When we travel, our preferred mode of transportation is our wheelchair-accessible minivan. Our van and my wheelchair have been modified allowing me to be the driver or the front passenger. I can remain in my wheelchair and there is no awkward transferring to a car seat.
Even though I drive with hand controls (look Mom–no feet), my husband or anyone else, such as a parking attendant, can also drive the van.
When I plan our vacations, my first preference is to drive to the destination. Flying with a wheelchair is difficult and coordinating wheelchair-accessible transportation is time consuming, expensive and sometimes nonexistent.
Whenever we can take our van, we do. It is easier than flying and I’m definitely more comfortable in my own vehicle.
I have buttons inside my van and on my key that automatically open the side door and allow the ramp to descend and ascend. I love the independence my van provides. I can run errands without anyone assisting me and kids think my ramp is cool.
If you are considering buying a wheelchair-accessible van, you will have lots of questions. A good place to begin is the website for the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. The site is packed with tips and helps you locate local accessible vehicle dealers by typing in your ZIP code.
Shopping for a wheelchair-accessible vehicle can be overwhelming. Before we bought our van, we asked numerous questions and spent hours researching the options. The folks at BraunAbility have developed a nine-part video that covers the basics that can be viewed on YouTube.com. The series is called, “Wheelchair Van Straight Talk” and a new video is posted every Wednesday. Just type in the title and you can watch the informative series. BraunAbility has a network of dealers across the country. The company offers Dodge, Honda, Chrysler, and Toyota minivan conversions.
We highly recommend you visit a local dealer and work with your occupational therapist before purchasing a wheelchair-accessible van.