Wheelchair Blog from AMS Vans

Welcome! We know there's a reason you're here, and AMS Vans is honored to be part of your world. We hope you'll visit our wheelchair blog often, because we promise to bring you an engaging perspective every day.

A physical disability presents unique challenges for the individual, the family and the caregivers. Our wheelchair blog is here to empower all of you with tips, trends in wheelchair technology, wheelchair news, inspiring stories, insightful interviews, medical breakthroughs, helpful links, the latest in adaptive products, disability news, upcoming events and, of course, information about AMS Vans' wheelchair accessible vehicles. We focus on anything and everything that enriches your life and makes it easier.

Buying a handicap accessible van is a defining moment in the life of an individual who wants manageable mobility beyond the wheelchair. We have handicap vans for sale, and we want to ensure the process—from the moment it begins—is as smooth as possible. When you purchase a wheelchair van from us, the process never truly ends, because you become part of the AMS family. Just like family, we stay in touch and care about your happiness.

We'd love to hear from you—even if it's just to say "hello!" Your thoughts matter, so take time to comment on the articles that interest you, inspire you, or provoke you. Every question, suggestion or concern you share with us helps us make our wheelchair blog better and more useful for all our readers. At AMS Vans, we want to get to know you, and we want you to get to know us!

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Venture out on Amazing Virtual Tours Without Leaving Home

Sometimes we’re stuck at home and we go a little stir crazy. For those with limited mobility issues, this is a common occurrence. Thanks to today’s modern technology, we’re able to venture out to places all over the world. In this light, here are some amazing virtual tours we can take right from the comfort of our couch.

Walk The Great Wall of China

We’ll begin our online VR tour at one of the seven wonders of the modern world by exploring The Great Wall of China. Stretching thousands of miles across several provinces of northern Asia, it’s one of the most impressive structures on our planet. Additionally, you won’t need a plane ticket or passport to virtually stroll one of China’s most popular tourist attractions.

Visit National Parks

The United States National Parks services and Google Arts & Culture platform have teamed up to offer at least five epic virtual adventures for tourists to enjoy from indoors. These virtual tours include exploring:

  • The glaciers and waterways of the Kenai Fjords in the Alaskan wilderness offer a lot. Indeed, it includes a kayak ride through these marine straits and a hike across the tundra
  • A fiery lava tube in a Hawaiian volcano along with a virtual flight over an island mountain
  • Go spelunking through a few of over 100 caves at the Carlsbad Caverns in the desert of southern New Mexico
  • The VR tour of Bryce Canyon in Utah centers around the beautiful red and orange desert landscape. Further, it begins on Sunset Point where virtual visitors enjoy a star-filled night sky
  • Lastly, dry Tortugas is a remote park located 70 miles from Key West. You won’t need to book a seaplane or boat to get there to visit Fort Jefferson

On the National Park Foundation website, virtual tourists will find even more of these grounds to experience via a screen including Crater Lake and live webcams in many popular locations. Some of these sites include the Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson, and Martin Luther King, Jr. memorials.

Explore Yosemite

One of the most popular and visited National Parks, at Virtual Yosemite visitors are able to explore everything this location is famous for from Half Dome to Glacier Point and more. Explore over 200 locations within Yosemite and its surrounding areas during different seasons. The stunning 360° interactive and panoramic views present high-resolution photography and videos. Yosemite presents spectacular vistas from the top the cliffs and waterfalls with peaceful locations found along trails.

Visit a Multitude of Museums

The largest collection of artwork on the planet is found at The Louvre gallery in Paris, France and is accessible without a transatlantic trek. See ancient Egyptian antiquities. Then, explore the remains of the fortress’s underground moat from when this location was a fortress. Other monumental museums and locations to experience include:

  • The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation in New York City is another memorable and magnificent place to explore both indoors and out also available from the Google Arts & Culture platform
  • The largest collection of artwork from the world-renowned Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent Van Gogh is found at his namesake museum in Amsterdam housing hundreds of his paintings and letters
  • Lastly, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History near our nation’s capital is home to many of our country’s national treasures. Indeed, virtual visitors are able to experience former, current, permanent exhibits, and much more

Dive Underwater

There are several virtual dives available from the National Marine Sanctuary website that are accessible 24/7 without the need for scuba equipment. Among the many underwater areas to explore include an immersive dive alongside sea lions in a VR video. Other presentations offer a 360° experience when scenic and aquatic photos are “stitched” together for panoramic views under the sea.

