Tips/Advice

Get the latest tips and advice related to everything ranging from buying and selling a handicapped van to modifying your current vehicle, and 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. 

    by-scui3asteveo-flickr-cc

    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

    Kitchen

    #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.

    Bathroom

    #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.

    Bedroom

    #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.

  • 3 Tips for Aging Healthier, Smarter

    When most people think of getting older, they think of brittle bones, broken hips, medications and other health problems. However, this doesn't have to be the case! There are several preventive measures you can take to help you lead a healthier life as you get older.

    3 Tips for Better Mobility and Health While Aging

    #1 - Exercise regularly.

    It's a saying that we've all heard by now, and it's held true for years because it's true!

    As you age, your strength, coordination and balance naturally decreases. Getting regular exercise and incorporating strength training into your exercise routine a few times per week can greatly reduce your chances of losing coordination and fitness as you get older. Thus, regular physical fitness can keep you stronger and healthier well into old age - helping prevent accidents and unnecessary trips to the doctor.

    #2 - Clean up around the house.

    One of the top ways that older adults become injured is due to falls within or around the home. Decrease the clutter, and decrease your chances for a nasty spill.

    Most commonly, objects on the floor cause people to trip and fall. Also consider poor lighting, loose cords, toilet height, shower support bars, outdoor railings, and step height. Look around your home for potential hazards, and safeguard your living space to keep yourself and others safe.

    #3 - Know the effects of prescribed medication.

    As you get older, it may be necessary to take prescribed medication. If you or someone you are a caregiver to takes prescribed medication, know the side effects. For example, some medication may have different effects on men versus women. It may cause drowsiness or lack of coordination.

    Always consult with your health care provider to know what the potential side effects are.


    At Van Products, we offer a wide range of mobility products and accessories to assist those faced with physical challenges. Learn more, and contact Van Products today to speak with one of our mobility specialists!

  • 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.

  • 3 Tips for Buying a Handicap Van

    Buying a handicap van is a lot like buying a car, including the fact that the process can sometimes feel burdensome and stressful.

    The following are some key factors to keep in mind when making your first new or used handicap van purchase.

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    Key Advice for Purchasing a Handicap Van

    #1 – Know who you’re buying the handicap van for.

    What do we mean by this? While all handicap vans are designed to be able to accommodate wheelchair passengers, not all handicap vans are designed to be able to handle a handicap person behind the wheel.

    If you or someone you know is interested in being an adaptive driver inside of a handicap van, then it’s best if you speak with our mobility specialists. They’ll be able to advise you as to the specific makes/models of handicap vans that we have available that accommodate adaptive drivers (and not just passengers).

    #2 – Know what mobility features you need versus want.

    Van Products has the largest inventory of new and used handicap vans in the area. That said, each of our handicap vans can be customized to fit the unique needs of our customers.

    We encourage you to browse our mobility products and think through the kinds of important/mandatory items and features that you’d like to have in your van – from backup cameras to power doors, satellite radio, removable seats, and more.

    #3 – Know your budget.

    It’s important to not get too far ahead of yourself. If you have a budget, stick to it. Need help coming up with a budget? Speak to our mobility specialists. Sometimes, there may be special financing available or other types of less expensive handicap van options available.

    Learn more about the handicap vans we carry, and browse our large inventory of new and used handicap vans, mobility products, and more!

  • Make Your Home Wheelchair-Safe

    Before you introduce a wheelchair or other mobility device to your home, it is important to make sure that your home is able to accommodate a wheelchair. Below, we offer some helpful advice.

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    4 Ways to Make Your Home Wheelchair Accessible

    You don't have to completely renovate your home to make it more wheelchair-friendly. The following are some tips to make your home safer as you prepare to adjust to your new mobility challenges.

    #1 - Rearrange furniture.

    Less clutter is better- especially when it comes to wheelchair safety. Perhaps, this means moving a table from a corner, or removing excessive clutter from a crowded space. You want to give yourself (or the person using a scooter/wheelchair) plenty of room to navigate around corners and within rooms.

    #2 - Take advantage of entry ramps.

