Quick Start Guide to Accessible Van Conversions
This “quick start guide” defines key terms that are frequently used when describing wheelchair accessible vehicles.
A fold-out ramp in a side-entry minivan rests upright along the inside of the closed sliding door when
not in use. It can easily be deployed over a curb or onto a sidewalk. A fold-out conversion can be either
manually operated or powered depending on the design. Rear-entry fold-out options are also available.
With an in-floor ramp conversion, the ramp is stored in the floor (under the vehicle). With no ramp in
the doorway, passengers who are not in a wheelchair can enter and exit the vehicle without having to
deploy the ramp. This type of conversion can be either powered or manual.
For an adult person in a wheelchair to easily enter the vehicle and sit completely upright while riding,
the floor of the minivan is dropped by as much as 14″. This structural modification is commonly referred
to as being a “lowered floor conversion”.
The increased interior height from having a lowered floor also helps the able-bodied caregiver with
loading and securement assistance. It also provides for a reduced ramp angle.
Most power conversions come with a kneeling system that is automatically activated with the use of
a power ramp. A kneeling system lowers the passenger side of the vehicle with an electric actuator,
making it easier to roll in and out of the vehicle.
Many of today’s minivan conversions come with front driver and passenger rollaway seat bases
that are easily removed from the vehicle when desired. Locking mechanisms release quickly
so that either seat can be removed from the vehicle to allow for the wheelchair passenger
to be in one of the front positions.
Tie-Downs, L-Track & Securement
The 4-point tie-down systems are designed specifically for securing a wheelchair to the floor of the van.
One end of the tie-down has a specially designed connector used with metal L-track on the floor while
the other end has a J-hook for connecting to the chair. Tie-downs either are adjustable manually or are
retractable and will always be used in addition to a shoulder and lap-belt securement system.
Transfer seats come in many different designs depending on the need and type of vehicle.
They often are used by wheelchair drivers that need the front seat to rotate inward, allowing for
easier transfer out of the wheelchair and into the driver position. Transfer seats can be installed
in the driver or passenger positions