Wheelchair Accessible Vans, Handicap Accessible Vans, Mobility Impairment

  • 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.

  • Ways to Offer Support During Spinal Cord Injury

    A spinal cord injury is a life altering event that can be scary, confusing and emotionally draining for everyone involved. Amidst all of the changes that a spinal injury causes, it is important to be supportive. Below, we offer some suggestions to help you offer support to loved ones after a spinal cord injury.


    Being Supportive After Spinal Cord Injury

    According to the United Spinal Association, near half of all individuals with spinal cord injuries (SCI) need personal assistance with regular, day-to-day activities.

    Following are some tips to help you be more supportive to a loved one who has just experienced a spinal cord injury.

    #1 - Understand the spinal cord injury.

    While you may not be able to empathize with all that the person is going through, it helps to learn as much as you can about their spinal cord injury. Doing so will help you better understand how their particular injury affects them, including the types of treatment needed and emotional effects.

    #2 - Encourage exercise & physical therapy.

    Building and/or maintaining strength is important with any injury - especially a spinal cord injury. Regular exercise and physical therapy will help the person build strength as well as boost his/her mood.

    Know what types of exercises/physical therapy the person needs or is going through, and offer to go with them or exercise alongside of them. This may make an otherwise difficult task more enjoyable knowing that you are accountable to each other.

    #3 - Reinforce goal setting.

    Without clear goal setting, it is often difficult to see the bigger picture. Having and setting goals gives the person something to work towards - whether it’s finishing a specific physical exercise or finishing work on a college degree. Help motivate them to keep them pushing ahead.

    #4 - Don’t always help immediately.

    It is natural for us to want to immediately help someone who we perceive as struggling with something. However, in the case of physically disabled persons, it is sometimes better to demonstrate restraint.

    With spinal cord injuries, you can’t and shouldn’t do everything for the person. Give them an opportunity to act independently and only step in when asked or when it is more obviously appropriate.

    This will save the person embarrassment and frustration.

    #5 - Consider a spinal cord injury support group.

    Navigating spinal cord injury on your own can be challenging. Regardless of whether it’s you or another loved one you’re caring for, speaking to others who are experiencing the same thing can prove rewarding while offering the emotional support you need.

    Other Resources

    United Spinal Association - The United Spinal Association provides a comprehensive list of spinal cord injury support groups. Search by state.

    Spinal Cord Injury Associations & Organizations - Offers a list of spinal cord injury associations and organizations within the United States.

    North Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association (NCSCIA) - Offers a comprehensive list of spinal cord injury support groups throughout the state of North Carolina.


  • Caring for the Caregiver

    Caregivers do so much to help care for those who have mobility issues or other medical problems due to injury, older age or disability. However, who cares for the caregiver, and how does the health of someone hold up if they're constantly putting others' needs before themselves?

    Perhaps not surprisingly, caregivers are more likely than others to have coexisting anxiety or depression, in part, due to the physical and emotional stress that often comes with caring for another person.


    Caregiving: A Rewarding but Often Stressful Responsibility

    While being a caregiver is incredibly rewarding, it is a "job" that doesn't pay but demands quite a bit from the individual. Did you know: According to the National Alliance for Caregiving and the AARP, Nearly 45 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to a child or adult in the last year?

    Tips for Caregivers

    Below, we've compiled several helpful tips to help you (or the caregiver in your life) lead a healthier life while still providing care to loved ones.

    #1 - Know the signs of caregiver stress.

    Some signs of caregiver stress include (but are not limited to):

    • Feeling overwhelmed or constantly worried
    • Feeling tired most of the time
    • Sleeping too much or too little
    • Irritable mood
    • Losing interest in activities they once used to enjoy
    • Substance abuse (drugs/alcohol)

    #2 - Join a support group.

    It can be helpful to receive encouragement and problem-solve with other like-minded individuals who are experiencing similar situations to you.

    #3 - Exercise.

    Getting regular exercise can help to ease stress and help you focus on your own health. It is important to take care of yourself first so that you can provide quality care to those you love.

    #4 - Eat healthy.

