It will also pay a separate maximum for property damages. Example: A liability split limit policy of $15,000/$50,000/$35,000 explains a specific payment maximum per accident. No more than $15,000 will be paid for any individual person’s bodily injuries in one accident; no more than $50,000 will be paid for the combined total of bodily injuries; and $35,000 is the maximum amount the policy will pay for property damages.

If you elect a single combined limit liability policy instead, there is no separate maximum limit defined for bodily injuries or property damages. There is just one maximum overall payout for the policy for each accident. A $50,000 combined single limit liability policy for example, would pay a maximum of $50,000 in damages per accident regardless of whether the damages were to people or property.

Medical Payments

Medical payments insurance is important coverage for a wheelchair van, because it pays medical related expenses that arise for your van driver and any passengers who were riding in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Coverage is for paying medical and related bills, such as ambulance transport, hospital care and follow up treatments. This insurance protects your driver and passengers without regard to who causes an auto accident. It is not available in all areas however, so be sure to contact one of your licensed representatives to determine if it’s an option for your policy.

Physical Damage Insurance

Physical damages insurance protects your wheelchair accessible vehicle itself. And it protects your you from having to pay the bills when the van is damaged or destroyed. This insurance is extremely important for you  if you still have an outstanding unpaid finance loan because it provides you with the most protection possible. There are three types of physical damages insurance protection:

  • Comprehensive Physical Damage Protection – Comprehensive damages protects you from a number of potential risks, perils and hazards. It does not protect against damages and losses caused by a collision or caused when your van overturns. It does however, protect against losses and damages caused by theft, break ins, vandalism and natural events. If your van is damaged due to a tree falling on it in a storm for example, your comprehensive damage protection coverage will pay for the repairs.
  • Collision Protection – Collision protection is specifically designed to pay for damages and destruction that are caused by a collision or by a roll over event. If your van has a blowout and overturns for example, your collision damage protection will pay for the repairs. If the van backs into a building while trying to access a wheelchair ramp, the collision damage protection pays for those repairs as well.
  • Specified Peril (CAC) – Pecified Peril coverage is also known as Fire and Theft with Combined Additional Coverage. This does not protect you against collision or roll over events. Instead, it protects you from just those perils that are specified on your insurance policy.

Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist

If your van is involved in an auto accident with another vehicle and that other vehicle was the cause for the accident, their liability insurance is supposed to pay for your bodily injuries and property damages. If the other driver does not carry insurance however, or if they do not carry enough coverage to pay all of the resulting bills, they are considered uninsured or underinsured. You can purchase protection against these risks with an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy. When the other driver is at fault but unable to pay for all of your damages, your policy will pick up the difference. This policy works much like your Liability policy.

  • Bodily Injury – As covered with Liability Insurance.
  • Property Damage – As covered with Liability Insurance.
  • Collision Deductible Waiver (CDW) – When you carry an uninsured or underinsured motorist bodily injury policy on your wheelchair van, you can qualify for a collision deductible waiver (CDW). The CDW makes it so that you do not have to pay your standard insurance deductible when you make an uninsured or underinsured motorist accident claim.

Other Important Commercial Auto Insurance for Wheelchair Vans

  • Special Equipment Coverage – This type of coverage covers every aspect of vehicle adaptation including mobility equipment such as a lift, ramp, lowered floor, kneeling systems, a lock-down system, or any other added adaptive driving equipment (hand controls and left foot accelerators).
  • Rental – If your van is unusable due to an auto accident, rental insurance can pay for the cost of a temporary replacement.
  • Towing – Towing insurance pays for the cost of towing your accessible vehicle from the scene of an accident when it is badly damaged.
  • Accessories – Accessories insurance protects you from losses associated with extra devices you may have installed on your van. A wheelchair van taxi may have a mileage meter installed for example, and a communications radio to keep them in contact with their dispatcher.

** The limits of your coverage and your deductibles for each element of your policy will vary based upon what you’ve purchased from your insurance company.

April is Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Parkinson's Awareness

Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that is chronic and progressive, meaning that symptoms continue and worsen over time.

As many as one million individuals in the US live with Parkinson’s disease. While approximately four percent of people with Parkinson’s are diagnosed before the age of 50, incidence increases with age.

Its major symptoms vary from person to person, but can include tremor, slowness of movements, limb stiffness, and difficulties with gait and balance. The cause of the disease is unknown, and although there is presently no cure, there are treatment options such as medication and surgery to manage the symptoms.

If you have questions about wheelchair accessible vehicles and are in the New England area give us a call @ 508-697-6006

 

What is A New/Used Wheelchair van?

When shopping for a new or pre-owned wheelchair van at a mobility dealership, you may hear or read the term “New/Used”. Sounds confusing, right? The term New/Used describes an accessible vehicle for sale that has a new conversion added to a pre-owned used minivan. These vehicles tend to have less than 40,000 miles and are only 2-3 years old. The reason they tend to be newer and with very few miles is that conversion manufacturers want quality vans that are going to provide reliable transportation for many years to come. New/Used van conversions can be side entry or rear entry, with most having a fold-out ramp (vs. an in-floor ramp). A VMI Summit on a Dodge Grand Caravan is just one example of a fold-out ramp conversion. Folding wheelchair ramps on a minivan can be powered or manual. Powered ramps are operated with a push-button inside the vehicle, a key fob or both.

Deciding whether to buy a new or used wheelchair van can be a difficult decision. Your choice may depend on how often or how far you plan to travel every year, whether you are the driver (with the use of hand controls) or passenger, and your preferences for a specific conversion, make or color. A lot of people want all of the latest electronic accessories and gadgets that can only be found in a new vehicle — but they also want something in a used vehicle’s price range. New/Used vehicles provide an “almost new” vehicle at significant cost savings – and may have all of the amenities that you’re are looking for.

New England Wheelchair Van Collision Repair

Wheelchair Van Collision Repair at VMi New England Mobility Center, Bridgewater, MA

We can and will repair, service, preform preventative maintenance and help you with collision damage even if you bought your van elsewhere.

  • No Hassle Insurance Claim Handling
  • Direct Repair For Major Insurance Companies
  • State of the Art Collision Repair Facility
  • Baked on Finish
  • Expert Color Matching
  • Unibody & Frame Straightening
  • Vehicle Detailing
  • Car Rental Available
  • Licensed Vehicle Estimator

Wheelchair Van Auto Body Repairs in MA, RI, CT, VT, NH and ME

For more than 30 years, the crew at VMi New England Mobility Collision Center has been offering auto body repairs that has developed strong relationships with our clients. As a locally owned facility, we provide you with affordable options. We also believe in fast, punctual service, so we don’t leave you waiting forever when you need to get back on the road as quickly as possible.

We’re quick to respond to your inquiries, and we can often offer same-day service from certified expert technicians. We handle foreign and domestic wheelchair van repair, and some of our services include:

  • Auto glass replacement
  • Auto body and dent repair
  • Towing service

When it’s in New England and mobility van auto body repairs that you need, The Mobility Center in Bridgewater, MA is one of the top shops to call. We’re here Monday – Friday and we’ll work by appointment on the weekends. Contact us today to request your sound estimate 508-697-6006.

How to Afford a Used Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle New England

Among people with disabilities, especially wheelchair users, one of the most talked about subjects is the price of a wheelchair accessible vehicle. A shiny new van can be out of range for many consumers on fixed incomes. But a used wheelchair van could be a possibility.

Let’s take a look at some concerns people may have:

Used vehicles have too much mileage on them.

Many used vehicles don’t have much mileage and the mobility equipment may be hardly used.

How much does a used accessible van with a ramp or lift cost?

A wheelchair accessible van less than 3 years old could start at $30,000—or thousands more. A gently used, older wheelchair van can be converted to save even more.

An older vehicle won’t last much longer.

A vehicle properly taken care of can last for decades. For added peace of mind, contact a mobility dealer who sells used wheelchair accessible vehicles and has decades of experience.

A used vehicle probably won’t have the equipment I want.

You want an in-floor ramp but you can only find fold-outs. If the price is right, you may be able to have the desired equipment installed after the sale. Do your research up front.

How can I qualify for a vehicle loan?

  • Talk to your VMi New England mobility dealer—they know the organizations, non-profits, state and federal agencies and charities that will help in financing in your area.
  • If you are a Veteran, you may be eligible for a credit towards a wheelchair accessible vehicle. For more information go to VMi New England
  • Start saving! If you get an income tax refund, put it in a special savings account.
  • Ask your family and friends to forgo gifts and donate towards your vehicle fund.

Above all, contact a mobility expert like the ones at VMi New England. They will work hand-in-hand with you on areas like what is right for you, financing options, rates, terms, manufacturer offers, incentives and benefits.

VMi New England is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our adapted wheelchair vans.

Don’t Let Your Vehicle Get Rusty! Schedule An Appointment Today!

Vehicles today are subject to rust and corrosion due to moisture, humidity, tons of road salt and other airborne pollutants that can cause rapid deterioration of your wheelchair van. If neglected, the damages can make your mobility investment of little value.  The thousands of yearly miles, environments and exposure to the elements of larger vehicles means they are a lot more likely to suffer from the effects of corrosion. Correct rust proofing on a regular basis can ensure that your vehicle does not suffer from corrosion related vehicle downtime and keep your van from falling apart.

The best time to prevent rust damage to your vehicle is in Autumn: before the first snowflake falls and Spring: after thae first heavy rain fall; a little vehicle maintenance will help keep the rust away.

Prevent
Prevention is better than a cure. There are a number of products that can offer prevention against rust. Products are available either as oils, waxes, fluids and coatings. The range is vast, but our rust prevention processes, product, plan and application has been found to be most effective. Our rust proofing is ever evolving and has been for over the past 26 years.

  • Our rust proofing formula does more than just cover the metal required, we apply it as a high-pressured spray, ensuring protection to your handicap accessible vehicle’s most critical areas by penetrating, displacing existing moisture and protecting the many vulnerable crevices of your automobile.

Side Entry Versus Rear Entry Wheelchair Vans

The question of a Rear Entry wheelchair van versus a Side Entry van often comes up in conversation when a first time buyer enters the accessible van market. There are several things to consider; first, the family or care giver needs to decide on where the wheelchair user is going to sit. If the person in the wheelchair is able to drive and will be independent there are other things to consider, but for now, let us stay with an assisted member of the family.

Door height is an issue. For that we need to know how tall the person sits in their wheelchair.

Scooter or Power chair is next. Size and weight combination will come into play as we move along in the discovery process.

Will the person transfer into a  seat or will they remain in their wheelchair while traveling?

Okay, now we get into seating. The side entry offers both mid-section and front seat options with tie-downs located throughout. In a rear entry van, the mid-section to rear of the vehicle, are the only seating options while remaining in the wheelchair.

There are five passenger seats available for family members in a side entry van versus six available seats in a rear entry. Both are in addition to whoever is in the wheelchair, which gives a total of six people in a side entry and up to seven in a rear entry.

For folks with a long wheelchair or scooter the rear entry is ideal. Over six feet of space is afforded to tie down the wheelchair and no turning to forward face is necessary.

A side entry requires up to eight feet accommodating the lowering of the ramp allowing access into your van. This may prohibit the use of the ramp while inside a garage or if someone parks to close while at the mall or a doctor’s appointment.

The rear entry does not have the blocked in problem, you are always accessing your van from the aisle.

In summation, like anything else, it is best to try before you buy. Our Mobility Center has both styles of wheelchair vans. See which style suits your lifestyle and then consider the purchase of either a new or used mobility equipped van. Always consult with your mobility product specialist for any additional questions you may have.

Tips For Including People With Disabilities At A Party

With the holiday season upon us, it’s easy to hold a party where all guests — with and without disabilities — feel welcomed, respected and have fun. All it takes is some planning.

 Don’t be afraid to include guests with disabilities
People with disabilities have their disabilities 24/7, so they know how to create work-arounds so that they feel comfortable. If you know someone has a disability, use a simple strategy — ask the person what they need to be fully included. All too often people with disabilities are not invited to events, or don’t go because they feel embarrassed to “put someone out” by asking for a simple thing that will help them attend. By telling them that their presence is valued, and asking what they need, you will build a new level of trust and affection. For example, one of the biggest things that aging loved ones need is a ride. So help them find a carpool or send an accessible taxi or ride to pick them up and return them home.

RSVP
Not all disabilities are visible, so you may not know that someone you want to include in your event has some special needs. By including a line about accommodations in the invitation’s RSVP, you are already letting guests know that everyone is welcome. If it’s a party for children, parents can tell you, right off the bat, what their child’s needs might be to attend the party. They will be happy you asked! “We want everyone to have fun — please let us know if you have dietary restrictions or require other special accommodations to attend! We will do our best to meet everyones needs.” Note that you aren’t promising to meet all needs — if you can’t find a sign language interpreter at the last minute or there is another issue, for example, you will be able to let your guest know in advance. Indeed, they may be able to help you find a solution!

Physical Access
Most public places are accessible. However, because religious institutions are exempted from the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), many of them are not fully accessible. Thus, if your event is at a venue that is not physically accessible to all, move it to a place that is. That can mean a different room in a place of worship, or to a completely different place. Venues should have a ground level entrance or ramp, an elevator if it’s upstairs, and accessible bathrooms. Most public places (hotels, restaurants, bowling, video games, pools, bounce houses, etc.) are usually equipped for people with disabilities. Just check with the venue ahead of time. If you have someone coming who uses a wheelchair, you should also put the menorah on a table that is low enough for them to also be able to light candles.

Special Diets
Anyone can have allergies, celiac disease or lactose intolerance, but you won’t know unless you ask on the invitation RSVP. Making sure there is an option for cake, snacks, treats and other food for these guests can be as simple as picking up a gluten free cupcake to serve with the cake. It is thoughtful to have refreshments that everyone can enjoy.

Addressing attitude
Kids and adults can be daunted when encountering someone who is different from them. If it’s a children’s event you can talk to the group at the start of the party about kindness and respect for each other and each others differences. A party is a great opportunity for kids to learn about one another.

Involving parents
Parties can be exhausting for the hosts. Asking a parent or two to volunteer to help at the party, particularly if it’s a big group, can lighten the load for the hosts. Parents may feel more comfortable, especially if their child has social anxiety issues, if they are invited to stay or help as an option.

Sensory overload awareness
Parties can cause sensory overload for any child or adult. But for a person with autism or a sensory processing disorder, a party can be really overwhelming. Offer opportunities for guests to take a break, perhaps in a quiet room away from the crowd. Some venues may have options for turning down music or minimizing stimulation — and that is useful anywhere there are a lot of kids! Latex allergies (balloons) and chemical sensitivities (use of highly scented cleaners or staff wearing perfumes) are real issues. Solutions: Use alternative mylar balloons. Ask people to not wear strong scents, and choose unscented cleaning products.

Communication
If a guest attending the party is non-verbal or communicates in other ways such as American Sign Language or a communication board, talk about it with the guests. Installing free Dragon software onto an Ipad in advance can enable you to speak with someone who is deaf as it instantly transcribes what you are saying. Having an interpreter can be worth the cost, as all the people can communicate and maybe learn a little sign language! Remember to speak directly to a child or adult whether s/he is verbal or not.

Reading, Cognitive Access and Vision Issues
Children and adults with cognitive, learning disabilities or vision impairments might not be able to read the menu, instructions for a scavenger hunt or a game score sheet. Pictures and verbal instructions are useful, as well as pairing children with those who can help. It’s always great to have an extra pair of reading glasses around if you are inviting seniors. But you can always tell someone who can’t see or read what they will need or what to know.

Enjoy the party!
Don’t let inclusion stress you out. If you are reading this list and considering these tips, you’re already doing more than most! Stay positive, smile and throw that PARTY!

Mobility Rebate Programs

Whether you’re looking for a wheelchair accessible minivan, a full-size van, or a lift/ramp for your wheelchair van, your financial investment is always going to be a major consideration. We understand the importance of the investment our customers make and we always strive to produce superior products and provide excellent service.

In today’s difficult economy, every cent counts when you’re making decisions about what you can and can’t afford to go without. Feeling that your mobility is restricted by financial constraints is discouraging, and we don’t like the idea of anyone having to face that challenge and find no answers or possibilities. That’s why we are extremely well informed and able to assist you in navigating your way through the myriad of grants, tax incentives, and rebate programs.

Every auto manufacturer offers a mobility rebate program of some type and they are definitely worth looking into. Here is some information about rebates for wheelchair vans and wheelchair lifts/ramps. For more personalized information, contact us and we will help guide you through the process of applying and receiving these rebates.

Toyota Mobility Dealer
The Toyota Mobility Program provides up to $1,000 in reimbursement for adaptive equipment (such as wheelchair lifts, assistive seating, driving aids, and more) installed on new Toyota vehicles within 12 months of the delivery date of the vehicle.

Dodge/Chrysler Automobility Dealer
Chrysler’s AutoMobility Program is similar to the program mentioned above, with reimbursements from $400-$1,000 available depending on the type of adaptive equipment installed..

Honda Mobility Dealer
The Honda Mobility Assistance Program offers reimbursement up to $1,000 for adaptive equipment installed on a new Honda!

Lexus Mobility
The Lexus Mobility Program supports the mobility needs of Lexus owners and/or family members with physical disabilities.

 If you have any questions about these programs, just give our us a call or visit us today. We’re always happy to help!

Dodge/ Chrysler’s Mobility Rebate

Chrysler’s Automobility Program

Overview
Designed to help customers with permanent disabilities enter, exit and/or operate a new vehicle, Chrysler’s Automobility Program can help you do the things you love to do in life. And, we’ll help you hit the road in the style that suits you best. Our goal is to assist in lessening the burden of the financial cost of modifying your vehicle.

How the Program Works
When you buy or lease any new 2010, 2011, 2012 or 2013 Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge, Ram or FIAT® vehicle from a participating dealership or FIAT studio, Chrysler will give you a cash reimbursement to help reduce the cost of installing the adaptive driver or passenger equipment on your vehicle. Leased vehicles must be leased for a minimum of 12 months to be eligible.

Once you have a 2010-2013 Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram or FIAT vehicle that fits your transportation needs, contact a reputable and qualified adaptive equipment installer to ensure that it can be adapted to meet your needs.

Please consult a dealership or call Automobility Program Headquarters for eligibility requirements and program expiration dates.

A program application must be used to submit a claim for reimbursement under the terms and conditions of the Chrysler Automobility Program. Through this program, Chrysler will provide a reimbursement to each eligible customer who installs qualifying adaptive driver or passenger equipment on a purchased or leased new Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram or FIAT vehicle (unless discontinued or excluded earlier at the discretion of Chrysler Group LLC).

A medical doctor’s prescription or note may also be required for certain types of modifications. Consult a dealership for more information on which modifications require notes.

Reimbursement
Conversions to Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge, Ram or FIAT vehicles qualify for a maximum reimbursement of $1,000. Running boards qualify for a maximum reimbursement of $400. Alerting devices qualify for a maximum reimbursement of $200. These reimbursements will not be reduced or affected by any additional outside funding. Consult your dealer for complete eligibility requirements.

Eligible Vehicles
Vehicles eligible for reimbursement include 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge, Ram and FIAT vehicles. Dodge Viper, Dodge Dart SE and Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT® models are ineligible.

Financing
If you require assistance with financing an adapted vehicle purchase / lease, we can help you finance the cost of your new vehicle, as well as any modifications you make to it. Conventional financing is available through Ally Financial to all qualified new vehicle buyers.

Click HERE for the Application

Honda Mobility Rebate Information

Honda’s Mobility Assistance Program
The Honda Customer Mobility Assistance Program is proud to support the mobility needs of drivers and passengers with physical disabilities. Honda will provide a reimbursement of up to $1,000 to each eligible, original retail customer for expenses incurred to purchase and install qualifying adaptive equipment on any eligible purchased or leased Honda vehicle.

Adapting Your Vehicle
Honda suggests that you request a copy of the Department of Transportation brochure “Adapting Motor Vehicles for People with Disabilities.”  

The process includes these steps:

  • Determine your state’s driver’s license requirements.
  • Evaluate your needs – Contact the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) for further information.
  • Select the right vehicle – Consult with your evaluator, an adaptive installer and your local Honda dealer to determine the best Honda model to meet your needs.
  • Choose a qualified mobility equipment installer – Shop around and ask about qualifications, capabilities, experience, warranty coverage and service. Confirm that they are members of NMEDA.
  • Obtain training on the use of the new equipment – When this process is complete, follow the guidelines and complete and submit an application for assistance to recover up to $1,000 of the cost of your adaptive equipment and/or conversion.

Program Requirements
General

  • Only the original vehicle owner is eligible for reimbursement.
  • Modifications must be completed for the original owner or his/her immediate family.
  • Only new Honda vehicles retailed or leased in the United States from an authorized Honda dealership.
  • Only one reimbursement request per vehicle.
  • Lease-vehicle modifications may be subject to written lessor approval. The customer is responsible for determining and satisfying lease-contract requirements.
  • Honda will consider reimbursement for modifications made to vehicle after February 1, 2004.
  • The written reimbursement request must be received within 6 months of the adaptive equipment installation.

Adaptations, Modifications or Equipment Installation

  • Qualifying adaptive equipment or conversion is defined as: alterations or adaptive-equipment installation that provides to the disabled user convenient access and/or the ability to drive the vehicle.
  • Adaptive equipment installation must have taken place within the time and mileage limits of the New Vehicle Limited Warranty.
  • Alterations or adaptive equipment installation requires a prescription or medical documentation to be considered for reimbursement.
  • Reimbursement requests (invoices) will be compared against the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Web site to verify that the alterer or repair business (individual, partnership or corporation) is registered with NHTSA and that the modification(s) are on the list of NHTSA exemptions.
  • If all conditions are met, Honda will provide up to a $1,000 cash reimbursement. Honda will be the secondary coverage in the case of two or more reimbursement sources.

Exceptions

  • Wheelchair or scooter hoists or ramps do not require a prescription, medical documentation or NHTSA exemption verification and NHTSA business registration for reimbursement consideration.
  • Modifications that DO NOT make inoperative any part of a device or element of design that has been installed on or in a motor vehicle in compliance with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard will not require NHTSA exemption verification and NHTSA business registration for reimbursement consideration.
  • *A reimbursement made by another source, such as medical insurance, will be subtracted from the customer’s original total expense. (Example: Total expense $5,000, Insurance reimbursement $4,000, Customer expense, $1,000. The customer expense of $1,000 will be reviewed and considered for a maximum of $1,000 reimbursement.)

Important Customer Information

  • The selection of an equipment manufacturer and installer is solely the customer’s responsibility (Honda does not endorse any company or supplier involved in adaptive equipment. Mobility warranty, installation warranty and related liabilities are not the responsibility of Honda).
  • The reimbursement application form must be completed in its entirety and signed by the customer. It should be mailed along with a copy of all required supporting documentation. (See checklist on application).

Click HERE For the Honda Mobility Assistance Brochure

Rear-entry wheelchair van ramp conversions

Rear-entry wheelchair vans and handicap accessible vans have a lowered floor that extends from the rear of the vehicle to the front seats.  These conversions feature a wheelchair ramp at the rear hatch.  Rear-entry wheelchair vans can be configured to transport up to 2 wheelchairs, depending on the conversion chosen and the size of the wheelchairs.  Available with a  power or manual wheelchair ramp, rear-entryhandicap accessible vans are  generally more economical that side-entry wheelchair vans.  Rear-entry wheelchair vans have excellent ground clearance, making them perfect for our tough New England winters.  While thay aren’t a good choice for those who want to drive from their wheelchairs or ride in their wheelchairs in the front passenger area, rear entry handicap vans work well for those who need to transport individuals with very long wheelchairs or children in wheelchairs.  Because of the location of the wheelchair ramp, these vehicles can fit in any parking space and still make loading and unloading of wheelchair passengers a cinch.  Rear-entry handicap vans are ideal when handicap accessible parking is not available.

Greater Accessibility and Ease of Use
The benefits that come from a rear entry van are pretty big when it comes to both usability and accessibility. First and foremost, accessing the van from the rear actually allows for a wider ramp and a wider opening for access to the van, which is perfect for bulkier power chair models. In addition, rear access means that the actual access ramp itself can be longer, allowing an easier climb into the vehicle. And, because no side clearance is required, customers can park anywhere–even outside of the typical handicap parking space–without encountering maneuverability or space issues.

Holiday Travel Preparation

With the holidays only a few short weeks away, it’s time to get plans for family visits and end of year trips finalized before the busy season is in full swing. Traveling with a disability that requires mobility equipment can quickly become a stressful task if proper accommodations have not been made in advance.  Preparing ahead of time can save you some headaches when it is time to board your plane. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your upcoming vacations:

  • Be sure to inform your airline if you or someone you are traveling with uses a wheelchair, mobility equipment or will need to bring medical equipment onto the aircraft.
  • Ensure you have refilled prescriptions for any medications you may need throughout the duration of your trip.
  • If you need to rent a car, make these arrangements in advance to guarantee a handicap accessible vehicle.
  • If possible, bring any tools you might need in case you experience any issues with your wheelchair. If you have replacement parts, it might be a good idea to bring these along as well.
  • If your wheelchair must be checked for your flight, make sure to tag it as you would the rest of your luggage. Include your name and contact details, as well as those of your hotel or wherever else you may be staying.
  • Staying somewhere other than home can be a challenge so make sure your hotel or other arrangements are accessible by wheelchair (if necessary) and can otherwise accommodate you.
  • Plan to arrive at the airport as early as possible to ensure you have plenty of time to make your way through security and finalize any special accommodations you might require for your mobility equipment.
  • When booking your flights, know that passengers requiring a wheelchair are generally the first to board and last to leave the plane, meaning that connecting flights with short layovers may become difficult.

Despite having to take select special measures, those living with disabilities should not be apprehensive to fly or travel. Airlines have become more and more accommodating and understanding, making this the perfect time to book a vacation and get back in touch with faraway friends and family.

New England Disabled Sports: Winter Activities

About New England Disabled Sports
New England DisAbled Sports is a national recognized program which provides year round adaptive sport instruction to adults and children with physical and cognitive disAbilities.

