Tag Archives: accessible

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Respect Accessible Spaces

Going out in public is often riddled with obstacles for people with disAbilities. While this is largely due to inaccessible structures like stairs and narrow doors, so many unnecessary barriers are created by able-bodied people who place themselves where they shouldn’t be. That’s not to say that someone with a disAbility has special privileges. Rather, reserved access locations are intended to give people with disAbilities equal opportunities to experience the world around them. Here are some accessible places where able-bodied people should not be:

Handicap Parking Spaces
By far, the most frustrating obstacle put in place by able-bodied people is parking illegally in handicap accessible parking spaces. Though often thought that handicap parking is one of the “perks” of having a disAbility, the reality is that it’s a necessity, not a convenience. Most people with a disAbility get around in a wheelchair accessible vehicle that’s adapted with either a foldout/in-floor ramp or a lift so they can easily get in and out of their vehicle. If they don’t have access to a parking spot with enough space, there is literally no (safe) way for them to get out of their vehicles, which directly prevents them from getting where they need to go.

There are countless times when entering many parking lots that you’ll find that the only accessible spots are occupied by someone who doesn’t have a proper license plate or a permit. It is also common that vehicles park illegally in the white/blue lines next to the accessible spots making it impossible for the owner to access their vehicle which leaves them stranded.

Parking illegally in a handicap spot denies an important means of access to all people who legitimately need the accessible spaces. Able-bodied people have an entire parking lot full of spaces to choose from; disabled people usually only have a few accessible spaces. The accessible spaces are not there for the convenience of people who are lazy, or for people who claim they just needed to run into the store for a second. Illegal use of any part of a accessible parking space is inexcusable in any situation.

Accessible restroom stalls
While using the restroom at multiple locations you will find that most stalls are empty except the accessible one. Able-bodied people see the big, roomy bathroom open and are drawn to it; it’s understandable not wanting to be cramped into a small stall. However, using accessible bathroom facilities, especially when others are available, does demonstrate that people with disabilities aren’t in society’s conscience as being just as likely to be out in public as non-disabled people.

If every other stall is taken, it’s obviously okay to use it. But since people with disAbilities cannot physically get into regular sized restroom stalls, it’s not asking too much for able-bodied people to leave the one accessible bathroom option open when there are five other empty ones that are readily available.

Accessible shower stalls
Much like accessible bathroom stalls, there’s usually only one accessible shower facility in places like shared college dormitory restrooms and gym locker rooms. The accessible stalls are roomier and they often have a fold-down seat attached to the wall. Although this may be tempting for non-disabled people who want a shower with room to dance around or have a place to rest tired feet the accessible facilities are not intended for the convenience of able-bodied people.

Apparently, this is a hard concept for people. Frequently you’ll discover that every shower stall is empty except for the accessible one.  Unfortunately it seems that able-bodied people see accessible showers as a luxury, rather than realizing that they are a necessity for disAbled people.

Accessible dressing rooms
Most stores have a large dressing room that qualifies as “accessible.” Unfortunately, they are rarely, if ever, properly labeled or guarded by store employees. Hence, some of the worst offenders of able-bodied people who block public access are the ones who use accessible dressing rooms.

Some people who actually need the accessible stall have to wait for 15-20 minutes (give/take) while able-bodied people take their time in the only accessible dressing room, even though several other regular dressing rooms are available. Able-bodied people need to realize that they have fifteen dressing rooms to choose from while people with disAbilities, that actually need an accessible room, only have one option.

Respect Accessible Spaces
If you don’t have a disAbility, then next time you just have to grab a gallon of milk or try on a bunch of shirts, please reconsider and don’t take up the only reserved accessible places. Leaving accessible places open for the people who truly need them is a super simple way to promote inclusion and acceptance of the disAbled community.

Stay Active with a Disability: Quick tips

Regular physical activity provides important health benefits for everyone, including people with disabilities. Getting active can help you:

  • Strengthen your heart
  • Build strong muscles and bones
  • Improve coordination
  • Relieve stress, improve your mood, and feel better about yourself

Before you begin…

  • Talk to your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you. If you are taking medicine, be sure to find out how it will affect your physical activity.
  • It’s also a good idea to talk to a trained exercise professional. Find a fitness center near you that is comfortable and accessible. Ask if they have experience working with people with similar disabilities.

Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activities.

  • These include walking fast or pushing yourself in a wheelchair, swimming, raking leaves, or other activities that make your heart beat faster.
  • Start slowly. Be active for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Do strengthening activities 2 days a week.

  • These include sit-ups, push-ups, or lifting weights.
  • Try working on the muscles that you use less often because of your disability.

Find support and stick with it.

  • Take along a friend, especially if you are trying out a new activity.
  • If you don’t meet your physical activity goal, don’t give up. Start again tomorrow.
  • Be active according to your abilities. Remember, some physical activity is better than none!

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.

CAPEable Adventures: Adaptive Sports & Recreation

CAPEable Adventures (CA) is a nonprofit 501 (c) (3) chapter of Disabled Sports USA. DS/USA is a national nonprofit organization formed to promote adaptive sports and outdoor recreation.

CAPEable Adventures, Inc. was established in 2007 by a group of individuals on Cape Cod to address the growing desire of local physically and mentally challenged children and adults who would like the opportunity to participate in sports and outdoor recreation. Co-Founder and President Craig Bautz is a T9 Paraplegic who has instructed, competed and participated in adaptive sports for 25 years bringing with him a great deal of knowledge in the field of adaptive sports and therapeutic recreation. Cape Cod offers numerous opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, biking, kayaking, fishing, camping, swimming, the opportunities are endless – and they are now more accessible through programs made available by CAPEable Adventures.

Not only can CA provide services to local residents, with this region being a destination for travelers, CA can provide services to individuals vacationing on the Cape. Having access to adaptive equipment and instruction while traveling can only increase the enjoyment of the Cape’s natural beauty, and allow physically and mentally challenged individuals to enjoy their travel experience alongside their family and friends.