Find More Amazing Virtual Tours

When you’re in the market to buy or sell a handicapped-accessible van, AMS is America’s Superstore! We have hundreds of choices including side and rear entry models. Additionally, we have a selection of vans priced under $30K. Check out our inventory of new and used models for better mobility and reliability.

Should I Get a Used or New Wheelchair Van?

Should I Get a Used or New Wheelchair Van?

Buying a wheelchair van is essential to getting around with mobility limitations. With the right van, any handicap parking area or open pavement is a place you can deploy from. For the adventurous and very busy, you may spend a great deal of time in your van traveling from mission to mission. Your van can become a home base, a road trip vessel, or your personal tour bus to enjoy the city depending on how you configure and use it.

One of the most important choices whether to by a new or used wheelchair van. This choice will guide your further selections. In fact, there are five aspects to this choice. We’ll explore the pros and cons of each one.

New Wheelchair Van

  • The latest guaranteed, warranted, off-the-line van.
  • A new van on a lot manufactured some time in the last three year

Used Wheelchair Van

  • Certified pre-owned, like-new van
  • Pre-modified wheelchair van, used with perks
  • A used van that can be modified

Brand New Van

If budget is no object, you can order the latest model of your favorite type of wheelchair van. You can order it with your favorite trim and features or pick a nice standard model and finish the modifications yourself.

A brand new wheelchair van comes with a lot of pros. The quality and performance is guaranteed, and it likely comes with a very nice warranted for the first few years. The downside is also clear. A brand new wheelchair van will be your most expensive option and has the second-most requirement for personalization to make it right for your lifestyle.

New Wheelchair Van Off the Lot

Your next option is to pick an available wheelchair van off a new vehicle lot. These new vans will have been manufactured sometime in the last 3 years, including the most common models and colors. Off-the-lot vehicles, especially from previous years, are more likely to come at a lower price and cycle through available discounts. If you have your eye on a specific model or color, look around at dealerships in your surrounding area and let them know of your interest. Dealerships eager to sell can sometimes source you what you’re looking for.

New vans off the lot are usually high-quality, guaranteed performance, and come with fair to exceptional warrantees. But they can have small defects (and discounts) due to lot events like bad weather or a year in the sun. These vans are the most likely to need modification (no special trim) but are more reasonably priced than the latest models.

Certified Preowned Wheelchair Van

If you’re buying a used wheelchair van, the best place to start is with certified pre-owned vehicles. These have been checked out by certified mechanics, often repaired and touched-up before they are sold to a new driver. Certified pre-owns tend to have lower mileage than other used vehicles and are guaranteed not to be lemons.

A certified pre-owned van will be like-new with maybe a few fades, scuffs, or missing floormats. The benefit is that the price will be significantly lower, by a few thousand at least, and the quality will be just as good. Most dealerships that sell certified pre-owned also offer good warrantees for the first few years of ownership.

Used & Pre-Modified Wheelchair Van

An interesting and affordable alternative is to buy a used wheelchair van from someone who has already modified it for their optimal use. If your driving or riding styles are similar, you could reap the benefits of a pre-modified wheelchair van. These vans tend to have more miles on them, but they can also be more comfortable, easier to use, and include personal innovations that no new van would have.

There are many used wheelchair vans on the market because needs and lifestyles change and there’s always someone looking to buy. Both the discount and the modifications can be beneficial, but it’s also a personal choice whether you’d rather a new unmodified van instead.

