People who use a wheelchair will often times have to lift themselves into another chair or over to a car seat. For those who drive with hand controls, totally removing the front seat to make room for the wheelchair is sometimes not a practical solution. The confines of an accessible minivan however make it difficult to pull the wheelchair close enough to transfer over to the front driver’s seat, not to mention that it’s in a fixed position facing forward.
So what’s the answer? Transfer seats allow for the person in the wheelchair to transfer from the wheelchair in the center area of a van to the front seat of an automobile. With a few easy-to-use controls, the electronically controlled seat can be moved back from the standard forward position by as much as 20 inches. The transfer seat can then be turned 90 degrees sideways, allowing for complete accessibility. After transferring over, rotating and moving forward, it can then be raised or lowered to a comfortable driving position. This type of functionality is referred to as a six-way seat: forward; backward; rotate left; rotate right; up and down.
For new vans, transfer seat bases can be ordered and installed by MobilityWorks for either the driver or passenger side front seats. The original OEM seat may be used with the new base. If you happen to come across pre-owned (used) wheelchair vans for sale with a transfer seat already installed, it’s worth an extra look for the additional convenience this device can offer.
Additional Seating Options
Many wheelchair van models are now manufactured with rollaway seat bases, which mean that they can easily be taken out of the van with some able-bodied assistance to make room for a wheelchair in the forward area. All that is needed is tie-downs and the proper mounting track secured to the floor. A more permanent docking type device that locks the wheelchair in place can also be installed. Other custom seating solutions are available for helping drivers or passengers to get in and out of a vehicle using the front doors, such as lift-up seats and turning automotive seats (TAS by Bruno). These can be ordered and installed in almost any type of vehicle, including pickup trucks and SUVs. So what’s right for you? Ask your local Certified Mobility Consultant about transfer seats, lift-up seating, rollaway front seats and TAS seats that can be a valuable time-saver and convenient addition to your minivan.