By participating in therapeutic recreational activities challenged individuals improve muscle strength, coordination, equilibrium, balance, endurance, self-esteem, self-confidence, independence, and socialization skills.  But most importantly, participants gain personal fulfillment through accomplishment – something that can translate positively into their everyday lives.

For more information please visit their website at: www.capeableadventures.org

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.

Accessible Fun Family Summer Activities

Picnics in the park are a great way to have a nice and affordable time with your family. Most parks are also easily accessible for those in wheelchairs, so pack your favorite snacks and just enjoy the amazing weather. Some local parks will have music playing, or community events that the whole family can enjoy—some even welcome dogs so you can enjoy the day with your furry friend.

Why not take a trip to a museum? Not only are most museum entrance fees affordable, but also this idea is a great way for you and your family to discover foreign cultures, classic masterpieces and more of history, while having a great time doing it.

Have a family game night. Who doesn’t love some mildly intense family competition? Find your favorite board games and plan a night in with the family. Great snacks are a definite must for this kind of fun, so make sure you have plenty of finger foods and yummy treats to munch on while you play. If you’re inviting friends or family members over to your home, it’s always a good idea to ask if there are any special dietary needs or food allergies you should know when planning the evening’s menu.

At home science experiments are a fun way to keep kids engaged even while they’re on summer break. It’s been shown that being away from school, kids lose a third of what they learned the previous year. Help them retain their knowledge and go back to school smarter than ever before by doing fun at home experiments and projects.

Horseback riding and/or fishing have also proven to be very therapeutic for folks with disabilities. Both items provide a great opportunity to be outside in a healthy environment.

Volunteering is definitely the least costly and most rewarding way to spend your time this summer. There are tons of different organizations and causes that you can dive into as a family. Pick a cause, assemble your team and give back to your community this summer.

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.

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.

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

Boston’s 5th Annual Wounded Vet Run Is Tomorrow!!

Boston's 5th Annual Wounded 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

Motorcycle Awareness MonthMay is Motorcycle Awareness Month.
Share The Road.

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.

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 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.

Boston’s 5th Annual Wounded Vet Run Is One Month Away!!

Boston's 5th Annual Wounded 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

Accessible Easter Egg Hunts

Create Your Own Egg Hunt
If your town doesn’t have an accessible Easter egg hunt you can always make one yourself! You can hide eggs in your own home or backyard. Consider having the eggs out in the open to make them easy to find. If you have several children in your home, select one color for each child. This ensures that everyone will get the same amount of eggs.

For Children in Wheelchairs
You can hide mini eggs and trinkets in a big Easter basket full of Easter basket grass/confetti that is at table level. This is also a fun activity for kids working on sensory issues. For children with vision impairments, you could look into purchasing beeping or talking Easter eggs.

Work on Skills While Having Fun
Older children may enjoy an Easter egg treasure hunt. Write clues on how to find deeply hidden Easter eggs. This is a good exercise for children learning to follow step-by-step instructions or working on vocabulary skills. Children can follow a series of clues such as: Look near the toaster in the kitchen; or you can put together a riddle by writing: I’m hiding behind a small appliance that makes things toasty.

Glow In The Dark Easter Egg Hunt
You can make the eggs glow by using glow-stick bracelets and LED finger lights. If you are hosting a fully inclusive egg hunt, a great idea would be to use beeping or talking Easter eggs as well. You might place a sound egg and a glow egg in the same spot so children could use either hearing or sight to find them, or both senses if applicable.

Easter Baskets
Are you looking for a healthier alternative to put in your child’s Easter basket this year? Here are a few ideas!

  • Egg-Shaped Chalk
  • Craft Kit
  • Spring Coloring Book and Crayons
  • Stickers
  • Puzzles
  • Bouncy Ball
  • Nail Polish
  • Small Rubber Animals
  • Cars
  • Legos
  • Play dough
  • Kite

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!

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.

Great Career Options For Those With DisAbilities

In today’s highly-competitive workforce, finding a quality job can be a challenge. For individuals with disAbilities, the competition is even more extreme, but there are some positive changes on the horizon. Career opportunities are greater than they have ever been for individuals with disAbilities. This is largely credited to the ADA, which helps accommodate people with disAbilities and works to prevent discrimination within the workforce.

Here are a few great options for those with disAbilities to claim a spot on the workforce.

  • Working From Home
    From jobs as writers, salespersons or teachers through online courses, people with disAbilities have a wide variety of options available when it comes to working from home. There are also excellent opportunities for teaching gigs outside the home, as most schools are very wheelchair-friendly.
  • Working in Finance
    Accounting and financial jobs are viable career paths for those that need mobility help as office buildings have become more and more accessible throughout the years. Ernest & Young was listed as number one on Diversity Inc.’s “Top 10 Companies for People With DisAbilities” list. Also on the list was the Hardfort Financial Services Group.
  • Working with Computers
    Another great option for a career is one involving computers. This Internet and electronic age is booming. With more demand for people that are technologically savvy comes more prospects for job seekers. IBM is not only another one of the top employers for candidates with disAbilities but also a leader in computer technology. Computer systems analysts and software developers usually require a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences or a similar field, but technical vocation jobs are available for those without related degrees and require less schooling.
  • Legal Careers
    The legal world is another field that is accommodating for mobility assistance. Being a lawyer for those who share your disAbilities may even be your niche.  There are many other options for a legal career such as being a legal secretary, paralegal or legal assistant, all of which require certification but do not necessarily require a degree.
  • Government Jobs
    Lastly, the government is a great employer for people with disAbilities. Since the 1980s, federal employment has remained at 7 percent.

Where to Find your Career
The easiest place to start looking today is on online job boards. While there are many job boards to choose from, GettingHired.com accommodates people with disabilities by providing special search filters.