    Diet is just as important as exercise. Don’t negate the effects of a good workout by eating poorly. Eat food that is nutritious and which will supply your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly.

    #5 - Get plenty of rest.

    Sleep is one of the biggest things anyone can do for their body to help it function better. When we sleep, we allow our bodies the chance to recharge.

    You are Not Alone.

    It is easy to get caught up in the act of caregiving so much so that it leaves you feeling overwhelmed or even guilty. Know that you are not alone; other caregivers are in similar situations. In addition to the tips above, it is also helpful to take advantage of any and all local resources you may have available. A great resource for caregivers is the Area Agencies on Aging (AAA).

    For other information about mobility accessories or other resources for those with physical disabilities, contact Van Products today: (800) 209-6133.

  • 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.

  • Van Products & BraunAbility at Life Rolls On Event at Carolina Beach

    On August 5, 2017, Van Products joined BraunAbility at Carolina Beach for the Life Rolls On - They Will Surf Again event.

    Life Rolls On - They Will Surf Again

    Founded by world champion quadriplegic surfer and motivational speaker, Jesse Billauer, They Will Surf Again is a quality of life program that empowers people living with paralysis to surf and paddle board the waves - in spite of their physical challenges.

    Over the years, this Life Rolls On event has grown. It now boasts ten events coast to coast and attracts people of all abilities from around the world. Participation is FREE and is made possible by the generosity of private donors, fundraising efforts, and sponsors, like BraunAbility.

    “We have a great synergy between Life Rolls On and BraunAbility. Our mission and goal is the same - of getting people out into the world to be able to enjoy their life more," said Billauer.

    BraunAbility MXV Wheelchair SUV

    Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles Make a Difference

    Often, able-bodied people don't realize the true value of being able to do things independently - whether it's just getting up to use the bathroom or walking into the kitchen to grab a snack from the fridge. For those who have been directly impacted by mobility challenges and physical limitations, independence matters, and having a wheelchair accessible SUV, like the BraunAbility MXV makes a difference. Billauer explains:

    I never thought that I’d be able to drive a vehicle just myself. I thought I was always going to have to depend on other people. When that’s taken from you - you know - when you’re paralyzed or have a disability, you just can’t imagine just getting that back. It’s a moment that you’ll never ever forget.

    What does freedom of mobility look like to you? To those you love? At Van Products, we take great pride in partnering with BraunAbility to provide our customers with high quality wheelchair-accessible vehicles, mobility products and accessories to help them regain their freedom of mobility. We invite you to stop by our storefront location(s) in Raleigh, NC and Wilmington, NC, or give our mobility specialists a call.

    Visit the Van Products Facebook page to view pictures from the Life Rolls On event. Visit the Van Products website for additional information on wheelchair accessible SUVs, like the BraunAbility MXV!

    BraunAbility and Life Rolls On Partnership

    Check out the following video to learn more about the partnership between BraunAbility and Life Rolls On and how they're partnering to bring hope beyond paralysis to wheelchair users around the world.

    About Life Rolls On

    Founded by world champion quadriplegic surfer Jesse Billauer, Life Rolls On is dedicated to improving the quality of life for young people affected by spinal cord injury.

    Believing that adaptive surfing and skating could inspire infinite possibilities beyond paralysis. Life Rolls On began as a splash into the unknown on September 11, 2001; achieved 501c3 nonprofit status in 2002; and now touches the lives of hundreds of thousands.

    Learn more.

  • Back to School Tips for College Students with Physical Disabilities

    A 2013 National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report concluded that 2,563,000 students with disabilities were enrolled in the 2011 to 2012 academic year, accounting for 11.1% of all undergraduates enrolled nationwide.

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

    People with a disability are less likely to have completed a bachelor's degree than people with no disability. Among people age 25 and older in 2014, 16.4 percent of people with a disability had completed at least a bachelor’s degree. By comparison, 34.6 percent of people with no disability had completed at least a bachelor’s degree. 


    Tips for College Students with Disabilities

    The following are some helpful tips for college students living with mobility challenges.