Their programs allow individuals with disabilities to enjoy a boundary-free environment, enjoy outdoor recreation with friends and family, as well as provide access to equipment and instruction that might otherwise be unavailable.

Their Mission:
The Mission of New England Disabled Sports is, through sports, to change lives affected by disabilities. Download New England Disabled Sports brochure

Their Vision:
They envision a world where disabilities are not barriers.

Their Values:

  • They embrace volunteerism
  • They foster community
  • They strive for excellence
  • They listen to and learn from everyone
  • They nurture personal development through high-quality training and instruction
  • They strive for diversity

Winter Activities

Alpine Skiing

Mono skiing
The mono ski is a device used mainly by people with limited use (or absence) of the lower extremities. A mono ski, also known as a sit-ski, consists of a molded seat mounted on a metal frame. A shock absorber beneath the seat eases riding on uneven terrain and helps in turning by maximizing ski-snow contact. Modern mono skis interface with a single, ordinary alpine ski by means of a “ski foot,” a metal or plastic block in the shape of a boot sole that clicks into the ski’s binding. A mono skier use outriggers for stability; an outrigger resembles a forearm crutch with a short ski on the bottom. People new to mono-skiing are often surprised to see how much terrain is skiable in a mono ski; advanced mono skiers can be found not only carving turns on groomed runs but also skiing moguls, terrain parks, race courses, glades and even backcountry terrain—in short, wherever stand-up skiers can go.

Bi-skiing
A bi-ski is a sit ski with a can be skied independently like the mono-ski with hand-held outriggers, or can be skied with the assistance of an instructor using stabilizing outriggers and tethers. The skier moves his or her head, shoulders or hand-held outriggers to turn the bi-ski. The bi-ski has a lift mechanism for getting onto a chairlift. It can also be used to accustom a new sit-skier to the snow before moving to a mono-ski. Bi-skis are used by people with upper and lower limb impairments and with poor balance. People with these impairments might bi-ski:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Amputees
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Severe epilepsy
  • Spinal bifida
  • Severe balance impairment

Outriggers are metal elbow crutches with the tip section of a ski pivoted on the bottom of the crutch. Some outriggers have adjustable brakes attached to the back edge of the ski to give some speed control. Outriggers are used to aid balance and/or to give support. Outriggers are used by mono-skiers, bi-skiers and standing skiers needing aid with balance.

3-Track & 4-Track skiing
3 track skiing is defined as skiing on one ski with outriggers to maintain balance. The student is able to stand on one ski and maintain dynamic balance with the assistance of outriggers (poles). 4 track skiing is very similar to 3 track but the skier has 2 feet on skies, rather than one.

Visually Impaired
Alpine (downhill) skiing is one of the rare opportunities available that allows the blind individual to move freely at speed through time and space. It provides the opportunity to embrace and commune with the primal force of gravity, thus experiencing the sheer exhilaration of controlled mass in motion, in a physically independent setting.

For those with Visual Impairment, a sighted Guide is needed. For lesser impairment the guide may simply need to ski a short distance in front of the skier to show the way. Skiers with greater vision loss or who are totally blind will generally ski using a headset arrangement to give audible instruction.

Snowboarding
Snowboarding has become very popular with New England DisAbled Sports students. People with cognitive or physical disAbilities are able to participate and experience the thrills of riding the mountain. The number of snowboarding lessons increases each year as the sport grows in popularity within our community. New England DisAbled Sports offers ski and snowboard lessons daily throughout the winter season.

Snowshoeing
Come explore the snow trails and fresh air of the mountains covered in snow while snowshoeing. Enjoy a winter hike in the woods from the more stable base of snowshoes. Take in peaceful scenery while working to improve your physical fitness level, balance and spatial awareness. You’ll love it!

Winter Biathlon
A seemingly unlikely combination of events – one is an aerobic activity (skiing or running) which requires strength, speed and endurance; the other is a passive activity (shooting) which requires concentration and a steady hand (difficult after you’ve been skiing, running or walking all out!).

Accessible Vehicles And Adaptive Mobility Equipment Q&A

Rear entry vs. side entry. Buying online. Buying used. What do you need to know to get maximum benefit for minimum expense?

Good information is the key to saving money and getting the most value for the dollar when making a big-ticket purchase like a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

With that in mind, Seek out and find experts who truly care for answers to some common questions about adaptive mobility equipment.

Q: Can I just go to a car dealer down the street or do I need a certified mobility dealer?

A: Certified mobility dealers help consumers buy the right vehicle and adaptive mobility equipment to meet their mobility needs now and in the future. Future planning is especially important for people with muscle diseases that get progressively worse over time.

“There are so many different products out there, and technology has improved so much. We just want to help people make the right decision,” says Jim Sanders, president of Automotive Innovations based in Bridgewater, MA for over 25 years.

“Many times, consumers will go to a car dealer and buy [a vehicle] that can’t be modified or one that doesn’t fit their needs. And once you buy a vehicle, normally it’s very difficult to return it.”

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), a nonprofit organization that provides consumer guidance and ensures quality and professionalism in the manufacturing and installation of mobility equipment. Members include mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers, driver rehabilitation specialists and other professionals.

NMEDA member-dealers must follow the safety standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in addition to NMEDA’s own stringent guidelines.

Some dealers choose to enroll in NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program (QAP), which requires them to adhere to national motor vehicle safety standards, and use proven quality control practices to yield the highest level of performance and safety. Automotive Innovations was the First Mobility Dealer in Massachusetts to enroll and exceed the safety standards.

“The QAP dealer is audited by an outside engineering firm to verify that technicians have been trained, make sure the dealer has insurance and make sure the facility is ADA-compliant,”

So it means the QAP dealer is going above and beyond.”

Other reasons to seek out a certified mobility equipment dealer include:

They provide a link to qualified service and repair, that it’s crucial to have done on a adapted vehicle serviced.

Some manufacturers of adapted vehicles sell directly to consumers, cutting costs by cutting out the middle man, says Jim Sanders, of VMi New England, based in Bridgewater, MA.

But expert assessment and “try before you buy” remain essentials for prospective buyers, with or without a dealer in the middle.

For example, We, a NMEDA QAP-certified member, send representatives to customers’ homes for assessment and test drives before they buy, and also offer unmatched service/maintenance to just about any modified vehicle including Rollx vans.

Q: Can I get a better price if I buy online rather than from a dealer?

A: As with any online shopping, the warning “buyer beware” rings true. Buying online without trying out different vehicles with different conversions can be a costly mistake. Furthermore there are many grey market converted vans being offered as quality conversions.

Online, clients are mostly shopping blind. Typically they have no idea how the vehicle they need will even work fro them, even if they have specific recommendations from a driver evaluator or occupational therapist.

“You definitely shouldn’t buy it online,” “There not trying to assess your needs by e-mail or over the phone. There just trying to sell you something.

Some online dealers even have a questionnaire on its Web site to try and give you the idea your getting what you need. But, it will never replace being able to go to a local mobility dealership and try the vans out first hand.

A mobility vehicle is probably the second-largest purchase after a house. You should see it, try it out, and make sure it’s something that will work for you. It’s horrible when people get something that they’re disappointed in.

Every vehicle is a little bit different — such as in the dimensions, electrical and fuel systems, or suspension modifications. “If you go online and buy [based] on price, you’re not really looking at the total package.”

While buying online maybe able to save money up front, it wont over the long term.

In addition to consumers missing out on the important local service contact that a mobility equipment dealer provides, these online deals or grey market vans are worth much less when it comes time to trade it in.

Where do you want to sit? If you plan to drive from your wheelchair, then a side-entry conversion is what you’ll need, unless you can transfer to the driver’s seat (rear entry). With a rear-entry conversion, the wheelchair user typically is positioned in the back or between two mid-row captain’s seats, while a side entry offers a wheelchair user multiple seating options in the driver, front passenger and middle sections.

Q: What are some common mistakes people make when buying a modified vehicle?

A: Manufacturers and mobility dealers agree that one of the most common — and costly — mistakes is buying the vehicle first and then shopping for the conversion or adaptive mobility equipment. Not all vehicles can be converted.

For example, If you purchase a minivan from a traditional car dealership you can hit a roadblock if it doesn’t meet specific requirements to have the floor lowered for a rear- or side-entry conversion.

Q: What are some good questions to ask a dealer or manufacturer?

A: Although buying a modified vehicle can be “a daunting experience,” says VMI’s Monique McGivney, it also can be “exciting and fun when you walk in armed with good questions and information.”

Prior to getting an assessment from a mobility dealer, evaluate your needs and try answering the following questions:

  • What vehicle will fit in my garage?
  • What kind of parking issues will I encounter where I live?
  • What is the size and weight of my wheelchair?
  • What is my seated height in the wheelchair?
  • How many people will ride in the vehicle?
  • In what part of the vehicle do I want to sit?
  • Will I be able to drive with hand controls?
  • Do I want a full-size van, minivan or alternative vehicle?
  • Do I want manual or power equipment?
  • Will an in-floor ramp or fold-out ramp meet my needs?
  • What is my budget, and do I have access to supplemental funding?

The first question mobility dealers usually ask a client is: “What is your seated height in the wheelchair?” From there, the dealer can advise whether a full-size or minivan is appropriate, and what kind of conversion is needed.

Be sure to ask the dealer about the warranty and how the vehicle can be serviced.

Q: Which is better: rear entry or side entry?

A: The most important difference between a rear- and side-entry conversion is that with a rear entry, wheelchair users can’t drive from their wheelchairs nor can they ride in the front passenger seat. From there, the choice comes down to personal preference and budget.

In recent years, because of quality, convenience and cost, there’s been a shift toward side entry vehicles. Rear entry is more of a frugal modification, involves a less of conversion process and is typically a little less expensive than a side-entry conversion.

Many people prefer side entry with a in-floor conversion for many safety reasons additionally because they can park almost anywhere and not worry deploying the ramp out into traffic. Also, side entry allows the consumer to ride in the passengers front position along with maintain the rear seats in a minivan because the conversion doesn’t affect that area.

Rear entry is harder to get out of compared to a side-entry.

Anyway you look at it side-entry vehicles are more versatile. For example, side entry allows someone with a progressively worsening condition to use the vehicle for a longer period of time. A wheelchair user can start out driving from his or her chair, and then move to several other positions in the vehicle when no longer able to drive.

Side-entry conversions typically are a little more expensive than rear-entry because they’re more intrusive and labor intensive. For example, with a minivan, the entire floor and frame must be removed and replaced with a lowered floor and new frame.

Q: What’s the difference between a fold-out ramp and in-floor ramp?

A: This decision comes down to safety, aesthetics, convenience and cost.

A fold-out ramp folds up into the vehicle, takes up valuable space in the passengers front area and must be deployed whenever the door is opened.

The in-floor ramp slides under the floor, so it safer for anyone seated in the passengers front position, mid-ship position, there’s no obstruction to the door, and other passengers can enter and exit without deploying the ramp. In-floor ramps only are currently only available for side-entry minivan conversions, and there is even a manual (unpowered) option.

In-floor ramps in addition to being safer will generally provide more room in the vehicle because there’s nothing blocking the doorway. The ramp is “out of sight, out of mind and may last longer because it doesn’t have to be deployed each time the side passenger door opens.

Fold-out ramps generally cost a little less than in-floor, and consumers can select from manual and power versions; a power fold-out ramp still costs less than an in-floor ramp.

If an in-floor ramp system breaks down or the vehicle loses power, VMI’s in-floor ramp systems have a backup system (sure-deploy) that bypasses the vehicle’s battery.

A lot of people just feel more secure knowing there isn’t a fold-out ramp next to them in the event of a accident.

Q: I use a wheelchair, but a van or minivan just isn’t “me.” Are they my only options?

A: You have some choices.

Lowered-floor conversions with fold-out ramps can be done on the Honda Element, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Toyota Scion. The conversions are small and don’t fit as many people.

Due to them being built on a much smaller scale, the ones we have seen have not been built with the same level of quality of mini van conversion. Parts availability and repairs have been a problem, some of the companies that converted them are out of business and or have no support for “something they used to build”

For those who prefer to keep their standard car rather than purchasing a modified vehicle — and who can make the transfer from a wheelchair to a car seat — the answer may be as simple as a set of hand controls or a left foot gas pedal

Turning seats can be used in a wide range of vehicles, from sedans to SUVs and pickup trucks. A way to transport the wheelchair (like a rear lift) also is needed.

The rate at which your disease symptoms are worsening is one thing to consider when looking at turning seats — is it likely you’ll be able to transfer and ride in a car seat for many more years? Also, be sure to check with a mobility dealer to determine if your vehicle can accommodate a turning seat and a wheelchair lift.

Q: Why are modified vehicles so darned expensive?

A: A vehicle conversion can cost consumers upwards of $27,000 — and that’s just the cost for the conversion, not the vehicle. The total package can run between $45,000 and $80,000 — or more.

Besides the cost of the components, the reason it’s so pricey is that basically there is a lot of work involved to build a quality vehicle.

Modified vehicles from certified manufacturers and dealers must meet NHTSA’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). That means all modified vehicles must be properly crash tested. (To learn more, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.)

It’s quite a labor-intensive process because of the customization. When you make structural modifications to a vehicle, you have to go through all of the crash testing, and you have to show that the vehicle is compliant again, and those tests are very expensive.

Most of the time lowering the floor in a minivan requires replacing or moving the fuel tank. Once the conversion is finished, the vehicle still has to meet the original requirements for evaporative emissions, in addition to NHTSA requirements.

Q: How can I pay less?

A: Consumers have some options.

Many consumers cut costs by purchasing pre-owned vehicles with new conversions, typically saving around $10,000 to $12,000.

The previous van owner already has absorbed the depreciation hit on a new van, which essentially occurs right after you’ve driven off the dealer’s lot.

Buying used can be beneficial for first-time buyers who want to try out a vehicle for a few years before buying new.

But if you plan to buy used, do some research and make sure the vehicle is structurally sound including the conversion. Ask for a vehicle history (CARFAX) report, and get the vehicle inspected by a mobility dealer to ensure it’s in good shape and was well taken care of.

Q: How do people manage to pay for it?

A: Many consumers used home equity loans to purchase a vehicle and adaptive equipment. But with home values decreasing.

Many dealers and manufacturers work with lending institutions that offer extended-term financing, including 10-year loans, allowing consumers to make lower, more affordable monthly payments. The downside is that consumers are locked into the vehicle for 10 years, and end up paying more in interest.

If you finance for 10 years, and you’re not going to keep the vehicle for that amount of time, you’re going to lose money when you try to sell or trade it because you haven’t paid off much of the balance.

When you buy a new vehicle, many car manufacturers offer mobility reimbursement programs (up to $1,000) to help offset the cost for the purchase and installation of adaptive equipment.

Adapted Snowmobiling

If you have limited mobility due to a disAbility, you may think riding a snowmobile is simply out of the question. As the leader in mobility features and transportation for people with disAbilities, Automotive Innovations takes that as a challenge.

Jim’s passion for snowmobiles is unwavering and he has worked on wheelchair accessible vehicles for more than 28 years.

If you’re a daredevil at heart, like Jim, and want an exciting way to get around this winter, see if he can up fit a Snowmobile just for you. If you are no longer able to ride a standard snowmobile but are not ready to give up the thrill of the ride, contact Automotive Innovations and find out how Jim Sanders and the mobility experts at Automotive Innovations will change your life!

Winter Vehicle Safety Checklist

With the winter months here, it’s important to make sure your adaptive vehicle is in good shape to maximize protection and prevent breakdowns brought on by cold weather conditions. Here are some key items we recommend having checked on your wheelchair accessible vehicle to keep it running at its best and avoid the inconvenience of being stranded outside and emergency repairs.

Get Your Battery Tested
Cold weather can dramatically reduce the strength of your mobility vehicle’s battery. It’s important to have your battery tested to insure it’s fully charged. This is especially true if your battery is over two years old. And don’t forget to have your battery cables, posts and fasteners inspected. The cables should be in good shape and firmly connected to the battery.

Replace Your Wiper Blades
It’s recommended you replace your windshield wiper blades every six months. Ice and snow can be rough on the soft rubber, so we suggest replacing them with a heavier winter blade. Windshields get dirty quickly in the winter months from the sand, salt and spray off the road, so refill your washer fluid often for optimum visibility. Use a 50/50 mix of washer and water.

Check Your Tires
Make sure all of your tires including the spare are in good condition. Take a good look at the tread and consider replacing or rotating your tires if they are starting to wear out. Also check your tire pressure regularly. Cold weather causes tire pressure to drop and may result in the sensors indicating an unsafe driving pressure. Proper tire inflation makes for safer driving and better gas mileage.

Check Hoses, Clamps and Drive Belts
A belt or hose failure can cause serious engine, steering and electrical problems. Have your hoses checked for leaks or soft spots especially around the clamps. The thermal fluctuation between hot and cold can be even more severe in winter than summer months. Flush and refill your cooling system with a 50/50 mixture of antifreeze and water. It’s also a good idea to make sure the heater and defroster are in good working condition.

Make Sure Your Mobility System Is Operating
Your conversion equipment is exposed to the elements as you enter and exit your handicap accessible vehicle and winter weather can compound those effects. Make sure your lift or ramp are lubricated and adjusted properly. Check the doors, mechanisms and ramp assembly for corrosion and rust. Snow, salt, sand and ice can easily cause problems.

Something to remember no matter what time of year is that having your oil changed regularly is probably the most important thing you can do to extend the life of your vehicle and keep it running properly.

Aging and Driving

As we all age, changes occur in physical functioning, vision, perception, and processing abilities that could make driving unsafe. While changes are inevitable, they occur at different rates in each individual, and age alone is not a good indicator of driving skills. Most often these changes occur slowly over a long period of time, and the individual is able to compensate for minor deficits. If several skill areas are affected, or there is a sudden change in abilities due to illness or disease, driving may become impaired. An evaluation is recommended if you, or those who drive with you, notice any of the following warning signs.

Warning Signs:

  • Doesn’t observe signs, signals, or other traffic
  • Needs help or instructions from passengers
  • Slow or poor decisions
  • Easily frustrated or confused
  • Frequently gets lost, even in familiar areas
  • Inappropriate driving speeds (too fast or too slow)
  • Poor road position, or wide turns
  • Accidents or near misses

A driver rehabilitation specialist can provide a comprehensive evaluation and make recommendations regarding driving.

This assessment should include:

  • A review of medical history and medications
  • Functional ability
  • Vision
  • Perception
  • Reaction time
  • Behind-the-wheel evaluation

If you or those that drive with you notice any of the above warning signs and need a driving evaluation. Give us a call at 508-697-6006 and we can, help you with with knowledge about medical conditions, and help with a comprehensive evaluation and determine your ability to drive.

  • Visual Perception
  • Functional Ability
  • Reaction Time
  • Behind-the-wheel evaluation

Holiday Travel Tips

Millions of people will take to the highways, skies, or rails to visit their loved ones over the upcoming holiday. With snow and sleet predicted for many parts of the country this weekend, here are some travel tips to help holiday travelers arrive safely at their destination:

Driving

  • Make sure your vehicle is in good working order. Fill your gas tank, check the air pressure in your tires and make sure you have windshield fluid.
  • Buckle up, slow down, don’t drink and drive.
  • Avoid distractions such as cell phones – don’t text and drive.
  • Make frequent stops on long trips. If you’re too tired to drive, stop and rest.
  • If you have car trouble, pull off the road as far as possible.

Flying and Riding Trains

  • It’s flu season. If you’ve been sick or been in contact with someone who is sick, consider postponing your trip. You could be contagious for a week before symptoms appear.
  • Remember that everything you touch has to be touched by someone else – luggage handlers, etc. Handle your own belongings as much as possible. Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes with you. You can use them to wash your hands or wipe down surfaces such as armrests.
  • Bring your own pillows and blankets – they can act as a shield against the seat itself.
  • Avoid touching your face or eyes. If you have to cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue or your sleeve.

Travel Tips

  • If you have diabetes or take medication using a syringe, get a signed letter from your doctor  explaining that your syringes are a medical necessity.
  • Know the generic names of your medications so you can replace them if they are lost or stolen. Your medication will have a different brand name in another country.
  • If you have any life-threatening allergies, wear a medical alert bracelet and bring an Epi-pen kit.
  • Travel light. Take only what you need and no more.
  • Make sure your children know their home address and telephone number. Show them where to go if you get separated, and review the procedure for dealing with strangers.
  • Leave the jewelry at home and reduce your risk of getting robbed. The same goes for expensive electronics such as iPods and digital cameras. Buy some disposable cameras to use.
  • Make photocopies of your passports, credit cards and other ID. Leave one copy with a relative at home, and keep another copy separate from your originals.
  • Travel with only one credit card. Bring a combination of traveller’s cheques and cash in small bills (American money is universally accepted). You should be able to use your debit card as long as the machine has the CIRRUS symbol. You will be charged for each transaction. Try to familiarize yourself with the local currency so your first transaction won’t be so confusing.
  • Bring an extra pair of glasses or contact lenses as backup. You don’t want your vacation ruined because you can’t see anything.

Be Prepared For Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can take place at any moment and can come in any form from floods, severe weather, earthquakes and more, yielding unfortunate outcomes without warning.  Being prepared can save lives and planning is important; know who will help you if you need assistance or if you need to evacuate.

Be Informed
Ensure you have the proper equipment to stay up-to-the-minute on breaking news and changing weather patterns. You may need a radio for this, specifically one that runs on batteries so be sure you have extras. Know when, where and what local branches of organizations like American Red Cross, have planned in your specific location, and find out how they can help. Also, ensure you can maintain contact with those outside of your home, having a phone car charger and jumper cables could be essential.

Make a Plan
For people with mobility challenges, assistance can be crucial.

If are a caregiver, or if you have assembled a “Help Team” to assist a person in need:

  • Be helpful in letting others know exactly what you need and when you need it.
  • Contact family, friends, neighbors or social service agencies if and when possible.
  • Try to have someone available who can lift and carry heavy objects such as wheelchairs or other medical equipment.
  • Give at least one other person a key to the person’s home.
  • Each team member should have the contact information for the others.
  • Name a substitute caregiver in case the original is unavailable.

Develop an evacuation strategy with your “Disaster Team,” and consider the following:

  • Where are the closest special needs emergency shelters and what are the different routes you can take to reach them?
  • What supplies must you take with you that are used every day?
  • Whom should you inform that you are evacuating?
  • How much gas do you have and how much will much will you need? Be sure to keep your vehicle’s gas tank over 1/2 full at all times.

Make a Kit
Assemble your kit well in advance with the help of a list and be sure to include:

  • Water – Keep one gallon of water per person (and per pet) per day for at least three days. Make sure you replace the water every six months.
  • Food – Keep at least a 3-day stock of non-perishable food that requires little cooking and no refrigeration in a safe place. Include a manual can opener and eating utensils.

For those with mobility disAbilities:

  • Pair of heavy gloves to use while wheeling or making your way over glass and debris
  • Extra battery for your motorized wheelchair or scooter
  • Jumper cables or specific recharging device to be connected to an automobile’s cigarette lighter
  • Patch kit or can of “seal-in-air product” to repair flat tires
  • Spare cane or walker
  • Food, medicine, favorite toy, and other care items for your service animal
  • Plastic bags, disposable gloves, and other items for the animal’s care

Find out if you qualify for assistance and fill out a form in advance to ensure your safety should the need arise. And be aware of FEMA resources in your area, including their capabilities and the best way to reach them.

Used Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

The used market for wheelchair accessible vehicles has grown in the past few years. This growing popularity seems to suggest that this solution works. In some cases, it does; however, buying a used wheelchair accessible vehicle is not like buying a new car. If you are are interested in purchasing a used vehicle, remember these key points.

  • It must meet your mobility needs
    All wheelchair accessible vehicles are different. Ramp width, door clearance, and interior height will vary between vehicles which will affect whether or not the vehicle will work for your needs. Previously installed aftermarket additions, such as hand controls and securment devices, will have to be removed or replaced considering they were put in for the previous owner. Before you you start your search you should know your exact needs. Be aware that this may narrow your options significantly.
  • Getting your current vehicle fitted with a ramp or lift
    It’s possible to convert a minivan you already own and make it accessible, as long as it meets the requirements set by your mobility dealer. Before doing so, you will need to know which accessible ramp or lift style works best for you and your family.
  • Buying online
    eBay Motors and Craigslist are increasingly popular options for buying vehicles online. An increasing number of wheelchair accessible vehicles are listed on these two sites. While the prices may be tempting, this option can be risky if it’s not being sold by a trusted resource (such as a Mobility Center). Ramps are complex pieces of machinery. Without a specially trained mechanic looking it over, it can be very hard to know if a person is selling a good vehicle. We do not recommend this option because it can lead to numerous issues.
  • Used vehicles from a dealership
    While mobility dealers are specifically trained to help you meet all your mobility needs, most still operate like conventional dealers. Customers sometimes trade-in their old vehicles for credit towards a new vehicle, leaving the dealership with a used vehicle. While not every dealership has a used vehicle inventory, some have good options to work with.

Mobility Rebate Programs

Whether you’re looking for a wheelchair accessible minivan, a full-size van, or a lift/ramp for your wheelchair van, your financial investment is always going to be a major consideration. We understand the importance of the investment our customers make and we always strive to produce superior products and provide excellent service.

In today’s difficult economy, every cent counts when you’re making decisions about what you can and can’t afford to go without. Feeling that your mobility is restricted by financial constraints is discouraging, and we don’t like the idea of anyone having to face that challenge and find no answers or possibilities. That’s why we are extremely well informed and able to assist you in navigating your way through the myriad of grants, tax incentives, and rebate programs.

Every auto manufacturer offers a mobility rebate program of some type and they are definitely worth looking into. Here is some information about rebates for wheelchair vans and wheelchair lifts/ramps. For more personalized information, contact us and we will help guide you through the process of applying and receiving these rebates.

Toyota Mobility Dealer
The Toyota Mobility Program provides up to $1,000 in reimbursement for adaptive equipment (such as wheelchair lifts, assistive seating, driving aids, and more) installed on new Toyota vehicles within 12 months of the delivery date of the vehicle.

