physical disabilities

  • 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:

  • Disability Awareness: Polio

    When most people think about polio, they often think of an old-timey disease that no longer applies to them. However, did you know that polio does, in fact, still exist?

    Though cases of polio have decreased drastically over the last several decades (more than 99% since 1988), there are still two countries in the world that have never fully stopped the transmission of this disease. These countries are: Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    What does this mean for U.S. citizens?

    As long as a child is infected with the polio virus, it puts children in all countries at risk of contracting the disease. This is because the polio virus can easily be imported into a polio-free country and can spread rapidly among those who haven’t yet received immunizations.

    The most terrifying part?

    According to the World Health Organization (WHO), failure to completely eradicate polio could result in as many as 200,000 new cases of polio each year, within 10 years, ALL OVER THE WORLD.


    What is Polio?

    Polio is a crippling, infectious disease caused by the poliovirus.

    The poliovirus spreads from person to person and affects a person’s brain and spinal cord, causing paralysis.

    Currently, there is no cure for polio. It can only be prevented. This is why it is so important to make sure that children are vaccinated at an early age.

    The CDC defines a person as “fully immunized” from polio if he/she has received a primary series of at least three doses of inactivated poliovirus vaccine (IPV), live oral poliovirus vaccine (OPV), or four doses of any combination of IPV and OPV.

    Children should be vaccinated with 4 doses of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) at the following ages:

    • A dose at 2 months
    • A dose at 4 months
    • A dose at 6-18 months
    • A booster dose at 4-6 years

    If you were vaccinated for polio as a child, you should not need an additional polio vaccine as an adult. However, if you are traveling to an area where there are cases of polio, or if you work in an environment (such as a lab) where you risk exposure to polio, you may need to get re-vaccinated.

    Symptoms of Polio

    girl with polio | image by RIBI Image LibraryMost people who contract polio show no visible symptoms at all. However, for some, symptoms may be flu-like and include:

    • Sore throat
    • Fever
    • Tiredness
    • Nausea
    • Headache
    • Stomach pain

    A small percentage of people with polio may display more serious symptoms, such as:

    • Paresthesia (pins and needles feeling in the legs)
    • Meningitis
    • Paralysis
    • Weakness in the limbs

    Of these symptoms, paralysis is of the greatest concern as it can lead to permanent disability or even death as the muscles needed to breathe may become paralyzed.

    How Polio is Transmitted

    As far as research is concerned, polio only affects humans and is extremely contagious. Most often, polio is transmitted via human-to-human contact.

    The disease enters the body through the mouth and can be spread by coming into contact with fecal matter, or through sneezing and coughing. Even if you don’t have polio symptoms, you can still spread the virus to other people just before you get polio as well as up to two weeks after you become symptomatic.

    Polio in the United States

    Since 1979, there have been zero reported cases of polio originating from the United States. However, polio has been brought into the U.S. from people who have traveled outside of the country.

    The last documented case of polio being brought in from a traveler was in 1993.

    Increasing Mobility for Polio Users

    Like many disease that have potentially debilitating side effects, such as paralysis, physical restrictions, muscle weakness, and more - our goal at Van Products is to make it easier for people who have limited mobility to get around a little easier in their day-to-day lives. We do this by providing quality handicap vans and mobility products and accessories. For more information about any of the mobility items we sell, contact us today by calling: (800) 209-6133 or (919) 238-4597.

  • How Adaptive Equipment Helps People with Spinal Cord Injuries

    Most people go about their day without so much as a second thought in their minds as to how they will physically get around. Instead, they just hop in the car, jump on a bicycle, or take another form of mass transit. However, for those who have a physical disability, suddenly, you have to consider things that you never considered before.

    FACT: In 2016, there were approximately 282,000 people who were estimated to have a spinal cord injury. [source]

    Something as simple as operating a motor vehicle, cooking, doing household chores or even picking up your children for a hug - can all present a challenge where none previously existed. For this reason (and others), we proudly offer a variety of mobility products and adaptive equipment to help those with spinal cord injuries (as well as other physical disabilities) move around a little easier.


    Mobility Equipment by Van Products

    Adaptive equipment comes in varying forms. From driverless cars and adaptive cruise control technology to equipment that can help a physically disabled person take a bath - there is no doubt that this type of specialized equipment is enhancing people’s ability to function in their environment.

    Van Products offers a variety of mobility products to help spinal cord injury patients (as well as other people faced with physical disabilities) more freedom of mobility to move around their home, place of business, or otherwise.

    Some of the mobility products we offer include:

    We know how important it is to be able to move around independently, which is why we only sell the best mobility products from top brands that you can trust.

    Helping Those With Spinal Cord Injuries

    The National Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Statistical Center reports that the annual incidence of SCI is approximately 54 cases per million in the United States or roughly 17,000 new SCI cases each year. People with spinal cord injuries benefit greatly from the use of adaptive equipment because of its ability to improve the quality of their lives.

    Because many people with spinal cord injuries suffer from complete loss of mobility or partial mobility, the use of adaptive equipment has become that much more important - especially when it has been customized to the unique mobility issue faced by that person.