    #1 - Plan ahead.

    If you or your child has a physical disability and are enrolled at a college or considering attending a particular college, contact the college’s disability services offices as far in advance as possible so that you can schedule a time to visit the campus.

    Part of your college research should include researching what types of disability services, support groups, clubs and adaptive sports are available to physically disabled students.

    A scheduled visit to the campus can give you a better idea of what to expect - even in so far as how the classrooms are set up to allow those with mobility challenges to easily navigate around.

    #2 - Check out the layout of the campus.

    A college student who uses a wheelchair may find it difficult to navigate a college campus where there are a lot of stairs, narrow passage ways or steep inclines/hills.

    Pay attention to the overall layout outside as well as inside. How old are the buildings? Are there sufficient handicap bathrooms? elevators? emergency exits? What type of parking is available for students, and can it accommodate a wheelchair van or other handicap accessible vehicle?

    #3 - Learn to advocate for yourself.

    The college you select may not be quite as accommodating as your high school was when it comes to those with physical disabilities. Know your rights, and self advocate.

    For instance, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 states that schools that receive federal funding are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and are required to provide equal academic opportunities and reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities.

    These accommodations can vary from college to college and include:

    • Additional time for tests
    • Disability counselors
    • Handicap-accessible living accommodations
    • Support groups
    • Modified courses
    • Note taking services
    • And more

    Helpful Resources for Students with Disabilities

    The following is a brief list of resources for students with disabilities:

  • Tips for Aging in Place

    The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that the number of Americans ages 65+ will increase to more than 73 million by the year 2030. The number of people ages 85+ will increase to nearly 9 million by the year 2030.

    Among this group of Baby Boomers, aging in place is the most common (and growing) trend.

    In fact, in HomeAdvisor’s “Aging in Place Survey Report,” the survey highlighted projects that are most important to those homeowners as they prepare to age in their homes. The report estimated that more than 70 percent of homeowners who are currently completing a remodeling project are doing so in an effort to make age-related improvements for either themselves or their parents.

    So, what can adults do now as they prepare to age in place? The following are some helpful and simple tips.

    Aging in Place - Tips to Keep You Safe at Home


    #1 - Consider the location of your kitchen.

    Ideally, kitchens should be on the main level of your home as navigating stairs may be more difficult for someone with mobility issues.

    #2 - Adjust the height of the dishwasher.

    Adjusting the height of your dishwasher can reduce the amount of strain required when loading/unloading dishes.

    #3 - Leave space below your kitchen sink.

    Adjust the height of your kitchen sink, or consider installing a motorized sink that raises or lowers. Also consider leaving space beneath the sink. All of this allows a wheelchair user to better navigate and use the sink independently.


    #1 - Consider the location of your bathroom.

    When aging in place, it is important to have at least one full bathroom on the main level of your home.

    #2 - Consider space to move.

    When thinking through bathroom design, keep in mind that space will become more important as you age. Consider the use of wheelchairs, walkers or other assistive devices, and plan for walk-in showers and more.

    #3 - Adjust the toilet height.

    One of the easiest and most important things you can do is adjust the height of your toilet. For example, a toilet that is slightly higher may make it easier on a person who is disabled or an elderly person who has had a knee replacement and has difficulty getting up from a seated position.


    #1 - Consider safety handles.

    When we’re young, we don’t think about getting into and out of bed. However, as we age, this task becomes increasingly difficult and can be dangerous.

    Consider installing safety handles for increased stability.

    #2 - Consider clutter.

    Look around your bedroom as it is now. Are there things on the floor? Additional furniture that you really don’t need? Closets that are overflowing with items?

    Clear the clutter and decrease your chances of accidents or injury from objects.

    Store heavy items on lower shelves or on the floor, donate items that you haven’t used within a year or more. Consider getting rid of furniture to create more space to maneuver around your bedroom safely.

    #3 - Consider the lighting.

    As we age, our eyesight often diminishes. Make it easier to see where you are going by replacing old bulbs and/or swapping out lampshades. Increase your chances for natural lighting by replacing window dressings and keeping blinds open during the day.

