Handicap Accessible Vans

Written by Sierra Rein
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For most people with disabilities, the ability to own handicap accessible vans is their ticket to leading a normal life. As the 20th century begins, the population of the United States is becoming more accepting of the fact that one in five people have some sort of disability, while one in ten is considered severely disabled. And, as employment rates increase amongst the severely disabled (up from 23% in 1991 to 77% in 1997), the need for people in wheelchairs to get to their workplace independently is on the rise as well.

Handicap accessible vans have given the elderly and other people in wheelchairs an increased social life and an involvement in public life previously unseen by former generations. Current laws instilled by the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 have made public areas such as theaters, sports arenas, restrooms, and restaurants readily accessible to the disabled. With this in mind, many car manufacturers and private companies are bridging the gap and creating newer and more specialized vans for disabled individuals.

Most handicap accessible vans are either mini-vans or full-sized. They can come equipped with electric-powered chair lifts that are either side or rear-loading and can be operated by the handicapped individual on his or her own. Locking mechanisms safely keep the wheelchair installed in the driver's seat, while ambulatory guests can be seated in the passenger seat or in any number of alternative seating options throughout the van.

Safety Considerations Regarding Handicap Accessible Vans

Because of their unique design, it takes quality engineering to make sure that these vans are up to modern US Federal Motor Safety Standards. The highest quality handicap vans should be crash tested to pass the NHTSA standards. Most vans come equipped with quick release seats to remove both the driver and passenger seats easily in case of an accident in addition to manual override of power side doors.

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