In the past, those suffering from disabilities often faced several limitations. Nowadays, however, advancements in technology and the introduction of new equipment and accessories have all but eliminated these limitations and have allowed for greatly increased mobility among those suffering from a wide range of disabilities.
Today, we have wheelchair vans, scooters, handicap accessible buildings, and disability-friendly places of business that serve the approximately 600 million people, or 10% of the world’s population, who are disabled.
Carving a Path for Physical Disability in Sports
Looking back, wheelchair-based sports seem to have gotten their start after the Second World War, when those who were confined to wheelchairs became frustrated by their situations and decided to get involved in sports as a way to release some of their unchanneled energy.
In 1946, the California Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America played the first match of wheelchair basketball. Not long after this event, word spread about disabled persons getting involved in sports [source].
Sports were subsequently introduced as a critical part of rehabilitation, a fact that allowed them to evolve into recreational sports, and from there, into the competitive sports we see today, such as those in the Special Olympics.
Wheelchair Accessibility and Adaptive Technology
Ralph Braun is a man who perfectly exemplifies how wheelchair accessible vans, vehicles, and accessories paved the way to allow so many physically disabled persons the opportunity to experience real mobility.
Braun, who had been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as a child, was unable to walk. By the early 1960s, he invented the world’s first electric scooter, and by 1966, he had created the first wheelchair accessible vehicle by creating a wheelchair platform lift and hand controls that were added to an old postal van [source]. By 1991, Braun (now with his own company), had introduced the first wheelchair accessible minivan.
Today, countless disabled persons throughout the United States (and the world) rely on wheelchair vans and other adaptive technology to help them participate in sports and to function independently. From archery to cycling and from rafting to surfing, there is no longer a limit on what sports physically disabled persons can participate in. This fact is thanks, in great part, to wheelchairs, wheelchair vans, and the continued improvements to adaptive technology.
About Van Products
Van Products, Inc. provides freedom of mobility to physically challenged individuals throughout the Southeastern United States with wheelchair accessible vehicles, lifts, ramps, hand controls, and other handicap-accessible accessories. Visit one of our two showrooms in Raleigh, NC or Wilmington, NC, or speak to a representative today by visiting our Contact page.