No matter where you start your search, it’s important to get out there and jump into the job hunt, knowing that the ADA, and yourself, can demand the necessary accommodations for equal opportunity in the workforce.

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.

How To Have A Comfortable & Safe Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle In Winter

We’re sure there’s no need to remind you, given the freezing temperatures outside, but winter is in full effect. During this season, keeping warm is an absolute top priority to both stay comfortable and safe. Whereas summer makes driving feel like a blast, winter might mean your accessible vehicle is taking on some damage you might not even know about.

Frozen seats, iced over windows and cold air are only some of the effects you’ll be experiencing unless you make sure to follow these helpful tips. With proper preparation, your wheelchair van doesn’t have feel like a refrigerator.

How to stay safe in your wheelchair accessible vehicle:

  • Always keep spare hats, gloves, blankets and extra layers in your wheelchair accessible vehicle. Unfortunately, cars break and, if it happens to you, having these extra essentials will make your wait for help bearable or even life-saving.
  • Make sure to keep at least half a tank of gas at all times. This helps weigh down your car in icy conditions and also prevents running out of fuel while lost or stuck in the snow.
  • Check your antifreeze levels weekly or bi-weekly for any potential leaks. You would much rather find one in your garage than learn about it on the road when your engine stops.
  • Switch your windshield wiper fluid to cold weather formula ASAP. Summer formula is great in the heat, but it’ll freeze during winter and either clog the pipes or ice over your windshield when sprayed.
  • Especially for those in a wheelchair, an extra-long/telescopic ice scraper will do wonders in creating maximum visibility. Don’t forget to clean the roof as well, which will prevent a pile of snow from hitting the car behind you.
  • Store an emergency cell phone battery in the glove box for when you’re potentially lost or stranded. Just make sure to keep the battery charged!

How to stay warm:

  • There’s no reason not to enjoy heated seats even if your accessible vehicle wasn’t installed with them. Pick up aftermarket seat warmers to provide both heat and additional support for your back and hips.
  • Stop by your local hardware store to grab a can of silicone spay. A quick spray along the window and door cracks will help prevent moisture buildup, which means your doors won’t freeze shut overnight.
  • Use steering wheel covers to help insulate your hands and also provide extra grip for slippery conditions.
  • Switch your heat settings over to recirculate the interior air. This reheats the already hot air instead of pulling in cold air from the outside. During the summer, always keep air coming in from the outside to cool the engine. But during the winter, the air inside does the job just fine.
  • Starting at around $100, you can install an aftermarket remote car starter. Now you can start and pre-heat your acessible vehicle from the comfort of your living room, just remember to set your dials accordingly each time you leave your car.
  • And of course, sip on some delicious coffee or tea from an insulated container.

Applying these ideas will help keep you comfy and safe during the harsh winter months. Always make sure to drive safe; and smile, because spring is just around the corner.

Accessible Valentine’s Day Ideas

For some, Valentine’s Day is a special day spent with a significant other, but loved family members and friends also make for a great reason to spend time with people you care about. With a mobility vehicle, there are endless possibilities when it comes to planning the perfect day with those closest to you. The following are a few date night ideas your wheelchair van can get you to and that are handicap accessible.

See a Show
Many local theatres and movie theaters run special shows or engagements on Valentine’s Day. Specially designed ramps are common and make for a great evening supporting local arts programs or just having an enjoyable time. Make sure to purchase tickets in advance and arrive early for preparation.

Plan a Romantic Dinner
Restaurants are booming on February 14 and, with a little planning, you can relish in an evening on the town. By using Google and/or Yelp! (which offers wheelchair accessible information), you can easily book a reservation for a handicap accessible table.

Leisurely Stroll in a Park
You can research ahead of time for events at local parks for a special evening with the whole family or a significant other. Festivals with crafts, food and music while walking under the stars would make a magical night on easy terrain. Your wheelchair accessible car can find a spot in the lot while you find one in a field or arena using available ramps.

Try Something New: Find a Drive-In Theater
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, you can find a drive-in movie theater in your area. Take your wheelchair accessible vehicle and pile the whole family in for an affordable movie and distinct adventure. Enjoy the comfort of your mobility vehicle while you watch movies on the outdoor silver screen.

In all, with enough preparation, your wheelchair van can go anywhere you want with ease for a successful Valentine’s Day date.

Full Sized Accessible Wheelchair Vans

Ask people with disAbilities—when purchasing a handicap or accessible van—size matters. The full-sized van is a good option for those with a large family, those who travel often, those with additional equipment and accessories, those who need to tow large loads, or big or tall passengers or drivers.

Most minivans do not have roof modifications so you don’t have as much interior space.  Roomy full-size vans gain space by raising the roof, lowering the floor or both, and also have the advantage of more power and load carrying capacity.

Full-sized van:

  • Its weight-carrying capacity is significantly more than a minivan’s. It can hold the weight of a power wheelchair and even accommodate two individuals in wheelchairs.
  • It offers a lowered floor for the center, passenger or driver position; raised roof, raised doors; lifts and adaptive driving aids.
  • A raised roof makes it easy for someone to enter the van seated in a wheelchair or for a caretaker to tend to them or walk in and out of the entrance.
  • Doors are raised in conjunction with a roof to enable a person in a wheelchair to enter without having to bend over or have a caretaker tilt the wheelchair back.
  • Larger wheelchairs or motorized wheelchairs require floor-lowering or roof-raising modifications that a full-size van allows.

Find Financial Resources for Your Mobility Needs

Far too often, you find it hard to afford many of the tools and resources that you need in everyday life. For that reason, there are several alternative ways to get funding that will ensure that you get the assistance you need to live a hassle-free life without worrying about breaking the bank.

Here are a few sources of financial assistance to look into if you are finding it hard to cover all of your mobility expenses.

Medicare:
Usually offered only through private companies, Medicare can be a good option for certain medical devices and equipment and is based on your medical necessity for the goods or services you may need help with.

