wheelchair accessible

  • 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.

  • Wheelchair Accessible Honda Odyssey

    Van Products is pleased to announce that we have added the completely redesigned 2011 Honda Odyssey to our wheelchair accessible van lineup.  The Honda fills out our list of manufacturers which includes Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan and Toyota Sienna.

    The redesign of the 2011 Honda Odyssey wheelchair van gives it bolder styling and makes it fun to drive! Even the 3.5L V6 engine is new and delivers great economy along with ample power.

    One improvement that is difficult to see, yet extremely important is structural strength.  The 2011 Odyssey is 35% stronger providing increased safety to all seating positions.  The Braun wheelchair conversion includes the new Step-and-Roll Seat design which makes the front seats even easier to remove and reinstall.  All Van Products handicap vans exceed all Federal Motor Vehicle Standards and of course the new Honda is no exception.

    Honda Odyssey

    The Braun wheelchair conversion features the same easy to use automatic factory door and folding ramp as all BraunAbility minivans.   All it takes is a single touch on the keyless remote, and the power door opens, the ramp folds down, and the van kneels (lowers down) to decrease the ramp angle and make entry or exit easier than ever.

    Both front seats of the Honda Odyssey wheelchair van can be removed (no tools needed) so that wheelchair passengers can either ride as a passenger up front, or can drive with hand controls which Van Products can add at the time of purchase.

    All hand controls are custom fit after a professional driver evaluation and Van Products will also install an E-Z Lock device that safely secures the wheelchair to the van floor.  This potentially makes wheelchair drivers completely independent, requiring no help to enter the van and drive away!

    As you can see in the photos, the 2011 Honda Odyssey Wheelchair Accessible van is just about the sharpest looking minivan on the road.  If you would like to see it firsthand, we invite you to visit us at Van Products, or call us for an in home demo.  Directions to Van Products are here.  We look forward to helping you gain a more independent lifestyle!

  • Tips for Making Your Home Wheelchair Accessible

    As the holidays arrive, often they bring with them fun parties and family reunions that can ring in the season with excitement, but also can provide unexpected difficulties for those in need of wheelchair accessibility. For the family and friends in your life who are in need of handicapped accessibility, whether just coming for a visit, or moving in as you become a caretaker, it will make a world of difference to alter your home to be wheelchair accessible.

    This can seem like an overwhelming project, so we have put together some resources for you as you plan your changes.  Easily accessible, well built options will, needless to say, mean the world to your wheelchair-bound loved one.

    Make Your Bathroom Wheelchair Accessible

    • Replace your bathtub with a shower or walk-in tub that can be easily accessed without fear of slipping or the challenge of climbing over an edge. Showers are the best option for wheelchairs, but walk in tubs can be an alternative for those with less limited mobility.
    • Add handrails, grab-bars and seating areas. Fitting your shower with a movable seat and hand-held shower head makes bathing easier and gives the option of autonomy, and handrails ensure safety on slippery floors.

    Making your Home Handicapped Accessible

    • Both structural and non-structural changes may need to be made to accomodate a wheelchair. For example, measure the width of the wheelchair and the doorframes in your home to determine if you’ll need to extend them or build a double door. Non-structurally, you may need to rearrange furniture and room set-up so that a wheelchair can maneuver more easily.

    Handicapped accessibility for your home is a necessity for anyone with an live-in member of the handicapped community and a great idea for those with family or friends who are wheelchair-bound.  For questions about other resources that may be helpful for you during this transition, or about our wheelchair van or mobility options, drop us a note today!

  • The Psychology Behind the Documentary Film "Murderball"

    Although the Paralympics and many organized handicapped sporting leagues are relatively new, athletes have been participating in the sports themselves for years, refusing to let disability stop them from doing what they love. From time to time, someone will overcome the challenges of physical handicap become a professional or world-class competitor in their respective field. A documentary film called “Murderball” was released in 2005 and shined a bright and unfamiliar light on the previously unknown world of one of the most intense sports worldwide: wheelchair rugby.

    The film is centered around the American wheelchair rugby team and their struggles both as a team and as individuals to compete in the 2004 Paralympics games in Athens, Greece. Rather than documenting wheelchair rugby as a sport, though, the film introspectively latches onto the mentally and physically taxing lives of the athletes involved, taking a powerful look into the personal obstacles they are forced to overcome to achieve what they want.

    On a straight forward level, the movie revealed to able-bodied people the capabilities and fortitude of the handicapped community; on a deeper level, however, the film has psychological impacted the members of the handicapped community as well. The decision to show the wheelchair rugby team athletes as raw, determined and resilient diminished the glorification of their lives and made it possible for disabled people all over the world to relate to the players.

    Critics and the handicapped community alike lauded the movie as a groundbreaking and triumphant, tearing down the facade of pity with which the community is sometimes viewed and showing the reality of ambition, frustration and athleticism. This is why the film was relatable: no matter what sport you play or obstacle you face, the challenge of handicapped accessibility is real. Overcoming it to whatever degree, through the celebration and the frustration, is an accomplishment.

    At Van Products, we build relationships with our customers and communities as people, capable and resolute, even more so than most because of physical challenges faced everyday.  For any of your accessibility needs, be it wheelchair vans or handicap accessibility options, we’d love for you to let us help you keep life the moving experience you want it to be!

  • Van Products and The Durham Bulls

    Durham Bulls LogoAt Van Products, we love to find creative ways to get involved in our community and give mobility back to those who are handicapped by facilitating participation in fun events.

    One group we have enjoyed partnering with is the Durham Bulls baseball team.  No summer is complete without a trip to the old ball game, so we have joined with the Durham Bulls to provide tickets for handicapped seats for Van Products customers.

    Making Travel Easier for the Wheelchair Bound

    People who have purchased wheelchair vans know how much easier they make day to day travel and going to fun activities like sporting events.

    At Van Products, our vans aren’t just equipped to accommodate wheelchairs, but were designed with wheelchairs in mind. As far as we’re concerned, Van Products’ role in Raleigh, Wilmington, Fayetteville and throughout the wheelchair community is providing mobility through wheelchair vans, and then offering opportunities to enjoy that freedom at fun events like Durham Bulls games.

    We had a great turnout in July as the Bulls turned out a winning month, sweeping Syracuse and giving Charlotte quite a run for their money. Van Products customers from all around town came in to watch the team and we loved hearing their stories and seeing their pictures. It may seem like a small thing to some, but it has proven to be something Van Products and our customers have enjoyed being a part of.

    Get Tickets to the Durham Bulls!

    We’re looking forward to a great end to the season in August, so connect with us here or on Facebook and join us for a day out on the diamond. If you aren’t a baseball fan, keep your eyes out for some of the other sports teams we partner with like the Carolina Hurricanes!

    Get in touch with us and we’ll get you a pair of tickets to one of the Durham Bulls’ home games - we can’t promise a win, but we can promise a fun evening, easy parking and great seats!

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