• Navigating the Airport by Wheelchair: 5 Things to Know

    Have you ever tried to navigate the airport during the holiday season or some other busy time? Now imagine doing it from a wheelchair.

    Today, most airports comply with federal and state regulations to make areas accessible to those faced with mobility challenges, but there is still room for improvement. If you or someone you know is wheelchair bound, the following are some helpful things to keep in mind.

    Barriers to Travel for Wheelchair Users

    Airports can be busy and confusing places for people – especially when that person is faced with mobility challenges. Whether you or someone you love is traveling by wheelchair, pay attention to the following, potential barriers. How many of these are barriers to mobility at your local airport?

    • Terminal parking
    • Ticketing counters
    • Security
    • Transfer to aisle chair and airplane seat
    • Wheelchair storage
    • Transferring back to a wheelchair
    • Baggage claim
    • Etc.

    Tips to Better Navigate the Airport by Wheelchair

    #1 - Plan ahead.

    Barring family events or visiting friends, when you plan a trip, be diligent and consider traveling to places where there is plenty of accessibility. For example, did you know that you can take a wheelchair accessible trip to Machu Picchu, the Galapagos Islands or the Amazon rainforest? This may mean being a little more selective in your travel destination.

    #2 - Call ahead.

    Even if you've traveled with a wheelchair before, it is still prudent to find out what sorts of restrictions may apply to you or a loved one when traveling by wheelchair. For more information, call the disability hotline operated by the US Department of Transportation at (800) 778-4838 with any mobility/wheelchair access-related questions.

    #3 - Reserve a wheelchair in advance.

    Are you traveling with an elderly parent or someone with limited mobility? Wheelchairs are available free of charge at most airports, and in most cases, an airport employee will be available to take you by wheelchair (or electric cart) to your gate.

    Reservations may be made up to a few days in advance of your flight. Simply call your local airport and let them know that you need a wheelchair. They will ask you a few questions about your level of mobility, which will help them best determine what type of wheelchair access you need. If you are traveling with someone who needs a wheelchair or who has a special type of wheelchair, this is also a good time to speak to an airport representative. He/she will help ensure that your visit to the airport goes as smoothly as possible.

    #4 - Consider a travel agent.

    If you are planning travel outside of the country or are traveling alone to an unfamiliar area, it may be worthwhile to hire a travel agent who specializes in disabled travel. Specialized travel agencies are knowledgable about and can reserve transportation, flights, hotels, tours and more that accommodate wheelchair users. In some cases, you can even request a certified travel companion and special medical equipment rental.

    As with other types of travel agents, you'll want to do your due diligence to ensure that the travel agent you hire is experienced and vetted.

    #5 - Know where to park.

    Parking can be tricky at most airports. If it's your first time flying out your local airport in a wheelchair or with a wheelchair user, it may not be a bad idea to do a "dry run" the week before you're schedule to fly out. This will allow you time to get the lay of the land, figure out where to park and ask questions of airport staff while there.

    Finally - be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to navigate the airport - from the time you park to the time you arrive at your gate. Doing so will help improve your travel experience.

    For more information about mobility accessories for wheelchair users, contact Van Products today (800) 209-6133.

  • 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.

  • Making Better Mobility a Possibility

    At Van Products, we care about providing the best mobility services to our customers. We know, firsthand, what it is like to live with mobility challenges, and we work with you 1:1 to find the best mobility products to help you live your life more independently.

    by SmartSignBrooklyn on flickr cc

    Customized Mobility Products

    When most people see that someone has a handicap van or some other type of mobility product, they tend to assume that the person was involved in an accident that left them with the physical disability. They may also assume that the person was born with a disability. However, there are other situations that can result in someone needing mobility products. Some of these include:

    • Caregivers who are caring for elderly loved ones
    • Temporary disability due to injury
    • Mobility products or wheelchair vans for businesses
    • Military veterans
    • And more

    Wheelchair Vans: Providing Independence

    Perhaps the most important thing that our wheelchair vans and mobility products do is they provide freedom of mobility to all of our customers. Today, thanks to technological advances, physical disabilities don't have to hold you back from going where you want, when you want.

