Measuring Wheelchairs for Interior Maneuverability, Tie-Downs and Other Securement Devices is a Critical First Step When Selecting or Modifying Handicap Vans
Not all wheelchair vans and tie-down systems are the same or will work properly for every type of wheelchair. Door height, ramp width, interior maneuverability, wheelchair lifts, seating positions inside the van and tie-down locations on the floor all need to be considered when ordering or modifying an existing wheelchair van. A MobilityWorks Certified Mobility Consultant (CMC) can explain these considerations to you and the reason why accurate measurements are necessary for planning your adaptive equipment installation.
At MobilityWorks, you will always find the newest innovations in adaptive equipment. We are pleased to announce the arrival of the new Honda Pilot with the VMI Northstar Access 360™ side-entry conversion.
The new Honda Pilot is the industry’s largest SUV and offers exceptional wheelchair maneuverability plus room for the whole family. It’s equipped with practical features you depend on while offering the stylish look and feel of an SUV.
As you look for a wheelchair accessible vehicle, one of the most important choices you will make is deciding between side entry and rear entry wheelchair vehicles. Read on to see how the conversions compare when it comes to flexibility, layout and price.
The primary difference between side and rear entry wheelchair vans is where you enter the vehicle. Side entry vans make use of the sliding side door and a ramp or a lift. Rear entry vans use the back of the vehicle for wheelchair access. A ramp is the most common point of entry for both conversions.
Your choice of entry location determines the floor plan available for your vehicle. Rear entry vans offer two floor plans for up to four or six passengers.
“The rear entry van’s biggest advantages are ground clearance and being able to park in any parking spot,” Certified Mobility Consultant Roger Lajeunesse of our Londonderry location said. “However, you are limited to four seats with a wheelchair. You do have the option to add a two person flip seat in the back to make your van a six passenger vehicle with no wheelchairs inside.”
A side entry van has more options when it comes to the floor plan. One plan allows for up to three wheelchair users to ride in. Side entry vans will lower the available space inside, as the maximum number of ambulatory passengers in this option is five including three in the rear bench seat.
“The side entry van allows the client to drive from their wheelchair or sit in the front passenger seat area,” Roger said. “The side entry allows up to five passengers and one wheelchair. The disadvantage would be the ground clearance and not being able to park in any parking spot.”
Note that not all side entry vans can accommodate a driver, so ask your local Certified Mobility Consultant which choices will work for you if you hope to drive from a wheelchair.
Another side entry option is the BraunAbility MXV, a wheelchair accessible SUV built on the Ford Explorer chassis. The vehicle allows for four passengers with a wheelchair user. The wheelchair user can drive the vehicle or sit in the front passenger seat.
Both the side entry and rear entry conversions can be affordable solutions for you and your family. A rear entry can be more cost efficient in some cases because not as much of the vehicle has to be converted. However, if you are looking into a side entry, the CompanionVan and CompanionVan Plus are two of the most economical options on the market.
The BraunAbility CompanionVan is built in a streamlined package with a manual door and ramp. If the wheelchair user is travelling with an attendant, this would be an excellent choice. The CompanionVan Plus adds a power ramp system that deploys at the touch of a button. These vans cannot accommodate a wheelchair user as a driver, but they do have a superior lifting capacity up to 800 pounds. While rear entry vans can sometimes be a more affordable option, consider the CompanionVan as a great, budget-friendly choice.
Making Your Choice
This is not a decision you may be able to make immediately. The best option for deciding which configuration works for you is to speak to your local Certified Mobility Consultant at our 73 MobilityWorks stores. Whether you choose a side entry or a rear entry accessible vehicle, we will be there for you every step of the way and make sure your vehicle fits your needs for the miles ahead.
Scooter and Power Wheelchair Lifts for Vans or SUVs Come in Many Different Styles. Careful Consideration Needs to Be Taken When Selecting a Model for Your Particular Type of Scooter and Vehicle.
When it comes to scooter lifts, there’s no one size fits all solution. Your particular scooter or power wheelchair design has as much to do with the selection of which lift you use as the make and model of the minivan or SUV where it’s going to be installed. Scooter lifts can help to store the scooter (or chair) inside the vehicle or outside, depending on its design and your preference. To avoid a very costly mistake, the style you decide to use should be made with particular care and with the advice of a certified mobility consultant. In most cases, a qualified NMEDA QAP dealer can be found near you that should be able to find the right solution.
Below is an article originally written by Fran Joyce for her blog This Awful-Awesome Life where she discusses her wheelchair van buying experience with our MobilityWorks team in Pittsburgh.
By Fran Joyce
Getting a new car is exciting. After 14 years of nursing my adapted minivan along, it was time for a new one. For anyone who is physically challenged or lives with a physically challenged family member, the decision to buy a vehicle or replace an existing one can seem daunting. I’m using the term “handicapped” in this article because I will be discussing parking and other considerations for purchasing a vehicle. I dislike labels, and I apologize to anyone who may be offended.
The type of conversion you need is dependent on whether the person with physical challenges will be a driver or passenger.
In my case, I have a son in a power wheelchair who will be a passenger not a driver. With a power chair, there are height requirements for the converted vehicle that may not apply to manual chairs. Head room is a safety issue when entering and exiting the vehicle. For this reason, a manual ramp which is least expensive might not be the best option.