Used Van to Modify

The final option is a used van that might not be ideal, but can be modified. Whether you’re on a shoestring budget or can’t find the right wheelchair van, remember that you don’t have to start with the perfect design. It’s okay to think outside the box when it comes to used wheelchair vans. In fact, if you have a unique idea for your wheelchair van, it’s sometimes easier to start with a cleaner slate, like an empty cargo van with the right kind of doors. If this is your goal, you can save a bundle by broadening your used van search criteria for the best body at the lowest cost.

Learn More About a Used vs New Wheelchair Van

Should you buy a new or used wheelchair van? The answer will come down to your budget, your plans, and the vans available in your area. New and certified preowned vans come with guaranteed performance and warranties. At the same time, used wheelchair vans are easily modifiable and in a more comfortable price range. The choice is yours.

Great News for Parents and Kids With Disabilities: Award-Winning Children’s Books and a Night to Shine

Great News for Parents and Kids With Disabilities: Award-Winning Children's Books and a Night to Shine

Reading children’s books in the library.

Often children with disabilities don’t feel the same type of inclusion as other kids and parents struggle with this fact. Thankfully ‘the times they are a-changing’ as some would say. Given more young people being diagnosed with mental issues like autism, a type of physical, or other limitation is finally receiving the same type of spotlight and recognition in today’s media as those who are not challenged in some way.

Firstly, let’s take a look at these award-winning children’s books featuring differently-abled youngsters starring in title roles inside these novellas. In January 2020, the American Library Association named three winners and three honorees of its Schneider Family Book Awards. These honorees have been recognized recently for their contributory roles as authors and illustrators. They portray the youth disability experience. There are three age-related categories given annually:

Young Children in Children’s Books

The winner in this group goes to a title written by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in, “Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You,” encouraging children to communicate with their fellows to embrace and accept their unique differences which makes them stronger. Also, “A Friend For Henry“, written by Jenn Bailey, is about friendship as told from a boy with autism.

Elementary and Middle School Grades in Children’s Books

A Song for a Whale” by Lynne Kelly won the award for her tale about a twelve-year-old deaf child. They go on a quest to help a whale who can’t communicate with other whales. In the honorary category, “Each Tiny Spark” won. It follows a daughter whose father returns home from military deployment a changed man as the result of PTSD.

High Schoolers and Teens in Children’s Books

Karol Ruth Silverstein won in the teenage category for her portrayal of a young girl with juvenile arthritis in “Cursed“. Meanwhile, Alison Gervais received the honorary status for her story of a deaf student adjusting to a high school. Everyone else can hear in “The Silence Between Us“.

The winners in each of these categories will receive $5,000 and a framed plaque in a presentation. These occur during the library association’s annual conference held every June in Chicago.

A Night to Remember

Attending prom is a high school ritual. It is a rite of passage for many teenagers. However, it’s more than just a dance or a reason to get all dressed up and hang out with adolescent friends. It’s an evening where all students, no matter where they sit during lunchtime, what clubs or cliques they belong to, instead, it’s a time to come together for a party one last time before graduation.

Many kids who are disabled either from socially-related mental disorders or have mobility issues, often don’t feel really comfortable in these type of party settings. This shouldn’t stop these students from attending one of these functions and thanks to former NFL superstar Tim Tebow’s namesake foundation and hundreds of churches across the country and all around the world, today’s ‘Prom’ is now for everyone.

A Night to Shine

Held prior to Valentine’s Day annually, A Night to Shine puts all of these unique teens in Prom’s premium spotlight regardless of their limitations. Indeed, every year these unique venues feature a red carpet entrance complete with friendly paparazzi.

Prior to arrival at Prom, there are limos provided (or other specially-equipped types of transportation available) and typically feature shoe-shining services along with hair and makeup stations. These spectacular events include a traditional Prom with a delicious dinner, live music, and a brightly-lit dance floor.

Learn More About These Children’s Books

Our hearts go out to The Tim Tebow Foundation along with churches all over the world who sponsor these events. Further, we’d like to salute Six Flags for providing a one-day, safer place to play for those youngsters with Autism.