    Make use of automatic night lights in the evening to help illuminate your path if you have to get out of bed for any reason.

  • Wilmington Gets Visit from Miss Wheelchair NC

    madeline-delp-bwWhen Madeline Delp was just ten years old, she was in a vehicle that was struck by a truck, leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. In spite of this, Madeline never let her disability stop her ability to succeed.

    Now, as Miss Wheelchair NC USA 2017, Madeline recently visited Wilmington, NC to speak at a medical conference.

    Adjusting to a New Reality

    In an interview with NBC affiliate, WECT, Madeline admitted to struggling with her 'new reality' before finally turning a corner during her teenage years. It was then that she decided to use her disability to help others who faced similar situations.

    How can I be that change in the world that I want to see? So I started to get this idea of…how can I change myself and how can I inspire others to do the same?

    Spreading Awareness About Disabilities

    Being wheelchair-bound hasn't slowed Madeline down in the least. Her current pursuits include traveling throughout the country, making public appearances and spreading her idea of “living boundless,” regardless of injury or condition.

    As part of her efforts to raise awareness about disabilities, Madeline is also in the process of filming, Live Boundless, a 24-part video series where Madeline teaches others how to live and thrive with their handicap.

    Madeline will return to Wilmington in next month to begin filming the series.

    [via WECT and UNCA]

  • VP's Seth Frankoff To Play for Chicago Cubs

    We would like to congratulate former Van Products employee, Seth Frankoff, on being called up to play for the Chicago Cubs!

    After playing for West Raleigh, Apex High School, and UNC Wilmington, Seth has finally realized his dream of being a major league pitcher!

    From all of us at Van Products, we'd like to congratulate Seth and wish him the best of luck as in his baseball career.

    Read more about this major announcement here.



  • How Fireworks Affect Veterans with PTSD

    For most Americans, Independence Day is a time for celebration, characterized by fireworks, barbecues, music and entertainment. However, for those veterans affected by PTSD, fireworks can trigger a range of negative reactions - some of which may cause physical and/or mental harm.

    By knowing more about how PTSD affects our veterans, we can take steps to be more mindful of how our actions this Independence Day affects them.

    What is Post-traumatic Stress Disorder?

    Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can develop following a traumatic event that threatens your safety or makes you feel helpless.

    Symptoms of PTSD

    According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), PTSD is usually characterized by three main types of symptoms:

    • Re-experiencing the trauma through intrusive distressing recollections of the event, flashbacks, and nightmares
    • Emotional numbness and avoidance of places, people, and activities that are reminders of the trauma
    • Increased difficulty sleeping and concentrating, feeling jumpy, and being easily irritated and angered

    How You Can Help Veterans Who Have PTSD

    The main treatments for veterans with PTSD include psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

    This July 4th, we can do our part to be respectful to veterans who have PTSD with some of the following suggestions.

    #1 - Let veterans know if you’re planning a fireworks display.

    If you have a next-door neighbor who happens to be a veteran, you don’t necessarily have to abandon your plans to celebrate. However, the courteous thing to do is let him/her know ahead of time when you plan to set of fireworks.

    #2 - Be specific and deliberate with your time frame.

    Keep in mind that veterans have fought for our country. Hearing unplanned fireworks can bring back painful memories or trigger a negative reaction from a veteran’s time in combat.

    If you plan to use fireworks, plan to be deliberate about the time frame. Let your fellow veterans know so that it won’t come as a complete surprise.

    Be respectful, and avoid setting off fireworks in the middle of the night or during hours when most people would be sleeping.

    #3 - Spread awareness.

    According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it is estimated that PTSD affects:

    • More than 30 percent of Vietnam veterans
    • As many as 10 percent of Gulf War (Desert Storm) veterans
    • More than 10 percent of veterans of the war in Afghanistan
    • Roughly 20 percent of Iraqi war veterans

    Take the time to talk to the veterans in your community. By keeping open lines of communication, we can gain a better understanding of what our veterans are going through and be more proactive in our approach to celebrating the holidays.

11-20 of 260