    Part of this growing market of adaptive equipment is the use of handicap/wheelchair vans. According to

    In recent years, technological advances have introduced automotive adaptive devices which either reduce the physical effort required to control and/or operate a vehicle or alter the way in which driver control initiatives are applied to the vehicle control systems. These adaptive devices provide the possibility of driving a vehicle for many drivers with disabilities.

    To learn more about spinal cord injuries, check out this spinal cord injury article by the Mayo Clinic. Live in the Raleigh, NC area? You can also get involved at the local level by visiting the North Carolina Spinal Cord Injury Association (NCSIA).

  • Volunteer to Help People with Physical Disabilities in 2017!

    This 2017, why not use your professional skills, expertise, or time to help those with physical disabilities. To help you get started, we're providing some great resources for volunteering.

    Have a volunteer story about how you made a positive impact in the life of someone with a physical disability? Let us know!

    by le vent le cri on flickr cc

    Ways to Give Back to the Physically Disabled

    Volunteers of America

    Enter your zip code to find local offices in your area that need volunteers. Needs range from supportive living services to in-home support services (assistance with personal care, money management, etc.) to specialized services (nursing care).

    Help from  Home

    Are you physically disabled or less abled to participate in traditional volunteer opportunities? Help from Home allows volunteers to give back within the confines of their own physical limitations.

    Activate Good

    Find volunteer opportunities in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina - both suited for those with physical disabilities to volunteer or for those who wish to volunteer to help those with physical disabilities.

    Volunteer Abroad

    Take your love for volunteering to another level by volunteering outside of the USA. This program is especially geared at empowering those with disabilities to volunteer.


    This site provides valuable information and suggestions for working successfully with volunteers who have disabilities - from ensuring that you provide adequate accommodations to conversations.

    Go Overseas

    This program is focused on disabled care volunteer abroad programs that benefit children and teenagers with physical/mental disabilities.

    Network for Good

    Network for Good offers a number of ways to help people with disabilities. Search for volunteer opportunities with organizations close to your home.

    Find great nonprofit causes close to home that benefit those with physical disabilities. Simply begin by typing in your city and state.

    For more information about new or certified pre-owned wheelchair vans, contact Van Products today: 1-800-209-6133.

  • Winter Tips for People with Physical Disabilities

    #1 - Have an emergency kit (in the car, at home)

    Regardless of whether you have a physical disability or not, you should keep an emergency kit in your home as well as in your handicapped van or other vehicle.

    The items you choose to include in your emergency kit can vary, but many people choose to include:

    • Batteries
    • Flashlight
    • Non-perishable food items
    • Water
    • Blanket(s)
    • Clothing
    • First Aid supplies*

    *If you or someone you know has a physical disability, you will want to check with a physician to confirm what other items you may want to include in an emergency kit. For example:

    Backup supply for electrical-powered mobility equipment

    • Oxygen tank
    • Extra medications (prescription & non-prescription)
    • Hearing aids

    #2 - Have an emergency plan.

    Does your physical disability require the use of a service pet or caregiver assistance? Speak to your family, physician, and caregiver about an emergency plan in the even that there is bad winter weather or power outages.

    Consider nearby shelters, or hospitals that can accommodate your special needs should an emergency arise. Be sure that your neighbors are included and are aware of your needs, just in case assistance is needed.

    #3 - Avoid going outdoors unless absolutely necessary.

    In icy conditions, it is best to remain indoors. Roads are unsafe to drive on , and even if you feel confident in your driving abilities, you may not be able to predict the behavior of other drivers when there is inclement weather present.

    #4 - Keep your cell phone charged.

    Know that bad weather is on the way? Make sure your cell phone is fully charged. It may be helpful to have a backup battery for your cell phone just in case. Never charge your phone in your vehicle with the garage door closed.

    #5 - Be aware of the needs of your service pet.

    Just like humans, dogs can suffer frostbite and hypothermia. Avoid venturing outside, and avoid letting your dog outside for extended periods of time. If you do find yourself on the road, be sure to keep an extra blanket and extra water for your service dog.

    #6 - Dress in layers.

    When bad weather hits during the weather, it is always best to be dressed in layers in case the power goes out or in the event that you have to be evacuated from your home.

    #7 - Have a list of emergency numbers handy.

    Keep a list of important phone numbers handy. While it is great to include these phone numbers in your cell phone, it is best to also have them written down in a phone book and safely stored nearby (in case the power goes out or your cell phone dies).

    Be sure to let your emergency contacts know that they are your emergency contacts.

    #8 - Winterize your handicap van.

    Be one step ahead of any winter weather situation by making sure the gas tank in your handicap van is kept full. A full gas tank will help keep your fuel line from freezing.

    #9 - Consider alternative heating methods.

    Have a wood burning fireplace in your home? Make sure you keep your fireplaces and other heating sources cleaned and inspected regularly. In the event that the power is out for an extended period of time, you may be able to use alternate heating sources.

    #10 - Keep sand, kitty litter, or rock salt handy.

    Patios, front door areas, driveways, sidewalks, steps, etc. are all danger zones for people with and without physical disabilities whenever winter weather hits. Having sand, salt, or kitty litter to spread down can give more traction and prevent nasty falls.

  • 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:

6 Item(s)