Medicaid:
While there is no exclusive list in terms of medical equipment covered, cases are approved on a case-by-case basis. Medicaid is a great option to look into if your expenses and needs aren’t covered by Medicare.

The IRS:
Did you know that certain mobility aids such as adaptive driving equipment can be deducted from your federal taxes? Contact your local tax adviser to see what equipment and supplies you use regularly to see if they can be deducted.

State Programs:
Check with your state’s vocational rehabilitation agencies to see if your mobility needs are approved for financial assistance. If any of it helps you get to work or perform your job efficiently, you may be covered here. Aside from that, you may also want to check out your local Center for Independent Living to see if they have any other resources that you can look into for financial assistance.

Vehicle-Related:
If you’ve recently had any adaptive equipment or ramps installed in your vehicle—or, for that matter, if you’ve recently purchased wheelchair van—there are some dealerships that will reimburse you for such things. Check with your local mobility-friendly dealership to learn more.

With these resources at your disposal, you can hopefully stop worrying about money and focus more on living a stress-free life where your mobility needs are easily met.

Department of Veteran Affairs: Making Mobility Equipment Accessible & Affordable

The Department of Veteran Affairs is a great resource for making mobility equipment accessible and affordable through available benefits. There are several options available to shoppers for new equipment as well as those looking for upgrades with their current equipment.

One option is to accept a special benefit allowance for automobiles. These funds are available for modifications covered in the Automobile Adaptive Equipment (AAE) program for existing vehicles- from mini-vans to motor homes. One should check with the local VA office to make sure criteria are met before making a purchase for a specialized vehicle. The application for adaptive equipment is also titled VAF 10-1394. Find more specific information about modifications and the list of required documents for reimbursement by following this link to the VA program profile.

Once in ownership of a modified vehicle, the VA helps cover some repairs however, regular maintenance is not covered. The VA typically allows for two vehicles to be purchased or modified in a 4-year period and exceptions are made for instances of theft, fire, accident, court or legal actions, costly repairs and changes in the driver’s medical needs that would require a new vehicle.

A second option deals with the prescription of orthotic equipment such as wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Once a veteran is assessed to need mobility equipment by the VA and its doctors- an approved and accredited firm helps fit the veteran in need the top of the line orthotic equipment.  For a list of these firms, follow this link.

Financing A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

One of the top reasons people with disAbilities don’t own adequate transportation is because they cannot afford it. The good news is there are a variety of options to consider when you’re looking for financing to purchase a wheelchair accessible vehicle. Don’t hesitate to do your homework and pursue all the possibilities that might be available out there. In addition to the traditional financing sources available from a vehicle dealership you may also want to consider:

Third Party Sources
There are numerous nonprofit groups and funding programs that can provide funding for a wheelchair accessible vehicle. But you will need to do your research to find out who can help. For example, the Muscular Dystrophy Family Foundation might be able to help if you have Muscular Dystrophy or United Cerebral Palsy may be able to assist with resources if you have Cerebral Palsy. Other philanthropic groups like the Masons, the Jaycees, and Easter Seals may provide assistance, as well.

The PASS Program
If you are on Social Security Income (SSI), you may want to take a look at the PASS Program. PASS stands for Plan to Achieve Self Success and is a program that provides the resources to help you reach a predetermined goal. For example, if you said you needed a wheelchair accessible vehicle to get to work or to attend school, the money for the vehicle would be provided each month to cover the payments.

Fundraisers
They 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 with a fundraiser. Fundraising events can be held by family, friends, schools, churches, just about anyone who can rally a group of people together to work and contribute towards your cause.

Vocational Rehabilitation
Assistance will vary depending on where you live but the Bureau of Rehabilitation Services in your state may be able to help pay for the modifications to your vehicle. Many of the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) may also offer financial assistance.

Enabled By Design

Enabled by Design is a social business run on a not-for-profit basis for the benefit of its community.

It’s all about people-powered products and services:
Enabled by Design is a social business and community of people who are passionate about design for all. They believe that a good design can support people to live as independently as possible, by helping to make day-to-day tasks a little bit easier and in turn more manageable.

Enabled by Design’s work focuses on doing the following:

  • They provide their community with a space to share and talk about independent living products and services that are already available on the market, and to look at how they could be improved.
  • They are interested in exploring how people can “hack” or modify things to make them more accessible and easier to use.
  • They are working to develop relationships with designers, so that their community can help to improve the designs of the future with the aim of mainstreaming accessibility.

Enabled by Design was inspired by co-founder Denise Stephens’ experiences following her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2003. Having suffered a series of disabling relapses and hospital admissions, Denise was assessed by an occupational therapist (OT) and given a range of assistive equipment to help her to be as independent as possible. Although this equipment made a huge difference to her life, she became frustrated as her home started to look more and more like a hospital. But Denise had an idea…

In April 2008, Enabled by Design was chosen to take part in the first ever Social Innovation Camp. A weekend long competition, Social Innovation Camp brings together people with ideas of how to solve specific social issues, with web developers, designers and those with business expertise to develop online solutions to real world challenges. At the end of the weekend after a Dragons’ Den-style pitching competition, Enabled by Design was awarded first prize as the ‘project with most potential’.

Since then Enabled by Design has been chosen to be part of the independent living stream of the Innovation Exchange’s Next Practice Programme, as well as a Level 1 and Level 2 Better Net UnLtd (Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs) award winner.

Denise and her co-founder, Dominic Campbell (also founder of government consultancy and social innovation incubator FutureGov), continue to work hard to spread the word about Enabled by Design and its goals, building a diverse community of people with an active interest in accessibility and design that supports independent living.

Boston’s 5th Annual Wounded Vet Run

Boston's 5th Annual Wounded 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 DowningAll donations directly benefit these wounded Veterans and charities of their choosing.