    Most homes have a few steps or more leading up to the main entrance. Installing a permanent or temporary wheelchair ramp can give a wheelchair user increased opportunity for independence. Consider the type of physical limitations that the person has and whether or not that person lives in your home or is a regular visitor to your home. Knowing these two factors will help determine whether you install a permanent ramp or a temporary structure as well as where you will install the ramp.

    For instance, installing a ramp on the side of the home may help to keep the ramp out of sight while still giving the wheelchair user full accessibility. If you do install a ramp, be sure to hire a reputable company and only use materials that are warrantied and that follow current safety guidelines.

    #3 - Create smooth transitions between rooms.

    Remove all loose rugs and carpets, and check transitions between rooms for ease of movement and safety. Study the furniture placement, and use a chair to test the width of different pathways in the home.

    #4 - Make your bathroom wheelchair accessible.

    Again, you don't necessarily have to renovate your entire bathroom. Instead, consider the form and function of the bathroom, compared to the mobility of the wheelchair user. Can he/she get out of their wheelchair on their own for short periods, or are they completely dependent on their wheelchair and/or a helper?

    If so, things like a roll-in shower (versus a jacuzzi tub) may be a better option. There are also handicap-accessible, walk-in tubs. If the person is elderly and has mobility issues, you may want to consider the height of the toilet as well as grip bars for the tub/shower so that the person has something to hang on to.

    Finally, you will want to consider the width of the doorway to the bathroom. Can the person wheel his/her wheelchair into the bathroom comfortably?

    Contact Van Products Today

    You don't have to tear your house down to the studs to make it more accommodating for someone who has a physical disability. Rather, by making a few small changes and having the right kinds of mobility accessories, you can create an environment that is both wheelchair friendly and safe.

    For additional information about making your home accessible to wheelchairs, or to ask other questions, contact Van Products today, and speak to one of our mobility specialists. We're here to help!

  • How to Choose the Right Wheelchair Van for You

    Buying a new or used wheelchair van for the first time? The following are some helpful tips to keep in mind.

    wheelchair van

    #1 - Only deal with reputable wheelchair van sellers.

    You should always be able to trust the dealer/company that you’re purchasing your wheelchair van from. Look at online reviews, and check the safety ratings of the vehicles.

    How long has the wheelchair van dealer been in business? Where do they get their inventory from, and what sorts of certifications do they have?

    Always check the reputation of the dealer before anything else.

    #2 - Know your budget.

    Knowing your budget can mean the difference between purchasing a certified used handicap van versus a brand new handicap van.

    Having a realistic budget can also help you when plan out your list of must-have features and accessories versus some of the other accessories that you can do without.

    #3 - Determine which kind of wheelchair van/vehicle is best for you.

    At Van Products, our wheelchair vans can be customized to fit your unique physical disability.

    Depending on the type of disability you have, you may opt for a handicap van that is equipped with a lift system versus a ramp. You may also decide on a rear entry wheelchair van versus a side entry wheelchair van. There are also tons of other mobility options, such as kneeling systems, hand controls, wheelchair tie downs, and more.

    If you’re not sure, or if you have questions or concerns, we encourage you to speak with one of our mobility specialists. He/she will be able to lay out all of the options available to you and take you through the process in a way that is easy to understand.

    #4 - Consider your lifestyle.

    Do you need a wheelchair van for temporary use? Are you planning a road trip, or do you perhaps have an injury that requires the use of a handicap van?

    If so, you may want to speak with one of our mobility specialists about the different options available to you.

    Contact Van Products

    For more information about buying a new or used wheelchair van, contact Van Products today.

  • Tips for Buying a Wheelchair Van or Handicap Vehicle

    Buying a vehicle is a major financial decision for most people. Now throw in the fact that you are buying a wheelchair van or other handicap vehicle. You may have double the amount of questions, or you may need to double check on certain factors before making a final purchase decision.

    Below, we dive into some of the questions buyers face as well as other things to keep in mind.

    2016-chrysler-town-country-wheelchair-van

    Buying a Pre-Owned or Used Wheelchair Van

    In the market to buy a new or used wheelchair van? Ask yourself the following questions first:

    Will the new or used wheelchair van be driven by you or another driver?

