Any parent of a child or children with disabilities will tell you, life after kids can be a bit unpredictable, yet incredibly rewarding. The spills and screams can be quickly forgotten with the flash of a smile from your little (or not so little anymore!) one. That being said, the challenges faced by parents of kids with physical or developmental disabilities can be trying, especially when it comes to finding safe, comfortable transportation to accommodate your child’s needs.

Here are four things every parent of a child with a disability should know about wheelchair accessible vans.

Where You Buy Matters

Finding the right wheelchair accessible vehicle for your family can help you unlock a more mobile lifestyle, but not all dealerships are qualified to help you make such a potentially life-altering purchase. This is where NMEDA QAP dealers shine. Accredited under NMEDA’s Quality Assurance Program, all dealer members of our organization are expertly trained, experienced and dedicated to making mobility accessible. QAP-accredited NMEDA dealers are knowledgeable on all available kinds of mobility equipment, so they can help you find the right solutions to keep your child comfortable and secure on the road. All NMEDA QAP dealers offer individual, in-person evaluations and 24-hour emergency roadside services. Our technicians are also certified at completing handicap van conversions, ensuring your family’s vehicle is built to the highest quality standards.

There are about a thousand more reasons to choose a QAP-accredited NMEDA dealer, all amounting to the fact that your automotive dealer of choice can make all the difference when it comes to finding the perfect mobility vehicle.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Mobility vehicles are custom built to fit the needs of both drivers and passengers with disabilities and, as such, their specifications can vary immensely. These accessible vehicles come in all shapes and sizes—from sedans to SUVs, full and minivans and even trucks—and the model you choose will depend largely on you. Larger families will undoubtedly be more comfortable in a full size accessible van, ensuring you have plenty of space for every member of your clan, as well as any medical equipment your children need to have with them. For families with only one child with adaptive needs, a minivan might still be a great option, as it will not only give your child the choice of not transferring from his or her wheelchair (just securing it with tie-downs), but will also welcome any friends tagging along for an outing.

These specific requirements, and more, are all things your NMEDA dealer will be able to shed more light on to make certain you purchase or finance a vehicle that’s suited for your household.

Study Your Routine

Does your child’s school have a separate curbside drop-off area? Does your home have a garage or a paved driveway or do you park along the curb? These often overlooked parts of your everyday routine can make a big impact on the kind of mobility equipment your wheelchair accessible vehicle should be outfitted with. For example, if your driveway or garage is narrow, or designed for only one vehicle, a side-entry van might not be a viable option, as it would require additional space. In this case, a rear-entry vehicle would be ideal. Alternatively, if parallel parking is something you have to do often, a rear-entry van might not fit your needs.

By getting to know your routine, even the little moments that usually go unnoticed, you can better discuss your needs with your mobility expert and find the right solution.

Look Forward

Purchasing or financing a new or used wheelchair van is an exciting and potentially life-changing opportunity. It is also a big investment requiring a lot of planning and consideration, so choosing a mobility vehicle that can be with your family for the long haul is essential. Pick a vehicle that can grow as your child and your family do—if your children are still toddlers, be sure the vehicle can still accommodate them as teenagers. You’ll also want to ensure your van or vehicle’s lifespan is long and healthy by servicing it proactively and getting familiar with your warranty. These, and many more, are all factors your NMEDA dealer can help you address when it comes time to select your vehicle and conversion options.

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.

4 responses to “Wheelchair Accessible Vans: 4 Things Parents Should Know

  1. I would love to be able to purchase a van for my son but I don’t see how I would be able to they are so expensive I am my sons caregiver and a single mother if there is a payment plan that would meet our budget please let me know

  2. I am a single mother of a 21year old disable son . I am in desperate need of a van with a lift. when we go out i have to take him out of the wheelchair and put him in the car and strap in in the seat.then i have to put his wheelchair in the van. Im getting older and he is getting heavier.Is there any way you can assist me our give me information where i can get the help to get a van with a lift in it. Thanks Vanessa Covington

  3. I never knew vans were custom built to fit the needs of the driver and passengers with disabilities. My parents are looking to get the wheelchair ramp in their van repaired. Thank you for the information on wheelchair accessible vans.