Tag Archives: independence

Benefits of Owning an Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

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 So there’s simply no reason to risk your personal safety or the livelihood of your passengers in an outdated vehicle.

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.

The Benefits of Owning a Wheelchair Van

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In-Floor Vs Fold-Out Ramps In Mobility Vehicles

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

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

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

Each of these options offers unique perks and both are fantastic options for anyone looking to increase their mobility and independence through the use of a handicap accessible van. If you need assistance deciding which of these models is right for you, don’t hesitate to call for more information. We are staffed by industry professionals and certified technicians, so they’re certain to be able to point you in the direction of the perfect ramp option for your transportation needs.

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.