What Should You Look for in an Accessible Vehicle?

By Lauren McKinnie

Whether you'll be utilizing a wheelchair ramp van to get around yourself or you're looking into how to operate one for a loved one, there are many ins and outs of these assistance vans that you'll want to know. When it comes to wheelchair vans, there are two different types of mechanisms that can be utilized in order to lift the person with a disability into the van. Let's go over the two basic types below so you have a better idea of what options are available for you to use.

Ramp Vs. Wheelchair Lift

The first mechanism is a ramp for the van. This is a ramp that runs from the door of the van, typically the side or back door, to the ground. The wheelchair is simply pushed up the ramp into the van for placement. The other type of ramp van is comprised of a wheelchair lift mechanism. This lift is essentially a motorized platform that lowers to the ground. The wheelchair is pushed up on the platform, then the platform is raised up to the ground level of the van. This allows the wheelchair to be easily pushed into the interior of the van.

Side Vs. Rear Entry

It's not uncommon for a wheelchair ramp van to have one of two points of entry. The side entry ramp tends to be a popular option to deploy the wheelchair user from the side of the van. This type of entry is typically comprised of automatic components where the ramp or lift will move with a push of a button. This type of entry system can be difficult if you have a single car garage or are parking in a non-handicap accessible parking space. Although, their side entry point allows them to be much safer than the rear entry.

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A rear entry ramp comes into the wheelchair ramp van from the back. Typically the back hatch is open and the ramp or mechanical lift is automatically deployed. This option tends to be a lot cheaper than the side ramp conversion. You can find many manual versions of this type of entry. This is perfect for when you park your car in a one-car garage or can't find a handicap-accessible parking space. However, this rear entry point can be hazardous when deploying the ramp into a lane of traffic in a parking lot.

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Most Desirable Features to Look for in Your Van

Just as with most things in life, a wheelchair ramp van will come with many different options. You can opt to pay more for all the upgrades or settle on a select few that will make your day-to-day travels much easier than before. Here are some of the most desirable features that users look for in their wheelchair ramp van.

Non-Slip Surface

When dealing with wheels, you don't want them to be sliding around on the metal ramp. You'll want to ensure that your ramp or mechanical lift has a non-skid surface on it. This is typically applied with the paint at the time of preparation. This will ensure that you don't accidentally slip off of the ramp while entering or exiting your vehicle.

Side Lip Guard

Apart from a non-skid surface, you'll also want a side lip guard to protect your wheels from rolling over the edge of the ramp. Without this guarding lip, your wheelchair can easily find its way over the edge of the ramp. This can create a major disaster and serious injuries.

Low Degree of Incline

The incline of the ramp is going to be a big factor in how difficult it is to enter the van. The most desire incline is to go up two inches for every foot of the ramp. This equates to about nine and a half degrees of incline for the ramp. This makes it super simple to easily get on the ramp and into the vehicle.


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