    Inside of homes, we have products, such as stairlifts, that help people safely navigate multiple levels within a house with ease and freedom of movement. There are also other types of products, ranging from wheelchair platform lifts to scooter lifts, and more. Regardless of the type of physical challenges that you face, our mobility specialists can work with you to find the right products and the right handicap van, fully customized to fit your unique situation.

    Ready to start your search for a handicap van? We strongly encourage you to speak to one of our mobility specialists. At that point, we'll sit down with you and talk in greater detail about the options: new handicapped vans, pre-owned handicap vans, conversion features (if you're converting a regular van into a wheelchair van). Below are some of the top brands we carry in our online inventory of new and used wheelchair vans:

    • Chrysler Town & Country
    • Dodge Grand Caravan
    • Toyota Sienna Econoline

    Related Blog Posts:

    Resources/Support Groups:

  • Making Home More Accessible for Wheelchair Users

    Today, more than ever, mobility products are making homes more accessible for those who are wheelchair bound or who suffer from physical disabilities.

    Prevalence of Disabilities in the United States

    by comedy_nose on flickr cc

    Thanks to modern technology, much has changed throughout the last decade, allowing for greater freedom of mobility in those with physical ailments and mobility challenges. From injured veterans to children, to aging parents, disability is diverse and affects a wide population.

    According to the American Community Survey (ACS) Disability Statistics:

    In 2012, the prevalence of disability in the United States was:

    • 50% for people ages 75+
    • 25% for people ages 65-74
    • 10.4% for people ages 21-64
    • 5.5% for people ages 16-20
    • 5.3% for people ages 5-15
    • 0.8% for people ages 4 and under

    Ambulatory Disabilities & Wheelchair Accessible Homes

    Of the different types of disabilities identified by the ACS survey, the one with the highest prevalence was ambulatory disability at 6.9%. Those who have physical disabilities or have a hard time moving around on their own face a number of challenges, particularly as it relates to independent living. Mobility products, like the kind that Van Products offers, are helping Americans navigate their home, vehicle, and workplace easier than ever.

    An aging adult may not be able to move up and down the stairs in his/her home as easily as they once used to. There is a very real fear of falling and getting injured, or even being able to perform everyday tasks - from washing the dishes to doing a load of laundry. Additionally, for those who live in older homes, doorways and bathrooms may not be wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. This has forced some with physical disabilities to seek different, more accommodating housing.

    At Van Products, our mobility product line includes everything from customized residential stair lifts to wheelchair platform lifts, and more. Mobility products, like these, allow physically disabled persons to maintain their independence, improve their mobility, and remain safe.

    Improved Mobility with Wheelchair Vans

    While stair lifts, widened doorways, and wheelchair ramps can improve mobility within and around the home, Van Products also specializes in the sale, purchase and rental of quality wheelchair vans. Customers may choose from a wide variety of wheelchair vans, customized to suit their specific mobility challenges and needs.

    Handicapped vans offer a way for disabled individuals and families to travel independently outside of the home. With handicap vans comes even more increased freedom of mobility to transport yourself where you want, when you want, without restriction. This kind of mobility is far more advanced than the options that were once available years ago. That said, Van Products strives to make homes more accessible for wheelchair users by providing mobility options that are safe, easy to use, and are able to change and adapt to the various ambulatory needs of each person.

    For additional information on any of our mobility products, or for questions about our wheelchair vans, contact us today.

  • Ekso Bionics - Rethinking Physical Limitations, Revolutionizing Mobility

    Originally founded in Berkeley, California in 2005, Ekso Bionics is taking technology to another level with the creation of robotic exoskeletons that are designed to augment human strength, endurance, and mobility. The company has been making waves across the nation as it rethinks physical disabilities while helping people overcome mobility challenges.

    Helping Disabled People Walk Again

    There is no doubt that Ekso Bionics is helping disabled persons rediscover mobility. In a similar vein, Van Products also shares the same goal of helping those with disabilities realize a life that isn't limited by the mobility challenges they face. This is why we're dedicated to providing mobility products and services to facilitate your ability to do what you want, when you want.