When
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Rain date: May 16, 2015
Registration begins at 10am.
Kickstands up 12pm

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

Ends at:
Suffolk Downs
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 Andrew with any questions: 903-340-9402
Vendors please call: 617-416-0782

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.

Boston’s 5th Annual Wounded Vet Motorcycle Run

 Boston’s Annual Wounded Vet Bike Run Inspired by Cpl. Vincent Mannion Brodeur began in 2011. One of the most severely wounded veterans in the nation, Vinnie is the recipient of the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. While serving in Iraq in 2007 with the 82nd Airborne, Vinnie was critically injured by an insurgents improvised explosive device. After surviving 40 operations and a year long coma Vincent has become an inspiration for people throughout the nation. All proceeds from Vinnie’s Run went to creating a handicapped accessible living space for Vinnie. Every year Boston’s Wounded Vet Run will be dedicated to different veterans. All proceeds raised go towards housing modifications to suite a comfortable living for the disabled veteran. Besides housing modifications, funds are also used to improve the quality of life of disabled veterans. Recreational needs, cars, and basic living needs are also other fields of charity the ride is dedicated to. The event is sponsored by the Italian-American War Veterans, a federally chartered non-profit veterans organization. They fought, and we ride, a bike run honoring the wounded veteran’s of New England.

The Honorees for the 5th Annual Boston Wounded Vet Run

2015 Event Information

When?
Saturday, May 9, 2015
Registration begins at 9am.
Kickstands up 12pm

Where?
Begins at:
New Boston Harley
650 Squire Road, Revere, Ma

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

Cost:
$20 per person
10$ passenger
$20 Walk-ins
Donate Here!!

Motorcycle NOT REQUIRED TO PARTICIPATE
Those who do not ride can join us at Suffolk Downs at 1:30 for ceremony, food, and entertainment.

2015 Honorees
U.S ARMY SSGT Nick Lavery
U.S ARMY SSGT Mike Downing
U.S. ARMY SGT Brendan Ferreira
U.S ARMY SSGT Travis Mills

Vendors please call:
617-416-0782

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.

New York Updates the Handicap Symbol

You see them in parking lots, bathrooms, license plates and public transportation. It’s easily recognizable, yet most don’t think about them too much. It’s the handicap symbol, and in New York it’s getting a fresh look after 45 years.

What started as an illegal art project in Rhode Island by Sara Hendren and Brian Glenney soon transformed into a movement for change recognized by the government. Their original idea was to liven up the “stiff, robotic” look into a more active and human looking symbol. The message is to get away from presenting the look as a disAbility, and rather show that it is still a person in the chair who is still moving forward.

Inspiration for Mobility
An attempt to change the symbol in 1994 was proposed but failed. However, it did succeed as the inspiration for the new design, which was built on a grass-root platform spreading awareness through the right routes to reach real change. The biggest adopter so far is the state of New York, which signed the change into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. In addition, NFL team Jacksonville Jaguars, the Boys and Girls Club in South Boston, and the Museum of Modern Art had all also updated their handicap logos to the new look.

The language of the symbol is also making a change. Using the word accessible now rather than handicap presents a more positive light on the symbol and thought process alike. The specific look of the logo now has the person leaning forward with arms back and wheel accented to appear spinning so that the overall appearance shows motion.

Handicap Symbol Represents Movement
No movement comes without concerns however, and the main issue presented with the Accessibility Icon Project is that it resembles an athlete and doesn’t represent the disabled as a whole. Though true from this perspective, the designer Sara Hendren pushes to move the focus away from a literal interpretation to its symbolism. The movement is not solely about a new look, but brings attention for us to take action and rethink disAbility in society.

Only time will tell if the project will gain national or even worldwide change. What is known though is that it starts conversations and gives people a new way to look at those different around them.

Stay Active with a Disability: Quick tips

Regular physical activity provides important health benefits for everyone, including people with disabilities. Getting active can help you:

  • Strengthen your heart
  • Build strong muscles and bones
  • Improve coordination
  • Relieve stress, improve your mood, and feel better about yourself

Before you begin…

  • Talk to your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are right for you. If you are taking medicine, be sure to find out how it will affect your physical activity.
  • It’s also a good idea to talk to a trained exercise professional. Find a fitness center near you that is comfortable and accessible. Ask if they have experience working with people with similar disabilities.

Aim for 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activities.

  • These include walking fast or pushing yourself in a wheelchair, swimming, raking leaves, or other activities that make your heart beat faster.
  • Start slowly. Be active for at least 10 minutes at a time.

Do strengthening activities 2 days a week.

  • These include sit-ups, push-ups, or lifting weights.
  • Try working on the muscles that you use less often because of your disability.

Find support and stick with it.

  • Take along a friend, especially if you are trying out a new activity.
  • If you don’t meet your physical activity goal, don’t give up. Start again tomorrow.
  • Be active according to your abilities. Remember, some physical activity is better than none!

Respect Accessible Spaces

Going out in public is often riddled with obstacles for people with disAbilities. While this is largely due to inaccessible structures like stairs and narrow doors, so many unnecessary barriers are created by able-bodied people who place themselves where they shouldn’t be. That’s not to say that someone with a disAbility has special privileges. Rather, reserved access locations are intended to give people with disAbilities equal opportunities to experience the world around them. Here are some accessible places where able-bodied people should not be:

Handicap Parking Spaces
By far, the most frustrating obstacle put in place by able-bodied people is parking illegally in handicap accessible parking spaces. Though often thought that handicap parking is one of the “perks” of having a disAbility, the reality is that it’s a necessity, not a convenience. Most people with a disAbility get around in a wheelchair accessible vehicle that’s adapted with either a foldout/in-floor ramp or a lift so they can easily get in and out of their vehicle. If they don’t have access to a parking spot with enough space, there is literally no (safe) way for them to get out of their vehicles, which directly prevents them from getting where they need to go.

