Wheelchair Accessibility Headlines

Catch the latest headlines related to wheelchair users, accessibility, and mobility.
  • 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.

  • Bringing Freedom of Mobility to the Triangle

    image-by-mesaba-flickr-ccSince Van Products was founded in 1974, we have dedicated ourselves to providing high quality, wheelchair-accessible vehicles to the Triangle area.

    Whether you're a former military member, or you're a family member to someone who has a physical disability, we are committed to making your life more accessible.

    Providing Freedom of Mobility to the Triangle

    The advance of technology has brought us a long way in terms of accessibility and affordability, and today, there are more options than ever for those with physical disabilities to live more independently. From home automation to mobility products, such as stair lifts, scooters, and more- physically disabled persons no longer have to view their disability as a barrier to doing what they want to do.

    At Van Products, we are proud to sell certified pre-owned and new handicap vans. We only sell handicap vans that are from trusted brands, and we will only sell certified used handicap vans that have passed through a stringent quality assurance and safety test.

    From Our Family to Yours

    Unlike some handicap van dealers, we truly know and understand our audience. Our team of wheelchair van specialists in Raleigh (and in our Wilmington location) know what it's like to be disabled - either because they themselves are faced with a mobility challenge, or they have relatives or friends who are faced with mobility challenges of their own.

    Having said that, we are familiar and empathetic to the types of challenges that physically disabled persons face - especially when it comes to having what they need inside of their vehicle and outside in order to get themselves from Point A to Point B.

    We encourage you to stop by our Raleigh showroom today. Our showroom is interactive, and it will give you the chance to test out different mobility features for a variety of wheelchair vans that we carry.

    Have trouble making it to our Raleigh or Wilmington showroom? Talk to one of our mobility specialists, and we'll arrange an in-home wheelchair van demonstration.

    Freedom to Travel Where You Want, When You Want

    Don't let a physical disability be a barrier to you being able to do the things you want. At Van Products, we're here to help make sure your wheelchair van moves you wherever you want to go.

    Contact us today.

  • Handicap Accessible Ford Transit Connect Conversion

    As one of the leaders of new and used handicap vans and other wheelchair accessible vehicles in the Southeast United States, Van Products is proud to sell a newly converted Ford Transit Connect Van.

    Ford Transit Connect Conversion Van by Van Products

    About the Ford Transit Connect Conversion Van

    Built by Ford, we took the Ford Transit Connect Van and converted it to make it wheelchair accessible for our customers who have mobility challenges.

    Though the Ford Transit Connect Van was initially built for commercial use, it also works well for handicap passengers. Our Ford Transit Connect Conversion Van features:

    • Rear entry
    • Lowered floor conversion
    • 800 lb. ramp capacity
    • Roomy interior
    • Rear liftgate swing up (for easy entry)
    • Meets ADA, FMVSS vehicle requirements
    • Comes with warranty
    • And more!

    Ford Transit Connect Conversion Van by Van Products

    Style, Comfort, & Safety

    At Van Products, the safety of our customers is our top priority. This is why we've equipped the Ford Transit Connect with all of the mobility features needed. Additionally, if there are other types of conversion features that you require, we will make sure you have them!

    The newly converted Ford Transit Connect is a great option for nursing homes, seniors with limited mobility, those who are temporarily disabled due to an accident, veterans, and others. Best of all, the Ford Transit Connect has plenty of space for wheelchair users and additional passengers. It will hold up to 6 adult passengers (including one wheelchair)!

    Whatever mobility features you can dream of, we're already two steps ahead! With the Transit Connect, there is no need to move the 2nd row of seating to add a wheelchair position. One of the key features of this conversion van is its convenient fold-up ramp system, which folds flat and stows away when not in use.

    Ford Transit Connect Conversion Van by Van Products

    Ford Transit Connect for Personal or Commercial Use

    One of the great things that we love about the Ford Transit Connect is its versatility. With our recent conversion, the Ford Transit Connect is even more versatile than ever, making it convenient for wheelchair users and families or for commercial use.

    Now, you can experience even more freedom of mobility with a wheelchair accessible vehicle that offers you ease of access, good gas mileage, plenty of room for family and friends, and other mobility features that make getting around town easier than ever.

    Stop by our Raleigh location today to experience the features in person, or request a demo of the Ford Transit Connect Conversion Van by filling out our simple, online form here.

    Ford Transit Connect Conversion Van by Van Products

    Contact Us Today!