8+ Excellent Movies With Disabled, Mentally or Mobility Challenged Main Characters

8+ Excellent Movies With Disabled, Mentally or Mobility Challenged Main Characters

In 2019, actress Ali Stroker made history by becoming the first person confined to a wheelchair to win a Tony for her performance in a revival of the Broadway classic Oklahoma! In a moving speech, Stroker emotionally dedicated the award to, “every kid who is watching tonight who has a disability, who has a limitation, or a challenge, who has been waiting to see themselves represented in this arena… you are.”

We’d like to dedicate these eight movies showcasing characters who are disabled, mentally, or mobility challenged to Ali Stroker. While those with limitations have often been underserved in title roles, we’re happy to see them in the limelight.

1. The Miracle Worker

Based on a true story, a caregiver struggles to connect with an unruly, deaf, mute, and blind child. Further, the role provided a young Patty Duke an Oscar for her role as Helen Keller. Movies like The Miracle Worker and The Elephant Man are often considered classic and cornerstone films that bring the real-life struggles of those who are different to audiences everywhere.

2. A Beautiful Mind

Based on a true story, A Beautiful Mind tells Nobel Prize-winning, schizophrenic mathematician, John Forbes’ story. Further, the film won an Oscar statue for director Ron Howard and actress Jennifer Connelly for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress respectfully.

3. Benny & Joon

Benny (Aidan Quinn) cares for his younger sister Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson) who navigates several unspecified forms of mental illnesses. Soon Sam (Johnny Depp) enters the picture and begins to woo Joon with his Charlie Chaplin-like charm and antics. As the pair begins to fall in love, Benny contemplates sending Joon to live in a group home.

4. Children of a Lesser God

Marlee Matlin was the first (and still only) deaf person to receive an Academy Award for her portrayal alongside William Hurt in Children of a Lesser God. In the film, Hurt is a new teacher at a school for the deaf. His challenge is getting former student Matlin to use her spoken voice instead of relying on sign language. A romantic relationship develops between the two despite the emotionally distant and bitter background suffered by Matlin’s character of Sarah.

5. I Am Sam

In an Oscar-nominated performance, Sean Penn delivered an epic performance as the title role in I Am Sam. Penn portrays a developmentally disabled man fighting to retain custody of his seven-year-old daughter played by Dakota Fanning. Indeed, based on a true story, Sam’s struggle comes to light as his daughter’s growing mental capabilities begin to surpass his own.

6. The Theory of Everything

Based on real-life events, The Theory of Everything relates the relationship of Stephen Hawking with fellow student Jane Wilde. At the age of twenty-one, the couple discovers Hawking has a motor neuron disease. According to his doctor, he has little time left to live. Despite the terrible news, they begin an ambitious study of time, breaking new grounds in the fields of science and medicine.

7. My Left Foot

Born with cerebral palsy, Christy Brown (Daniel Day-Lewis) only has control over a single limb, his left foot. However, early on, Brown astonishes his impoverished family by scrawling the word ‘mother’ on the floor with a piece of chalk gripped with the toes on his left foot. This truly remarkable man goes on to become an accomplished writer and painter in Ireland.

8. Simon Birch

We recently showcased Simon Birch as a choice for a fantastic, lesser-known, family-friendly movie to watch and would like to highlight a fun fact about the film. The actor who played the title character, Ian Michael Smith was born with Morquio Syndrome also known as MPSIVA which affects the skeletal structure and causes dwarfism. However, even with his smaller stature at just over three feet tall, this little boy has a big purpose in this spiritually inspirational film. It also stars Ashley Judd and Oliver Platt.

BONUS: Soul Surfer

Every teen going through a hard time needs to watch Soul Surfer, the true tale of thirteen-year-old Bethany Hamilton. Indeed, she loses her arm in a shark attack. Not only does this brave gal get back on the surfboard again, but she also finds a higher purpose in life by helping others.