disability awareness

  • Make Your Vehicle Wheelchair Accessible

    Getting into a new or used handicap van can be a time filled with both excitement and anxiety.

    If this is your first time converting your van into one that is wheelchair accessible, there are several things that you can do to make your vehicle more wheelchair accessible. Below, we outline several tips.

    Mobility Options for Making a Vehicle Handicap Accessible

    At Van Products, we are your mobility experts. Whether you own a handicap van and are looking to add mobility options to it - or you own a regular minivan that you're interested in converting - we can help!

    #1 - Prep your van by removing the seats.

    Depending on the type of wheelchair ramp you plan to use, you may need to remove all or some of the seats. For example, if you want your van to have a side-entry wheelchair ramp, you'll want to remove the center row of seats. If you plan to have a rear-entry wheelchair van, you'll want to remove the rear row of seats to allow enough space for the rear entry ramp.


    #2 - Measure the height of your minivan.

    You may not be aware of it initially, but the height of your minivan matters. Take your measurements from the ground, and be sure to include the width of the door(s) to your minivan (side and back).

    These measurements will allow you to speak to a mobility specialist about getting a side or rear-entry wheelchair ramp that meets the specific measurements of your vehicle.



    #3 - Installing Wheelchair Tie-Downs

    Wheelchair tie-downs are a type of securement for wheelchairs that are used throughout the industry. This allows persons in wheelchairs to travel safely when inside of a moving vehicle. At Van Products, we offer several different types of wheelchair tie-downs including:


    Among the different brands of wheelchair tie-downs, there are two types of wheelchair tie-downs that are commonly used.

    4-Point Tie Downs

    The 4-point system is the most common type of wheelchair tie-down. It is a manual tie-down method that consists of four straps that attach to the wheelchair. These straps secure the wheelchair to the floor of the van and are tightened using a ratchet.

    Electric Wheelchair Restraints

    If you use an electric wheelchair, electric wheelchair restraints allow for more independent use. This type of wheelchair tie-down consists of a connecting component that is attached to the bottom of the wheelchair and connects to an anchored device that is mounted to the floor of the vehicle.

    When the two components meet, there is an audible 'click' indicating that the wheelchair is now securely in place.


    #4 - Automotive Seating

    If you plan to operate your handicap van independently, one of the most important components is making sure you have the right kind of automotive seating.

    Van Products offers a range of innovative and customizable automotive seating for physically disabled drivers.

    Contact Van Products Today

    For additional information about converting your minivan into a handicap accessible van, contact Van Products today. We also offer a full inventory of new and pre-owned handicap vans. Call us today to speak with one of our mobility specialists: 919-238-4597.

  • Learning to Deal with a Sudden Disability

    There's a saying that "Life isn't always fair." This especially true for many who are suddenly and unexpectedly faced with a physical disability. The sudden restriction of independence or freedom can lead to anxiety over what the future may look like.

    The following are some steps and coping mechanisms to help you face your physical disability head on.

    3 Tips for Dealing with a Physical Disability

    #1 - Avoid self pity.

    It's often easier to feel bad for yourself or about your situation. Instead of looking at everything that is wrong, try instead to surround yourself with people and activities that have a positive impact in your life. Though it's not always easy, having a positive attitude goes a long way in helping you improve not just your outlook for your overall health.

    #2 - Learn how to react.

    You can't always control what happens to you in your life, but you can most certainly control how you react to it. Learn not only how to react to the things that happen to you and around you - but also learn how to react to other people's reactions to your situation.

    People who have physical disabilities sometimes face pity, animosity from others. Expect different reactions from those around you, and try not to let ignorant people upset you. Instead, practice patience. Remember that how you react to someone or something can drastically change the outcome.

    #3 - Don't be afraid to ask for help.

    Surround yourself with family and friends who are positive and upbeat and who you trust. Consider joining a support group. Identify the things about your situation and about yourself that you have and/or are struggling with, and don't be afraid to ask for the help of family, friends, or members of your support group.

    For more information about mobility products that assist those with physical disabilities, contact Van Products today.

