While for many adapting a car for their disabilities works well, for others they need a specialist wheelchair accessible vehicle. Luckily manufacturers have realised this demand exists and have created vehicles designed for this purpose, allowing people in wheelchairs easily move in and out of vehicles without needing to leave their chair.
These wheelchair accessible vehicles generally take the form of a very small van which looks slightly like a people carrier. The main brands making these are Kia, Renault and Toyota although others also have suitable vehicles on the market.
The main choice with this type of vehicle is the method of access. A ramp can provide a smooth exit and entrance to the vehicle, but has the disadvantage of taking up a lot of space and being hard for the person in the wheelchair to operate themselves. The other main choice is a winch system.
Some vehicles can be adapted for specific wants and needs, for instance if the wheelchair bound passenger prefers to sit up front, perhaps next to their partner who is driving, adaptions can often be made to replace the front passenger seat with an area the wheelchair can sit in.
If you need to transport multiple wheelchair bound passengers, for instance at a care home or because several members of your family are wheelchair bound, then a mini bus conversion can be perfect for the job. These vehicles provide a lot of space and don’t require special licences to drive.
If you’re wheelchair bound but still want to be able to drive yourself then you’re in luck – cars can often be adapted to allow you to drive without needing to even leave your chair, giving you that freedom and independence that every other driver on the road has. These vehicles have automated ramps to all you to get on and off the vehicle and a free path between the ramp and the steering wheel, where you fasten your wheelchair in allowing you to drive the car.
Sadly the self-drive solution isn’t perfect for every circumstance and you really should consult with an expert before you set your heart on the option as there are many factors to consider and the cost can vary with what adaptations need to be made for your personal circumstances.
There’s an active market in second hand wheelchair accessible vehicles as people upgrade to the latest vehicles, meaning that the cost of being mobile can often be as low as for someone who isn’t wheelchair bound. Make sure the modifications on the vehicle you are considering buying are suitable for your needs though, or alternatively find a quote for adapting the current modifications for how you would need them before purchasing.
Many companies offering wheelchair accessible vehicles will happily bring one of their cars to you allowing you to test it out to see if it meets your need. They often will provide free consultation on what car or modification would be best for your own needs. The market for these vehicles is really taking off and more and more modifications are being invented all the time, even if you’ve looked before do keep checking to see if any modification to a vehicle you need is now available.