There are countless times when entering many parking lots that you’ll find that the only accessible spots are occupied by someone who doesn’t have a proper license plate or a permit. It is also common that vehicles park illegally in the white/blue lines next to the accessible spots making it impossible for the owner to access their vehicle which leaves them stranded.

Parking illegally in a handicap spot denies an important means of access to all people who legitimately need the accessible spaces. Able-bodied people have an entire parking lot full of spaces to choose from; disabled people usually only have a few accessible spaces. The accessible spaces are not there for the convenience of people who are lazy, or for people who claim they just needed to run into the store for a second. Illegal use of any part of a accessible parking space is inexcusable in any situation.

Accessible restroom stalls
While using the restroom at multiple locations you will find that most stalls are empty except the accessible one. Able-bodied people see the big, roomy bathroom open and are drawn to it; it’s understandable not wanting to be cramped into a small stall. However, using accessible bathroom facilities, especially when others are available, does demonstrate that people with disabilities aren’t in society’s conscience as being just as likely to be out in public as non-disabled people.

If every other stall is taken, it’s obviously okay to use it. But since people with disAbilities cannot physically get into regular sized restroom stalls, it’s not asking too much for able-bodied people to leave the one accessible bathroom option open when there are five other empty ones that are readily available.

Accessible shower stalls
Much like accessible bathroom stalls, there’s usually only one accessible shower facility in places like shared college dormitory restrooms and gym locker rooms. The accessible stalls are roomier and they often have a fold-down seat attached to the wall. Although this may be tempting for non-disabled people who want a shower with room to dance around or have a place to rest tired feet the accessible facilities are not intended for the convenience of able-bodied people.

Apparently, this is a hard concept for people. Frequently you’ll discover that every shower stall is empty except for the accessible one.  Unfortunately it seems that able-bodied people see accessible showers as a luxury, rather than realizing that they are a necessity for disAbled people.

Accessible dressing rooms
Most stores have a large dressing room that qualifies as “accessible.” Unfortunately, they are rarely, if ever, properly labeled or guarded by store employees. Hence, some of the worst offenders of able-bodied people who block public access are the ones who use accessible dressing rooms.

Some people who actually need the accessible stall have to wait for 15-20 minutes (give/take) while able-bodied people take their time in the only accessible dressing room, even though several other regular dressing rooms are available. Able-bodied people need to realize that they have fifteen dressing rooms to choose from while people with disAbilities, that actually need an accessible room, only have one option.

Respect Accessible Spaces
If you don’t have a disAbility, then next time you just have to grab a gallon of milk or try on a bunch of shirts, please reconsider and don’t take up the only reserved accessible places. Leaving accessible places open for the people who truly need them is a super simple way to promote inclusion and acceptance of the disAbled community.

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.

Adaptive Driving Aids: Basic Driving Aids

Experienced users of adaptive driving aids, as well as those who have just been introduced to them, will appreciate the depth of experience and the number of options available to them here at VMi New England Mobility Center and Automotive Innovations, Inc.

Adaptive driving aids are as diverse as the people who use them, but they do fall into several distinct categories; basic driving aids, reduced effort modifications and advanced driving controls.

Basic Driving Aids

2013 Toyota Tacoma Hand Controls installed at VMi New England Mobility Center Automotive Innovations, Inc.
Basic driving aids are adaptations which are engineered to allow you to utilize the more “able” aspects of your body in order to operate your vehicle. Hand controls, left foot gas pedals and pedal extensions are among the many options that fall into this category.

Hand Controls
Hand Controls allow you to use the upper part of your body to do what might be difficult for the lower parts – such as braking and accelerating. A variety of hand control options are available to fit your needs and preferences.

  • A Push/Pull is the basic of hand controls allowing you to push forward to brake and pull back to accelerate.
  • A Push Right Angle is a hand control where you push forward to brake and pull down towards your lap to accelerate.
  • A Push/Twist is a hand control where you push forward to brake and twist similar to a motorcycle grip to accelerate.

Steering Controls
Steering Controls are adaptations added to the steering wheel of a vehicle. Steering controls make steering for those with limited grip or strength an easier task.

  • A Spinner Knob is a small knob that presses firmly in the palm of your hand. A spinner knob gives the operator a steady grip and the ability to steer with one hand.
  • A Palm Grip is made only by MPD and allows your hand to comfortably sit in a lightweight aluminum wrap with sheepskin liner. The Palm Grip allows firm steering control for those who have little or no gripping ability. The Palm Grip is ideal for those with arthritis.
  • A Tri-Pin is a steering grip that comfortably rests your hand in-between three pins. The pins are adjustable and can be used to accelerate, brake or be used on the steering wheel instead of a spinner knob. If need be, they can also be custom fitted to operate the turn signal, horn and dimmer.

Extension Controls
Extension Controls are driving aids that give users the extra inch they need to be comfortable in their accessible vehicle. Whether they are shorter than average or have limited strength in their arms these adaptations can make all the difference in driving.

  • Pedal Extensions are for vehicle operators who can not reach the gas or brake pedal. Pedal extensions give the driver the inches they need to sit and drive comfortably at a safe distance from the airbags.
  • Turn Signal Extensions consist of a simple rod to the right side of the steering wheel that can be adjusted appropriately to meet the needs of the driver.
  • Key Extensions are available for those who have trouble with the turning motion of starting their vehicle. The additional leverage is adjustable to fit the needs of the operator.
  • Steering Column Extensions allow up to six inches between the operator and the steering column.

Foot Controls
Foot Controls are for individuals who have zero to limited feeling in their feet. Foot controls are also valuable to those who may have a prosthetic limb and need to use their left foot to drive.

  • Left Foot Gas Pedals allow drivers to accelerate using their left foot. A pedal is attached to the accelerator that is located on the left side of the brake. A guard is then placed over the original accelerator so that the right foot does not inadvertently rest on the factory installed pedal.
  • An Accelerator & Brake Guard is a shield that goes over the accelerator, brake or both when the operator is using hand controls to operate the vehicle. An accelerator and brake guard is a safety feature that prevents operators from accidentally resting their foot on the brake or accelerator.