  • Making Mobility More Comfortable, Convenient

    Whether you're searching for new or used handicap vans, Van Products is on a mission to make mobility more comfortable, convenient and affordable than ever.

    Shop our huge inventory of new and used wheelchair accessible vans, and discover how easy it is to travel independently throughout your community. Whether your lifestyle simply involves running errands or whether you're adventurous and setting off on week-long trips across the country with family in tow - we guarantee that we have just the right handicap accessible van for you.

    Shop Our Inventory of New & Used Wheelchair Vans

    Each of our wheelchair vans (and vehicles) is designed to increase your comfort and convenience without sacrificing quality. Choose from mobility products and features such as:

    • Side entry
    • Rear entry
    • Fold out ramps
    • Backup cameras
    • Rain sensing wipers
    • Wheelchair Tie Downs
    • And more

    We know it can be stressful to make such a big decision like buying a wheelchair van, so we hope this will help your research. We also encourage you to speak with one of our mobility specialists. Our specialists are experts in handicap vans and can help guide you through the process - whether you're brand new to purchasing a wheelchair van or have done it before.


    Quality Handicap Vans from Trusted Brands

    At Van Products, we are proud to offer customers quality handicap vans (new & certified used) from trusted brands, like Chrysler, Dodge, Toyota, Honda, and Ford, to name a few.

    We also offer a number of Braunability wheelchair lifts in our vehicles, offer both convenience as well as a smooth, easy-to-use operation.

    We also offer the Ricon wheelchair lift - designed with the driver in mind. The Ricon KlearVue™ wheelchair lift is the only wheelchair lift  of its kind with a unique “fold-in-half” design. When this wheelchair lift is stowed, it provides an unobstructed view for the driver, which reduces and (in most cases) eliminates hazardous blind spots. It also allows a clear view for the passengers, and is virtually unseen from outside.

    Quality Automotive Seating

    Van Products strongly believes in providing the best that there is to offer for wheelchair accessibility, which is why we offer a wide range of automotive seating options.

    Choose from stylish, convenient seating options, each designed with maximum comfort and safety in mind.  Get on the road in no time at all with fully customizable seats that offer:

    Need to see it to believe it? Stop by our storefront location and showroom today for a demonstration, and you will soon see why we are the number one choice for new wheelchair vans and used wheelchair vans in the area. Contact us today to learn more.

  • International Wheelchair Day

    International Wheelchair Day is March 1st.


    The day was launched in 2008 by a man named Steve Wilkinson.

    ... and since then it has grown in popularity with countries across Africa and Asia taking part, as well as the UK, USA and Australia.

    About Steve Wilkinson

    Steve Wilkinson was born with Spina Bifida in 1953, and has used a wheelchair for most of his life, devotes his life to his mission to make the world more accessible for other wheelchair users and people with non-standard needs. In 2008, he took to Google to find out whether there was a national day to recognize the rights of wheelchair users and those with mobility issues – there wasn’t.

    The Aims of International Wheelchair Day:

    • To enable wheelchair users to celebrate the positive impact a wheelchair has in their lives.
    • To celebrate the great work of the many millions of people who provide wheelchairs, who provide support and care for wheelchair users and who make the World a better and more accessible place for people with mobility issues.
    • To acknowledge and react constructively to the fact there are many tens of millions of people in the World who need a wheelchair, but are unable to acquire one.


    On FB: https://www.facebook.com/InternationalWheelchairDay/





  • "Local Heroes" to Receive Three New Wheelchair Vans

    The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) will give a new wheelchair accessible vehicle to three “Local Heroes” in a contest that will run through May 13, 2012.  Three winners will each own a new 2012 wheelchair van as part of May Mobility Awareness Month. Van Products encourages people of all ages and abilities to enter the contest…you can either enter yourself or a friend or family member who might benefit from owning a new wheelchair van.

    May has been declared the first National Mobility Awareness Month, and Van Products is pleased to help raise awareness about how important it is for individuals to regain or preserve their mobility to the greatest extent possible.