Dodge/Chrysler Automobility Dealer
Chrysler’s AutoMobility Program is similar to the program mentioned above, with reimbursements from $400-$1,000 available depending on the type of adaptive equipment installed..

Honda Mobility Dealer
The Honda Mobility Assistance Program offers reimbursement up to $1,000 for adaptive equipment installed on a new Honda!

Lexus Mobility
The Lexus Mobility Program supports the mobility needs of Lexus owners and/or family members with physical disabilities.

 If you have any questions about these programs, just give our us a call or visit us today. We’re always happy to help!

Roadside Assistance for Drivers with DisAbilities

Getting stuck on the side of the road due to a vehicle malfunction can be a major inconvenience and can keep you from achieving your goals for the day. For a person with a disAbility driving an adaptive or wheelchair accessible vehicle, this inconvenience can quickly become a big problem.

Coverage
Make sure you select coverage that follows you from vehicle to vehicle. In other words, even if you are driving a rental or a family member’s car, under this coverage, you will be entitled to roadside assistance.

Towing
Finding out the details in advance when it comes to towing can make a significant difference if you ever find yourself stranded. Will they provide an accessible vehicle for transportation? Will they tow your vehicle to a dealership or to the place of your choosing, such as a repair shop? What are the mileage limits? These are all questions you’ll need the answers to prior to settling on a provider, as they will determine the efficiency of the service.

Additional Services
From help locating hotels to maps and directions, roadside assistance plans can come bundled with a wide variety of additional services. Analyze the plans the provider offers to make sure you’re only paying for the services you might need to use.

Something to Think About
If you are a wheelchair user who drives his or her own vehicle, you might want to consider choosing a provider that caters specifically to persons with disAbilities.

 Drivers with or without disAbilities should consider purchasing a roadside assistance program to protect them in the event of an unforeseen vehicle malfunction. Determining the best option for you may be tricky, but keeping these things in mind may make the decision a bit easier.

Hints & Tips For Selling your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Online

Photos

Exterior
Considering you are usually only offered to post 8 photos it’s a good idea is to allocate at least 3 to the exterior of your wheelchair accessible vehicle. You should take these pictures from different angles that reveal the handicap van in its best light. For example you should take one of the front and rear of the vehicle whether it is a full front/rear shot or ¾ front/rrear and side shot. For a third picture you can take a full side shot,  or whatever angles you believe are best.

Interior
A good interior shot that shows the condition of the dash board and front seats as a minimum is highly recommended. If the wheelchair van has a clean, well presented interior the buyer needs to see it, as this is an area where wear and tear will be evident on the handicap van if not looked after. You should also capture the space available with the type of wheelchair ramp/lift.

Engine bay
Most buyers are going to want to see whats under the hood at some stage – pre-empting this and providing a good clean shot of a good clean engine is an excellent way to instil confidence in the buyer that the handicap van is well looked after. Best done after steam cleaning or degreasing and washing of the engine bay.

Trunk
The trunk or cargo area of the handicap van is other potential high wear area which if in good condition is worth showing to buyers.

Accessories 
If the handicap van is fitted with after-market or factory accessories that will enhance the handicap van in the eyes of the buyer then ensure these are obvious in the exterior and interior photos. It may be a good idea to have a close up shot of a certain handicap accessible modification such lowered floors and handicap ramps.

Pre-existing damage/scratches 
If your handicap van has dents or scratches on the body work it is probably a good idea to show them in photos as they will then have a good idea of the vehicles condition. This may turn some buyers off, but those who do contact you will be more likely to follow through with the purchase as they have already factored this in to their offer.

Text

There is no limit to the amount of text you can include with your advert so be sure to list all relevant modifications and extras so as to fully inform buyers as to all the features, options and modifications. – don’t hold back – it doesn’t cost any more to be comprehensive!

Advertising using the direct URL
The direct URL is the key to getting buyers to see your handicap van online, the basic idea is to include it everywhere you advertise your wheelchair van, so that buyers who ready your classified adverts can then log on to the Internet and see your photos and extra details.

Examples of where to advertise your Handicap Vans URL include:

  • Local newspapers
  • Where you place other online classifieds that don’t include photos or as much detail
  • trader type magazines

Virus or scam alert

Buyer / Seller Scams
We’ve been alerted to a scam which operates in the following way: An overseas buyer offers to buy your car. They will want to send you a check for an amount in excess of the purchase price of your car and will ask you to send the change back to them or to pay the change to a local shipping agent. There are several variations on the theme. If you get an offer like this from overseas, we recommend that you be alert to a possible scam.

Another scam operates as follows: Typically a car/bike/boat, etc will be offered for sale at a very low price. The seller will say that the item is located overseas or in a location that makes it difficult to inspect the item. The seller will ask you to send them a deposit or pay for the item before they will arrange to send it to you. If you get an offer like this, we recommend that you be alert to a possible scam.

We wish you the best of luck in advertising your handicap van and if you need any help keep in mind we sell on consignment and are always here to help!

Home accessibility

Whether it’s an unexpected injury or a birth condition, a temporary disAbility or something you’ve been dealing with your entire life, a physical limitation can make all the difference in how a person completes his/her everyday tasks. Something as simple as entering and exiting your home can become challenging if your home has not been properly assessed and made accessible for those with disAbilities. In order to make sure your home is as welcoming and as accessible as possible, we encourage you follow these tips for transforming your habitat.

Entry Ramps and Lifts
From one step to one flight, stairs are a difficult hurdle and hazardous to a person living with a disAbility. Entry ramps or wheelchair lifts can be permanent or portable solutions for homes in need of becoming wheelchair accessible, providing ease of access into the house. Entry ramps prove to be especially beneficial when carrying heavy luggage, groceries or moving furniture. Aside from allowing a wheelchair user to easily enter and exit the building, ramps offer convenience to guests wheeling strollers or using walkers.

Handrails and Support Bars
Installing handrails and support bars along staircases, bathtubs, toilets and other areas where a person with a disAbility may struggle without them is an easy way to make your home more accessible. Make sure handrails following staircases extend beyond the first and last steps, providing maximum support. You can also purchase floor-to-ceiling poles and install them at various locations throughout the home. Placing these poles adjacent to couches ease in day-to-day movement through the space. They are designed to aid those with disAbilities in standing, sitting or transferring to/from a wheelchair.

Mind Your Floors
Cluttered hallways, loose rugs and high thresholds can be a danger to someone trying to maneuver through the building in a wheelchair. Try to keep your traffic areas free from unnecessary decorations such as side tables and rugs that cannot be secured to the floor. Plush carpets may also prove to be a hindrance for someone with a disAbility, so use hardwood or tiled floors wherever possible. Additionally, you can purchase flat thresholds at hardware stores, which make transferring from carpeted to non-carpeted areas less of a hazard.

Service and Repair for Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles and/or Accessible Ramp/Lift?

Are you having trouble with your wheelchair van, ramp van, braun ability van, vantage mobility van, eldorado, amerivan, ricon lift, braun lift, grey market van, ams Legend, Edge, Edge II, Freedom, FR ?

No Worries We Can Fix It!

Even if you have had other Toyota dealer, Dodge dealer, Ford dealer, Honda dealer or a different adaptive mobility equipment dealer try and fix it. Call us, we can help.

Almost all wheelchair van and lift problems can be attributed to three main things. I would like to talk a little about each one and what you can do to be proactive in preventing problems that could stop your lift from operating.?

Reason Number 1: Operator Error. It may not be P.C. to bring it up, but many issues are caused by the user hurrying, not taking the proper precautions, or simply attempting to operate the van or lift in a situation it is not designed for. Let me expand on this a little.

We all know the obvious things an operator can do wrong. Lowering a lift on to extremely uneven ground or folding a platform into a van door that is not fully opened, if you have manual doors. The things that you need to think about are the issues that aren’t so obvious, but can still cause damage. Things like making sure you fully fold the platform when you are putting it in the stowed position. A lot of times people tend to release the fold switch too soon because the lift makes excessive noise when it cinches tight. Far from being a problem, that noise is a good thing What you’re hearing is the electric actuator “ratcheting,” which tells you that the lift is fully stowed and will not rattle as much while you’re driving. A tightly stowed platform will prevent certain lift components from wearing out prematurely, so be sure to keep the fold button pressed!

Another not-so-obvious issue is to make sure the outer roll stop deploys fully before you exit the platform. Think about it. If you are in a hurry and the roll stop is not completely down on the ground, your weight when rolling off of it is going to put excessive stress on those parts and you could cause problems that are easily avoidable. Even if the tip of the roll stop is up just a little bit, take the time to lower it completely before you exit the platform.?

Reason Number 2: Lack of Maintenance. Maintenance, maintenance, maintenance – I can’t say those words enough! Your dealer should set up a maintenance program for you and your lift should be in their shop for a regular check up at least twice a year. Every lift built after 2005 has a cycle counter on it that will tell us the total number of times you’ve used your lift, and all lifts should be maintained every 750 cycles. This is a short point. All you need to know is that if you don’t maintain your lift, something will eventually stop working!

Reason Number 3: Broken Parts. No matter what the product, we’ve all encountered that unexpected broken part that seems to go bad for no apparent reason. This actually represents a small percentage of wheelchair lift failures, and it can usually be avoided if the van or lift is maintained on a regular basis (see reason #2 above!). A typical situation might be a wiring harness that gets cut by component. This type of issue rarely happens out-of-the-blue, and with routine maintenance your dealer should be able to see the problem starting to occur and fix it before it gets worse.

That about sums it up The bottom line is that a properly operated and maintained wheelchair van or lift should give you years of reliable service. Read your manual and work closely with Automotive Innovations to make sure your lift is ready to go whenever you are. If you have any questions or are having an issue with your wheelchair van or lift feel free to call us at 508-697-6006.

Winter Maintenance – Don’t Let Your Battery Leave You Out in the Cold

With cold weather right around the corner, Autumn is the best time to schedule a battery test.

Old Man Winter can be tough on any vehicle, but the battery, specifically, takes a beating. Your vehicle’s battery loses 33 percent of its power when the temperature dips below freezing, and over 50 percent of its power when the temperature falls below zero.

Expert Advice on Winterizing Your Battery

  • Seek Professional Help—for your batteries, that is. These aren’t your typical AA batteries, so it’s important to have us check the battery and electrical system. Sometimes the naked eye cannot detect the presence of corrosion because it is hidden under the metal between the connection and the post.
  • Protect Your Battery from Mr. Freeze. The cold weather can dramatically reduce a person’s energy level and it can do the same to a battery’s available starting power. It’s a good idea to have your car’s starting and charging system tested every six months.
  • Charge It. Use a battery charger to maintain charge levels and keep the battery in good condition. A fully charged battery will not freeze until -76°F; however, a fully discharged battery could start to freeze at 32°F.
  • Small Maintenance Chores are Necessary. Preparing your car for the winter doesn’t end with the battery itself. You need to inspect your battery cables, posts, and fasteners. Make sure your cables are in good shape and are secured firmly to the battery.

Winterization Checklist
To maximize protection against cold-weather conditions, now’s the time to make sure you not only winterize your battery, but your vehicle too.

We recommend all vehicle owners to check the following items for a safe winter:

  • Replace worn windshield wipers every 6 months.
  • Refill washer fluid often. Winterize with a 50/50 mix of washer fluid and water.
  • Make sure the heater and defroster are in good working condition.
  • Inspect all bulbs and lights for proper operation.
  • Check condition of tires, including the spare.
  • Measure your tire air pressure regularly.
  • Change oil every 3,000 miles.
  • Examine exhaust system for leaks.
  • Flush and refill cooling system with a 50/50 mixture.
  • Check drive belts, clamps and hoses.

Everyone should carry emergency gear such as gloves, boots, tire chains, battery booster pack, cell phone, blankets, flares, flashlight and some high-energy, non-perishable snacks.

Wheelchair Van Ramp Vs. Wheelchair Van Lift

Choosing a wheelchair ramp over a lift system is a matter of budget and personal preference. Both can get you safely in and out of a new or used wheelchair van; however, handicap lowered-floor vans with ramps tend to be less expensive, take up less space and are more fuel-efficient compared to a full-size van, which is used for most wheelchair-lift applications.

Wheelchair Ramps
Wheelchair van conversion ramps normally come in permanent van conversions where the floor is lowered to allow enough headroom for entering and riding in the vehicle. Most lowered-floor vans come with wheelchair ramps and kneeling systems that lower the wheelchair van and reduce the angle of the ramp. There are two styles of wheelchair ramps—one type folds up in a vertical position, and the other type slides out from the floor of the van.

New and used handicapped accessible vehicles with wheelchair ramps come with either a manual or power conversion. Power wheelchair ramps operate by remote control or by a switch located either on the dash or just inside the side-door panel. Push a button and the door slides open, the ramp extends out and, in cases where a kneeling system is needed, the van lowers. (In case of a power failure, the ramp can be easily operated manually.) Guide your wheelchair or mobility scooter inside and push the button or switch, and the system reverses. Manual systems are spring-loaded to easily fold out and retract into the van.

Wheelchair Lifts
A vehicle wheelchair lift is a mechanical device used to raise a person in a wheelchair effortlessly into a vehicle. Wheelchair lifts are typically installed in full-sized vans.

There are several wheelchair lift types: cassette lifts that slide out from under the van, horizontal folding lifts that provide users better vision through the windows, vertical folding lifts that enable passengers to enter the van without deploying the lift, and platform wheelchair lifts, which are the most basic of wheelchair lifts.

Hydraulic lifts are the most common type, since they allow for heavier steel construction and higher lift capacity. The other type is the electric lift, made with lightweight aluminum and lighter lift capacity. Lifts require either a lowered floor or a raised roof to provide enough headroom for wheelchair passengers to ride comfortably inside their chairs.

Wheelchair lifts work when space limitations or height requirements make a ramp prohibitive. Wheelchair lifts are often less expensive than a lowered-floor conversion with a ramp, but there are other considerations that include difficulty parking due to their size, high gas prices, and if the floor isn’t lowered, then the wheelchair user can’t see out the windows.

Accessibility in the Workplace

With more and more people with disAbilities entering the workforce each year, the demand for increased accessibility on job sites continues to grow. While many places of employment adhere to ADA standards, there are other things to consider when looking to improve accessibility. If you’ve just started a new job or have found certain difficulties completing your duties at your current position, these two strategies can help better problematic situations.

Speak Up and Ask About Accessibility
Perhaps the building’s entrance is equipped with a ramp and automatic door opener but the door to your office or company suite is not. Maybe the accessible bathroom or stall is too small and difficult to maneuver in, or your cubicle doesn’t allow you to make turns in your chair. Most of these issues have relatively simple solutions and employers shouldn’t be hesitant to requesting changes to the building manager or scheduling the updates themselves. However, if you do not speak up and report these issues, they might go permanently unnoticed. Even if you find that your employer is not convinced that the changes are necessary, be sure to stress to them that workers are likely to be much more productive in an environment they can easily access and feel comfortable in.

If You Have a Disability Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
While we wish every single building or office in the world was 100 percent accessible, sometimes people with disAbilities must work around unavoidable barriers. If you find that there are aspects or areas of your job that you cannot independently complete or access, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Whether it’s by opening a heavy door or carrying your laptop to the conference room, most of your colleagues would be happy to be of assistance. It might be especially helpful to designate a routine for a specific co-worker to help with a task you know you’ll be performing each day.

Whether it’s your first job or where you plan to retire, your place of employment should be comfortable and accessible – an environment in which you can thrive. Report issues and ask for help whenever you need it and you’ll be working towards a fulfilling and rewarding career.

How To Make Your Kitchen Wheelchair-Friendly For the Holidays

Brisk air, shorter days and finding a pumpkin patch on every corner can only mean one thing—holiday season is upon us and with it come delicious feasts enjoyed with loved ones. For some of us, this also means lots of time spent in the kitchen. Whether you’re cooking, washing dishes or just gathering in the house’s social center, a kitchen that’s accessible to all family members makes for an inviting place to enjoy time together. Making your kitchen space more wheelchair-friendly can seem overwhelming, but with a few adjustments and considerations, you, and any other wheelchair user in your circle, can feel comfortable taking part in holiday traditions.

Kitchen Counters
Because the typical height of a wheelchair armrest is about 29”, a recommended counter-top height for a person using a wheelchair is a minimum of 28” and should be no higher than 34”. There should also be a space of at least 24” in height and 30” in width to accommodate the wheelchair underneath while working at the counter. This way, you, or any person with a disAbility in your family, can easily reach the counter for food preparation, storage or sneaking a bite of that side dish before it’s quite ready.

Sinks
An important tip to keep in mind when installing a wheelchair accessible sink is to place the drain near the back of the sink. This keeps a space clear of obstructions under the sink where a person using a wheelchair can move into without issue. Also be sure any hot water pipes are insulated to prevent burns. Finally, accessible kitchen sinks should be only 5” to 6 ½” deep with a single lever faucet to make for simple operation

Wall Cabinets
Lowering wall cabinets by about 3” (from the standard 18” above the counter to 15”) would make the second shelf accessible for persons in wheelchairs. By also including pullout cutting boards and drawers with full extension glides, your kitchen could be transformed into an accessible haven. An alternative solution would be to install shelving lifts inside cabinets. These will lower the shelves, and their contents, to an accessible height for those with disAbilities.

Appliances
Installing or lowering wall ovens, microwaves or other mounted appliances to approximately 31” from the floor can make them more convenient to operate from a wheelchair. When it comes to a stove-top, positioning control knobs at the front of the appliances eliminates the need to reach across a hot cooking surface and makes it easier for those with mobility limitations to feel more comfortable cooking up something yummy.

These adaptations can help make your kitchen easy to navigate and give you the perfect space to try those holiday recipes you’ve been eying.

Steer Yourself In The Right Direction To Find The Perfect Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

Purchasing or financing a wheelchair accessible vehicle takes time, money and a little bit of research. Because of the many available options when it comes to handicap vehicles, and the investment they require, knowing where to start your search is crucial and can shape the entire process. NMEDA member dealers work with individuals with disAbilities, as well as their caregivers and families, to ensure we steer you in the direction of the perfect vehicle for you. Here are a few useful tips and resources:

Go to the Pros
By going straight to a NMEDA members dealership, like ourselves, you’ll be sure that you’re getting the best possible care and attention, as well as professional service. All dealerships are required to adhere to strict quality standards under our Quality Assurance Program and, will provide you with the best solutions for your specific needs. Starting your search at a NMEDA dealer near you means you are sure you get behind the wheel of a handicap vehicle that’s right for you.

Establish Your Needs
Who will be the vehicle’s primary driver? Will you be driving from a wheelchair, transferring into the vehicle’s seat or transporting a loved one with a disability? Will you need to enter and exit the vehicle on your own or will help be nearby? Are you looking for a truck, car, minivan or a SUV? The answers to these questions can help determine what kind of adapted vehicle and equipment you need before diving into inventory listings.

Know Your Budget
We know that one of the most difficult parts of purchasing a new vehicle is making sure the cost is within your means. When it comes to finding a wheelchair accessible or adaptive vehicle, there are more options than you might realize. There are several state and government organizations in place to help get you the car you need.

Benefits of Owning an Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

Safety
Safety is a universal concern for people with disAbilities and their caregivers. Many caregivers experience chronic back and joint pain from years of wheelchair lifts. And far too often there are stories of people fearful of loading and unloading their wheelchairs. Mobility vehicles are designed with a dedication to safety. Not only do ramp systems remove the liability, wear and tear and exhaustion of a lift, but brands like VMI adhere to the safety standards and qualifications of original equipment manufacturers like Honda, Toyota, Chrysler and Dodge.

A vehicle conversion from a company like VMI must maintain and provide the same safety ratings, post-conversion, as it did when the original model was created. That means collision safety and design is held to a very high standard. So there’s simply no reason to risk your personal safety or the livelihood of your passengers in an outdated vehicle.

Independence
If the daunting process of wheelchair lifts and transports kept you from leaving home in the past or the frustration of coordinating shuttles and third party transportation limits your lifestyle, look no further.

Mobility vehicles empower opportunity and independence. Frankly, when transportation is a possibility  rather than a limitation, the world gets a whole lot larger. Independent wheelchair users with reliable mobility vehicles hold the power to call the shots on their own life. They can drive where they need to, how they want to, when they want to. A mobility vehicle isn’t just a mechanism to take you from point A to B; A mobility vehicle is an entryway to possibility.

Increased Space and Flexibility
Most modern mobility vehicles feature side-entry and front door benefits which allow an array of seating arrangements and interior flexibility. With such added space, nearly any wheelchair — even power chairs — can fit in the cabin while still leaving room for the rest of the family.

Vehicles such as VMI’s Toyota Sienna Access360 have been engineered to promote a full range of motion and maneuverability for power chairs inside the vehicle, eliminating the need to hastily rearrange and remove seats for transports. Obstruction-free doorways and head clearance also pave the way for an enjoyable transition to and from the vehicle.

Simplicity and Ease-of-Use
Whether you are a caregiver or an independent wheelchair user, mobility vehicles have practical answers.

Through the addition of manual ramp systems and automated, in-floor ramp technology, transportation doesn’t have to remain a daily hassle.  Life often throws bigger dilemmas our way. Mobility vehicles make sure transportation isn’t one of those.

The Northstar E by VMI is a great example of a vehicle that was engineered with simplicity and ease-of-use at the forefront of its design. Caregivers can easily remove the vehicle’s ramp system without physical strain or contemplation. The process is intuitive and quick. Loading and unloading a van can be easily accomplished in a matter of minutes without sacrificing time or energy for the caregiver and loved one.

Mobility vehicles can even be outfitted with aftermarket additions such as remote start and keyless entry to  further simplify the transportation situation for independent wheelchair users and caregivers.

How To Make Your Wheelchair Van More Affordable

A wheelchair van can provide a little freedom for a person with a disAbility or someone caring for a loved one with mobility limitations. It’s hard to put a price on the freedom these vehicles can provide, however the fact remains that vans, conversions and specialized equipment all come with some costs. Fortunately, there are a number of ways that make these vehicles more affordable and get you one step closer to driving independence.

Search for Used Vans
Finding a used wheelchair accessible van in good condition might sound like a dream, but it is far from impossible. With a little research and some patience, you might be able to find a vehicle that works for your needs, at a discounted price. Many mobility dealerships take used vans as trade-ins for resale and some manufacturers will even install brand new wheelchair conversions in the pre-owned vehicles. Certain dealerships also sell rental vans that have been retired after a year of use. While a used van can be a great deal, it’s important to still consult with a qualified mobility equipment dealer, as these vehicles might not have the exact equipment to fit your needs.

Update Your Current Van
If your vehicle is still in relatively good condition but needs a few adjustments to make it more accessible for you and your loved ones, an update could be an affordable alternative to purchasing a new van. Talk to your local mobility dealer about updating your adaptive equipment and you could be on your way to saving a few thousand dollars!

Contact Local Organizations
If you need extra help funding a new handicap vehicle, a local chapter or organization working to help those with your particular disabilities might be able to help. While these groups might not be able to provide a large amount of money to fund your vehicle purchase, they might be able to provide you with helpful community resources or at least help coordinate fundraising activities.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles: Q&A

Wheelchair
Accessible Vans

Rear entry Vs. Side entry
Buying New Vs. Buying Used
Manual Ramp Vs. Powered Ramp
Honda Vs. Dodge/Chrysler Vs. Toyota Vs. Ford
Certified Mobility Dealer Vs. Car Dealer Vs. Buying online
What do you need to know to get maximum benefit for minimum expense?

Good information is the key to saving money and getting the most value for the dollar when making a big-ticket purchase like a wheelchair-accessible vehicle.

With that in mind, Seek out and find experts who truly care. Here are some answers to common questions about adaptive mobility equipment.

Can I just go to a car dealer down the street or do I need a certified mobility dealer?

Certified mobility dealers will help you buy the right vehicle and adaptive mobility equipment to meet your needs now and in the future. Future planning is especially important for people with muscle diseases that get progressively worse over time.

“Technology has improved tremendously over the years so there are numerous products available. Our goal is to help people find the right equipment that best fits their needs,” says Jim Sanders, president of Automotive Innovations based in Bridgewater, MA for over 25 years.

“Many times, consumers will go to a car dealer and buy a vehicle that can’t be modified or one that doesn’t fit their needs. And once you buy a vehicle, normally it’s very difficult to return.”

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), a nonprofit organization that provides consumer guidance and ensures quality and professionalism in the manufacturing and installation of mobility equipment. Members include mobility equipment dealers, manufacturers, driver rehabilitation specialists and other professionals.

NMEDA member-dealers must follow the safety standards established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in addition to NMEDA’s own stringent guidelines.

Some dealers choose to enroll in NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program (QAP), which requires them to adhere to national motor vehicle safety standards, and use proven quality control practices to yield the highest level of performance and safety. Automotive Innovations was the First Mobility Dealer in Massachusetts to enroll and exceed the safety standards.

“The QAP dealer is audited by an outside engineering firm to verify that technicians have been trained and that the dealer has insurance and make sure the facility is ADA-compliant,” which means the QAP dealer is going above and beyond.

 

Can I get a better price if I buy online rather than from a dealer?

As with any online shopping, the warning “buyer beware” rings true. Buying online without trying out different vehicles with different conversions can be a costly mistake. Furthermore there are many grey market converted vans being offered as quality conversions.

Online, you are mostly shopping blind. Typically you will have no idea how the vehicle you need will work for you, even with specific recommendations from a driver evaluator or occupational therapist.

“You definitely shouldn’t buy a wheelchair accessible vehicle online, most online sellers are not qualified Mobility Dealers attempting to assess your needs, they’re just car dealers trying to sell you something.”

Some online dealers even have questionnaires on their websites to try and give you the idea your getting what you need. But, it will never replace being able to go to a local mobility dealership and try the vans out first hand.

A mobility vehicle is probably the second-largest purchase after a house. You should see it, try it out, and make sure it’s something that will work for you and your family. It’s horrible when people spend so much an a vehicle that will never work for them.

