The industry of wheelchair accessible vehicles has grown tremendously in the past several years.  The changes have been made possible because of heightened awareness of people with disabilities and the continuing growth of technology. One of the biggest changes is in the type of vehicle that can be modified to wheelchair use. At one point, only vans were used.  The wheelchair passenger was able only to ride in the back of the van as a passenger.

For a wheelchair handicapped person to be able to drive was not even a thought. With the changes that have evolved in today’s society, a person in a wheelchair, if their disabilities will allow, can drive their own vehicle.  They can even have a choice of what type of vehicle that they drive. They can choose from certain cars, trucks, sports utility vehicles and of course a variety of vans. These options can now be considered with the comfort and safety of all involved. This change has been made possible with the help of a nationwide group called NMEDA.

NMEDA is a non-profit organization that works together with the mobility equipment industry to promote safety and well-being of the wheelchair handicapped individual. NMEDA stands for National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Our group strives to promote safety and guidelines for the making, selling and service of mobility equipment. Our members are required to adhere to the strict guidelines designed to help regulate the safety of people with disabilities.

When choosing wheelchair accessible vehicles, to ensure the disabled individual’s safety, find a NMEDA dealership in the area. They are specially trained to help people choose the right equipment to suit their needs. When choosing the vehicle, a very important consideration is who the driver will be. Should the answer be that the disabled person will be the driver, there are several options that one will need to considered. Will that individual need hand controls for the gas and brakes?  Will that individual need a special grip for the steering wheel?  NMEDA dealers will make sure that these questions and considerations are tailored to the disabled individual’s needs.

Your first step is to get an assessment from your physician, physical therapist and your Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist. Then choose your equipment dealer. Remember NMEDA dealers are trained in quality and safety. The dealer will offer an individual in person evaluation with you to make sure that you are selecting the proper equipment to suit your needs.

You will need to choose what type of seating that you want. If you can transfer from your wheelchair to a regular seat, you can choose an adjustable seat that can even swivel to make your transfer even easier. If you are going to drive from your wheelchair, a removable seat will be the best choice.  What type of restraints do you need?  Will you have someone all the time to help you or will you be driving solo? If you are driving solo, then the electric restraints would be the wisest choice. This is where a device is installed on the bottom of your wheelchair and on the floor of the vehicle. When the wheelchair is in place, the device will automatically lock. Also make sure you have seat belts even when driving from a wheelchair. You will still need to buckle yourself in. These are just a couple of choices that your NMEDA dealer salesperson can help you decide when you have chosen to purchase wheelchair accessible vehicles.

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