Variables When Choosing a Wheelchair Accessible Van
The numerous options available when making a wheelchair accessible van purchase can be a daunting task. Many choices exist and it can be tricky to nail down the best option. Add to that the considerations for individual users and the task can seem exhausting. The information below is compiled to help those looking for an accessible option for personal or commercial use.
The wheelchair accessible van one decides to purchase should be determined by need. Families and individual users looking for daily transportation will have different deciding factors than an institution or transportation agency. Usage will typically be allocated to one user, rather than that of a whole group. Being able to focus on one rather than many can certainly help narrow down the choices.
Some of the needs to be considered for an individual user or family looking to purchase an accessible van is:
- Number of passengers total and service animals
- Space for additional equipment, such as oxygen tanks
- Accommodations for power and/or manual chairs
- An electric or manual ramp
Also look at cost assistance available and determine if choosing an alternative fuels vehicle can ease the total price.
Wheelchair accessible vans used for various users may need additional requirements than listed above. Appealing to many users can make the process more tedious during decision time. Some decisions that should be considered are:
- Best access points determined by local traffic and weather
- Ceiling height and floor depth to fit the most users
- Electric or manual ramp capabilities
- Ambulatory seating ease of access
One major consideration for a publically accessible van is that of ambulatory passengers. Will they be riding in the van for the majority? Or will wheelchair riders be the main concern?
Every situation necessitating the purchase of an accessible vehicle is different. One thing that must be considered in all situations is the amount of ease involved in accessing the vehicle. Numerous ramps systems are available for this purpose, but not all types fit all vehicles. Rear lifts ensure ample room for wheelchair passengers, but may decease luggage space. Side load options provide easy curb access, but some models obstruct easy access for ambulatory riders.
Thorough research should be done for this before making any final decision. If a ramp were deemed desirable, perhaps a wheelchair accessible van with a lower floor entry would work best. Conversely, if a particular chair or individual requires a power chair then perhaps a van with a raised ceiling and entry would be a wiser choice.
Ramps come in many designs that include:
- Manual, foldable ramp at passenger side
- Manual, foldable at rear of van
- Telescoping, power ramp at passenger side
Vehicle operator preference, as well as type of disability will be the biggest determining factors in making a ramp decision. However, it is a good idea to consider weather.
All in all, there are numerous options available for the purchase of a wheelchair accessible van. If the right decision is made in purchase then travelling will be less stressful and more enjoyable.