Every vehicle is a little bit different — such as in the dimensions, electrical and fuel systems, or suspension modifications. “If you go online and buy a wheelchair accessible vehicle based on the price, you’re not really looking at the total package.”

While buying online may be able to save you some money up front, it won’t over the long term.

In addition to you missing out on the important local service contact that a mobility equipment dealer provides, these online deals or grey market vans are worth much less when it comes time to trade it in.

 

What are some common mistakes people make when buying a modified vehicle?

Manufacturers and mobility dealers agree that one of the most common — and costly — mistakes is buying the vehicle first and then shopping for the conversion or adaptive mobility equipment. Not all vehicles can be converted.

For example, If you purchase a minivan from a traditional car dealership you can hit a roadblock if it doesn’t meet specific requirements to have the floor lowered for a rear- or side-entry conversion.

 

What are some good questions to ask a dealer or manufacturer?

Although buying a modified vehicle can be “a daunting experience,” says VMI’s Monique McGivney, it also can be “exciting and fun when you walk in armed with good questions and information.”

Prior to getting an assessment from a mobility dealer, evaluate your needs and try answering the following questions:

  • What vehicle will fit in my garage?
  • What kind of parking issues will I encounter where I live?
  • What is the size and weight of my wheelchair?
  • What is my seated height in the wheelchair?
  • How many people will ride in the vehicle?
  • In what part of the vehicle do I want to sit?
  • Will I be able to drive with hand controls?
  • Do I want a full-size van, minivan or alternative vehicle?
  • Do I want manual or power equipment?
  • Will an in-floor ramp or fold-out ramp meet my needs?
  • What is my budget, and do I have access to supplemental funding?

The first question most mobility dealers will ask you is: “What is your seated height in the wheelchair?” From there, the dealer can advise whether a full-size or minivan is appropriate, and what kind of conversion is needed.

Be sure to ask the dealer about the warranty and how the vehicle can be serviced.

Which Make and Model is the best for a handicapped accessible vehicle?

It honestly depends on what you fit into best and what options you prefer.

No two wheelchair accessible vehicles are the same. They vary in size, shape, color, features and design depending on the vehicle’s make and model. The only way to guarantee which is the best vehicle for you is if you come in and try them all out.

For example: The Honda has a little bit more room inside to maneuver a wheelchair than a Dodge, just as a Toyota has a bit more space than a Honda. A Ford offers more headroom than all of the above. But that all depends on the conversion and manufacturer.

Although color and features matter least to us, some find them just as important as fitting into the vehicle. Each Manufacturer offers their own color schemes, which you can look up on their websites. You can also search for what features you would prefer to have.

When you come into our Mobility Center we will help you find the vehicle that best fits you and your family’s needs. If you love the vehicle but not the color or features we can custom order a vehicle for you. That way we know you are buying a vehicle that best fits you and one that you are 100% happy with.

Which is better: rear entry or side entry?

The most important difference between a rear entry and side-entry conversion is that with a rear entry, wheelchair users can’t drive from their wheelchairs nor can they ride in the front passenger seat. From there, the choice comes down to personal preference and budget.

In recent years, because of quality, convenience and cost, there’s been a shift toward side entry vehicles. Rear entry is more of a frugal modification, involves a less of conversion process and is typically a little less expensive than a side-entry conversion.

Many people prefer side entry with an in-floor conversion for many safety reasons additionally  because they can park almost anywhere and not worry deploying the ramp out into traffic. Also, side entry allows the consumer to ride in the passengers front position along with maintain the rear seats in a minivan because the conversion doesn’t affect that area.

Rear entry is harder to get out of compared to a side-entry.

Anyway you look at it side-entry vehicles are more versatile. For example, side entry allows someone with a progressively worsening condition to use the vehicle for a longer period of time. A wheelchair user can start out driving from his or her chair, and then move to several other positions in the vehicle when no longer able to drive.

Side-entry conversions typically are a little more expensive than rear-entry because they’re more intrusive and labor intensive. For example, with a minivan, the entire floor and frame must be removed and replaced with a lowered floor and new frame.


What’s the difference between a fold-out ramp and in-floor ramp?

This decision comes down to safety, aesthetics, convenience and cost.

A fold-out ramp folds up into the vehicle, takes up valuable space in the passengers front area and must be deployed whenever the door is opened.

The in-floor ramp slides under the floor which makes riding in the vehicle safer for anyone seated in the passengers front position or the mid-ship position. There is no obstruction to the doorway so other passengers can enter and exit without deploying the ramp. In-floor ramps are currently only available as a side-entry minivan conversion, but they offer a manual (un-powered) option as well.

In-floor ramps in addition to being safer will generally provide more room in the vehicle because there’s nothing blocking the doorway. The ramp is “out of sight, out of mind” and may last longer because it doesn’t have to be deployed each time the side passenger door opens.

Fold-out ramps generally cost a little less than an in-floor ramp and consumers can select from manual and power versions; a power fold-out ramp still costs less than an in-floor ramp.

If an in-floor ramp system breaks down or the vehicle loses power, VMI’s in-floor ramp systems have a backup system (sure-deploy) that bypasses the vehicle’s battery.

A lot of people just feel more secure knowing there isn’t a fold-out ramp next to them in the event of a accident.

I use a wheelchair, but a van or minivan just isn’t “me.” Are they my only options?

You have other choices.

Lowered-floor conversions with fold-out ramps can be done on the Honda Element, Chrysler PT Cruiser and Toyota Scion. The conversions are small and don’t fit as many people.

Due to them being built on a much smaller scale, the ones we have seen have not been built with the same level of quality as the minivan conversion. Parts availability and repairs have been a problem, some of the companies that converted them are out of business and or have no support for “something they used to build”

If you prefer to keep your standard car rather than purchasing a modified vehicle — and can make the transfer from a wheelchair to a car seat — the answer may be as simple as a set of hand controls or a left foot gas pedal

Turning seats can be used in a wide range of vehicles, from sedans to SUVs and pickup trucks. A way to transport the wheelchair (like a rear lift) also is needed.

The rate at which your symptoms worsen is one thing to consider when looking at turning seats — is it likely you’ll be able to transfer and ride in a car seat for many more years? Also, be sure to check with a mobility dealer to determine if your vehicle can accommodate a turning seat and a wheelchair lift.

Why are modified vehicles so  expensive?

A vehicle conversion can cost consumers upwards of $27,000 —  and that’s just the cost for the conversion, not the vehicle. The total package can run between $45,000 and $80,000 — or more.

Besides the cost of the components, the reason it’s so pricey is that basically there is a lot of work involved to build a quality vehicle.

Modified vehicles from certified manufacturers and dealers must meet NHTSA’s Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS). That means all modified vehicles must be properly crash tested. (To learn more, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.)

It’s quite a labor-intensive process because of the customization. When you make structural modifications to a vehicle, you have to go through all of the crash testing, and you have to show that the vehicle is compliant again, and those tests are very expensive.

Most of the time lowering the floor in a minivan requires replacing or moving the fuel tank. Once the conversion is finished, the vehicle still has to meet the original requirements for evaporative emissions, in addition to NHTSA requirements.

How can I pay less?

You have  a few options.

You could cut costs by purchasing a pre-owned vehicle with a new conversion, typically saving you around $10,000 to $12,000.

The previous van owner already has absorbed the depreciation hit on a new van, which essentially occurs right after they’ve driven off the dealer’s lot.

Buying used can be beneficial for first-time buyers who want to try out a vehicle for a few years before buying new.

But if you plan to buy used, do some research and make sure the vehicle is structurally sound including the conversion. Ask for a vehicle history (CARFAX) report, and get the vehicle inspected by a mobility dealer to ensure it’s in good shape and was well taken care of.

Another tactic to help save you money is to ask your Certified Mobility Dealer about any rebates or financial aid options that could benefit you.

How do people manage to pay for it?

Many consumers used home equity loans to purchase a vehicle and adaptive equipment.

Many dealers and manufacturers work with lending institutions that offer extended-term financing, including 10-year loans, allowing consumers to make lower, more affordable monthly payments. The downside is that consumers are locked into the vehicle for 10 years, and end up paying more in interest.

If you finance for 10 years, and you’re not going to keep the vehicle for that amount of time, you’re going to lose money when you try to sell or trade it because you haven’t paid off much of the balance.

When you buy a new vehicle, many car manufacturers offer mobility reimbursement programs (up to $1,000) to help offset the cost for the purchase and installation of adaptive equipment.

October Is Car Care Month: Is your vehicle prepared for winter driving?

Is your car ready to handle freezing conditions? Frigid temps can take a toll on your car and make winter driving even more hazardous than usual.
Here are a few tips to adapt to winter roads and preparing your car for the extreme cold.

Check the car’s battery
Cold weather takes a toll on batteries and requires a full charge. A battery is 35 percent weaker at 32 degrees and 60 percent weaker at zero degrees.

A load test by a qualified technician can determine whether a car’s battery is strong enough for winter. Keep in mind that if the car started with a jump start, the problem is not fixed and the battery most likely needs replacing.

Starting
Avoid excessive cranking. If the car doesn’t start after 20 seconds of cranking, wait a couple of minutes to let the battery recover.

Tire preparation
Tires should have sufficient tread depth that can handle New England’s winter weather. All-season tires are adequate for most vehicles but to get the greatest traction for both starting and stopping, snow tires are recommended. When considering snow tires, they should be installed on all four wheels

See and be seen
Clear windows, mirrors, and lights with an ice scraper, brush, or a spray de-icer. Driving with a snow-covered windshield, windows, side-view mirrors or lights invites a crash.

Completely clean snow from the roof, hood, and trunk. Windshield wipers and defrosters should be in good working order and washer reservoirs should be filled with no-freeze windshield washer fluid.

Consider specially designed winter wiper blades that prevent snow and ice buildup and improve visibility.

Reduce speeds
Most winter crashes happen from driving too fast for the weather conditions. Remember, everything takes longer on snow-covered roads, including accelerating, stopping, and turning.

Nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement so allow time to maneuver by driving slowly.

All-wheel drive is best
All-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive will help to get a car moving, but bear in mind it does little to improve braking. Don’t become overconfident and drive too fast for winter road conditions.

Anticipate stopping distance
In temperatures at or just above 32 degrees, a thin layer of water can cover the ice and cause slippery conditions, especially at intersections where snow and ice tend to melt first. The distance needed to stop on ice at 32 degrees is twice as long as at zero degrees.

Keep the engine cool
Mix certain cooling system antifreeze with an equal portion of water for maximum protection.

Accessible Haunted Houses in New England

According to the Websites these Haunted Houses are accessible.

Spooky World Presents Nightmare New England
Are you wheelchair accessible?
Yes, all of our indoor attractions are accessible and have wooden floors. Please note that our outdoor attractions have paths that are grass, gravel and woodchips.

Is a Military Discount offered?
Yes – we are proud to honor our past and present men and women offering service to our country. To receive a $7 discount per ticket, please show your Military ID at any of our ticket windows when purchasing. A Military ID discount may not be combined with any other coupons or offers.

Ghoulie Manor
Are you wheelchair accessible?
Yes, we are! If you don’t come with a wheelchair, you may need one by the time you leave.

Factory of Terror – Fall River, MA
Factory of Terror – Worcester, MA

Q. Is the Factory of Terror wheelchair accessible?
A. Yes, we have designed our attraction to make it wheelchair accessible.

Six Flags Fright Fest – Springfield, MA
Although the site does not  state it is Wheelchair accessible in the Plan Trip section it says: “7. Stop by Stroller Rental if you need a stroller, wheelchair, wooden stakes, silver bullets, garlic, or holy water.”

Canobie Lake Park Screamfest
Are the haunts wheelchair accessible?
Our haunted attractions can accommodate conventional and electric wheelchairs or electric service vehicles – although certain elements/effects will require the use of an alternate pathway. We do recommend, however, that you plan your visit with someone who is aware of your needs and can physically assist you when necessary.

Is Nightmare Vermont handicapped accessible?

Yes!  This year we are at the Memorial Auditorium which is wheelchair accessible. However, we can only make accommodations for our Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Wednesday shows.
Call 802 355-3107 two days in advance to make arrangements.

Note: You should call in advance to make sure their accommodations meet your needs.

Things You Should Know Before Renting a Wheelchair Accessible Van

Whether your own wheelchair accessible vehicle is undergoing repairs or modifications or you’re testing the adaptive automobile waters before taking the plunge with the purchase of one, renting a Wheelchair Accessible Van is an affordable, convenient and comfortable way of improving your mobility.

If you’re looking to rent this type of vehicle, these are some good tips to keep in mind.

How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Handicap Van?
If you’re all about saving your pennies, there are many ways to reduce the cost of renting a wheelchair accessible van. Here are just a few:

  • Avoid renting an accessible vehicle airport. Enjoy lower taxes and minimal fees by going to a dealer or rental agency outside the airport grounds.
  • Reserve online whenever possible to take advantage of special offers.
  • Fill up the tank before returning the vehicle. More often than not, this will be less expensive than paying the fill-up fee or pre-paying for gas at the rental agency.
  • Don’t double up on insurance. If your personal auto insurance already covers you for rentals, make sure you don’t sign up for redundant coverage.

Where to Go
Many mobility dealers maintain a fleet of accessible cars or conversion vans for rental purposes. Identify and contact the location nearest you to find out if they have handicap vehicles available to meet your needs. There are also a number of companies that specialize in accessible rental vehicles.

When to Rent
A wheelchair accessible van or car can transform the lives of people with disabilities or temporary mobility impairment. Renting a wheelchair accessible vehicle can be particularly helpful when:

  • Your current wheelchair accessible vehicle requires repairs or maintenance over a period of multiple days.
  • You’re going on a road trip or long ride – a rented wheelchair accessible vehicle can make these much more comfortable. Even if you own a wheelchair accessible vehicle, you might still consider renting a vehicle in order to avoid putting the mileage and wear on your own van.
  • A loved one or family member with a disability visits. If you don’t own an accessible vehicle, renting a wheelchair accessible vehicle can facilitate transporting your friends and family.

Beginner’s Tips: Searching for the Right Wheelchair Van

If you’re a first-time buyer looking to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle things might seem a little overwhelming at first. You most likely have some questions and concerns when starting out, and that’s fine. We have several mobility vehicle experts/dealers and resources available to help you along the way.

Still, there’s never any harm in getting informed before you step onto your first lot as you look for a handicap van that meets your needs. Being equipped with information when you start looking for a mobility van will help you make a well-informed decision. It will also help you better express to us exactly what you are looking for.

There are a few basic pieces of information that can help you make your decision and learn more about accessible vans. Before heading out to shop around, there are some things you can to do prepare for your search.

  • Think about the options and features you are going to need in order to travel comfortably and without any hassle. This will give you a better idea of what sort of van you need while also giving a glimpse of what sort of price range you might be looking at.
  • Consider whether or not you’ll routinely have passengers such as family and friends and the room they might need.
  • Be realistic about the budget you have to work with. There is no sense in making another headache later on with a vehicle payment you can’t afford.

In addition to these tips, there are also several ways you can make the process easier outside of home. First and foremost, you could talk with one of our mobility consultants/experts to find out about benefits and features available to you in regards to whatever disability you may have.

We will let you try out a van before any money is put down. Take advantage of this opportunity to find out more about certain features and options that may suit your needs. Most of all, make sure you can ride comfortably.

Rust Treatment

Owning any type of vehicle means that you have to commit to regular service and maintenance to keep it in good condition. Owning a wheelchair van and adaptive equipment is no different – you still need regular service to keep everything operating the way it should. However, it comes with some additional caveats – you can’t just go to any service center and ensure that you’re maintaining your wheelchair van or mobility equipment correctly.

Here at our Mobility Center, not only do we understand the importance of maintaining your mobility vehicle and adaptive equipment, but we take the needed steps to ensure that everything is always in top condition. No other mobility dealer (that we know of) offers the level of maintenance offered by us.

Rust Maintenance
Vehicles today are subject to rust and corrosion due to moisture, humidity, tons of road salt and other airborne pollutants that can cause rapid deterioration of your wheelchair van. If neglected, the damages can make your mobility investment of little value.  The thousands of yearly miles, environments and exposure to the elements of larger vehicles means they are a lot more likely to suffer from the effects of corrosion. Correct rust proofing on a regular basis can ensure that your vehicle does not suffer from corrosion related vehicle downtime and keep your van from falling apart.

** We highly recommend that everyone gets their wheelchair vans rust proofed at least twice a year. Once in Spring and again in the Fall. **

If you consider that new vehicles undergo thousands of spot welds and numerous bends and folds during assembly; this process damages the automobile coating systems, exposing these panels to corrosion. Besides body-panel damage, certain mechanical parts are also at risk – suspension mounts, hood-locking mechanisms, door hinges, brake cables – which are all susceptible to the damaging effects of rust on your wheelchair van.

To protect your vehicle against corrosion our rust proofing formula does more than just cover the metal required. A rust proofing product must be applied as a high-pressured spray, ensuring protection to your vehicle’s most critical areas by penetrating, displacing existing moisture and protecting the many vulnerable crevices of your automobile.

Benefits of rust treatment
Prevention is better than a cure. There are a number of products that can offer prevention against rust. Products are available either as oils, waxes, fluids and coatings.  The range is vast. Our rust prevention processes, products, plan and application have been found to be very effective and developed over more than 25 years and still remain affordable.

We are the only mobility dealer in New England to offer this service.
Our rust proofing processes is ever evolving and has been for more than 25 years.

Easy Ways to Adapt Sports for Kids with Disabilities

Step up to the plate, take the game-winning shot, leap across the finish line – the thrill of sports is nearly impossible to compare or match to that of another activity. For kids with a disAbility or other mobility limitations, sports can seem intimidating, as if they were a task too difficult to complete. With adaptive sports on the rise and more and more athletes with disAbilities making waves with their skill, kids of all ages and abilities should be encouraged to participate in these exciting activities. With a few modifications, even the most demanding sports can be completely accessible.

Basketball
Wider and lower hoops make this fast paced game a simpler competition. Use buckets, hula-hoops or even boxes can provide a larger targeted area, making it easier for kids to make those winning shots. Lower the “hoops” to a manageable height to boost your child’s confidence in their game.

Baseball
Tees aren’t just useful in golf; they are an excellent way to allow kids to take better aim when hitting a baseball. This sport, amongst others, can improve a child’s hand-eye coordination and focus, as well as instill a sense of teamwork in them.

Volleyball
Beach balls can quickly transform the sport of volleyball into a fully inclusive activity that’s sure to be a blast for everyone. The light beach balls are not only easier to hit, but they allow more time for players with disAbilities to react after the other team’s move. Balloons are another great alternative.

Whatever your sport of choice is, all it takes is a little ingenuity to adapt it to suit a child with a disAbility. Invite your kids’ friends over for backyard Olympics or stir up some friendly competition with your child – not only will sports allow kids to be more active, they’re a great way of improving social skills and abilities.

Ways To Adjust A Home For Someone With A DisAbility

There are many different types of disAbilities, therefore, when making changes to a home to accommodate someone with a disAbility, you first need to consider the individual’s specific needs, then the dimensions to follow based on disAbility access laws.

Here are some things to consider when adjusting the home to meet the needs of someone with a disAbility:

Counters and Tables
In the house you may have to adapt counters and tables. They may need to be lowered. They will also need extra open space underneath so that someone using a wheelchair can move closer to the counter or table. You should also consider making sure there is enough space available to maneuver a wheelchair around the house.

Appliances
Some other objects that can be useful in the kitchen for someone with a disAbility include an electric can opener, an electric jar opener and food processor for vegetable cutting. When buying a stove, make sure the knobs are in front so the person using a wheelchair can reach them and turn the oven on or the top burners on.

Toilets
In the bathroom you should consider having elevated toilet seats. Make sure you have bars by the toilet for someone who lacks balance to hold onto while sitting down or standing up. If you have someone that is using a wheelchair you need to have available a sliding board so you can transfer them from the wheelchair to the toilet.

Sinks
Extended levers on the faucet make it easy to turn on and off the water. The sink may need to be lowered to insure accessibility. You might also want to consider making sure that there is space underneath the sink so that there is room to maneuver a wheelchair.

Bath mats
If the bathroom has a bathtub, then make sure you have a floor length mat with a non-slip backing so it will adhere to the floor to prevent the disabled person from tripping over the mat.

Outlets
Arrange the furniture in the room so outlets are easily accessible.

Lighting
Make sure your lamps are touchable or react to sound so that the person with the disAbility can turn lights on and off when no one is around to help them.

Phones
Make sure the phone is cordless so the individual can carry it around with them and answer a call when the phone rings.

Kitchenware
You can buy silverware with Styrofoam that makes it easier for someone with a disAbility to hold the utensil and use it while eating.

Door handles
Use handles as opposed to knobs so the individual with a disAbility can open and close doors by themselves without assistance. When buying a refrigerator make sure the handle is either on the left or right hand side depending on the needs of the individual.

Doors and walkways
When adapting the home for a wheelchair make sure the doors open wide enough for the wheelchair to go through and halls are uncluttered.

For the deaf
When adapting the home to someone who is deaf make sure you will have a TTD — teletype device so the individual can make phone calls for themselves.

Doorbells
Connect the doorbell to the lights so they will flash when a phone call comes in or when someone rings the doorbell for someone who is deaf.

Showers
When adapting a shower you should consider installing a shower seat so that someone who is unable to stand can shower while sitting. If the person uses a wheelchair you will need a transfer board so they can transfer themselves to the seat without assistance. Another option for a person using a wheelchair is to have a shower that they can roll their wheelchair into. You may also want to consider having a shower head with a wand, that way it can be lowered so that it is more accessible for a person who needs to shower while seated.

These are just a few things to consider when adapting a home to meet the needs of someone with a disAbility. Above all, make sure to ask individuals with a disAbility what their needs are to adjust the home for them.

The Benefits of Owning a Wheelchair Van

Even though wheelchair-accessible minivans can offer greater independence, many wheelchair users are afraid to switch from their car to a mobility vehicle. For some, a car is more fun and the idea of driving a minivan is not all that appealing. Cars also offer a bit of a challenge and are generally less expensive than wheelchair vans, so there is often hesitation to make the change.

Unfortunately, wheelchair users and their caretakers usually have to deal with the hassles of transfers and chair loading when they use a car to get around. This can cause back or shoulder pain for those having to make the transfer and after a while, this can be quite physically taxing.

For those dealing with these daily struggles or those who want to prevent them, switching to a wheelchair-accessible van becomes an easy choice. Take a look at the following benefits and see why you might want to buy a wheelchair van.

Reduced Pain and Fatigue
When a car is the main vehicle used to transport someone in a wheelchair, pain and fatigue can be a serious problem caused by frequent seat transfers. It’s hard to get close enough to a car to make a smooth transfer and if the height of the car seat doesn’t match that of the wheelchair, it can put a lot of stress on the shoulders, back and neck. What could result is joint and muscle pain and eventually arthritis and tendinitis. If getting into your vehicle is too much work or too painful, you might give up doing the things you love to do after a while.

Fortunately, a wheelchair-accessible van can give you your freedom back so you can do all of your favorite things. Because a wheelchair van uses a ramp for entry, there are no transfers from outside of the vehicle and you don’t have to separately load your chair. Once inside the vehicle, the transfer from your wheelchair to the driver or passenger position is much easier since you can pull right up to the seat. Plus, some wheelchair vans even let you drive or sit in the front from your wheelchair, completely removing any need to transfer.

Greater Freedom and Independence
While many people may argue driving a minivan isn’t the “coolest” thing you can do, sometimes other things are more important than image. A mobility van may not always be sporty, fun or stylish, but it offers maximum freedom and independence. Actually getting where you need to go without too much assistance or a physical struggle is more important than how you are able to do it.

Helpful Financing Options
A converted van will most likely cost several thousand dollars more than a standard car, as the conversion price plus higher fuel and insurance costs increase your total spend. While this might deter many people from making the switch to a van, it’s important to consider what you get for the price – greater health, happiness and overall well-being.

Even though a wheelchair-accessible van may seem out of reach, there are programs available that can help you pay for a mobility vehicle. Government programs like Worker’s Compensation, Medicaid Waivers, Vocational Rehabilitation and those with the VA may all be able to help with funding. There are also charities or nonprofits that may be able to help provide fund raising opportunities and some banks or Independent Living Centers offer extended loans or lower interest rates. Used vehicles are an option as well, as many dealers sell old rental vans after a year of use.

People will always have a reason to avoid buying a mobility van, but it might be worth serious consideration. Think about your quality of life and whether easier mobility may improve it. If so, it might be time to make the change.

Adaptive Equipment for Those with Partial Disabilities

Some individuals with partial disabilities say they do not have a need for a fully wheelchair accessible van or truck and state they only need a bit of extra help. For those able to stand with or without assistance, turn, and walk a few steps, there are a number of simple, affordable solutions that can make the vehicle you already own more comfortable and accessible.

Turning Seating
Convenient and affordable, turning automotive seating can eliminate the need to twist and climb into vehicles. Seats can be adapted to automatically swivel over the door frame with the push of a button, allowing drivers or passengers to easily accommodate themselves without having to struggle to get inside. These solutions can be installed in nearly any vehicle, including tall trucks and SUVs. In these cases, the seat lowers to the driver or passenger’s preferred height, then lifts and turns back into the vehicle.

Wheelchair or Scooter Lifts/Carriers
For those who are able to transfer into a vehicle’s seats, whether they are automatic or not, a wheelchair or scooter lifts can stow their equipment in the trunk or roof of a car, back of a van or SUV, or bed of a pick-up truck. These systems can be fully automatic or manually powered, depending on the needs of the user.

Grab Bars and Assist Handles
Grab bars and assist handles can make it safer for those with partial disabilities to enter, exit and drive a vehicle. Extremely affordable and portable, these solutions can be incorporated into nearly any make or model in mere minutes.

Steering Aids
Modifications like low-effort steering and wheel attachments can make driving much easier for those with limited upper body mobility, arthritis, etc. From palm grips to tri-grip designs, spinner knobs and steering cuffs, there is an accessible option to meet every need.