    For additional information about the Ford Transit Connect Conversion Van, contact one of our mobility specialists today by calling: (919) 209-6133. Our mobility specialists will be able to provide you with answers to any questions you have regarding availability, cost, financing options, and delivery information for your area.

  • Travel App for People with Disabilities

    image by GONZALO BAEZA on flickr ccFor people with physical disabilities, traveling sometimes comes with its own separate set of challenges - especially when you attempt to reserve hotel accommodations that claim to be wheelchair accessible but aren't.

    Matt McCann is hoping to change all of that. McCann is the creator of a mobile app called Access Earth, which allows people with mobility disabilities to rate restaurants, hotels, and tourist attractions around the world based on how wheelchair accessible they are.

    The mobile app is still in the development stages and is already being touted as a sort of "TripAdvisor" for those with physical disabilities.

    About Access Earth

    Software engineer and wheelchair user, Matt McCann, first had the idea for Access Earth after booking a "wheelchair accessible" hotel only to discover that it was not wheelchair accessible. According to his interview with Huffington Post, McCann's goal is to give people who have accessibility issues a more "equal experience of travel." McCann, who has cerebral palsy, hopes that the mobile app will help other disabled people travel easier.

    McCann mentioned how one of the first issues that needs to be addressed is how hotels define the term wheelchair accessibility. He cites the example of how a hotel may have a fully wheelchair accessible hotel room. However, the remainder of the hotel is largely inaccessible to wheelchair users (example: hotel restaurants, hotel bars, pools, etc.).

    Helping People with All Disabilities

    Presently, the mobile app is only focused on those who have physical disabilities and mobility challenges. However, McCann hopes to add other types of disabilities in the future, such as cognitive, and sensory disabilities.

    Where to Find Access Earth

    Access Earth is available in beta here.

    You can follow Access Earth:

    Related Blog Posts:

    From Around the Web:

  • Greenville, SC Now Has More Choices for Adaptive Sports

    Today, there are more options than ever for those who have physical disabilities to engage in sports and other recreational activities.

    One woman in particular, Luann Bannister, was recently featured on Greenville Online. Having suffered a severed spinal cord as the result of a car accident, the Greenville, SC native struggled to find athletic opportunities for people in wheelchairs. Bannister's story isn't uncommon, and neither is the outcome.

    The Growth of Adaptive Sports in the U.S.

    Today, there are countless adaptive sports organizations, team, and athletes throughout the United States as well as the rest of the world. In Greenville, SC, the adaptive sports offered to wheelchair users is growing, thanks, in part, to Bannister. Not only did Bannister learn to play adaptive sled hockey, she is also leading the adaptive sled hockey program, which is designed to expand the recreational activities offered to people with disabilities in the Greenville, SC area.

    The adaptive sled hockey program is being offered through the Roger C. Peace Rehabilitation Hospital, thanks to a grant from the South Carolina Development Disabilities Council.

    Breaking Barriers,  Moving Beyond the Disability

    Bannister's story is just one inspiring example to show how physical disabilities are no longer preventing people from moving ahead with their lives. Part of the program that Bannister leads involves having therapists meet with disabled people at the hospital to help them pick the sports or activities that interest them most. Then, together, they make a plan to move beyond their disability and become more engaged in the community doing something that they enjoy.

    Recreation therapist and project coordinator at Roger Peace Rehabilitation Hospital, Kristen Caldwell cited the importance as well as the impact of sports in the lives of those faced with physical disabilities:

    "Often ... they're sitting at home and bored, lonely, isolated or depressed. We want them to be out doing meaningful, fun things. We want to make sure we're getting people active and engaged in their communities."

    Some of the sports options currently offered include activities such as: cycling, hockey, basketball, and kayaking. Still, even more sports and recreation activities are being planned for 2016.

    [via GreenvilleOnline]

  • 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]

  • "Local Heroes" to Receive Three New Wheelchair Vans

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

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

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

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

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

  • Choosing the Right Wheelchair Accessible Van

    When it comes to purchasing a wheelchair van, price is important, but  there are other points to consider as well.  We always stress how important it is to visit your local dealership to actually test-drive that vehicle...examine every feature, make sure you are able to easily move in and out  of the vehicle.  We encourage testing competitor's vans so you can see first hand the superior quality of a BraunAbility Entervan.

    When you visit your local dealership, ask about service and support AFTER the sale.  Take a look at their facility.  Meet the people who’ll be working for you.  THEN, decide.