Prepare Your Mobility Equipment For the Colder Weather

Cold temperatures not only slow wheelchair users down, but can also slow down their vans and accessible equipment. For example, if you use a hydraulic wheelchair lift, you may have noticed that the colder the weather, the slower the lift reacts. The cold thickens the fluid, making it move slower through hoses, valves and cylinders.

There’s not much you can do about that, but preparing other equipment for cold weather is important to help avoid accidents and breakdowns.

If you live in the New England area · call our Mobility Center today (508) 697-8324 · We’ll rust proof your wheelchair accessible vehicle, give you an oil change, tune-up, and/or semi-annual ramp/lift service and have any other accessible equipment checked before the temperature dips. If you ask we can also check your battery, antifreeze level, heater, brakes, defroster and thermostat.

Do It Yourself:

  • Purchase winter wiper blades that cut through snow and ice.
  • Keep the gas tank at least half full. It reduces condensation and makes your vehicle easier to start on cold mornings.
  • Buy tires that have MS, M+S, M/S or M&S on them, meaning they meet the Rubber Manufacturers Association guidelines and can bite through mud and snow.
  • For better traction and control, rotate tires so the best ones are in the front.
  • Get an electric engine block heater. It warms the engine so the motor can start. It connects to normal AC power overnight or before driving. In extremely cold climates, electrical outlets are sometimes found in public or private parking lots. 
  • Cold weather is tough on accessible van batteries. Buy one with greater starting power, higher cold cranking amps and reserve capacity for energy when the engine isn’t running.
  • Use synthetic oil to make starting a cold engine easier.

Before you drive:

  • Keep rock salt on hand to melt ice off walkways for a safer wheelchair ride.
  • Clean the snow off the roof and hood so it doesn’t “avalanche” onto the windshield and block your vision.
  • Clear the head and tail lights for best visibility.
  • Scrape the ice off mirrors and windows.

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Here at VMi New England Mobility Center and Automotive Innovations we’ll service and repair your wheelchair accessible vehicle and/or equipment even if you didn’t buy it from us! So bring us your mobility van no matter the year (old or new), chassis (Honda, Dodge, Toyota, Ford, Chrysler, excreta..), or conversion (Side Entry, Rear Entry, VMI, Braun, Ricon, Rampvan, Elorado, Amerivan, excreta..)!!

Rust Proof Your Wheelchair Van Before It’s Too Late

Winter is Coming
De-Icing the roads
Rust Proof Your Wheelchair Van Before the Road Salt Hits the Streets!

We can’t live without salt. It’s a necessary nutrient, it’s used to seed rain clouds, soften household tap water, make chemicals and is used to make ice cream!

In parts of the country with freezing winter temperatures, drivers know that warming the cars up in the morning isn’t the only inconvenience. Icy roads are, too. The same chemical reaction between ice and salt that creates creamy, delicious ice cream also keeps our roads and sidewalks free of dangerous ice during the cold winter months.

A salt and sand mixture is frequently spread over roads before or after a snow or ice storm. Salt lowers water’s freezing point, causing any ice already formed to melt even though the air temperature remains well below freezing. The sand helps keep the salt in place, plus it adds a bit of traction to wet and often slushy roads.

While road salting helps people travel safely, it has drawbacks. It can cause major body and undercarriage damage to your Wheelchair accessible vehicle unless you take extra care and precaution.

If you’re one of the many who must travel the saline streets in the land of the ice and snow, we have some great tips to help protect your mobility vehicle from the ravages of road salt.

Plan Ahead
The best time to prevent salt damage to your conversion van is in Autumn,before the first snowflake falls; a little car 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 25 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.

As seen in the picture below this van has heavy rust and metal fatigue due to a lack of maintenance.

IMG_0697

Once the rust is this bad there’s not much we can do other than replace the van.
So call us or come in today to rust proof your van before it’s too late.

 

 

Side Entry Versus Rear Entry Wheelchair Vans

2013 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT rear entry wheelchair van newenglandwheelchairvan.com12 VS 2013 Toyota Sienna VMI Northstar

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.

Dodge Grand Caravan Wheelchair Van Conversion

Dodge Grand Caravan with VMI Northstar Conversion

VMI first developed the Northstar handicap van conversion in the early 1990’s to meet customer preferences for increased interior space. To this day, the VMI Northstar on the Dodge Grand Caravan minivan remains one of the best mobility ramp vans in America.

By sliding out of a space below the floor, the Northstar mobility ramp maximizes space inside the accessible vehicle. There are so many benefits of an in-floor wheelchair ramp, it is easily understood why its so popular.

Dodge VMI Northstar at Automotive Innovations www.bridgewatermobility.com

VMI New England Dodge Northstar Wheelchair Van VMiNewEngland.com

Description
Interior handles, and switches, buttons are easily accessed
Front passenger seat retains regular functions
No additional noise from handicap ramp
In the event of an accident, the accessible ramp is under the floor-not inside the mobility van
Works on curbs up to 10 inches tall
Increased maneuverability due to greater space inside the accessible van
Ramp-free doorway allows easy entry/exit for ambulatory passengers
Minimized conversion wear and tear (fewer ramp cycles to load/unload additional passengers)
Uncluttered and clean wheelchair vehicle interior
Mobility vehicle interior gets less dirt inside
Increased handicapped ramp width

Specifications
Maximum Floor Drop – 11″
Handicap Vehicle Ground Clearance – 5.5″
Door Opening Width – 30.75″
Door Opening Height – 55.125″
Usable Mobility Ramp Width – 29.25″
Wheelchair Ramp Length – 45.75″
Length from Back Seats to Kickplate – 58.25″
Overall Floor Length – 86″
Floor Width at Front Doors – 61″
Interior Height at Driver & Passenger Positions (Without Sunroof) – 58″
Interior Height at Center Position – 57.63″
Steering Wheel Bottom to Floor – 29.5″
Measured Down from Front Edge of Steering Wheel to Front Kick-Up – 16.25″