Wheelchair Van Conversion Styles: In-Floor Ramp Vs. Fold-out Ramp

There are several wheelchair accessible van conversion styles you’ll want to consider when choosing the right mobility solution for you. One decision you’ll have to make is to choose between an In-Floor wheelchair van ramp and a Fold-Out wheelchair accessible ramp.

In-Floor Vs. Fold-Up Wheelchair Ramps
Another important consideration to make is whether you’d prefer a fold-up or an in-floor wheelchair ramp in your handicap van. As their name implies, fold-up ramps fold in half and stow upright, next to the side passenger door. On the other hand, in-floor ramps slide into a pocket underneath the vehicle’s floor. People who opt for in-floor ramps prefer the ramp out of the way of the passenger entrance. Typically, fold-up ramps tend to be less expensive and easier to maintain, and they present a lower ramp angle. In-floor and fold-up wheelchair ramps are available in a wide range of handicap minivan conversions.

Wheelchair Safety While Driving or Riding

If you use a wheelchair, you probably know how to get into and out of a car safely. You’ve seen a certified driver rehabilitation specialist and know the rules. But it doesn’t hurt to go over them periodically, and perhaps correct some bad habits we’ve fallen into.

The following guidelines increase safety for wheelchair-seated riders and drivers.

Where to sit

  • If possible, transfer into the vehicle’s seat, which is crash designed for greatest protection.
  • If you can’t, it is safest to have a WCl9-compliant, transit-ready wheelchair. Non-WCl9-compliant wheelchairs are generally not strong enough to withstand the impact forces that can result in a crash.
  • WC19-compliant wheelchairs are designed for use as a motor-vehicle seat and have been crash-tested.

Seat / safety belt

  • Safety belts are the law in almost every state – and that applies to wheelchair users, so position the safety shoulder and lap belt correctly.
  • To prevent a wheelchair-seated driver from hitting vehicle structures (windshield, dashboard, etc.) during a crash, it is important to use a safety belt system composed of a shoulder and lap belt that fit snugly across the pelvis, chest and shoulder – not the wheelchair belt.
  • Wheelchair belts have not been crash-tested and some are designed to break away from the wheelchair when in a crash. Exceptions are WC19-compliant wheelchairs that come with crash-tested safety belts.

Feeling tied down is a good thing

  • Always use a crash-tested securement system to safely anchor the wheelchair using a 4-point tie-down system to keep it stationary – whether you are sitting in the vehicle seat or in the wheelchair.
  • An automatic lock-down system will also work to make the manual tie-down system easier. It connects to a bracket installed on the bottom of the wheelchair, allowing independent wheelchair securement.

The Importance of Regular Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Maintenance

Whether it’s an oil change, tire rotation, rust treatment, or an air conditioner fix, regularly servicing your wheelchair accessible vehicle can help save you time and money, as well as keep you safe and happy on the road. Just as our bodies begin to show the signs of aging, cars, SUVs and vans also can experience diminished performance as time passes. Due to this natural process, it’s vital to get your vehicle checked out by professionals in order to ensure your vehicle’s longevity.

Save Money
While most things wear over time, regular maintenance can significantly decrease the chances of a major problem later on. Preventative and scheduled services are normally small and inexpensive jobs, and can also preserve resale value, saving you even more money.

Save Time
A major breakdown not only costs thousands of dollars, it can also put your vehicle out of working condition for weeks. The worse the damage is, the longer it will likely take a mechanic to get your van or car ready for the road again. Even if the downtime for your car isn’t more than a few hours, a breakdown on the road can be particularly difficult for people with disabilities or limited mobility operating or riding in the vehicle.

Protect Yourself
Not only does maintenance and regular service save you time and money, it’s an important way to ensure you are safe inside your vehicle.

A wheelchair accessible or other adaptive vehicle can mean the difference between social freedom and considerable limitations. Take care of the investment in your freedom by following regular maintenance schedules and ensuring your ride is in the best shape possible!

Everyday Mobility Aids

Having a disability can make getting around and doing everyday activities difficult. Simple things like taking a shower, going to the store or even moving around your house can be a challenge for someone with limited mobility.

Getting a wheelchair or scooter is usually the first step, but there are several other mobility aids that either work in tandem or in addition to those to help you do the things you need to do. Once you have a wheelchair or scooter, there are upgrades you can make to your home to increase wheelchair accessibility there, but those don’t necessarily give you additional mobility. If you are looking to gain better mobility both inside and outside of your house, try any of the mobility equipment options below.

Transfer Board or Slider
While going out is often a major challenge, sometimes getting around within your house may be even more difficult. Getting onto a bed from a wheelchair, for example, requires strength, time and often another person. Luckily, there are transfer boards or sliders available to help facilitate the process. Wheelchair users place one end of the board under them on their wheelchair seat and slide across to the other end, which is set on their destination.

Bath Lifts
Bath lifts help those with limited leg mobility get into the bathtub. They attach to the tub and act as a seat for the wheelchair user to transfer to when they are ready to bathe. Once the user is sitting on the lift, it swings around and lowers within the tub. When the user is ready to get out, the seat can raise back up and out, preventing dangerous slipping. Other, simpler bath accessories include bath chairs, which act more as transfer seats that extend past the tub so the wheelchair user can safely slide across and under a shower head without using too much strength.

While living with a disability may make performing certain tasks more difficult, mobility equipment is available to help ease these challenges. Check online or with a mobility equipment dealer to find out where you can get these mobility aids.

Mobility Vehicles
If you use a wheelchair and don’t have a mobility vehicle, going anywhere can be a challenge. These are more expensive than many other types of mobility equipment, but there are plenty of options — and you may even be eligible for financial assistance. If you can’t afford to purchase a vehicle of your own, many dealers also offer rentals for much less.

Steering Aids
Whether you buy a mobility vehicle or simply transfer from your wheelchair to a car seat, you may need the ability to drive. There are different steering aids available to help you do so, depending on your abilities, including:

  • Steering Attachments: Extensions, such as knobs, gloves or balls, attach to the steering wheel to make it easy for those with limited arm function to turn the wheel with one hand or arm.
  • Foot Controls: Attachments on the ground give those with limited use of their hands the ability to steer and control the vehicle with their feet.
  • Loosened Steering: Drivers without adequate upper body strength can turn the wheel without requiring much effort with a simple steering modification.
  • Automatic Controls: A driver with limited leg mobility can steer, accelerate and brake with their hands using one piece of equipment that can be mounted in the driver’s area.

Teens with Disabilities: Learning to Drive A Handicap Accessible Vehicle

The majority of teenage kids will assert that learning to drive not only makes for an exciting experience but also marks a very important moment in life – moving a step closer towards achieving independence. Teens living with a disability are not exempt from this feeling. When it’s time to teach your child to drive, there are a few important things to keep in mind to ensure your child’s safety and the safety of others on the road.

Regardless of your age, preparedness is essential when it comes to driving. For those living with disabilities, the process of how you prepare can be slightly different, but it is certainly equally as important. Teens and new drivers with disabilities must complete a drivers’ assessment prior to beginning lessons in order to determine what sort of adaptive equipment or techniques he or she must use while driving. Steering aids, hand controls, or ramps/lifts may be necessary for your teen to be ready to get behind the wheel and recommendations will be made by the assessment administrator (most often by a certified driver rehabilitation specialist) after a proper exam.

While some teens will require little additional equipment in order to operate a vehicle, others may need more thorough vehicle conversions. If purchasing a new handicap accessible vehicle is not in your budget, there are used options available to suit your child’s needs, as well as rentals and loaners made available by some driving schools.

Qualified driving specialists will be able to relay information on your state’s driving laws for people with disabilities, how to operate the vehicle, as well as how to get in and out of the car without additional assistance, should they need to do so.

Throughout this journey towards adulthood, it’s vital that you remain your teen’s number one fan. A supporting and encouraging environment can dramatically improve your child’s outlook on taking on the road, raising their self-confidence and making them an overall better driver. Remember, learning how to drive takes time, but with your support, the expertise of driving coaches and the accessibility of a modified vehicle, your teen will be on his or her way to being a licensed driver!

Adaptive Q&A

With such a wide variety of adaptive vehicle equipment available, selecting the appropriate features or modifications can become big task. In an effort to facilitate this process, here are the responses to some of the most frequently asked mobility equipment questions.

Are ramps difficult to operate?
Most vans equipped with side-entry mobility equipment are fully automatic. The seamless loading and unloading process can be as simple as pushing a button. Vans can be converted to automatically open their doors, lower to the curb and deploy or stow a ramp without the driver or passengers needing to work with any equipment. Manual options are also available, however these are also very easy to use. Built with springs that carry most of the ramp’s weight, manual ramp options are also quick, safe and simple to use solutions.

Can I drive from my wheelchair?
In many cases, it is possible for drivers with disabilities and the need for a wheelchair to avoid transferring by properly securing their chair and themselves within the vehicle. With the use of both a wheelchair tie-down system and occupant restraints, driving from a wheelchair can be a safe and convenient option.

Can I drive from my scooter?
Operating or riding a vehicle from scooter is not recommended. In order to remain safe while traveling, passengers or drivers in scooters should always transfer into vehicle seating. Turning or swivel seats can make the transfer process easier and less demanding on those with limited mobility or access to caregiver assistance. Scooters should also be properly secured with a tie-down system to prevent movement in case of a sudden stop or turn.

Side entry vs. rear entry – which is best for me?
There are a few things to consider when deciding between a side entry and a rear entry vehicle. Passengers who are not going to be driving the vehicle typically use rear entry vehicles. Side entry vehicles work well for drivers and co-pilots getting in to the front of the vehicle, as well as passengers. Depending on the parking conditions of your regularly visited establishments, your vehicle’s entry points may need to be redefined. If you often need to parallel park or live in a region that experiences recurring inclement weather, a side-entry vehicle will prove to be a better option for your needs. These are only a few of the deciding factors when it comes to choosing between side and rear-entry.

Can someone else drive my vehicle if I install hand controls?
In most cases, both able-bodied drivers and those with disabilities can comfortably operate vehicles adapted with hand controls. Most hand controls do not interfere with the way a manufacturer intended the vehicle to be driven.

Wheelchair Van Conversion Styles: Side-Entry Vs. Rear-Entry

There are several wheelchair accessible van conversion styles you’ll want to consider when choosing the right mobility solution for you. One decision you’ll have to make is to choose between a side-entry wheelchair van and a rear-entry wheelchair accessible van.

Side-Entry Vs. Rear-Entry Wheelchair Vans
One of the most important choices you’ll make in selecting a handicap accessible wheelchair van is side entry versus rear entry. Your choice will impact such things as the wheelchair seating positions, your ability to accommodate other passengers, and parking options. Side-entry wheelchair vans represent the majority of the market—over 75% for most personal use vehicles. However, rear-entry wheelchair vans are also gaining in popularity as more products become available. Here is a look at some key points you’ll want to be aware of.

Style Side-entry wheelchair minivans Rear-entry wheelchair minivans
Advantages
  • Enter and exit safely onto curbside away from traffic
  • Drive from a wheelchair or sit in the front passenger position in a wheelchair or driver position
  • More choices available
  • More storage space
  • Park in any parking space—no extra room required for ramp (excluding parallel parking)
  • Side passenger doors aren’t blocked by a ramp
  • Mid-passenger seats can be mounted next to the wheelchair position
  • Great for long wheelchairs/leg rests
  • Less expensive conversion
  • More ground clearance
Important options
  • Power ramp and doors
  • Power kneeling system
  • In-floor ramp or fold-up ramp (some ramps are manual)
  • Power ramp and doors
  • Power kneeling system
  • Driver swivel seats available
  • Manual conversion available
Limitations
  • Requires handicap parking space/extra room for ramp deployment
  • Some driveways aren’t wide enough to accommodate a van
  • Must exit and enter from traffic area
  • It is not possible to drive from the wheelchair and/or having the wheelchair in the front passenger position
  • Less storage space available
Conversion price $19,000-$25,000*
*Cost of conversion only (vehicle cost is additional).
$17,000-$22,000*
*Cost of conversion only (vehicle cost is additional).

When is Renting a Wheelchair Van Right for You?

To Fill a Gap During Repairs
When you need to make repairs to your wheelchair accessible vehicle or wheelchair van it is more difficult for you than the average car owner. What do you do when you don’t have the vehicle? Most of us don’t have a second wheelchair van we can use. When the repair is unexpected or more serious than anticipated, how do you manage? Do you cancel and reschedule all your doctors’ visits and planned activities for you and the people you care for? No! Simply make arrangements for a rental van so you can get yours repaired and still go on with your life.

To Accommodate a Visitor Using a Wheelchair
Are you or a wheelchair user you know flying into our area and need to have access to a wheelchair van rental? Would you like to have a grandmother or grandfather or other wheelchair-using relative come and spend some time with you and your family? A wheelchair van rental can give the freedom to come and stay without unnecessary barriers to family fun and mobility.

To Bring a Loved One Out From a Care Facility
For those in a nursing facility for an extended time-whether that is for a week, month or years-and those of us that care for them-visits and outings are critical for keeping spirits up and connections alive. A wheelchair van rental can make these outings better for everyone.

Wheelchair vans are much easier to use and enable most of us to handle getting someone in and out of the vehicle easily and without risk of injury or inconvenience.

Ease of use makes us all more likely to set aside the time and know that we can have a successful outing without the struggle of getting into and out of vehicles that are not wheelchair accessible

To Try a Wheelchair Van Before You Buy One
Buying a wheelchair van is a big decision and requires considerable care in making sure that the vehicle you choose will work for your particular situation. While all wheelchair vans have similarities, the differences are significant. The differences in height, width and shape may not seem like much to some. However, when you are in a wheelchair and have special equipment or physical limitations to accommodate, a couple of inches on one side or the other can be the key to complete happiness with your wheelchair van.

Maybe you think a wheelchair van would help your life but you have not been able to justify the expense. Sometimes trying it out can help you to feel that you are making the right decision. Maybe you will find that a wheelchair van is not right for you because of the fit, your family size or the conditions you drive in. Regardless, renting a wheelchair van can help you to assess that far better than a simple test drive.

When Your Disability is Only Temporary
Access to a wheelchair van can be a lifesaver when you are recovering from an injury or medical procedure that forces you to use a wheelchair for a limited period of time. Whether you have had surgery, or have suffered a broken bone or other injury, even an illness that limits your mobility, having to be in a wheelchair is not easy. Wheelchair van rentals can ensure that this temporary problem does not keep you restricted in your ability to make the most of the situation.

Having a wheelchair van rental accessible during your recovery means that the van is there when you need it. When you want to go for a ride, visit a friend or run to the store…

Using public transportation or medical transportations services limits your convenience and easy access to mobility

When you have recovered and no longer need the vehicle, simply return it to us and go on with your recovery and normal life.

For Doctor’s Visits and Medical Transportation
For the occasional doctor’s visit, using a transportation service may be a reasonable choice. However, when you are going through periods of multiple visits, testing, etc over several days or weeks or have a condition that requires regular, frequent appointments, the convenience of a wheelchair accessible van rental cannot be beat. Financially it will also work out to be less expensive in many situations.

When medical visits have got you running ragged, take some of the load off with a wheelchair van rental scheduled around your needs with the built in flexibility that comes with having it dedicated to you.

Do you want to take a detour on the way home from the doctor? Go out to lunch or do a little shopping? This is the kind of convenience that wheelchair accessible van rentals can provide.

For Special Occasions and Outings
Don’t let access to convenient wheelchair van transportation keep you from bringing your wheelchair-using loved ones to special events like weddings, birthdays, retirements and other “can’t miss” occasions. Wheelchair accessible van rentals enable you or that special person to attend significant occasions in the most convenient, comfortable and affordable manner possible.

For Road Trips and Vacations
Many people take rental wheelchair vans on long trips and vacations. Often, the wheelchair van or handicapped van they have is not large enough or dependable enough for their needs. Even with the excess mileage charges, the overall rental cost can fit into the vacation budget.

How to adapt your new or pre-owned vehicle to meet your needs after a stroke

Driving after a stroke is often a major concern for survivor’s and their loved ones. It prompts many questions about ability, safety and vehicle options. Often times, the physical disadvantages that result from stroke can compromise a survivor’s ability to operate their vehicle.

Advances in the vehicle modification industry have introduced new driving controls that are giving independence back to stroke survivors that want to drive. They allow them to get back behind the wheel in their own vehicle to go where they want to go, when they want to go.

Innovative vehicle modifications such as hand controls, left-foot accelerators, lifts and mobility seating can transform your personal vehicle into a vehicle that give you more freedom.

Mobility equipment dealers strive to remain at the forefront of the vehicle modification industry by providing cutting-edge technology and a full selection of adaptable equipment for your pre-owned vehicle.

Hand Controls For Stroke Survivors with Limited Use of their Feet
Automotive Innovations is New England’s  #1 hand control installation facility  manufacturer of hand controls and driving aids for the disabled. Hand control systems are specifically designed to give drivers the benefit of controlling a vehicle with both hands on the wheel making for a safer, smoother driving experience.

Unlike other manual and or servo hand control installers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, we have the ability to offer a custom fitment to your vehicle and you, for everything from a Fiat 500 to a Lamborghini Aventador no one else has the master craftsman, machining equipment and facility capable of performing a custom installation the way we can.

Push Rock hand controls have a handle in a vertical position; accelerating by rocking back in an arching motion using the fingers and/or the palm. There are several additional options to choose from:

  • Spinner knob: Attached to the steering wheel to allow controlled steering with use of one hand.
  • Single Pin: As an alternative to the spinner knob, this hand control was designed for clients that cannot open their hand fully.
  • Tri Pin: Great for an independent driver. It requires minimal gripping strength and/or reduced wrist stability.
  • V-Grip: This attachment is intended for drivers with moderate gripping strength.
  • Steering Wheel Extension: This device is individually customizable, so you can pick a diameter and height that best suits your needs. The easily removable device is completely compatible with any OEM steering wheel.

Servo electronic mobility controls offers driving control products that are safe and provide piece of mind every time you are on the road.

  • Lever  A gas/brake input with adjustable levels of force and travel from the full gas to the full brake position. It is designed for customers that have a wider range of motion and a larger effort level.
  • One handed steering and gas brake  A input that you can steer that is available in a two-axis configuration for gas/brake and steering It has a adjustable range of motion and very low levels  of force to operate. It is designed and custom build for each customers specific range of motion and abilities.
  • Wheel  A steering input that can be adjusted to less than 2 oz of force at the proper orthotic position of 3 3/8” from center. It is also able to be adaptable for customers that have a wider range of motion.

Left-foot Accelerator
Automotive Innovations offers the best left foot gas pedals with unmatched installations.  Left-foot accelerator are designed to offer a left foot gas pedal which acts exactly like your vehicle’s existing gas pedal. Our Left foot gas pedals are removable with features like a quick-release base so the entire assembly can be removed and re-installed quickly and easily.

Lifts for Stroke Survivors that use Wheelchairs or Walkers
Automotive Innovations can offer more solutions for the transportation of your mobility device than any other dealership in New England.

” Its worth the drive, I live in the western part of Massachusetts and will never trust my van with anyone other than Automotive Innovations. They have been taking care of me and my vans since 1996. When a company comes through for you time and time again whats that worth? For me it’s priceless and the drive is irrelevant.”

Chris P Whately, MA

  • Scooter & Wheelchair Lifts while are not always practical they do work in all types of vehicles. These fold-down wheelchair and scooter lifts make lifting and storing your manual folding wheelchair or scooter possible.

Mobility Seating
The mobility transfer seat is an innovative system for lower vehicles which can provide easer  access to an automotive seat. The seat power rotates out over the doorsill, bridging the gap for a safe transfer onto the seat. These seats are not always practical for every type of vehicle

Our goal is to match your lifestyle and your vehicle with equipment that will deliver independence.

Finding a Dealer That’s Up to Standards

Hand controls, left-foot accelerator, lifts and mobility seating offers opportunities for the stroke survivor to regain their mobility freedom in their pre-owned vehicle. You have just found the best mobility dealer in all of New England that offers a ever evolving selection of adaptable equipment.

It is important to select a reputable dealer to provide the adaptable equipment and installation for your pre-owned vehicle.

  1. Are they members of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) or another organization that has vehicle conversion standards?
  2. Are they Quality Assurance Program (QAP) certified?
  3. Do they provide ongoing service and maintenance?
  4. Do they provide 24/7 emergency service?
  5. Do they provide training on the adaptable equipment?
  6. Can the equipment be transferred to a new vehicle in the future?

Adapting pre-owned vehicles provides stroke survivors with mobility freedom in the vehicle they love and are familiar with.

Are You Looking To Sell Your New or Used Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle?

If you’re looking to sell a wheelchair van that is no longer being used or looking to trade in your current one, contact us today!  Live on-site inspections and a test drive by one of our technicians may be required before a final assessment and offer can be made.

Vehicle Requirements
We will accept virtually all modified (Braun, VMI, Rollx, even AMS) and non-modified vehicles that are preferably under 10 years old  with odometers at 100,000 miles or less. Since we are a full service mobility dealer and wheelchair van restoration center will even accept rusted out vehicles.

Submit Your Vehicle’s Information
The first step is to call or email us about your vehicle. The basic information you provide helps our mobility consultants create the best  deal possible for you. Be sure you include the correct VIN and mileage along with some pictures of your vehicle.

Inspection
A mobility consultant will typically give a quote as soon as your vehicle is brought in for inspection. After a price is agreed upon, we will write you a check.

All offers are based on a first hand inspection, and if a vehicle isn’t represented accurately, we reserve the right to withdraw the offer once the vehicle is personally inspected by our evaluator.

Rust Treatment

Owning any type of vehicle means that you have to commit to regular service and maintenance to keep it in good condition. Owning a wheelchair van and adaptive equipment is no different – you still need regular service to keep everything operating the way it should. However, it comes with some additional caveats – you can’t just go to any service center and ensure that you’re maintaining your wheelchair van or mobility equipment correctly.

Here at our Mobility Center, not only do we understand the importance of maintaining your mobility vehicle and adaptive equipment, but we take the needed steps to ensure that everything is always in top condition. No other mobility dealer (that we know of) offers the level of maintenance offered by us.

Rust Maintenance
Vehicles today are subject to rust and corrosion due to moisture, humidity, tons of road salt and other airborne pollutants that can cause rapid deterioration of your wheelchair van. If neglected, the damages can make your mobility investment of little value.  The thousands of yearly miles, environments and exposure to the elements of larger vehicles means they are a lot more likely to suffer from the effects of corrosion. Correct rust proofing on a regular basis can ensure that your vehicle does not suffer from corrosion related vehicle downtime and keep your van from falling apart.

** We highly recommend that everyone gets their wheelchair vans rust proofed at least twice a year. Once in Spring and again in the Fall. **

If you consider that new vehicles undergo thousands of spot welds and numerous bends and folds during assembly; this process damages the automobile coating systems, exposing these panels to corrosion. Besides body-panel damage, certain mechanical parts are also at risk – suspension mounts, hood-locking mechanisms, door hinges, brake cables – which are all susceptible to the damaging effects of rust on your wheelchair van.

To protect your vehicle against corrosion our rust proofing formula does more than just cover the metal required. A rust proofing product must be applied as a high-pressured spray, ensuring protection to your vehicle’s most critical areas by penetrating, displacing existing moisture and protecting the many vulnerable crevices of your automobile.

Benefits of rust treatment
Prevention is better than a cure. There are a number of products that can offer prevention against rust. Products are available either as oils, waxes, fluids and coatings.  The range is vast. Our rust prevention processes, products, plan and application have been found to be very effective and developed over more than 25 years and still remain affordable.

We are the only mobility dealer in New England to offer this service.
Our rust proofing processes is ever evolving and has been for more than 25 years.

Used Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

The used market for wheelchair accessible vehicles has grown in the past few years. This growing popularity seems to suggest that this solution works. In some cases, it does; however, buying a used wheelchair accessible vehicle is not like buying a new car. If you are are interested in purchasing a used vehicle, remember these key points.

  • It must meet your mobility needs
    All wheelchair accessible vehicles are different. Ramp width, door clearance, and interior height will vary between vehicles which will affect whether or not the vehicle will work for your needs. Previously installed aftermarket additions, such as hand controls and securment devices, will have to be removed or replaced considering they were put in for the previous owner. Before you you start your search you should know your exact needs. Be aware that this may narrow your options significantly.
  • Getting your current vehicle fitted with a ramp or lift
    It’s possible to convert a minivan you already own and make it accessible, as long as it meets the requirements set by your mobility dealer. Before doing so, you will need to know which accessible ramp or lift style works best for you and your family.
  • Buying online
    eBay Motors and Craigslist are increasingly popular options for buying vehicles online. An increasing number of wheelchair accessible vehicles are listed on these two sites. While the prices may be tempting, this option can be risky if it’s not being sold by a trusted resource (such as a Mobility Center). Ramps are complex pieces of machinery. Without a specially trained mechanic looking it over, it can be very hard to know if a person is selling a good vehicle. We do not recommend this option because it can lead to numerous issues.
  • Used vehicles from a dealership
    While mobility dealers are specifically trained to help you meet all your mobility needs, most still operate like conventional dealers. Customers sometimes trade-in their old vehicles for credit towards a new vehicle, leaving the dealership with a used vehicle. While not every dealership has a used vehicle inventory, some have good options to work with.

The Importance Of Securing Your Wheelchair While Driving

Having proper restraints for your wheelchair is just as important as you using a seatbelt. There are two types of wheelchair restraints to secure your wheelchair while you are riding or driving; Manual and Electric.

Manual Restraints
Also Known as “tie-down” restraints, require caregiver assistance to ensure proper securement and safety.

Electric Restraints
Also known as power restraints, requires no assistance in use but involves mounting a device on the floor of the van and a device on the bottom of the wheelchair.When these devices are properly fitted they lock into place, creating an audible click, and sometimes use a buzzer and/or light to ensure safe locking.

To ensure safety there are also torso restraints, which may be used along with lap belts and wheelchair restraints to ensure top-notch security. To determine which combination of safety features is right for you contact your local mobility dealer to ensure your safety on the road.