    Today, Ekso Bionics has captivated the attention of people from around the world. Recently, it received research grants from the U.S. Department of Defense and licensed technology to the Lockheed Martin Corporation. The future is most certainly bright for Ekso Bionics as well as all of the individuals and families it continues to help.

    Check out the following video to get a better idea of how Ekso Bionics exoskeletons work as well as to see them in action.

  • Spotlight On: Richie Parker

    Every step of the way in life, there have people that said I can't do things- said that I couldn't ride a bicycle. There have been people who said I couldn't live on my own or couldn't get a good job and support myself, or that I couldn't go to college and graduate...  I don't listen to people too much when they tell me I can't do something. There's not a whole lot that's going to stand in my way.

    Richie Parker: Overcoming Mobility Challenges

    Richie Parker views himself as a normal, everyday guy. However, to many, Parker is a modern-day success story. Parker was born without any arms, but he never let it hold him back from doing all of the same things that other people did. Rather than become downtrodden over the mobility challenges that he faced, Parker and his family came up with creative, innovative solutions to help him perform ordinary tasks.

    After high school, Parker attended and graduated from Clemson University with a degree in mechanical engineering and was accepted into a 10-month internship program at Hendrick Motorsports in Charlotte, NC.

    Nearly 9 years later, Parker is still at Hendrick Motorsports. He currently works as a Vehicle Engineer, where he designs chassis and body components for all of the Hendrick race teams....with his feet.

    Check out the inspiring story of this driven young man.

  • Helping Special-Needs Children Walk, One Step At a Time

    Technology has come a long way in helping people with mobility issues perform everyday tasks with greater ease. Recently, a mother came up with a novel idea for a device to help her wheelchair-bound son, born with cerebral palsy, to be able to explore the world on two feet - just like other children.

    As a result, Debby Elnatan’s invention is now helping countless, wheelchair-bound children stand and walk along with their parents.

    The Firefly UpSee Harness

    Elnatan’s Firefly UpSee is a harness that attaches to parents by a series of straps, with the child’s feet fastened into rubber shoes. Using the harness, children are able to stand upright and move, step-for-step as their parent walks.

    Taking Inspiration From A Child

    Elnatan’s inspiration for the Firefly UpSee stemmed from her own personal experiences with her now 19-year-old son, Rotem. Born with cerebral palsy, Rotem was unable to use his legs, and doctors warned against Rotem being encouraged to walk or crawl for fear of exacerbating his symptoms.

    This only made Elnatan more determined than ever to have her son experience the sensation of walking. So, against the doctors’ orders, Elnatan began crafting and refining a device that would allow Rotem to walk with her.

    Since she first had the idea, Elnatan has worked tirelessly to bring her invention to light to help other parents, and on April 7, 2014, the Firefly UpSee was posted online for sale by Leckey, a Northern Ireland.

    For $540, parents of children ages 3 to 8 can use the harness to help them walk, despite their physical limitations/mobility issues.

    Parents are cautioned to consult with their child’s doctors before using Firefly UpSee. However, there is much optimism around the Firefly UpSee as several families have already begun using the harness. Read more about Elnatan’s invention in the source link below.

    [source: NY Daily News]

  • 3 General Rules for Safer Disabled Driving

    entervan-xtJust as those without disabilities must study and practice for a driver's exam in order to pass it, so too, must disabled persons practice and study.

    Today, disabled driving is a very real possibility as there are now more wheelchair vans and other types of vehicles with special modifications to aid those who have mobility issues.

    STEP #1 - Take a written driver's exam.

    Anyone who is interested in obtaining a driver's license, regardless of whether he/she has a disability or not, must take and pass a written exam in order to obtain a driving 'learner's permit' that allows them to practice driving. While you have a driver's permit, there are certain restrictions placed on you as to what time of day you may be allowed to drive as well as whether or not you need a supervised, licensed driver to drive with you. While it is not mandatory, it is highly advisable to enroll in a driver's education course or practice with a certified driving instructor to help you learn the correct driving etiquette and form.

    STEP #2 - Practice driving in a vehicle similar to the one you will eventually use.