    If you're buying a handicap accessible van for yourself, that's one thing. However, if you know for a fact that other non-handicapped drivers will be operating your wheelchair van, it is important to make a note of this and let our mobility specialists know. This could make a difference in how the handicap van is configured.

    What are the dimensions of the handicap van?

    More importantly, what sort of handicap equipment do you have and/or will be using in your handicap van? Depending on how much handicap equipment and the type of handicap equipment you have, you'll want to make sure that you can comfortably fit inside of your new or used handicap van.

    Dimensions also matter when thinking through things such as whether to purchase a rear-entry wheelchair van versus a side-entry wheelchair van.

    Who will be riding in the handicap van?

    Do you have a big family? A lot of friends? Perhaps you have children who need to be transported to and from after school activities. Whatever the reason, you'll want to have an idea of how you would use your new or used handicap van on a daily basis. This is important because you want to be able to comfortably fit whoever is riding with you inside of your vehicle.

    Will the wheelchair van be used for local driving only or possible long distance trips?

    How do you plan on using your wheelchair van? Depending on your driving habits and style, you may find that you're better suited to a new wheelchair van that has little to no miles on it. Alternately, if you tend to stay local and don't drive around that often, a pre-owned wheelchair van with a few extra miles on it may be a better fit.

    Are there any key features that you absolutely have to have?

    Each person's physical disability is unique. Therefore, the mobility products and van configuration may also need to be customized. At Van Products, we can customize your wheelchair van to suit your specific mobility needs. We invite you to speak to one of our mobility specialists today.

    What is the budget?

    One of the most important things to not overlook is how much your budget is. Our mobility specialists can work with you to provide financial assistance with your new or used wheelchair van purchase.

    Ask Questions; Test it Out

    Never be afraid to ask questions when it comes to purchasing a handicap vehicle. That's why our mobility specialists are here! We are happy to walk you through the entire process of financing a wheelchair van.

    Contact us today by giving us a call at: (800) 209-6133 or (919) 238-4597. We look forward to speaking with you!

     

  • 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
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    #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.

  • 6 Reasons to Rent a Wheelchair Van This Spring

    image by by The Wandering Angel on flickr ccSpring is here, and with it is warmer weather and open roads. There's no better time than now to rent a wheelchair van for your next road trip. Below, we are giving you ten reasons to rent a wheelchair van this season.

    6 Reasons To Rent a Wheelchair Van

    #1 - Try before you buy.

    There's no better way to test out a wheelchair van than by renting it first. Renting a wheelchair van gives you an opportunity to play around with different features as well as get a feel for how the van handles while it's on the road.

    #2 - Save on miles.

    Perhaps you already own a wheelchair van. Maybe you don't. Regardless of your vehicle situation, renting a wheelchair van saves you from putting unnecessary miles on your personal vehicle. This can save you time and money in otherwise costly repairs down the line.

    #3 - Go where your personal vehicle can't.

    Renting a vehicle, like a wheelchair SUV, can take you places your regular, personal vehicle simply can't. Check out the Braunability MXV for starters!

    #4 - Rent a wheelchair van for business.

    Whether you're going on a business trip, or entertaining prospective clients who have special needs, renting a wheelchair van gives you the flexibility you need to help you and your guests travel in comfort.

    #5 - Travel in style.

    Choose to rent a newer model of wheelchair van to reap all of the benefits of driving a new wheelchair accessible van without having to actually own it. If you like it, you can always buy it later!

    #6 - Van Troubles? We've got you covered.

    Before you rent, ask us about your coverage. When you rent a wheelchair van with us, we take care of you should you encounter any issues with your rental.

    Your Proven Leader in Wheelchair Van Rental!

    At Van Products, we offer one of the largest selections of wheelchair rental vans to suit a wide range of mobility needs. Whether you need a rear entry wheelchair van, hand controls, specific types of automotive seating, or other upfits, our mobility specialists are here to help you make the most educated choice as well as answer any questions or concerns you may have.

    Find out more about renting a wheelchair van with us!

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