Used Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

The used market for wheelchair accessible vehicles has grown in the past few years. This growing popularity seems to suggest that this solution works. In some cases, it does; however, buying a used wheelchair accessible vehicle is not like buying a new car. If you are are interested in purchasing a used vehicle, remember these key points.

  • It must meet your mobility needs
    All wheelchair accessible vehicles are different. Ramp width, door clearance, and interior height will vary between vehicles which will affect whether or not the vehicle will work for your needs. Previously installed aftermarket additions, such as hand controls and securment devices, will have to be removed or replaced considering they were put in for the previous owner. Before you you start your search you should know your exact needs. Be aware that this may narrow your options significantly.
  • Getting your current vehicle fitted with a ramp or lift
    It’s possible to convert a minivan you already own and make it accessible, as long as it meets the requirements set by your mobility dealer. Before doing so, you will need to know which accessible ramp or lift style works best for you and your family.
  • Buying online
    eBay Motors and Craigslist are increasingly popular options for buying vehicles online. An increasing number of wheelchair accessible vehicles are listed on these two sites. While the prices may be tempting, this option can be risky if it’s not being sold by a trusted resource (such as a Mobility Center). Ramps are complex pieces of machinery. Without a specially trained mechanic looking it over, it can be very hard to know if a person is selling a good vehicle. We do not recommend this option because it can lead to numerous issues.
  • Used vehicles from a dealership
    While mobility dealers are specifically trained to help you meet all your mobility needs, most still operate like conventional dealers. Customers sometimes trade-in their old vehicles for credit towards a new vehicle, leaving the dealership with a used vehicle. While not every dealership has a used vehicle inventory, some have good options to work with.

Government Grants for People with Disabilities

Find government grants and financing for handicap vehicles for people with disabilities nationwide. Money can be located with a little patience and a lot of research through various government programs. We’ve compiled a list of the most well-known government grant programs to assist your search for help funding a wheelchair van.When paying for a handicap van, you can use money from government grant programs for people with disabilities, as well other funding resources like disability grants, loans, fundraiser money, foundation endorsements, or any other funding source. We’ll work with your chosen foundations or any government grant program, after they verify financial assistance, to get you on the road!

To learn more about applying for wheelchair van grant funding to buy a handicap van or convert a pre-owned minivan, read “How to Apply for a Grant for Wheelchair Vans, Mobility Equipment, or Minivan Conversions.”

Government Wheelchair Van Financing Resources
Fund your wheelchair van with these government grant programs provided by the U.S. government and locally in your state.

Administration for Children & Families
On this website, new funding opportunities are displayed as they become available.

Grants.gov
The U.S. government resource listing federal grants available.

Medicaid
Sometimes provides assistance when children or other special circumstances are involved.

Medicaid/Department of Human Services (DHS)
Children are screened as part of the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program of Medicaid. Under Medicaid’s “rehabilitative services,” people often receive handicap van or lift funding to achieve their “best possible functional levels.”

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR)
Located within each state’s Department of Human Services (per state), helps you prepare for work, train for a job, find a job, or keep a job as early as high school. Services are prioritized according to the severity of the disability.

Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services (DARS)
Check your state’s branch for grant availability.

Division of Developmental Services (DDS)
Check your state’s branch for grants.Those with Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits from the Social Security Administration can contact the agency about its Plan to Achieve Self Support(PASS). A PASS plan sets aside income to buy equipment or services in a way that keeps income, as well as resources, below the SSI eligibility cut-off so there are no reductions in benefits. The emphasis is on whether the handicap van or equipment will help the SSI recipient become vocationally self-sufficient. It’s important for an individual to contact and receive the approval of Social Security before setting up a PASS plan. Once money has been set aside for a PASS, spending it on something else can result in the loss of SSI benefits.Please note: You can use multiple sources of funding that include grants, loans, and other funding assistance. If you’re unable to find government grants for people with disabilities or need to acquire more money to help pay for your wheelchair van and/or mobility needs, check out more opportunities at our mobility finance page.

Power Pull Ramp Assistant For Wheelchair Van Ramps

Power Pull Ramp Assistant technology is a wheelchair & passenger ramp assist system. With the use of an electronically controlled retractable cable and remote control, the person in the chair can attach their wheelchair to the POWER PULL from outside the vehicle. The cable is attached to the left and right side of the front of the wheelchair. Once they are positioned on the bottom of the wheelchair ramp, with the push of a button the cable begins to slowly pull them into the vehicle. The cable can be stopped at any time if the person feels they need to re-straighten the wheelchair before continuing.

Great for wheelchair drivers who use hand controls and just need a little assistance with getting up the ramp, the person in the chair simply presses the release button and unhooks the two-position cable from the wheelchair once they are safely inside. The system can also be used to help with existing the vehicle.

Basic Functions:

  • Roll up beside your vehicle
  • Take hold of the POWER PULL strap
  • Position yourself in front of the ramp
  • Place the hooks on the left and right side of the chair
  • Press and hold the ‘IN’ button
  • POWER PULL takes you up the ramp
  • Stop the POWER PULL while on the ramp at any time

Auto-Lock Clutch System
The POWER PULL cable uses an auto-locking clutch system that keeps tension on the cable at all times during use. This means that the cable will never accidentally unravel or become tangled. There is also a safety switch in the design that keeps the POWER PULL cable from accidentally releasing while it is in use. In addition to the remote control stopping capabilities, if the wheelchair is not going up the ramp straight, a built-in breaker prevents the chair from being pulled too far over to one side. The system resets itself in a few seconds, allowing the user to reposition in the middle of the ramp before proceeding.

Putting Amputees Back in the Driver’s Seat

For some people, an automobile is a necessity not a luxury.

To have a full life in America requires mobility -not just the ability to walk or run, but the ability to travel greater distances with more convenience and flexibility than public transportation provides.

For many lower-limb amputees, however, the lack of feet makes driving impossible in a conventionally equipped vehicle. Hand controls along with left foot gas pedals provide the solution. They make it possible for lower-limb amputees and people with other disabilities to enjoy the prosperity and independence that comes with vehicle ownership and use.

Different types of hand controls
Basic hand controls usually consist of a lever attached to a bracket and mounted under the steering column on cars equipped with automatic transmissions. The lever is moved to operate throttle and brakes. Usually the left hand operates the control, allowing the right hand to steer and operate the vehicle’s accessories. The three most common types of hand controls are push/rock, push/twist, right angle pull, and push/pull.

The push rock and push twist hand control works by twisting the handle to apply the gas and pushing it to apply the brakes. The right angle pull hand control works by moving the lever down towards the driver’s lap for acceleration. To apply the brakes, the driver pushes the handle forward towards the front of the car. The push/pull hand control works by pulling on the handle to apply the gas, and pushing for the brakes. Most hand controls, except for a very few, apply the brakes by pushing.

Most hand controls are hand-powered, using linkages or cables to operate the gas and brakes. Some models are power-assisted to make it easier on the hand and arm. Cars are designed for the driver’s foot to operate the gas and brake, so the force required to operate the hand control can be tiring to the hand during long drives. Power-assist options for hand controls range from very complex devices such as an electric joystick, to relatively simple ones that use vacuum power like power brakes. Most hand controls are dual-action devices that permit the simultaneous application of throttle and brake. Dual-action controls are helpful when the car is stopped on a steep hill or when making tight maneuvers on steep grades. The throttle can be applied a little before releasing the brake to prevent the car from coasting backward before moving forward. While most users prefer dual-action, some prefer single-action units because they eliminate the chance of accidentally applying the throttle during braking.

Which is best for you?
The best choice of hand controls for a person depends on a number of factors, such as the car’s layout, expected driving conditions, and the driver’s size, disability, and preference.

Push/twist
Push/twist hand controls are a good choice if either a large driver, a small car, or both, limit space. Economical use of space is achieved because the lever only needs to be moved to apply the brake. Throttle control is achieved by twisting the grip in the same manner as operating a motorcycle.

Push/twist controls provide a precise, sporty feel. By necessity, push/twist hand controls are often power-assisted. Without power-assistance, the twisting motion tends to feel stiff, and the hand tires. With a good quality power-assisted twist control, very little effort is required to maintain a throttle setting; simply resting the hand on the handle should provide enough force. This results in less fatigue on long drives.

Push/twist controls are good in tight turns and on rough roads. Throttle surges, which can be experienced with a push/pull or right angle pull device, as the driver and his or her arm bumps, sways, leans, or lurches going through curves and over bumps tend not to occur with a push/twist. Most push/twist controls are dual-action units.

These controls are not recommended for people with grip problems or those with amputated fingers or hands. Good left-hand dexterity is required for safe driving with push/ twist controls.

Right angle pull
Right angle pull controls are the most widely used form of hand control. They are relatively inexpensive and, usually, easy to install and adjust. Operation is simple and intuitive for these strictly mechanical units.

Space, however, can be a problem. Throttle application requires that the lever be moved down toward the driver’s lap. If the driver is large or the car is small, a push/twist or even a push/pull control may be more suitable. Because the lever is connected to the gas pedal with mechanical linkages, the underside of the dashboard will often require trimming.

For those missing fingers, hands, or with reduced grip strength, various handles, wrist straps, grips, etc., can be adapted for the right angle pull control. Specialized handles can be configured for use with a prosthesis. Right angle pull controls are usually dual-action, but also can be single-action.

Push/pull
Push/pull hand controls are by definition single-action. Since the lever is pulled for gas and pushed for brakes, the gas and brakes can never be operated at the same time.

This is the easiest hand control to learn to use. Senior citizens like the push/pull because there is no confusion when learning, after using the foot pedals all their lives. Power-assisted and non-power-assisted models are available. The driver’s hand can rest directly on the lever without causing the throttle to surge.

As with the right angle pull control, different handles can be adapted to the driver to permit safe and easy operation. Power-assisted push/pull hand controls equipped with handle adaptations are recommended for people with limited arm strength and poor manual dexterity.

Some other factors to consider
When shopping for hand controls, aesthetics is also a factor to consider. Car owners can be surprised to find that a section of the dashboard was cut away during the installation process. Most hand controls are mounted under the dash with a support extending into the driver space under the steering column where the lever is connected. A panel under the dashboard is removed during installation. If the hand control’s design and the dashboard layout permit, the panel can be returned allowing the mounting bracket to be hidden. Sometimes, however, the hand control’s hardware protrudes into the passenger space, and the panel cannot be reinstalled without cutting a window in it. Each installation varies with the model of automobile and the particular hand-control unit. Check with your dealer about what you can expect to see when you get your car back.

Many of us share cars with other family members. It is important that the pedals can still be used with the hand control installed and that there are as few impediments to using them as possible. Most good controls provide room for a pedal-pushing driver. Ask the installer what to expect.

Driving should be fun. Poorly designed hand controls, or a badly performed installation, can cause the driver to be distracted or preoccupied with the control, lead to frustration, and reduce safety. Good hand controls, professionally installed, will allow enjoyable, safe driving.

Installation
No matter what type of hand controls you use, you are making a significant modification to your vehicle. It is, therefore, important to have a trained and qualified person perform the installation.

The installer should cut a minimum amount of the dashboard. The handle should be located in a comfortable position so that the driver can hold on to the hand control and hook a thumb over the steering wheel. This position helps to stabilize the steering wheel and the throttle. The whole assembly should feel solid and sturdy. If the installation is done properly using a high-quality control, driving will be easy and fun.

Everyone is different, and each person is a special case. If you are uncertain about your condition and your abilities, consult a Certified Driving Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS). A CDRS knows about different disabilities and can advise you about the best solution to your driving needs. Contact a CDRS through your rehabilitation facility or through your local amputee support group.

Whether you are a first-time buyer or already drive with hand controls, it is good to know what is out there and what to look for. High-quality hand controls are available, as are skilled mobility technicians who understand the quality and safety issues involved with their installation.

Spend a few extra dollars to purchase a high-quality product and have it professionally installed. You already have made a significant investment in your vehicle. A quality set of hand controls will surely enhance your driving experience and, above all, your safety.

35th Annual National Veterans Wheelchair Games

If you’re looking for a summer vacation getaway full of excitement, look no further than the National Veterans Wheelchair Games held this year in Dallas, Texas. Whether you’re taking the whole family to experience these acts of courage and strength, or making a stop on your summer accessible road trip, this event supports and benefits our country’s veterans by encouraging a spirit of healthy activity and friendship.

The History
Since the Games began over 30 years ago in 1981, the event has grown from only 74 competitors to over 500 in 2014. This event is presented each year by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Paralyzed Veterans of America, with additional support from numerous organizations, corporate and community sponsors. Wheelchair sports had their start in the aftermath of World War II, when young disabled Veterans began playing wheelchair basketball in VA hospitals throughout the U.S. Since 1980, when the VA’s efforts brought about an enhanced awareness of the rehabilitative value of wheelchair athletics, VA therapists have used wheelchair sporting as a therapeutic tool for supporting Veterans with disabilities.

The Location
The event has moved from city to city over the years and 2015 marks the 35th annual NVWG. The event is being held in Dallas, a city with much to offer as host, including cultural districts, the best restaurants, hotels and museums for something to do while you’re not at the games. This years games are being held June 21–26, so if you’re looking to turn up the heat this summer, Dallas is the perfect place to be!

The Events
Veterans can compete in 18 different events at the games, including: 9-ball, air rifle, hand cycling, quad rugby, softball, track, table tennis, weightlifting, and many more. Athletes are classified by degree of disability and then further into divisions. Although registration for this years event ended April 15, if you are a U.S. military service veteran who uses a wheelchair due to mobility impairments, be on the lookout early next year to register!

If you aren’t a veteran, or just happened to miss registration but still want to be involved with this event you can always sponsor the games, or volunteer! More than 3,000 local volunteers are required to assist with all aspects of the games, from helping with transportation, to event set-up, water distribution, assistance with meals, and much, much more. Summer time calls for travel and excitement, and what more of a rewarding way to spend your summer days then traveling to Dallas to support our veterans.

Hints & Tips For Selling your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Online

Photos

Exterior
Considering you are usually only offered to post 8 photos it’s a good idea is to allocate at least 3 to the exterior of your wheelchair accessible vehicle. You should take these pictures from different angles that reveal the handicap van in its best light. For example you should take one of the front and rear of the vehicle whether it is a full front/rear shot or ¾ front/rrear and side shot. For a third picture you can take a full side shot,  or whatever angles you believe are best.

Interior
A good interior shot that shows the condition of the dash board and front seats as a minimum is highly recommended. If the wheelchair van has a clean, well presented interior the buyer needs to see it, as this is an area where wear and tear will be evident on the handicap van if not looked after. You should also capture the space available with the type of wheelchair ramp/lift.

Engine bay
Most buyers are going to want to see whats under the hood at some stage – pre-empting this and providing a good clean shot of a good clean engine is an excellent way to instil confidence in the buyer that the handicap van is well looked after. Best done after steam cleaning or degreasing and washing of the engine bay.

Trunk
The trunk or cargo area of the handicap van is other potential high wear area which if in good condition is worth showing to buyers.

Accessories 
If the handicap van is fitted with after-market or factory accessories that will enhance the handicap van in the eyes of the buyer then ensure these are obvious in the exterior and interior photos. It may be a good idea to have a close up shot of a certain handicap accessible modification such lowered floors and handicap ramps.

Pre-existing damage/scratches 
If your handicap van has dents or scratches on the body work it is probably a good idea to show them in photos as they will then have a good idea of the vehicles condition. This may turn some buyers off, but those who do contact you will be more likely to follow through with the purchase as they have already factored this in to their offer.

Text
There is no limit to the amount of text you can include with your advert so be sure to list all relevant modifications and extras so as to fully inform buyers as to all the features, options and modifications. – don’t hold back – it doesn’t cost any more to be comprehensive!

Advertising using the direct URL
The direct URL is the key to getting buyers to see your handicap van online, the basic idea is to include it everywhere you advertise your wheelchair van, so that buyers who ready your classified adverts can then log on to the Internet and see your photos and extra details.

Examples of where to advertise your Handicap Vans URL include:

  • Local newspapers
  • Where you place other online classifieds that don’t include photos or as much detail
  • trader type magazines

Virus or scam alert

Buyer / Seller Scams
We’ve been alerted to a scam which operates in the following way: An overseas buyer offers to buy your car. They will want to send you a check for an amount in excess of the purchase price of your car and will ask you to send the change back to them or to pay the change to a local shipping agent. There are several variations on the theme. If you get an offer like this from overseas, we recommend that you be alert to a possible scam.

Another scam operates as follows: Typically a car/bike/boat, etc will be offered for sale at a very low price. The seller will say that the item is located overseas or in a location that makes it difficult to inspect the item. The seller will ask you to send them a deposit or pay for the item before they will arrange to send it to you. If you get an offer like this, we recommend that you be alert to a possible scam.

We wish you the best of luck in advertising your handicap van and if you need any help keep in mind we sell on consignment and are always here to help!

Mobility Rebate Programs

Whether you’re looking for a wheelchair accessible minivan, a full-size van, or a lift/ramp for your wheelchair van, your financial investment is always going to be a major consideration. We understand the importance of the investment our customers make and we always strive to produce superior products and provide excellent service.

In today’s difficult economy, every cent counts when you’re making decisions about what you can and can’t afford to go without. Feeling that your mobility is restricted by financial constraints is discouraging, and we don’t like the idea of anyone having to face that challenge and find no answers or possibilities. That’s why we are extremely well informed and able to assist you in navigating your way through the myriad of grants, tax incentives, and rebate programs.

Every auto manufacturer offers a mobility rebate program of some type and they are definitely worth looking into. Here is some information about rebates for wheelchair vans and wheelchair lifts/ramps. For more personalized information, contact us and we will help guide you through the process of applying and receiving these rebates.

Toyota Mobility Dealer
The Toyota Mobility Program provides up to $1,000 in reimbursement for adaptive equipment (such as wheelchair lifts, assistive seating, driving aids, and more) installed on new Toyota vehicles within 12 months of the delivery date of the vehicle.

Dodge/Chrysler Automobility Dealer
Chrysler’s AutoMobility Program is similar to the program mentioned above, with reimbursements from $400-$1,000 available depending on the type of adaptive equipment installed..

Honda Mobility Dealer
The Honda Mobility Assistance Program offers reimbursement up to $1,000 for adaptive equipment installed on a new Honda!

Lexus Mobility
The Lexus Mobility Program supports the mobility needs of Lexus owners and/or family members with physical disabilities.

 If you have any questions about these programs, just give our us a call or visit us today. We’re always happy to help!

Ramp Styles For Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

Perhaps the most important part of choosing a new or used wheelchair accessible vehicle is determining how you, or your passengers with disAbilities, will enter and exit the vehicle. Wheelchair ramps are great, affordable and flexible options for those interested in handicap accessible vehicles, as they provide an easy to use loading and unloading solution that are as safe and secure as they are convenient.

If you believe wheelchair ramps are the right option for your transportation needs, the following will shed some light on the types of ramps available for conversions and the unique benefits they each provide.

In-Floor Ramps
As their name suggests, in-floor ramps are stowed under the floor of wheelchair accessible minivans, creating additional interior room for improved maneuverability. These ramps allow for an obstruction-free doorway and clean, uncluttered interior. In-floor models also provide added safety, as there are no components on the floor of the van that one might struggle with.

Fold-Out Ramps
For strength and durability, fold-out ramps are great options for passengers in wheelchairs. When not in use, these ramps sit on the floor of wheelchair accessible vans and extend outward in a folding motion when deployed. Many models offer side rails for easy navigation and perforations of the ramp floors to allow for easy cleaning and debris removal. In addition, fold-out ramps are more budget-conscious than in-floor options.

Each of these options offers unique perks and both are fantastic options for anyone looking to increase their mobility and independence through the use of a handicap accessible van. If you need assistance deciding which of these models is right for you, don’t hesitate to call for more information.

Adaptive Mobility Equipment Financing Options

Adaptive equipment describes an installed device, in addition to a structural modification, that is necessary for a person with a permanent physical disability to drive or be transported in a vehicle.

Some equipment not thought of as typical adaptive equipment, or equipment which is not available from the factory, that serves a need to operate or ride in a vehicle for persons with disabilities such as but not limited to: assist handles, keyless entry, keyless ignition switch, lumbar support, headrest adjustment, pedal extensions power seats, remote liftgate opener, running boards, seat belt extenders, seat modifications, and special mirrors may be eligible for reimbursement and require additional documentation. You will be notified if additional documentation is needed such as a letter or prescription clearly describing the permanent physical disability requiring this equipment, prepared by a licensed or certified medical professional.

Factory installed options such as air conditioning, running boards, lumbar seats and power windows are not considered eligible under the terms of the program.

Driving is a privilege for people stroke survivors with limited mobility; it provides a sense of stability in their lives so they can regain their independence. They love the flexibility their adaptive mobility equipment provides, but they often face exorbitant costs when it comes to financing the purchase of the equipment.

“The number one reason people with disabilities don’t have access to adequate transportation is because they cannot afford it.” The good news is that funding assistance to purchase adaptive equipment is becoming increasingly available.

Sources of funding determine a person’s “buying power.” Unlike the financing options provided by original equipment manufacturers, Mobility Equipment Dealers, such as such as ourselves, have access to financing options specifically for adaptive equipment purchases; they offer options and solutions for the customer.

Veterans
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers grants enabling 100% service related disabled veterans to purchase a new or used modified vehicle and adaptive equipment. Automobile grants are available once in the service member’s lifetime and adaptive equipment grants are available for special equipment that may used more than once.  For more information, call 1-800-827-1000 or read the VA’s “Automobile and Special Adaptive Equipment Grants” fact sheet.

State Programs

  • State Vocational Rehabilitation (Voc Rehab) Agencies may be able to assist with the costs associated with purchasing an adaptive vehicle (or adding adaptive equipment to an existing one) if the vehicle is necessary in order for a person to get to and from work.
  • State Assistive Technology Loan Programs may also be able to provide assistance to help pay for modifications to the vehicle.
  • Center for Independent Living (CIL) can provide additional information on programs that may be available in your state.

Government Programs

  • Medicaid: Medicaid is a jointly administered federal and state program that helps with medical costs for some people with limited income and resources. Medicaid benefits differ by state and are approved on a case-by-case basis when a request for funding is presented through a prior approval.
  • Medicare: Medicare is a federal program and in some instances they will pay for adaptive equipment following a specialty evaluation performed by a qualified practitioner. For more information, call 1-800-633-4227.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI offers a Plan to Achieve Self-Support program, or PASS, which helps those with disabilities pay for items or services needed to achieve a specific employment goal – to ultimately return to work.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Often sales-tax exemptions on equipment purchases and other out-of-pocket costs can qualify for tax deductions as medical expenses. Contact a tax adviser or get literature from the IRS that outlines the tax code for medical equipment by calling 1-800-829-1040 and asking for publications with extensions 3966, 907 and 502.

Workman’s Compensation:
Your insurance or workman’s compensation policies may also pay for vehicle adaptation. Check with your HR department or workman’s comp. organization for more information.

Fundraisers, Charitable Organizations/Churches
These may not be for everyone, but they can be effective and many people have successfully raised the money to pay for a wheelchair accessible vehicle and adaptive equipment using these options.

Automakers Rebate Programs
Many automobile makers are providing people with disabilities a wide range of rebates and incentive programs to cover adaptive equipment installation. Below is an overview of some programs offering rebates or reimbursements for adaptive mobility equipment.

  • Ford Motor Company: The Ford Mobility Motoring adaptive equipment reimbursement offers up to $1,000 off for a vehicle modification. You may also qualify for up to $200 for alert hearing devices, lumbar support, or running boards installed on any new Ford or Lincoln vehicle purchased or leased from a U.S. Ford or Lincoln dealer during the program period.
  • Daimler Chrysler Corporation: Once you have a 2010-2013 Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram or FIAT vehicle that fits your transportation needs, contact a reputable and qualified adaptive equipment installer to ensure that it can be adapted to meet your needs.
  • General Motors Company Reimbursement Program:  New vehicle purchasers/lessees who install eligible adaptive mobility equipment on their new Chevrolet, Buick or GMC vehicles can receive up to a $1,000 reimbursement for the cost of the equipment.
  • Toyota: The Toyota Mobility Assistance Program provides cash reimbursement of up to $1,000 of the cost of any aftermarket adaptive equipment or conversion, for drivers and/or passengers, when installed on any eligible purchased or leased new Toyota vehicle within 12 months of vehicle purchase or lease.

The decision to purchase adaptive mobility equipment stems from a need for mobility freedom for people with disabilities, including stroke survivors. The purchase process begins with selecting a reputable dealer to provide the adaptive equipment and installation, locating options to finance the purchase, and ends with insuring the adaptive equipment.

Make sure the after-market mobility modifications are professionally installed by a NMEDA mobility dealer. Once the adaptive mobility equipment is financed and installed, notify your insurance agent with a full disclosure of all adaptive mobility equipment installed in the vehicle.

Make sure your auto insurance company provides coverage for the conversion and adaptive equipment. Make sure you request coverage for “special” equipment, not just “handicapped” equipment.

  • “Handicapped equipment” covers only basic equipment such as the ramp or lift, not the lowered floor, kneeling system, lockdown system or other adaptive equipment.
  • “Special equipment” covers the conversion in its entirety. Be sure and send your insurance company an itemized list of every modification (which you can get from the mobility dealership that performed the conversion).

VMi New England Mobility Center is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a wheelchair accessible car, truck or van, please contact us at 508-697-6006  info@newenglandwheelchairvan.com

Rust Proof you Vehicle Today

Vehicles today are subject to rust and corrosion due to moisture, humidity, tons of road salt and other airborne pollutants that can cause rapid deterioration of your wheelchair van. If neglected, the damages can make your mobility investment of little value.  The thousands of yearly miles, environments and exposure to the elements of larger vehicles means they are a lot more likely to suffer from the effects of corrosion. Correct rust proofing on a regular basis can ensure that your vehicle does not suffer from corrosion related vehicle downtime and keep your van from falling apart.

If you consider that new vehicles undergo thousands of spot welds and numerous bends and folds during assembly; this process damages the automobile coating systems, exposing these panels to corrosion. Besides body-panel damage, certain mechanical parts are also at risk – suspension mounts, hood-locking mechanisms, door hinges, brake cables – which are all susceptible to the damaging effects of rust on your wheelchair van.

