There are more than 18 million people in the U.S. and Canada with mobility issues—6 million of them are veterans. That number grows as more develop mobility problems as they age. But there are mobility equipment manufacturers, dealers, certified driver rehabilitation specialists and other professionals in our communities to help us select a handicap and/or wheelchair accessible vehicle with the special modifications we need.

One of the most important people is the mobility dealer or consultant. Mobility dealers that are members of NMEDA are all Quality Assurance Program (QAP) accredited and work closely with clients, their families and other professionals to make appropriate decisions.They are highly experienced to work with all disabilities and vehicle modifications. Mobility dealers offer a wide range of specialized vehicles from sedans to wheelchair accessible vans, which can be adapted to fit individual needs.

If you are the passenger, the dealer learns about your unique needs. They ask about your family, your activities, your environment, day-to-day travel distances and other aspects of your life; all these factors help determine the vehicle type, size and any modifications that might be necessary.

If you are the driver, you should see another important person—a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS). The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists, a non-profit organization, is the primary professional association in the field of driver education, driver training and transportation equipment modifications for persons with disabilities. Visit http://www.driver-ed.org.

Evaluations range from vehicle entry/seating to instruction in the use of adaptive equipment, from developing confidence for independent driving to preparing to get a driver’s license. The mobility dealer then uses the CDRS recommendations to install prescribed handicap equipment like secondary hand or foot controls to make your driving experience safe.

And the third important person? It’s you. The mobility dealers, Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialists and all the other professionals believe you’re #1. To start on the road to independence, go to www.nmeda.com and click on Dealer Locator to find a member near you.

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 van, car or truck, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.

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