Many of our stairlift clients also use a wheelchair and getting around within the home isn’t a problem. When it comes to going further afield under your own efforts, and not being dependent on taxi’s or on public transport, then a wheelchair accessible vehicle is the natural choice. However not all cars are suitable for wheelchairs, so you need to find the right adaptable vehicle for your needs.
There is a variation of entry methods depending on the vehicle chosen and one of the most popular is: –
The most popular type of ramp is a permanent fixture to the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle and is most often fitted at the back of the car. You may occasionally find a vehicle where the ramp is fitted at the side of the WAV, but these are quite rare.
Commonly manual ramps are of double or single construction and, although light to manoeuvre, are very strong and able to take a maximum weight of around 300 kg. A ramp is fitted to the vehicle by means of a pivotal hinge bracket and will store upright in the tailgate or door area when the car is moving. The ramp width is usually between 75 cm – 84 cm.
The less common type of ramp is powered and adjustable at the press of a button but, inevitably, these are more expensive and therefore not as popular as the manual ramps. A manual ramp can be converted into one that is powered but the cost would probably be prohibitive.
A telescopic ramp may be found sometimes on an older vehicle. These are of good construction and portable but the storage space and extremely exact measurements required prior to usage of a wheelchair do not make them very popular.
A Wheelchair Lift
A lift will normally be found only in larger WAVs. The most important feature of a lift is the ease in which a wheelchair and its user can be transferred into the car. Lifts are fitted to a standard floor as opposed to a lowered floor and they are usually fitted with an over-ride system so that it can be used manually if the vehicle electrics fail. A lift is usually approximately 76 cm wide and care should be taken that the designed load weight is not be exceeded.
A Powered Winch
If the wheelchair user has a carer, then the best method is a winch that is designed to assist them in manoeuvering a wheelchair and its occupant in and out of a WAV. The carer must be very careful guiding it into the right position to enable the winch to efficiently pull the wheelchair and user into the car. When getting out of the vehicle the carer must first roll the wheelchair out and guide the chair down the ramp, which will have reeled out automatically.
Whether you use a winch or a ramp it is important that the vehicle is not parked on a slope but on even ground so that entry and exit can be carried out without any danger.
Have you seen other methods used to more easily get in or out of a vehicle? Let us know in the comments.