To protect your vehicle against corrosion our rust proofing formula does more than just cover the metal required. A rust proofing product must be applied as a high-pressured spray, ensuring protection to your vehicle’s most critical areas by penetrating, displacing existing moisture and protecting the many vulnerable crevices of your automobile.

Benefits of rust treatment
Prevention is better than a cure. There are a number of products that can offer prevention against rust. Products are available either as oils, waxes, fluids and coatings.  The range is vast. Our rust prevention processes, products, plan and application have been found to be very effective and developed over more than 25 years and still remain affordable.

We are the only mobility dealer in New England to offer this service.

Our rust proofing processes is ever evolving and has been for more than 25 years.

Summer Travel Guide: Booking Accessible Lodging

Longer, sun-filled days mean you may be in the midst of finalizing arrangements for summer vacation plans. While accessible travel options have seen major upgrades in the past few years with new aircraft regulations and increased accessible vehicle availability, travelers with disabilities are still often faced with difficulties when it comes to accessible lodging. Inaccurate descriptions and miscommunications are the leading causes of issues upon arrival. If you want to ensure your vacation plans go off without a hitch, be sure to take extra measures and follow these booking tips.

  • When booking a hotel room or other type of lodging, be advised that ‘Accessible’ or ‘ADA Compliant’ rooms may not meet your specific needs. The features that constitute these designations may vary across the country and around the world.
  • Before committing to a hotel, cruise, resort, etc., be sure to speak directly to a representative at the actual location. Whether it’s via phone or email, you’ll need to describe your exact needs when it comes to accessibility and a person who is familiar with the establishment will be your best bet as far as accurate answers go.
  • Ask reservation agents to take pictures of their accessible accommodations. With the widespread use of smartphones and tablets, this has become a pretty simple request, and one that can make a huge impact on your vacation.
  • Making a reservation at a hotel does not guarantee you a specific room, but rather locks you in at the chosen rate. In order to be absolutely certain that your accessible room will be ready for you, you’ll need to ask the booking agent to ‘block’ it.
  • If in doubt, ask for measurements. A floor plan of the room, door widths, bed height, etc. can all be excellent tools in helping you determine if the accommodations will meet your needs.
  • Some hotels pools offer a zero-depth entrance or pool lifts, finding out in advance is helpful for planning purposes.
  • If you are having a hard time getting straight answers from the person you are speaking to, don’t hesitate to take your business elsewhere. There are usually a number of available options when it comes to lodging at any destination and you’ll likely be better off choosing a location that is willing to work with you.

Accessibility when it comes to overnight accommodations shouldn’t stop you from having the trip you deserve. Following these tips when booking your rooms or rentals can help make sure your next vacation is one you’ll be bragging to your friends about.

Veterans Assisting Veterans Comedy Night

Veterans Assisting Veterans Comedy Night

Friday May 29 at 7:00
VFW Mottolo Post in Revere
10 Garafolo Street Revere, MA

Check out the Facebook Page and join them for a great night of comedy, Pork Roast Dinner and good times to help raise funds towards two truck mounted AmeriDeck lifts. These are needed to aid in the use of Track Chairs for a couple wounded vets. We also hope to promote and raise awareness of what Veterans Assisting Veterans does and is all about. Donation of $20.00 per person collected at the door.

Funding an Accessible Vehicle

For some people living with disabilities, purchasing a handicap accessible vehicle seems like it’s only a dream. With the cost of medical equipment and treatments, raising the funds needed to purchase a van or truck can be challenging. However, there are a number of programs and options available should you need assistance. These rebates and funding opportunities make getting behind the wheel of an accessible vehicle a smooth ride.

Financing
When it comes to financing handicap accessible vehicles, the number of options can be overwhelming. From traditional sources available at dealerships to third party organizations, being able to afford a new van or car will require you to do a bit of research on what the best route is for you and your family. In most cases, however, financing a vehicle can break down payments into manageable monthly installments, making your purchase more affordable.

Rebates
Many manufacturers offer rebate programs to customers with disabilities purchasing accessibility products. Each manufacturer handles their rebate program differently, however most of them grant opportunities to receive up to $1,000 back on vehicle customizations. To provide more information about these programs, we’ve compiled a list of manufacturers with such offers, as well as contact details, on our Rebates page.

Government Funding
From Veterans Administration Agencies to Medicare and Medicaid, there are also government funding options available for those wishing to purchase handicap accessible vehicles. As with any other funding option, prior research is necessary to ensure you qualify for coverage, however your local mobility dealer can go over your options with you and help you make an informed decision.

Fundraising
Reaching out to family, friends and neighbors can be challenging, but is definitely a route to consider. After all, there are not many things that can’t be accomplished when a community bands together. Although it may not be a viable option for everyone, raising funds through donations and sponsorships might make the journey to a new vehicle much easier. Websites like GoFundMe have also made it simpler to rally supporters and accept donations.

With these options, owning handicap accessible vehicles is more affordable than you might think. Be sure to visit a mobility dealer to go over your needs and uncover even more possibilities.

Prep Your Vehicle For Summer

Summer heat and unexpected breakdowns are hard on those with disabilities. High summer temperatures also take their toll on the engine. Follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule in the owner’s manual and your vehicle will hopefully make it through the summer in a breeze.

Some jobs you or a friend may be able do, while others are best left to the professionals.

  • Check the air conditioning and inspect belts and hoses. When is the last time you had the entire system inspected?
  • Inspect batteries and cables for corrosion, cracks and dirt. Have it tested if it’s near the end of its warranty. It’s a lot easier to replace a battery before a trip than replace a dead one on the side of the road.
  • Have a professional inspect your brake pads and linings for wear.
  • Change the engine oil and filter according to the service schedule. Check fluids, including coolant, brake, automatic transmission, windshield wiper and power steering.
  • Replace wiper blades once a year.
  • You probably check your tires’ air pressure, but what about the spare?
  • You can significantly alter the car’s performance by rotating the tires.
  • Test the lights – interior and exterior, including turn signals and high beams – to make sure they work. And clean them.
  • Change the air filter. A dirty filter lowers gas mileage and reduces engine performance.
  • Consider an inspection by a qualified technician before leaving on a trip. Repairs made on the road will be more costly.
  • A professional should inspect the radiator, pressure cap, belts and hoses. If it’s time, flush and refill the cooling system.

Buckle up and don’t leave home without your cell phone and your disabled parking permit.

Accessible Preparations for Memorial Day

Hosting a Memorial Day Party is the perfect way to kick off your summer adventures, and here are some tips on how to make sure your gathering is accessible and fun for all!

Choose Your Location
To ensure all of your guests are able to easily maneuver around your party and its surroundings, make certain there are ramps, lifts or unobstructed entryways available for guests in wheelchairs. Another thing to consider is parking. If some of your guests will be arriving in wheelchair accessible vans, they might need a little bit of extra room to deploy a lift or ramp.

You can host an accessible Memorial Day party if your home or apartment is less than wheelchair-friendly. Local parks often rent out pavilions or picnic areas for gatherings, and these areas often boast open spaces and paved paths, making them a great bet for guests in wheelchairs.

Perfect Your Spread
From grilling up veggies and even fresh fruits, to stocking up on refreshing drinks to beat the summer heat, making sure you’re serving up tasty treats is perhaps the most important part of throwing a great, memorable party. When planning your party’s spread, always take into consideration any possible allergies or food restrictions your guests might have. If you’re sending out invites, it might be a good idea to ask guests of any food requirements right on the invitation, so you’ll be armed with the right information when it comes time to shop and prep.

Don’t Forget the Entertainment
Every good party needs some entertainment. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and hire a full band though—making your own fun is easy! You could set out the board games for some old school fun or create a dance floor on your deck or living room with plenty of room. Start a game of trivia, charades or bingo, you could even break out the karaoke machine and make some hilarious and potentially embarrassing memories.

Memorial Day is a day for honoring and remembering all of the brave men and women who served (and continue to serve) in our country’s Armed Forces. As such, if you have a disabled veteran attending your party, think of ways that you can honor him/her in some special way.

Get Your Vehicle Summer Ready!

Each year, the warmer months bring a slew of adventurous opportunities including road trips, family outings and visits to special destinations like the beach and state parks. With these fun-filled plans in motion, the last thing you are going to want to be worrying about is car or handicap accessible vehicles maintenance. However, as the hottest season of the year, summer is also one of the most trying on your vehicle. Even if you are not exactly handy with a wrench, a quick trip to the mechanic can help you follow these trip-saving tips and make sure you reach your destination this summer.

Check tires.
Summer temperatures can significantly affect the pressure levels on your tires. Driving with an under or overinflated tire runs the risk of the tire bursting, really putting a damper on your vacation plans. To avoid getting stuck roadside, be sure to check your tire pressure regularly. Consult your car’s manual for the optimal range of pressure for your vehicle, and ensure that none of your tires falls below or over those numbers. While you are at it, also check the pressure of your spare tire, as that can make a big difference if you are in a bind.

Change oil.
Putting your car or handicapped vans through regular oil checks and changes can drastically improve your vehicle’s driving condition. From better gas mileage to an overall longer lifespan, your wheels will thank you for keeping them oiled up and ready to go. Experts recommend changing your vehicle’s oil every 3,000 miles. You can have a professional take care of it or even complete the process yourself.

Replace windshield wipers.
Although summer comes with the promise of pool days, it is also often known to spring sudden showers on unsuspecting drivers. The colder months can be quite harsh on windshield wipers with extreme temperatures, snow, ice and salt affecting the rubber blades and decreasing their efficiency. If you are finding that it takes a few swipes to clear your windshield, it is time to replace your blades.

Treat Rust.
Vehicles today are subject to rust and corrosion due to moisture, humidity, tons of road salt and other airborne pollutants that can cause rapid deterioration of your wheelchair van. If neglected, the damages can make your mobility investment of little value. The thousands of yearly miles, environments and exposure to the elements of larger vehicles means they are a lot more likely to suffer from the effects of corrosion. Correct rust proofing on a regular basis can ensure that your vehicle does not suffer from corrosion related vehicle downtime and keep your van from falling apart.

Stay cool.
One of the worst things you could hear during the hotter months is that the air conditioning has stopped working. Not only does this feature add comfort, it also prevents driver fatigue due to high temperatures. A cooling system that does not function properly has probably developed a leak out, allowing the refrigerant to escape. Prevent any further damage and have a professional take a look.

Have You Voted For Your Local Hero?

Click here to view the stories and submit your vote!

What is the Local Heroes Contest?
This is the 4th annual National Mobility Awareness Month. During this month NMEDA has an amazing promotion where they encourage people with disAbilities to embody the spirit of Life Moving Forward by raising awareness of the many life-changing mobility vehicle solutions available today.

NMEDA and their members are mobility advocates dedicated to changing the lives of those living with disAbilities by providing access to quality handicap accessible vehicles and adaptive equipment. Whether you are living with a disAbility or have dedicated your time to helping someone who is, they want to hear your story of perseverance and strength.

For your chance to win a FREE wheelchair accessible vehicle enter NMEDA’s contest by telling them what makes you (or your loved one) a Local Hero!

This year they will be giving away 4 handicap accessible vehicles:

  • one to a caregiver
  • one to a senior (60+)
  • one that is battery powered (for in-town driving only)
  • one in the general category.

Over 18 million people in North America are living with restrictive mobility issues. This is your chance to change the lives of just a few of those triumphing in the face of adversity.

The 5th Annual Boston Wounded Vet Run Is Today! Come Say Hi!

Bosotn Wpunded Vet Run 2015

What
Motorcycle Ride and Concert
Ceremony – Food – Music By TigerLily Band
Beer Tent – Vendors -Raffle Items – Stunt Show

Motorcycle NOT REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE -Everyone Welcome
Those who do not ride can join us at Suffolk Downs to welcome Veterans and Bikers!

Purpose
To support four of New England’s most severely wounded Veterans:
SSG Nick Lavery
SGT Brendan Ferreira
SSG Travis Mills
SSG Mike Downing
All donations directly benefit these wounded Veterans and charities of their choosing.

When
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Rain date: May 16, 2015
Registration begins at 9am.
Kickstands up 12pm

Where
Begins at:
Boston Harley-Davidson
650 Squire Road, Revere, Ma

Ends at:
Suffolk Downs Race Track
550 McClellan Hwy East Boston

Cost
$20 per rider
10$ passenger
$20 Walk-ins

Donate Here!!
Donations can be made out to ‘Boston’s Wounded Veterans’ and sent to:
60 Paris Street
East Boston, MA 02128

Call with any questions: (617) 697-5080

Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists

Getting on the road to independence can be a long and twisting journey, but there are individuals, businesses and organizations ready, willing and able to help make it a smooth ride. Working with a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) and a Mobility Dealer is one of the first and most important steps to take when purchasing mobility equipment or a new or used handicap accessible vehicle. Below are just some of the ways these specialists can make it easier for you to get behind the wheel.

Assessing Your Needs
Before taking to the road, you must complete a driving evaluation to determine your abilities as a driver. A CDRS-conducted evaluation will not only asses your driving skills as a driver with a disability, but will also match you with the most appropriate and best solutions for your mobility needs.

Safety First
By ensuring your mobility needs are met, a driving evaluation from a CDRS can help ensure you’ll be safer while on the road. These comprehensively trained specialists work with Mobility Dealers that are extremely knowledgeable about mobility solutions, provide individual, in-person evaluations and with their support and guidance, you can feel confident knowing that your time behind the wheel will be as secure as possible.

Adapted Driving Programs
A number of organizations also offer Adapted Driving Programs designed to help drivers with disabilities feel confident behind the wheel. Under the guidance of a CDRS, drivers can get hands-on training on how to stay safe and in control on the road. Some programs, such as senior safety courses, even help individuals find the best driving routes to common destinations and assist in learning rules and regulations affecting their driving environments.

Local Heroes Contest! Enter To Win a Free Accessible Vehicle!

This is the 4th annual National Mobility Awareness Month. During this month NMEDA has an amazing promotion where they encourage people with disAbilities to embody the spirit of Life Moving Forward by raising awareness of the many life-changing mobility vehicle solutions available today.

NMEDA and their members are mobility advocates dedicated to changing the lives of those living with disAbilities by providing access to quality handicap accessible vehicles and adaptive equipment. Whether you are living with a disAbility or have dedicated your time to helping someone who is, they want to hear your story of perseverance and strength.

For your chance to win a FREE wheelchair accessible vehicle enter NMEDA’s contest by telling them what makes you (or your loved one) a Local Hero! You can enter here

This year they will be giving away 4 handicap accessible vehicles:

  • one to a caregiver
  • one to a senior (60+)
  • one that is battery powered (for in-town driving only)
  • one in the general category.

Over 18 million people in North America are living with restrictive mobility issues. This is your chance to change the lives of just a few of those triumphing in the face of adversity.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle checklist For Passengers

Traveling position

  • Make sure you can sit comfortably and upright (without having to duck your head), and can easily see out of the windows.
  • Is there enough space above your head so you don’t hit the ceiling if the driver takes a bump too fast?
  • Will you be able to talk to the driver and any other passengers?
  • Will your carer be able to get to you if you need assistance of any kind while you’re underway?
  • Ideally, you should be positioned in front of the rear wheels or the ride can be very uncomfortable. This may not be possible in some smaller vehicles.
  • If you have uncontrolled movements, make sure you are not too close to un-padded parts of the car.

Getting in and out

  • Make sure that you, or whoever is helping you, can get you in and out and can safely and easily operate any equipment.
  • Make sure that you and your wheelchair will fit along the entry and exit route without getting stuck.
  • Some wheelchair accessible vehicle users place stickers on the ramp or somewhere else on the vehicle to help guide them into the right position when they are getting in.

Space

  • Think about who will be traveling with you.
  • Often, some of the rear passenger seats need to be removed to make enough space to get the wheelchair in – sometimes they’re replaced with folding or smaller seats.
  • Think about where you’ll stow, and how you’ll secure, any luggage or equipment you’ll be carrying. You can’t use the space behind the wheelchair travelling position – it has to be clear for you to get in and out.
  • Some wheelchair accessible vehicle users carry their extra luggage in roof boxes or trailers. Note that most wheelchair accessible vehicles cannot be used to pull a trailer because of the way the rear of the vehicle has been modified.

Used Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

The used market for wheelchair accessible vehicles has grown in the past few years. This growing popularity seems to suggest that this solution works. In some cases, it does; however, buying a used wheelchair accessible vehicle is not like buying a new car. If you are are interested in purchasing a used vehicle, remember these key points.

  • It must meet your mobility needs
    All wheelchair accessible vehicles are different. Ramp width, door clearance, and interior height will vary between vehicles which will affect whether or not the vehicle will work for your needs. Previously installed aftermarket additions, such as hand controls and securment devices, will have to be removed or replaced considering they were put in for the previous owner. Before you you start your search you should know your exact needs. Be aware that this may narrow your options significantly.
  • Getting your current vehicle fitted with a ramp or lift
    It’s possible to convert a minivan you already own and make it accessible, as long as it meets the requirements set by your mobility dealer. Before doing so, you will need to know which accessible ramp or lift style works best for you and your family.
  • Buying online
    eBay Motors and Craigslist are increasingly popular options for buying vehicles online. An increasing number of wheelchair accessible vehicles are listed on these two sites. While the prices may be tempting, this option can be risky if it’s not being sold by a trusted resource (such as a Mobility Center). Ramps are complex pieces of machinery. Without a specially trained mechanic looking it over, it can be very hard to know if a person is selling a good vehicle. We do not recommend this option because it can lead to numerous issues.
  • Used vehicles from a dealership
    While mobility dealers are specifically trained to help you meet all your mobility needs, most still operate like conventional dealers. Customers sometimes trade-in their old vehicles for credit towards a new vehicle, leaving the dealership with a used vehicle. While not every dealership has a used vehicle inventory, some have good options to work with.

It’s Time To Rust Proof Your Vehicle!

Spring has sprung
The snow is gone
& Rain has come
It’s time to rust proof your vehicle!

Owning any type of vehicle means that you have to commit to regular service and maintenance to keep it in good condition. Owning a wheelchair van and adaptive equipment is no different – you still need regular service to keep everything operating the way it should. However, it comes with some additional caveats – you can’t just go to any service center and ensure that you’re maintaining your wheelchair van or mobility equipment correctly.

Here at our Mobility Center, not only do we understand the importance of maintaining your mobility vehicle and adaptive equipment, but we take the needed steps to ensure that everything is always in top condition. No other mobility dealer (that we know of) offers the level of maintenance offered by us.

Rust Maintenance
Vehicles today are subject to rust and corrosion due to moisture, humidity, tons of road salt and other airborne pollutants that can cause rapid deterioration of your wheelchair van. If neglected, the damages can make your mobility investment of little value.  The thousands of yearly miles, environments and exposure to the elements of larger vehicles means they are a lot more likely to suffer from the effects of corrosion. Correct rust proofing on a regular basis can ensure that your vehicle does not suffer from corrosion related vehicle downtime and keep your van from falling apart.

** We highly recommend that everyone gets their wheelchair vans rust proofed at least twice a year. Once in Spring and again in the Fall. **

If you consider that new vehicles undergo thousands of spot welds and numerous bends and folds during assembly; this process damages the automobile coating systems, exposing these panels to corrosion. Besides body-panel damage, certain mechanical parts are also at risk – suspension mounts, hood-locking mechanisms, door hinges, brake cables – which are all susceptible to the damaging effects of rust on your wheelchair van.

To protect your vehicle against corrosion our rust proofing formula does more than just cover the metal required. A rust proofing product must be applied as a high-pressured spray, ensuring protection to your vehicle’s most critical areas by penetrating, displacing existing moisture and protecting the many vulnerable crevices of your automobile.

Benefits of rust treatment
Prevention is better than a cure. There are a number of products that can offer prevention against rust. Products are available either as oils, waxes, fluids and coatings.  The range is vast. Our rust prevention processes, products, plan and application have been found to be very effective and developed over more than 25 years and still remain affordable.

We are the only mobility dealer in New England to offer this service.
Our rust proofing processes is ever evolving and has been for more than 25 years.

The Benefits of a Wheelchair Van for Service Dogs

Many of the innovative designs that make up a wheelchair van are also convenient for your four-legged friends. From spacious cabins to simple ramps systems, a wheelchair van just might empower a service dog nearly as much as it enables a person with a wheelchair, a caregiver or a disabled veteran. Wheelchair vans allow service dogs and their owners to:

  • Find comfortable and flexible seating in the roomy cabins
  • Remove the unnecessary and dangerous stress and strain from traditional loading and unloading options
  • Speed up the process of entering and exiting the vehicle
  • Create safer alternatives in parking spot entrance, exit and maneuverability
  • Transport the entire family in one trip
  • Prevent the wear and tear a dog may unintentionally inflict upon smaller vehicles
  • Integrate durable floors for wheelchairs that are scuff-resistant for dogs, too
  • Enter and exit from the same side door at nearly the same time

Travis Mills Foundation Retreat

The TMF retreat, located in Maine, will provide fully accessible facilities dedicated to serving the recreational and reintegration needs of combat-wounded veterans and their families. The retreat will fill a vital role in the recovery, camaraderie, spousal support, reconnection, and relaxation needs of our disabled veteran families.   Upon completion of extensive renovations, veteran families from all over the United States will be invited to enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, site-seeing, campfires, adaptive sports, and spa treatments like massage, facials, and yoga.

For more information and updates on their progress to fully renovate and rehabilitate the property please visit The Travis Mills Foundation Retreat website. If you would like to show your support by donating to the Travis Mills Foundation you can do so here.

The 2015 Local Heroes Contest Begins Next Week

NEMEDA Local Hero Contest – Enter or Vote Today!

May Is National Mobility Awareness Month

Join the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) in celebrating the 4th annual National Mobility Awareness Month. During this amazing promotion, they encourage people with disAbilities to embody the spirit of Life Moving Forward by raising awareness of the many life-changing mobility vehicle solutions available today.

NMEDA and their members are mobility advocates dedicated to changing the lives of those living with disAbilities by providing access to quality handicap accessible vehicles and adaptive equipment. Whether you are living with a disAbility or have dedicated your time to helping someone who is, they want to hear your story of perseverance and strength. Once the promotion begins, tell them what makes you, or your loved one, a Local Hero for a chance to win a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle.

This year they will be giving away 4 handicap accessible vehicles:

  • one to a caregiver
  • one to a senior (60+)
  • one that is battery powered (for in-town driving only)
  • one in the general category.

Find out more about NMEDA and the work they do within the disAbled community and stay tuned for this year’s events!

You can summit your stories on April 15, 2015.
Voting for your favorite Local Hero story will begin on May 1 and end on May 31.

Over 18 million people in North America are living with restrictive mobility issues. This is your chance to change the lives of just a few of those triumphing in the face of adversity.

BraunAbility MXV™: Wheelchair Accessible SUV

BraunAbility MXV™

The BraunAbility MXV™ features a never-before-seen door operation, an innovative in-floor ramp and removable seating. This innovative wheelchair accessible SUV represents a brand new era in mobility and we want you to be a part of it. Availability of this vehicle begins Summer 2015.

 

BraunAbility MXV™ Features

  • Fold flat 3rd row seats for extra cargo space
  • Integrated Ford keyfob
  • Nerf bar
  • Sliding shifter for increased space
  • In-floor and lighted ramp
  • Innovative seat design allowing more interior space
  • Removable driver and passenger seats

Sporty Looks and Feel

  • EPA Estimated 17city / 24 hwy / 20 combined
  • 6-Speed Automatic
  • Wheelbase 112.6″
  • Maximum Towing Capacity (estimated) – 5000 lbs.
  • Power Glide Door Integrated w/Factory Key Fob
  • 28″ In-Floor Ramp Width
  • 54 1/4″ Door Entry Height
  • LED Ramp Lighting System
  • Cantilever Seat Bases For Easy Removal

Interior View
The interior of the MXV allows for both front seats to be removed, and the middle seating is removed for wheelchair access. The 3rd row seats remain and allow for 4 passengers in the vehicle.

Spring Rust Treatment

Owning any type of vehicle means that you have to commit to regular service and maintenance to keep it in good condition. Owning a wheelchair van and adaptive equipment is no different – you still need regular service to keep everything operating the way it should. However, it comes with some additional caveats – you can’t just go to any service center and ensure that you’re maintaining your wheelchair van or mobility equipment correctly.

Here at our Mobility Center, not only do we understand the importance of maintaining your mobility vehicle and adaptive equipment, but we take the needed steps to ensure that everything is always in top condition. No other mobility dealer offers the level of maintenance offered by us.

Rust Maintenance
Vehicles today are subject to rust and corrosion due to moisture, humidity, tons of road salt and other airborne pollutants that can cause rapid deterioration of your wheelchair van. If neglected, the damages can make your mobility investment of little value.  The thousands of yearly miles, environments and exposure to the elements of larger vehicles means they are a lot more likely to suffer from the effects of corrosion. Correct rust proofing on a regular basis can ensure that your vehicle does not suffer from corrosion related vehicle downtime and keep your van from falling apart.

** We highly recommend that everyone gets their wheelchair accessible vehicles rust proofed at least twice a year. Once in Spring and again in the Fall. **

If you consider that new vehicles undergo thousands of spot welds and numerous bends and folds during assembly; this process damages the automobile coating systems, exposing these panels to corrosion. Besides body-panel damage, certain mechanical parts are also at risk – suspension mounts, hood-locking mechanisms, door hinges, brake cables – which are all susceptible to the damaging effects of rust on your wheelchair van.

To protect your vehicle against corrosion our rust proofing formula does more than just cover the metal required. A rust proofing product must be applied as a high-pressured spray, ensuring protection to your vehicle’s most critical areas by penetrating, displacing existing moisture and protecting the many vulnerable crevices of your automobile.

Benefits of rust treatment
Prevention is better than a cure. There are a number of products that can offer prevention against rust. Products are available either as oils, waxes, fluids and coatings.  The range is vast. Our rust prevention processes, products, plan and application have been found to be very effective and developed over more than 25 years and still remain affordable.