    For handicap drivers, this means making sure that any special vehicle modifications that you need are in place, from hand controls to wheelchair ramps to braking controls. Remember that you will need to demonstrate your ability to control a vehicle to the driving instructor to prove that you not only know how to safely operate your modified vehicle - but that you are able to do so with full, demonstrated knowledge of the rules of the road and regard to others' safety.

    STEP #3 - Register for disabled driving lessons.

    When practicing for a driver's road exam, it would behoove you to attend a driving center that provides lessons for disabled persons. Typically, these kinds of driving centers will also have a variety of vehicles that are generally equipped to handle different types of wheelchairs, ramps and other handicap accessories/modifications to suit your specific disability and allow you to properly and safely operate the vehicle.

    Finally, you'll want to make sure that you thoroughly review the rules and regulations regarding disabled driving, according to the state/area that you live in. There are numerous laws and regulations that have since been put into place that protect disabled drivers/persons from being discriminated against. To find out more about increasing your mobility by customizing your wheelchair van, contact Van Products today, and we'll gladly put you in touch with one of our mobility specialists!

  • Rachelle Friedman: Wedding Day Surprise!

    In a recent blog entry about Rachelle and her fiance Chris Chapman, we told you the latest chapter in the  journey leading up to their wedding day.  We are happy to announce that they were recently married and have returned from a great honeymoon, ready to begin their life together as husband and wife! The wedding ceremony was perfect!  The reception went off just as planned as friends and family of Rachelle and Chris celebrated the event into the afternoon.  There was a hidden wrinkle in the reception plans, though! Very few people knew it, but at the end of the reception, BraunAbility, Toyota and Van Products were about give the couple a surprise wedding gift...a 2011 wheelchair accessible van!  They had already enjoyed a van donated by Van Products in the months leading up to the wedding, which really helped out with all of the running around that comes with planning such an big event.

    Rachelle and Chris

    Rachelle, Chris (left) and Van Products President Tim Harrell

    They probably wondered quietly, how they would permanently solve the problem of transportation after the wedding and honeymoon...but before the day was over, all of that uncertainty disappeared as they drove off in their new accessible van!  Between Van Products and BraunAbility, the challenges of transportation have been taken care of since February of 2011 and well into the future. Van Products will work closely with Rachelle in the near future to install the necessary adaptive driving controls and training needed to make the most of her independence as a driver. And we'll keep you posted along the way!

  • Swimming with a Disability: Hannah Aspden's Story

    Hannah AspdenAt first glance, Hannah Aspden is a tall and athletic 10 year old with blonde hair and pretty blue eyes. The fact that she was born prematurely and missing her entire left leg, doesn’t slow her down. A fifth-grader at North Raleigh Christian Academy, her wry sense of humor, confident stance, and frequent smiles inspire everyone she meets.

    Hannah was born with what is called a congenital hip disarticulation. She has no leg at all on her left side. Her parents, Jennifer and TJ Aspden, believe their daughter was born to overcome challenges. "From the beginning, we decided to let Hannah be independent and to give her every opportunity to succeed," her father said.

    As Hannah grew stronger, her fighting spirit emerged when she tried to take her first steps and simply fell down. Her parents decided to try using a prosthetic to help her walk and saw immediate success. When she was just four, Hannah saw her older brother jump of the diving board and decided to give it a try. She came up swimming and has been a swimmer ever since.

    She confidently competes on the same level as her peers and recently returned from her first international competition, the U.S. Paralympics Spring Nationals/2011 Spring Can-Am Meet. It was the first time Hannah saw other athletes with disabilities like hers. "It was cool. Everyone had something different, but we didn't see each other for their disabilities because everyone was like that," Hannah said. "I saw how others deal with their challenges and saw that they were all just glad to be there and happy."

    Hannah has been able to turn her disability into a strength. She has tremendous core strength and upper body power and although she uses a prosthetic some of the time, she mostly gets around on crutches and by hopping. With inspirational perseverance, she appreciates her unique qualities and uses them to her advantage.

    We are inspired by Hannah’s enthusiastic and determined mindset and wanted to tell her story so she can continue to encourage others with similar disabilities. Who inspires you?

1-10 of 14

  1. 1
  2. 2