Standard Features
Dodge Grand Caravan with VMI Northstar only
Extremely-low 8.0° handicapped ramp angle
Sure Deploy backup system leaves accessible van conversion usable even with power failure
Manual secondary backup system for additional peace of mind
800lb. handicap ramp weight capacity

Dodge Grand Caravan with VMI Northstar AND Summit
Fully-powered accessible van ramp
11” drop FLEX Floor maximizes interior space and headroom for better maneuverability
Complete undercoating and rust proofing
PowerKneel system lowers the minivan to reduce ramp angle
Seamless integration with Dodge Grand Caravan vehicle electronics
Complete control through Dodge keyfob and interior switches
Removable front passenger and driver seat bases
No-skid wheelchair ramp surfacing
Complete crash testing and compliance with all government safety standards
3-year/36,000-mile warranty

Optional Features
Durafloor (rubberized flooring) to match Dodge Grand Caravan interiors


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Dodge Grand Caravan with VMI Summit Conversion

The Summit folding wheelchair ramp van conversion on a Dodge Grand Caravan is an economical choice compared to the popular Northstar in-floor handicapped ramp conversion from VMI. Summit mobility ramps utilize siderails that are 2 inches tall. This is especially important for those with a hard time navigating an incline. VMI Summit handicapped accessible van on the Dodge Grand Caravan also includes an industry best access ramp length of only 50.25”.

The short handicap ramp provides two key advantages to VMI customers. First, passengers can easily use the Dodge handle for the sliding door and switches because the handicapped ramp is not covering them. Second, users in wheelchairs have more room to move on and off the ramp when other vehicles park too close.

Dodge VMI Summit at Automotive Innovations www.bridgewatermobility.com

VMI New England Dodge Summit Wheelchair Van VMiNewEngland.com

Description
Dodge Grand Caravan with VMI Summit Only
2” siderails help people with a disabilities stay on the ramp when coming in and out
When other vehicles park too close, 50.25” ramp leaves users more room to maneuver
By simply pushing outward on the ramp, it can be deployed incase of a mechanical/power failure
Handicap ramp surface allows debris to fall through so it doesn’t end up inside the vehicle
Mobility ramp has a quiet cabin dut to an anti-rattle device
600lb. handicapped ramp rating

Dodge Grand Caravan with VMI Northstar AND Summit
Fully-powered accessible ramp
11” drop FLEX Floor maximizes head clearance and interior space for maneuvering a wheelchair
Complete undercoating and rust proofing
PowerKneel system lowers the minivan to reduce wheelchair ramp angle
Total integration with Dodge systems prevents damage to vehicle/ conversion
Accessible van conversion is controlled through interior sliding-door switches and Dodge keychain
Easy-out passenger and front driver seat stands
No-slip handicapped ramp
Total crash-testing and compliance with all government standards for safety
3-year/36,000-mile warranty

Specifications
Maximum Floor Drop – 11″
Mobility Vehicle Ground Clearance – 5.5″
Door Opening Height – 54.25″
Usable Wheelchair Ramp Width – 28.88″
Handicap Ramp Length – 50.25″
Length from Back of Seats to Kickplate – 58.25″
Overall Floor Length – 86″
Floor Width at Doors – 61″
Interior Height at Center Position – 58″
Interior Height at Drivers & Passengers Position (Without Sunroof) – 58″
Steering Wheel Bottom to Floor – 29.5″
Measured Down from Front Edge of Steering Wheel to Front Kick-Up – 16.25

Standard Features
Power Folding Wheelchair Ramp with Non-Skid Surface
Power Sliding Door with Easy Manual Operation
Maximum Interior Headroom
Undercoating and Complete Rust Proofing
Manual Backup Ramp Operation
Warranty – Mobiltiy Conversion Van
Fully Crash Tested
Remote Control Activation
600 Pound Load Rating for Handicap Ramp
9.7 Degree Handicap Ramp Angle

Optional Features
Rubberized Flooring

Wheelchair Motorcycle : A New Kind of Mobility

If you have limited mobility due to a disability, you may think riding a motorcycle 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. Believe it or not, there are several motorcycles that have been developed including one built from a BMW motorcycle that is made with the specific needs of people with disabilities in mind.

Jim’s passion for motorcycles is unwavering he has worked on wheelchair accessible motorcycles for more than 10 years with features like an EZ-Lock wheelchair locking system to keep you safe and sturdy, interior storage departments to secure your belongings, a passenger seat for your favorite partner in crime, and an automatically controlled rising and lowering access ramp for a hassle-free ride.

If you’re a daredevil at heart, like Jim, and want an exciting way to get around, see if he can up fit a motorcycle just for you. Do you need to bring a little adventure to your life and experience the open road. Whether it’s for daily trips to run errands, a casual Sunday drive, or a road trip across state lines, you’ll get a kick out of the ease and comfort that comes with driving a wheelchair accessible motorcycle. If you are no longer able to ride a standard motorcycle 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!

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This mobility update has been brought to you by Vmi New England and Automotive Innovations your Bridgewater, MA NMEDA Mobility Dealer – Need some information on how to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible or upgraded with the latest and most convenient features?

Contact us your local mobility equipment and accessibility expert!

Jim Sanders is one of of the most experienced people in the country at building High-Tech driving equipment and vans for passengers and individuals who drive from a wheelchair. He offers a unmatched practical and theoretical foundation in the application of vehicle modifications for individuals with disabilities. With over 25 years experience, he continues to spearhead new and exciting technological advancements in this growing and emerging market.

Jim is also an avid motorcyclist, extreme snowmobiler and ATV’er, if you are even in need of snowmobile, atv or motorcycle modifications feel free to contact him directly.