Shopping for a vehicle can be a day-long hunt, no matter what specifications you’re looking for. As a mother or father of a child that uses a wheelchair, the endless options are no exception. Depending on what your child’s needs are, how old they are, and more, there’s a lot to consider. Luckily, there are resources like NMEDA online and Quality Assurance Program (QAP) dealers in your area that can point you in the right direction toward the accessible vehicle to fit your needs. The following are some questions to consider to make searching for a wheelchair van for your family much easier.

Where Should Your Child Sit?

As you’re driving, you want to be sure that your child is held secure in his or her seating and restraint and provided ample room for comfort. The safest place would then mean the center of the vehicle or the rear. Seating in the passenger seat for your child that uses a wheelchair is subject to various laws and your child’s weight, but by putting safety first, you don’t have to worry about the impact of potential, sudden-impact air bags. NMEDA dealers will understand your necessities for the right wheelchair accessible vehicle and seat for your child and also factor in: your child’s height, size of wheelchair, medical needs and equipment that would need to accompany him or her, and seating for your child’s friends—which leads to considering which entry is right for your family.

Should You Choose Side or Rear Entry?

Choosing a side or rear entry wheelchair van comes down to your child’s equipment and what’s necessary and easiest for transporting that. A rear entry vehicle is ideal if your child has limited mobility and uses a ventilator or feeding tube. If your child has more flexible mobility, side entry is an option that allows them to maneuver themselves into place. With the rear entry, a caregiver has the option of sitting next to the child, and the child is closer to the driver as well. Although a side entry wheelchair accessible van allows for more room, assessing your child’s needs for transportation will make the right choice clearer.

In-Floor or Fold-Out Ramps?

Another quality to consider is whether or not your family should use in-floor or fold-out ramp in your wheelchair van. Also affecting seating options, a fold-out ramp gives a maximum seating of five, while an in-floor ramp gives a maximum seating of six. There’s an advantage for having either option: an in-floor ramp means you’re clear to use it in most instances of space, while a fold-out ramp is easier to navigate because of high side rails and can deploy manually if needed. Both are ideal for children and adults with standard to slightly oversized wheelchairs, so they’re fit for your growing child.

These are some of the main factors you want to consider and ask your trusted NMEDA QAP dealer for more specific help on. On your search for the right wheelchair accessible vehicle for your family, NMEDA dealers can make your handicap vehicle selection an easier process and guide you to maintaining your accessible vehicle for years to come with your family.

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our Quality Assurance Program mobility equipment dealers.

10 responses to “Choosing a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle for Your Family

    1. Hi Joanne,

      My name is Dan with Performance mobility.
      Please give me a call if you still need assistance. I’m happy to help you.


  1. does anyone know of any resources/grants for help with purchasing a handicap accessible vehicle for my daughter?

  2. Just started looking around for a handicap vehicle. I will need one for my daughter soon. Does anyone recommend any dealer and/or resources/grants.

  3. I am a Vet. and I need to get me something that I can put an electric scooter in and so that I will be able to go to appointments with out having my wife who is 69 have to push me in my wheelchair her health isn’t the best either. I am not working but I come up with so interesting things that help me and others out. I took a jogging stroller and converted it to a small trailer so that I can go to parades or to family get-together s at the park I can put a cooler or other things in it that would be to much for us to carry. I also had an idea while my wife was in a rehab center for her shoulder. I made a table cloth for the bedside table. I chose bright colors to brighten up the room. But that’s not all I went to harbor fright and got some spring clamps to hole the one side down because I made the cloth hang down on side of the one in bed and put pockets there for a note pad, remote control, phone, and other small things that get knocked off if someone bumps the table. she was having to call the nurse several times a day to get things that fell off the table. after I made it for her she never had to bother the nurses anymore and she was happy as well.Several people have asked me to make them one as well and I tell them to bring me the items needed to do the project and I’ll make it at no charge to them as long as there is no money out of pocket.

    1. Hi Dennis,

      Thank you for sharing this. We recommend contacting your local NMEDA dealer for help on finding an accessible vehicle for your electric scooter. You can find one nearest you here.

  4. I currently have a Town and Country accessible van. My husband has a jeep and a quad cab pickup. We are thinking about getting a new truck and thought maybe we could pare down to 2 vehicles and get an assessable truck. Most of what I see are for the primary driver to be in a wheelchair. I am looking more for something that the power chair can be stored in the back seat area with the driver and main passenger seat be “normal” I don’t use my power chair all the time, but need to be able to have it available and with us. The wheelchair is a Permobil C300 if that helps. Thank you

  5. I’ve been handicapped over 4 years I’m looking into buying an accessible van. I’m tired of paying for a cab.