Adapting a standard van into a wheelchair accessible van requires substantial alterations to ensure the vehicle meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, as well as provides a comfortable ride for the wheelchair user and passengers.
An excellent resource on safety and requirements is the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (nmeda.org). This organization is comprised of mobility dealers, manufacturers, and rehabilitation professions who advocate for safe, reliable vehicles and modifications to enhance accessibility for all people.
It is advisable to rely on an experienced professional who has been trained in how to complete wheelchair van conversions. A professional can also provide a warranty for the conversion work.
For tips on contracting with a professional to do a vehicle conversion, please click here.
Whether you use a wheelchair or mobility scooter, a van can be adapted to meet your specific needs. This includes making the proper accommodations if you intend to drive the vehicle or just be a passenger.
There is typically a choice of side entry or rear entry. Yet, the make and model of the van may be determining factors. Either ramps or lifts may be installed during the conversion process.
Then, the user rides up the ramp or onto the lift and enters the van where his or her wheelchair is secured, either in the driver's seating area or in a passenger area. Safety belts and harnesses are used so the wheelchair stays in place while the van is in motion.
The flooring of a standard van is lowered during a conversion to provide plenty of headroom. All passengers in the converted vehicle remain at eye-level as a result. The height of the van is not affected so it can still fit in standard garages and underground parking lots.
A wheelchair accessible van conversion can cost anywhere between $8,000 and $15,000+. The cost depends mostly on how much of the van has to be altered, including what is required to lower the floor and whether or not the gas tank has to be moved.
Not every van can be converted. Therefore, check with a conversion specialist to be sure that your vehicle can be properly adapted.
To read more about the requirements for accessible van conversions, please click here.
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