We are the only mobility dealer in New England to offer this service.

Our rust proofing processes is ever evolving and has been for more than 25 years.

Adaptive Golf

Whether you want to learn the game or hone your skills, there is a golf program for everyone! Many solutions exist for whatever stops you from enjoying the game of golf, from carts to clubs to accessories and specialty devices.

  • Adaptive golf carts now have swivel and extending seats and armrests to play while seated as well as elevating lifts that allow paraplegics and others with limited leg strength to play from a standing position.
  • Adaptive golf clubs can have special grips for those with missing fingers, deformed hands, osteoarthritis or loss of strength. Some are specialized for seated or standing golfers. Some club shafts are bent for seated individuals.
  • Gloves and grip aids include prosthetic golf grip devices, elastic gripping devices and more.
  • Accessories include tee setters and ball retrieval systems to reduce bending. One device even stabilizes your balance.

Search for a golf program for those with disabilities in your area to get tailored instruction from golf instructors certified to teach. For more information, check out national associations like the National Alliance for Accessible Golf, the Disabled Sports USA, and/or the United States Golf Assoc.

The Adaptive Golf Foundation of America has scrambles, classics, opens, championships and tournaments across the country throughout the year.

The Importance of Regular Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Maintenance

Whether it’s an oil change or tire rotation, regularly servicing your wheelchair accessible vehicle can help save you time and money, as well as keep you safe on the road. Just as our bodies begin to show the signs of aging, cars, SUVs and vans also can experience diminished performance as time passes. Due to this natural process, it’s vital to get your vehicle checked out by professionals in order to ensure your vehicle’s longevity.

Save Money
While most things wear over time, regular maintenance can significantly decrease the chances of a major problem later on. Preventative and scheduled services are normally small and inexpensive jobs, and can also preserve resale value, saving you even more money.

Save Time
A major breakdown not only costs thousands of dollars, it can also put your vehicle out of working condition for weeks. The worse the damage is, the longer it will likely take a mechanic to get your van or car ready for the road again. Even if the downtime for your car isn’t more than a few hours, a breakdown on the road can be particularly difficult for people with limited mobility operating or riding in the vehicle.

Protect Yourself
Not only does maintenance and regular service save you time and money, it’s an important way to ensure you are safe inside your vehicle.

A wheelchair accessible or other adaptive vehicle can mean the difference between social freedom and considerable limitations. Take care of the investment in your freedom by following regular maintenance schedules and ensuring your ride is in the best shape possible!

Tips to Help Overcome the Fear of Driving

Practice practice practice:

  • To boost your confidence, drive to the end of the block and back or around an empty parking lot, then gradually go for longer drives.
  • Ask someone to accompany you if that helps you relax.

Patience:

  • Don’t start driving if you’re not calm and collected. Sit in the car and take deep breaths until you attain peace of mind and only then start the car and drive away.
  • Yoga classes may help you become a more focused, calm and less distracted driver.
  • If you get lost or experience panic, pull over until you calm down. Take as much time as you need. If you have a cell phone, call for directions.

Never get lost!

  • A Global Positioning System (GPS) may lessen the fear of getting lost.
  • No GPS? Print out the map directions from the Internet for those places you go frequently and keep them in the glove box.

Therapy:

Simple solutions to physical problems may help the mental and emotional pangs. For example, a spinner knob on the steering wheel allows accurate one-handed steering; hand controls replace feet for acceleration or braking—whatever the problem, there are solutions.

Occupational Therapists and Driver Rehabilitation Specialists can help. You can get a behind-the-wheel evaluation and recommendations for adaptive driving aids to help overcome many physical drawbacks. Whether the problem is muscle weakness, spasms or something else, therapists can address them.

Options For Driving From A Wheelchair

There are two options for a person who uses a wheelchair to drive an accessible vehicle. They can drive from their wheelchair and or transfer to the driver’s seat.

Drive from your wheelchair
Driving controls can be adapted to operate from your wheelchair. Usually this means some form of hand controls, though other solutions are possible. There will also be an automatic docking system to secure your wheelchair. All of this will be designed around you and your wheelchair as part of your assessment from an experienced mobility installer.

Safety

  • Because you have the opportunity to travel by yourself, you need to be sure you are able to get out in an emergency.
  • Typically wheelchair accessible vehicle have fail-safe devices for the doors, ramps/lifts and docking systems. These include battery backups and manual over-rides.

Other drivers

  • In many wheelchair accessible vehicles, the front passenger seat can be switched to the drivers side, and there is a docking system on both sides so you can travel as a passenger.

Assessment and training

  • If you’re going to be using adapted controls, you will need a professional driving assessment and training.

Transfer to the Driver’s Seat
Some wheelchair users prefer to transfer to a driving seat because they find it more comfortable or easier to drive. Sometimes it’s necessary because your wheelchair may not be suitable for driving. Using the standard car seat also means that you don’t need to fit a specialist seat belt.

By contrast, transferring into the driver seat may not be suitable if you have a specialist seating system in your wheelchair and may be difficult if you have limited mobility.

Wheelchair accessible vehicles can be adapted to allow you to enter with your wheelchair or scooter (by ramp or lift), secure the wheelchair or scooter in the vehicle, and then transfer to the driving seat. You can replace the standard car seat with one that swivels and slides so that you can transfer into it more easily.

Safety

  • You will need a docking system for securing the wheelchair – you need to be able to do this by yourself.
  • Because you may be traveling by yourself, you need to be sure you will be able to get out in an emergency.

Transferring

  • Transferring between the wheelchair and the seat does take some effort – make sure you can do it even on a bad day.
  • Make sure there is enough room in the vehicle to let you transfer comfortably and that there are handholds and supports where you need them. You may need to fit extra hand rails or other supports.

Assessment and training

  • If you’re going to be using adapted controls, you will need a professional driving assessment and training.

How To Choose A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

When you’re choosing a wheelchair accessible vehicle, you need to think not only about all the same things you do when you’re choosing a standard car, but also other, more specific, things too. Just as when you’re choosing any other car, you may need to compromise and decide which features are most important to you.

Things To Consider

Size

  • Will it fit on your driveway or in your garage? Don’t forget you need to think about the space required for the ramp/lift to be deployed
  • Will it be easy to drive in traffic and on the roads you normally drive on?

Money

  • What’s the price?
  • If you’re buying it yourself, what’s the resale value likely to be?
  • What will it cost you to insure?
  • What’s the fuel consumption like?

Comfort and convenience

  • Can you get in and out easily?
  • Can you use the controls?
  • Is it quiet and smooth when you’re driving?
  • Is there good visibility for everyone in the vehicle?

Space

  • Is there room for all the people and luggage you want to carry?
  • What about times when you might want to carry a lot of luggage or equipment (ex. holidays)?

Features

  • Does it have everything you need?
  • What about air conditioning, automatic transmission, electric windows, remote start, heated seats, etc?

Performance

  • Does it give you reasonable speed and acceleration?
  • What about braking, ride and handling?

Specific considerations

Getting in and out

  • Will you choose a ramp or a lift?
  • Will you have someone to assist you?
  • Can you get in and out without hitting your head or having to duck?

Traveling position

  • Where will your wheelchair sit?
  • Will you be able to see out of the windows?
  • Will you be able to talk to other people easily?

Safety

  • How will you secure yourself and your wheelchair?
  • How will you secure any equipment you use to get in and out?
  • How will you secure anything else (unattended wheelchair, luggage, equipment, etc)?

Reliability

  • Can you rely on the equipment you use to get in and out?
  • What happens if it breaks down?
  • Are there manual over-rides for any powered equipment?
  • Do you have a suitable dealer nearby for servicing?

Build quality

  • Different conversions have been built to different standards, so some will be more comfortable and less noisy inside than others.

Universal design

Universal design

Universal Design makes things safer, easier and more convenient for everyone.
Universal Design involves designing products and spaces so that they can be used by the widest range of people possible. Universal Design evolved from Accessible Design, a design process that addresses the needs of people with disabilities. Universal Design goes further by recognizing that there is a wide spectrum of human abilities. Everyone, even the most able-bodied person, passes through childhood, periods of temporary illness, injury and old age. By designing for this human diversity, we can create things that will be easier for all people to use.

Who Does Universal Design Benefit?
Everyone.
Universal Design takes into account the full range of human diversity, including physical, perceptual and cognitive abilities, as well as different body sizes and shapes. By designing for this diversity, we can create things that are more functional and more user-friendly for everyone. For instance, curb cuts at sidewalks were initially designed for people who use wheelchairs, but they are now also used by pedestrians with strollers or rolling luggage. Curb cuts have added functionality to sidewalks that we can all benefit from.

What can be Universally Designed?
Everything.

  • Universal Design can apply to anything that can be designed, including products like door handles, kitchen utensils and smartphones.
  • Universal Design can be applied to architecture and the built environment, including public and commercial buildings, as well as residential buildings and family homes.
  • Universal Design can also be applied to the community at large through urban planning and public transportation.

Universal Design vs. the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a piece of legislation that protects the civil rights of people with disabilities by ensuring that they are not unfairly denied access to job opportunities, goods or services due to their disability. The ADA includes the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, which outlines accessibility requirements for buildings and facilities. There is a great deal of overlap between what is required under the ADA and what would be suggested by Universal Design, but there are also differences. The ADA outlines the bare minimum necessary in order to curb discrimination against people with disabilities, while Universal Design strives to meet the best practices for design, which are always evolving and improving as we continue to learn more about how to best meet people’s different needs. The ADA focuses solely on the civil rights of people with disabilities, while Universal Design is designed with everyone in mind. The ADA does not apply to single family residences, while Universal Design can and should.

Below are some examples of universal designs:

Low Force Flooring Materials
There is actually a reason that short, stiff carpets and hard surface floors are found in most public buildings. If you use a wheelchair, you know how difficult it can be to push through even slightly plush carpet. Wheelchairs, handcarts, strollers – they are all easier to operate on hard surfaces.

Seamless Room Transitions
Room thresholds are most common in transitions between areas of carpeting and hard surfaces, and those lips can be not only difficult, but painful to maneuver over. Sticking to a consistent flooring style and removing those thresholds can make a huge impact on ease of maneuvering an interior.

Access for Pools
An hour of freely moving around in the water gives people with severe arthritis, muscle atrophy, and more a way to recover and live a significantly more pain-free life. This is why an increasing number of public pools have accessible chairs on metal arms by the side of the pool.

Lever Handles Instead of Knobs
Knobs, while being visually more appealing, require quite a bit more arm and wrist torque to move the bolt. Lever handles require both less force and overall motion.

Close Captioning/Large Print
Tablets, eReaders, smartphones, and more have shortcuts to increase font size easily – another great example of subtle universal design. This is the same principle behind why Netflix, YouTube and others alike now have captioning built in. Disability or not, these features can make life easier.

 

Wheelchair Accessibility

Wheelchair accessibility helps people who can no longer get around without support. You can optimize your home and your daily life to make things easier for your loved one if they are not as mobile as they use to be.

Wheelchair Ramps
Ramps make it much easier for people in wheelchairs to exit and enter their homes. The material for the ramps should be standard wood, but you can use protective coatings on the ramp to make sure that the weather doesn’t weaken it. You must check to see if the person using the wheelchair can easily push themselves up the ramp and down the ramp without the wheels getting snagged on anything.

Don’t space the wooden planks too far apart. The gaps in the wood can cause a bumpy ride at the least and a health hazard if you’re not careful. You can even buy portable ramps that you can take with you on road trips. The person in the wheelchair may also need help getting into vehicles and other establishments. Portable ramps can certainly come in handy at the most inconvenient times.

Wider Doors Inside
You must ensure that doors have easy paths of travel. Don’t place boxes or other items close to doors when a person using a wheelchair will have to navigate through the opening. The doors in the home may need to be wider if they are less than 32 inches wide. The wheelchair user must have plenty of space to get through.

Wider doors can also make a people feel more comfortable inside the home. The bare minimum amount of space can make them feel cramped and closed in. They should at least be given some freedom of movement even though they are using a wheelchair.

Wider Hallways
Wider hallways are also essential to the comfort and well-being of someone who gets around in a wheelchair. The wheelchair must be able to move freely through the halls with plenty of space to spare. Make sure there is at least 36 inches of space between the walls in the hallways.

You might also need wider hallways if the wheelchair will need to turn corners to get to different rooms. It can be difficult for a wheelchair to navigate through tight corridors without rounded corners. Leaving plenty of space will ensure a happier and healthier experience.

Bathroom Changes
It’s time to get rid of that bathtub in your bathroom. Showers are much more accessible for wheelchairs than bathtubs. You can also install hand-held shower heads and seats so that people using wheelchairs can have a better chance at bathing themselves. The person will be much more comfortable in the shower since they can just open the door and wheel their way in.

Is Your Business Accessible and Safe?

More awareness has been focused on making buildings accessible and safe for those with disAbilities. With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, businesses must provide everyone equal access around their property. However, despite these regulations there are still businesses that have failed to meet federal guidelines. For those failing to comply, fines and penalties can be severe and can potentially lead to the closure of the business if changes are not made in a timely manner. According to the ADA, businesses are required to make reasonable accommodations allowing everyone to enjoy the goods and services provided by the business. In order to comply, several areas must be addressed.

Entryways
Wheelchair users find many businesses almost impossible to enter. If the only access to a building is steps or stairs, the ADA requires that a wheelchair-accessible ramp be provided to allow easy access to the building.

Auxiliary Communication Assistance
For those individuals who are blind or need other assistance with communication, the ADA also requires businesses to make the appropriate accommodations for them as well. Signage outside offices, bathrooms and other areas is required to have words in Braille, and employees who have communication disabilities are also required to have access to closed-captioning and sign-language interpretation if needed.

Bathrooms
For years bathrooms in almost all businesses were obstacles that many found to be nearly insurmountable challenges. However, with the passage of the ADA, using a bathroom has become much easier for both customers and employees with a disability. According to ADA regulations, all bathrooms should have at least one stall that is designed for people with a disability. The door to the stall is required to be wide enough for a mobility device to easily go through, and the stall large enough to have room for the individual and another person if necessary to assist. Hand rails are also required for safety and comfort, and the sinks are to be low enough for a person using a wheelchair to easily reach and use.

Parking
All states require businesses to provide parking spaces that are designated exclusively for drivers with a disability. The parking spaces should be clearly marked and located as close to the business as possible, and are usually near a wheelchair-accessible ramp. The penalties for parking in a handicapped parking space can be severe, often resulting in a fine of $500 and the vehicle being towed away at the owner’s expense.

Aisles
While the least-regulated aspect of most businesses, aisles still fall under ADA rules and must be in compliance with federal regulations. Under ADA rules, aisles in retail businesses or others as well must be free of any barriers that would prohibit a person in a wheelchair from gaining access to that area. However, it’s recommended by most experts that in addition to being barrier-free, all aisles be clear of clutter and be made wide enough for shoppers using a mobility device to easily navigate. While not required by law, doing so is seen as an act of courtesy and respect for employees and customers.

Fines and Penalties
To ensure your business is in compliance with ADA laws, it’s a good idea to have a safety audit. Hiring an expert to conduct a safety and accessibility audit is the best way to ensure your business is in full compliance and is in no way violating ADA regulations. Under Title III of the ADA, the maximum penalty for a first violation of ADA rules is set at $75,000. For a second violation, the fine goes up to $150,000. If the Department of Justice finds evidence of repeated violations, the fines can accrue significantly and can greatly affect businesses that are operating with profit margins that have little or no room for error. The federal government is currently very aggressive with its ADA enforcement, with healthcare businesses currently being targeted for investigation due to the DOJ’s Barrier-Free Health Care Initiative.

While much has been done to make the world an easier place for people of all abilities to live and work, it is clear there is still much work left to be done. However, with continued ADA enforcement equal access is getting easier by the day.

Accessible RV

You’ve probably read a lot about handicap minivans and full-size vans, but how about an accessible RV? If you travel often and find accessible hotels not so wheelchair friendly or you have a distaste of flying, an accessible motor-home could be a solution. Finances permitting, you could buy a new or used RV and have the conversion equipment you need installed.

A mobility equipment dealer can modify your new or used RV with whatever you require. The most common type of customization involves installing a wheelchair lift and widening the vehicle’s entrance and interior aisles to accommodate the wheelchair’s width.

Other common adaptations might include lowering the bed and toilet, installing hand control systems, wheelchair tie downs and handrails in strategic positions or modifying the shower and/or tub.

RVs carry their own water and waste management system. All you need is an electrical hookup at an RV campsite, state or national park or, if necessary, a generator.

Google “accessible RV parks” or “accessible RV campgrounds” for locations along your route. Access varies with each camping location, so check out the website or call beforehand. Be sure it has hard-surface cement or asphalt sites, not gravel or sand.

Think about it, you wouldn’t have to stay in a hotel or motel again, as RVs are totally self-contained living quarters on wheels. They have open floor plans with kitchens; barrier-free, roll-in showers with grab bars; extra-wide interior doors; and whatever bells and whistles you desire.

If you don’t travel often enough to justify purchasing an RV, search for a place that rents accessible RVs. Start looking well in advance of your trip.

How To Spring Your Vehicle Out of Winter

With record snowfalls and cold temperatures this winter has been a tough one, so it’s nice to know that Spring is just around the corner. That thick layer of dried road salt is a good reminder of just how hard winter has been on your vehicle, making the transition to spring an important time to give your car some much-needed TLC.

Battery: If you’ve started your car during extreme cold, you’ve heard the hesitation. Winter weather can be tough on all the starting components in your car like the alternator and starter. In turn, this increases the strain on the battery. Spring is a good time to get your battery tested and, if needed, replaced. If you’ve noticed that your interior lights are a bit dimmer or that your power windows move more slowly when the engine is off, this can be a sign that the end of your battery is near.

Brakes: Winter weather and road salt can be rough on your brakes. This is an important time to get these crucial safety items checked, including lines, hoses, parking brake and brake fluid.

Alignment: With potholes and heaves in the payment, there’s a good chance that winter may have knocked your car out of alignment. Getting your wheels realigned can save wear and tear on your tires and improve your gas mileage. Also a car that is out of alignment can be more difficult to steer and stop which can jeopardize your safety.

Tires: When the temperature changes, you may notice that your tires are a bit soft. Keep them at the right pressure for optimal gas mileage. Give a visual inspection to ensure that you have plenty of tread left, as well. Spring showers will mean wet and flooded roads, so be sure your tires can grip. If you are not certain what the tire pressure should be, check the information on the inside of your door.

Belts and hoses: Extreme temperatures can shorten the life of these vital engine components, leading to cracks and peeling on the belts and hoses. A quick inspection can help ensure that you won’t be surprised by a broken belt or hose.

Filters and Fluids: As part of your regular maintenance, be sure to have your filters and fluids checked, including engine oil, transmission fluid, brake fluid and antifreeze.

Wipers: Check your wipers for wear and cracks, and replace them if needed. Be sure that the wiper fluid reservoir is refilled.

Exterior: After months of sand and salt, it’s likely your car is well overdue for a washing. Winter’s road grime can be especially harsh on the exterior of your car, making a car wash a great idea. Besides, it will look great, too!

Under Your Vehicle: During winter vehicles are subject to rust and corrosion due to tons of road salt and other airborne pollutants that can cause rapid deterioration of your vehicle. Rust is an example of corrosion. Rust is a serious problem and spreads like a rash. It can shorten the lifespan and value of any vehicle. Correct rust proofing on a regular basis can ensure that your vehicle does not suffer from corrosion related vehicle downtime and keep your van from falling apart. The best time to prevent rust damage to your vehicle is in Autumn: before the first snowflake falls and Spring: after the first heavy rain fall; a little vehicle maintenance will help keep the rust away.

Ready To Sell You Wheelchair Van? Make sure Its Ready To Be Bought!

If you’re trying to sell your wheelchair accessible vehicle by yourself, you should know the average mobility vehicle could take a few months to sell. The number of people with limited mobility in one local area who are in the market to purchase can be very small. Add to that the specialized equipment on your van that a potential buyer may not want, and the weeks roll by (and you’re still making payments on the old van).

The fastest deal is at a local mobility dealership. We buy and sell new and used vans throughout New England, take trade-ins, buy vehicle outright and/or can put them on consignment—whether it’s a non-converted vehicle or a converted van.

In order to get the best offer (or trade-in value), you should make sure its in “buying condition”.

Look at the vehicle with fresh eyes—like a buyer would. Ask yourself, “Would I buy this vehicle?”

  • If something needs repairing, fix it. A small investment can add hundreds to the value.
  • Wash it, wax it or take it to a detailer for a shine, inside and out. Maybe you only need to wash it and perhaps buy new floor mats.
  • Write down vehicle information such as year, make, model, interior and exterior colors and mileage; VIN number; side or rear entry, configuration of the interior of the van; standard features; removable features and any other adaptive extras.
  • Double check safety features: Are the tie-downs still sturdy and clean? Does the lift or ramp still operate smoothly?
  • Consider replacing the tires if they are bald.
  • Take out all personal items you may want to keep.
  • Find the registration, warranty, owner’s manual, equipment manuals and repair receipts.
  • All controls should be clearly labeled—and work!

Now you’re ready to sell or trade-in for a newer model.

Wheelchair Securement Systems

Securing a person and their wheelchair inside a wheelchair accessible vehicle isn’t much fun, especially if you do it several times a day, but it can be a lifesaver in the event of an accident or sudden stop. “Wheelchair tie-downs,” “wheelchair docking systems” and “wheelchair tie-down straps” are systems used to secure a wheelchair when in motion.

Although most securement systems have a universal design to accommodate almost all wheelchairs, it is important to understand the different kinds.

The three main types of wheelchair tie-downs are non-retractable tie-downs, retractable tie-downs and electric/automatic docking systems.

  • The non-retractable strap is a 4-point system. It is the most basic and the least expensive. You must get the wheelchair into the right position to tighten and release the straps. Since the straps do not retract into a housing, they can get in the way.
  • The simple-to-use retractable tie-down offers a tie-down on four points of the wheelchair and four straps. “Retractable” means that the strap retracts into a housing where it can be tightened and/or released.
  • Automatic docking systems are more popular and allow the wheelchair to be secured just by pushing it into a pre-determined position. The wheelchair slides into position and locks automatically. For wheelchair users who are driving, these systems are required for them to be able to secure their wheelchair without assistance.

A variety of add-ons and options are available, including:

  • Audible and visual indicators which advise when the passenger is secure
  • Automatic, self-locking allows one-handed hook-up of wheelchairs
  • Self-tensioning – retractors automatically take up the slack

Some companies that make securement systems include EZ Lock, Q’Straint and Sure-Lok. For more companies call or visit your local mobility equipment dealer.

In-Floor Vs Fold-Out Ramps In Mobility Vehicles

If wheelchair ramps are the right option for your transportation needs, the following will shed some light on the types of ramps available for conversions and the unique benefits they each provide.

In-Floor Ramps
As their name suggests, in-floor ramps are stowed under the floor of wheelchair accessible minivans, creating additional interior room for improved maneuverability. These ramps allow for an obstruction-free doorway and clean, uncluttered interior. In-floor models also provide added safety, as there are no components on the floor of the van that one might struggle with.

Fold-Out Ramps
For strength and durability, fold-out ramps are great options for passengers in wheelchairs. When not in use, these ramps sit on the floor of wheelchair accessible vans and extend outward in a folding motion when deployed. Many models offer side rails for easy navigation and perforations of the ramp floors to allow for easy cleaning and debris removal. In addition, fold-out ramps are more budget-conscious than in-floor options.

Each of these options offers unique perks and both are fantastic options for anyone looking to increase their mobility and independence through the use of a handicap accessible van. If you need assistance deciding which of these models is right for you, don’t hesitate to call for more information. We are staffed by industry professionals and certified technicians, so they’re certain to be able to point you in the direction of the perfect ramp option for your transportation needs.

Driving In A Wheelchair

With the right equipment driving can be a reality for many wheelchair users. Drivers have the option to transfer into the driver’s seat or drive from their wheelchair, whichever is most comfortable and convenient. Your mobility dealer can guide you through the range of options for your best driving experience.

  • The driver’s seat can easily be removed so you can drive from your wheelchair or transfer into the original seat.
  • Your mobility dealer can introduce you to the type of vehicle and the adaptive equipment that will make you comfortable behind the wheel.
  • You can drive from your wheelchair in any side-entry converted vehicle.
  • Rear-entry vehicles do not allow driving from a wheelchair.

What To Consider When Shopping For A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

If you have a disAbility and don’t yet have an accessible vehicle, it’s difficult to know where to start. You’ve worked with your doctor and therapist, maybe even a certified driver rehabilitation specialist (CDRS), but they don’t know your budget, your preferred car or van, or where the nearest mobility dealer is.

Your medical team will help, of course, but you have homework to do:

Set a budget
How much can you afford to pay for a new or used wheelchair van? Figure in the down payment, monthly payment, insurance, gas and an estimate for yearly maintenance. Look for rebates, grants, loans, etc. to help reduce the price tag.

Research, research, research
Your doctor or therapist may recommend necessary adaptive equipment, but there may be other equipment you’d like. Check out the many options available now.

Testing, testing
If you can, test drive different vehicles at the mobility dealership to get the feel of spaciousness, ease or difficulty of loading, driving and parking, etc.

As you narrow the choices down, you might want to rent your top choice for a weekend or week-long trip. Time on the road will determine if the make and model are right for you.

Ask yourself these questions

  • Does it fit lengthwise and width-wide in my driveway or garage?
  • Is there space enough for the ramp or lift to deploy?
  • Can I easily reach and work all the controls?
  • If you plan to use a transfer seat- Is the seat comfortable? (Like your favorite chair at home—can you sit in it for hours and still be comfortable?)

There are many factors to consider that you may not have thought about until you test drive several candidates.

Find a mobility dealer
You will need to find an expert on wheelchair accessible vehicles and adaptive equipment. There are some things to consider when searching for the perfect mobility dealer to assist you.

  • Where are they located?
  • How experienced are they?
  • Do they offer a full-service shop?
  • How many vehicle options do they have available?