    Entries are being accepted through May 13, 2012.  You may submit either a picture and written story or a video of how you are dealing with mobility issues. Your story will be voted on by participants and the three most inspiring stories will be the winners of the vans.  Participants should encourage their friends and family to vote for their entry at the site.

    To get a 5 vote head start…contact Van Products or call 800-662-7572 and just ask for your “Local Heroes” code.  Use that code when you enter the contest and you will automatically receive 5 extra votes.

    In May, the three people with the most votes will be awarded their new wheelchair accessible vehicles by NMEDA on a national TV show such as "Good Morning America" or "Ellen." Van conversion companies like Braun Corporation and Bruno Independent Living Aids are providing lowered floor conversions and specialized equipment for the contest.

  • Raleigh’s Magnificent Mile Race

    Looking for an athletic event that’s fun for the whole family? Mark your calendar for Sunday, September 18th at 2:00 pm for Raleigh’s Sixth Annual Magnificent Mile Race in downtown Raleigh.

    When Sarah Witt, a primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) patient, and siblings Scott and Amy Corsmeier were diagnosed with hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP), they and their brave families decided to do offer a positive reaction to their circumstances. They have hosted the Magnificent Mile race for the past 6 years and are on a mission to raise awareness and funds for motor neuron diseases.

    The proceeds of the Magnificent Mile go to the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation, and it is a mile-long race that offers separate competitive rounds for adults and kids as well as a recreational run for those there to show support. You can choose between a competitive mile race, a recreational mile, and two kid’s races followed by a street festival with food, fun, and prizes.

    Last year a record field of over 1100 runners and walkers turned out for what has become one of the area’s premier events attracting the best runners in the state competing for the cash prizes as well as those who just want to participate.

    As an all-volunteer project, about 92 per cent of sponsor incomes and participant entry fees are donated to an ongoing search for a cure. Over the years they’ve raised over two million dollars in research grants!

    Like many of you, Sarah, Scott and Amy require wheelchair accessibility wherever they go. Let’s help them find a cure for primary lateral sclerosis and hereditary spastic paraplegia. You can register online. We’ll see you there!

  • Children’s Books About Disabilities and Awareness

    Almost all children love reading, so why not make story-time educational? Books are a wonderful resource for teaching children about disabilities. Engaging with unique personal stories of people with disabilities helps break the boundaries between disabled and non-disabled students. Books provide an arena for learning about the accessibility challenges in every day life and give readers the opportunity to walk in the shoes of those with disabilities. Here are a few great books to add to your child’s reading lists:

    Title: Be Good to Eddie Lee Author: Virginia FilIing Story Profile: Eddie Lee, a young boy with Down syndrome, follows the neighborhood children into the woods to find frog eggs. They are resentful and try to make him stay home.

    Title: Danny and the Merry-Go-Round Author: Nan Holcomb Story Profile: Danny, who has cerebral palsy, visits the park with his mother and watches other children playing on a playground. He makes friends with a young girl after his mother explains cerebral palsy to her and points out that it is not contagious.

    Title: My Mom Is Handicapped: A "Grownup" Children's Book Author: Barbara Turner Brabham Story Profile: A six-year-old boy describes life with his mother, a teacher with physical disabilities.

    Title: What It's Like to Be Me Author: Helen Exley Story Profile: Children from all over the world write about themselves and their disabilities. They tell us how they see themselves and how they want to be seen. All of the illustrations are created by the children.

    When reading these books with your children, talk with them about the challenges the disability creates for the character in the book. Don’t forget to remind them about the character's many abilities. Discuss how he or she uses those abilities to overcome obstacles and reach his or her goals and true potential. Books offer a safe environment within which to ask questions about and understand those with disabilities, and by relating to the characters within the stories, children can feel as though they are not alone in their disability.

    What books or TV shows have you found that spread awareness and encourage accessibility?

  • Disability Rights North Carolina: Ensuring Disability Rights for Our Citizens

    Disability Rights North Carolina is an independent, private non-profit organization that strives to ensure the rights of all state citizens with disabilities. It’s part of a national system of federally mandated independent disability agencies but is completely independent of state government. They advocate vigorously on behalf of the human and legal rights of people with disabilities.

