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What Are the Different Types of Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 23, 2024
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There are several types of wheelchair accessible vehicles. Many of these can accommodate wheelchair-bound people as passengers, but require someone else to drive. Some of these vehicle, however, can also accommodate a wheelchair-bound driver. To accomplish this, some modifications must usually be made to the vehicles.

Wheelchair accessible vans are the vehicles that most people think of when they hear about handicapped accessible vehicles. These are often modified so that a handicapped individual can enter the van easily. Ramps or lifts are usually attached to the vans to make this possible. These can be lowered and raised either by hand or by a small motor.

Large conversion vans and smaller mini-vans can be made into wheelchair accessible vehicles. With mini-vans, passengers in wheelchairs usually enter through the side. Larger vans allow passengers to enter from the rear, which can be a little easier for some.

Purchasing or modifying wheelchair accessible vehicles can be quite expensive. Because of this, most towns and cities have wheelchair accessible vehicles available to the public. These buses or vans may travel around town on a designated route, or some services will go to a person's home to pick them up. These vehicles can often be rented for a small fee. Some organizations, such as churches or government agencies, may also provide access to these vehicles at no charge for low-income individuals.

With today's technology, individuals in wheelchairs are not just restricted to being passengers in handicapped accessible vehicles. It is also possible for them to drive certain vehicles. Of course, there are certain modifications that must be made to a vehicle before this is possible.

In wheelchair accessible cars and wheelchair accessible trucks, the driver's seats are often removed. This allows a wheelchair bound individual to simply maneuver the wheelchair in the driver's position. Some vehicles, however, have seats that swivel, which make it easier for a handicapped individual to get into them. In this case, there is usually an area for storing and transporting a wheelchair until it is needed again.

Since a paraplegic is not usually able to use regular pedals on the floor, other modifications must be made as well. A joystick is the most common. This can be used for acceleration and sometimes for steering.

Vans, cars, and trucks are not the only type of wheelchair accessible vehicles available today. Handicapped individuals can now even ride motorcycles. These often have three wheels instead of two, or they may have a side car attached. Like other types of handicapped vehicles, wheelchair accessible motorcycles are also operated using hand controls, or joysticks.

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