    Have a look at the video below, and schedule an appointment to test ride a BraunAbility wheelchair van at Van Products!

    Choosing the Right Wheelchair Van

    Entervan picture

    Choosing the right accessible van will make a huge difference in your overall quality of life.

  • Disability Resources: Housing Facts and Statistics

    Our goal is to support our community in every way possible, including providing you with the resources and information you may be looking for. We’ve pulled together some statistics about the housing market opportunities for peoples with disabilities in an effort to keep your life moving in all facets. In addition to offering resources, we want to promote awareness about accessibility and encourage continued growth toward a more wheelchair friendly environment no matter what market you are looking into. Across the country, people with disabilities face challenges finding affordable and accessible housing on low incomes. Often, remodeling and ramp construction is necessary to make homes accessible, and these reconstruction projects come at a cost. When you are on Supplemental Security Income and living without a stable salary, facing the housing market is challenging to say the least.

      • People with disabilities who rely on SSI as their sole source of income continue to be the nation’s poorest citizens. In 2008, the annual income of a single individual receiving SSI payments was $8,016—equal to only 18.6 percent of the national median income for a one-person household and almost 30 percent below the 2008 federal poverty level of $10,400.
      • In 2008, as a national average, a person receiving SSI needed to pay 112.1 percent of their monthly income to rent a modest one-bedroom unit. People with disabilities were also priced out of smaller studio/efficiency units which averaged 99.3 percent of monthly SSI.
      • Since 1998, the amount of monthly SSI income needed to rent a modest one-bedroom unit has risen an astonishing 62 percent—from 69 percent of SSI in 1998 to 112.1 percent of SSI in 2008.
      • In 2008, 219 housing market areas across 41 states had modest one-bedroom rents that exceeded 100 percent of monthly SSI, including 25 communities with rents over 150 percent. Between 2006-2008, the number of market areas with modest rents higher than SSI rose from 164 to 219—a 34 percent increase. For the first time, there were 3 housing market areas—Honolulu (HI), Columbia City (MD), and Nantucket County (MA)—where SSI recipients needed to spend over 200 percent of their income for a modest 1- bedroom housing unit—not only an impossibility, but absurd.
      • Since 1998, the value of SSI payments compared to median income has declined precipitously—from 24.4 percent of median income in 1998 to 18.6 percent in 2008—while national average rents have skyrocketed. The national average rent for a modest one-bedroom unit rose from $462 in 1998 to $749 in 2008 —an increase of 62 percent.

      We hear you. We know the housing market is tough, so we want to provide you with affordable mobility solutions that save you money and give you the freedom you deserve. What resources are you in need of? Is there anything specific you want information on?

  • New Physical Therapy Allows Stroke Patients Stronger Recovery

    At the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2011, researchers premiered a robotic therapy can help recovering stroke patients regain function in their arms. The patient's arm or leg is attached to a robot which goes through a series of programmed movements that simulate tasks that will be performed in real life. It helps patients regain a range of movement in their limb as it is slowly stretches and works the muscles.

    This new technology could reduce the need for a human therapist, and according to the study, this robotic therapy helps stroke patients restore range of movement in their arms more efficiently than traditional therapy. “Combining robotic exercise with regular rehabilitation may be the key to successful intervention," Kayoko Takahashi, Sc.D., O.T.R., lead author of the study.

    Beyond the physical rehabilitation, these kind of developments and self therapy build a sense of self-efficacy and strength in patients that many have lost. There is hope in less expensive, but very effective physical therapy options for stroke patients.

      Researchers selected five such pre-programmed movements. For instance, in one of the movements, “forward reach,” the robot helps patients extend their arms forward as if reaching for something in front of them. Therapists also selected from five levels of robotic assistance according to what was most appropriate for the patient, from movement entirely guided by the robot and passive on the patient’s part, to movement actively performed by the patient. The successful test of robots adds a new wrinkle to stroke rehabilitation strategies, Takahashi said. While repetitive movement is an essential therapy, physical and occupational therapists aren’t always available to provide care, and self-training, if not done correctly, can result in pain and disability. “Robots, on the other hand, can carry out the repetitive movement exercise with exactly the right movement pattern to prevent misuse,” Takahashi said.

    Losing your independence can be emotionally draining as well as physically impairing. We love seeing innovative new technologies that help those suffering from mobility loss. What interesting mobility technology are you excited about?

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