    “Our committed board of directors, advisory council and staff members are among the strongest advocates in the state. We value the dignity of ALL people and their freedom to control their own lives and work for justice upholding the fundamental rights of people with disabilities to live free from harm in the communities of their choice, with the opportunity to participate fully and equally in society.”

    Disability Rights NC can help you gain access to services and opportunity through its advocacy and legal expertise. Their goal is to regularly challenge systems and society to create positive change and work on disability issues with state and local governments.

    Here’s how they can help:

    1. Represent individuals based on Disability Rights North Carolina's priorities and case selection criteria
    2. Tell people with disabilities about their many legal, civil, and service rights
    3. Investigate complaints about serious physical or sexual abuse and neglect-related deaths in institutions
    4. Provide technical assistance, training, publications, and advocacy support for North Carolinians with disabilities, their families, and representative
    5. Outreach to traditionally underserved ethnic and disability communities
    6. Bring impact litigation and act as amicus curiae in disability-related cases.

    To see a list of examples of problems they can help with and to see if you are eligible for services check out their website.

    We want to help our North Carolina citizens gain access to the disability resources they need. Advocacy groups like this are a great way to make your voice heard.

  • Strides in Wheelchair Accessibility

    At Van Products, our goal is that individuals with impaired mobility, whether from birth, a recent accident, or only temporarily during physical therapy, have the comfort of knowing that there are options. We are active proponents of accessibility awareness and want to keep you up to date on accessibility news. Here are a few of the most exciting stories from this spring:

    More Freedom Through Technology: Wheelchair users need the ability to roll across many different types of terrain and researchers at Florida A&M University-Florida State University College of Engineering have been studying and testing new technology that will detect different and difficult types of terrain and automatically adjust traction and control settings on a wheelchair so that movement can proceed safely.

    Traveling With Ease Locally and Internationally: Don’t be daunted by traveling in your wheelchair. We’ve collected a few of our favorite travel tips to highlight a few exciting opportunities.

    University and Workplace Handicap Accommodations: The Raleigh area is home to three universities and each one has distinctive services which they offer to those students who may be disabled.

    Each day at Van Products we come into work and have the privilege of guiding people through the process of bringing mobility into their lives. We want to do everything in our power to make accessibility a priority in America. Well-equipped handicapped accessible vans are the first step to getting you moving.

  • Cerebral Palsy Film Inspiration: Including Samuel

    cerebral palsy advocacyPhotojournalist Dan Habib’s work has taken him well beyond his New Hampshire home to foreign locales like China and shedding light on subjects like teen sexuality.

    But after his son, Samuel, was born in 1998, Habib’s work turned much closer to home.

    Samuel was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and with that news Habib made it his life’s calling to examine the issue of societal inclusion for his son and others with disabilities. The result was a touching documentary film, “Including Samuel,” that details the Habib family and Samuel’s impact on their life.

    The documentary looks at the Habib family’s highs and lows as they struggle with Samuel’s disability and also examines four other families in similar circumstances.

    “Including Samuel” features interviews with teachers, pupils, therapists and parents, and the film portrays the realities faced by children with disabilities. Through happy triumphs and painful setbacks, Samuel keeps smiling and doesn’t give up on his dreams.

    "Samuel will never tie his shoes or make a sandwich," says Habib. "But people have told me he's made a bigger impact on them that anyone else they've ever met in their life."

    Exposing the personal and passionate struggle of Samuel, Habib demonstrates the worth in striving for inclusive education, urging people to combat cultural and systemic barriers to inclusion. Through the Including Samuel Project, he hopes to raise money to build more inclusive schools and communities through curriculum, training and outreach.

    Habib’s film has been screened nationwide as well as been featured on NPR, Good Morning America and in The Washington Post and Boston Globe.

    Van Products is an avid supporter of disabilities rights and thrilled to see the powerful impact of “Including Samuel”. Check out upcoming screenings of Including Samuel and let us know what you think!

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