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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ADA

AMS Vans Joins the Disability Community in Celebrating 30 Years of the ADA

This July marks the 30-year anniversary of the signing of the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA). While current conditions may not allow for the massive parades and gatherings that were planned for this summer, AMS Vans, along with the disability community, still proudly celebrates three decades of the passing of legislation that has made our world much more accessible.

Basics of the ADA
President George H.W. Bush signed the ADA into law on July 26, 1990, after decades of dedication and advocacy by people with disabilities (PWDs) and their allies nationwide. According to dol.gov, the ADA “prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in several areas, including employment, transportation, public accommodations, communications and access to state and local government’ programs and services.” 

Before the ADA, it was extremely uncommon, and in most cases unimaginable, to see modifications or original design in public areas that accommodated people with disabilities. Things we take for granted today like curb cuts, electric door openers, wheelchair lifts on buses, and accessible bathroom stalls weren’t there yet. So, while versions of personal-use wheelchair accessible vehicles had been available for some time, chances are the destination wouldn’t be accessible when you got there.

Did you know? An estimated nearly 57 million people in the U.S. alone have a disability and around 30 million of those have difficulty walking or standing. Over 3.5 million use a wheelchair for mobility. That’s a lot of people the ADA protects!

Over the years, amendments to the ADA have been made, including better clarity to the definition of disability, and added protections for telecommunications and other mandatory accessible features, like swimming pool lifts. As PWDs achieved increased access to the world, they naturally became more visible in society. With that, the opportunity to change assumptions. Soon, markets became more viable, and we saw the development of complex assistive technology, accessible travel options, adaptive clothing, and eventually, representation in film, books, and media.

While we believe in celebrating all the achievements and improvements, though, we recognize that there is still work to be done. Discrimination still exists and the disability community is often the most vulnerable in emergency situations like natural disasters or public health crises.

Ideas for Celebrating the ADA Virtually
The unforeseen obstacles of 2020 have made it difficult, or even impossible, for the disability community to gather, like usual, at Abilities Expos, disability fairs, support groups, and sporting events. Some may even know loved ones that are in the hospital right now, without the ability to have visitors. That’s why it’s so important that we all find a way to celebrate this important milestone for our community with the tools we have available!

Education
The best way to reduce discrimination and increase access is through education! As a person with a disability, it’s vital to know your rights, and as a person who owns a business or works in public service, you can make this world more accessible by ensuring your establishment is more than compliant. To learn more about the ADA, including a detailed definition of the law and regulations, design standards, technical assistance materials, and more, visit ADA.gov.

The ADA Legacy Project is another great resource for continuous education about disability history, current news, advocacy opportunities, and much more. You can connect and follow along with them on Facebook here. (facebook.com/ADALegacy)

ADA Live! can also be a fantastic educational tool with information offered in an alternative format. It’s a free monthly podcast available nationally online. Listeners can learn about their rights and responsibilities under the ADA as leaders in the field share their knowledge, experience, and successful strategies that increase the participation of PWDs in communities and businesses. (https://www.adalive.org)

Getting Involved
While volunteering in person may not be an option for some, you can still get involved with your local disability organization by donating money or skills that could benefit their mission. Virtual skills could include marketing, accounting, web and graphic design, content creation, and more. These local organizations, such as independent living centers, disability resource centers, and adaptive sports clubs, really improve the lives of PWDs in your community and need all the help they can get.

Political and social advocacy is also a way to get involved to protect the rights of PWDs. Stay up-to-date on proposed legislation that impacts public access or civil protections for PWDs and take the time to contact your senators and representatives to remind them not to forget the needs of our community. Learn more about getting involved here from the national leaders in advocacy for the mobility community, United Spinal. (https://unitedspinal.org/action-center/)

Reach Out and Lift Each Other Up
Now, more than ever, we need to reach out to friends in the disability community to check on them and offer support. Give a fellow buddy on wheels a call or set up a video group chat to catch up and share stories, frustrations, and concerns. Maybe help spread the word about a fundraising campaign someone you know is running for an accessible vehicle or adaptive equipment. The feeling of community can really help.

At AMS Vans, we’re proud to serve the disability community and are committed to unparalleled customer service and compassion for our customers. Happy 30th Anniversary of the ADA!

7 Ways to Stay Safe When Driving During the Coronavirus Pandemic

7 Ways to Stay Safe When Driving During the Coronavirus Pandemic

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Coronavirus mainly spreads via person to person contact. You may also contract the virus by touching an infected surface or object, then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose. Because of the severity of this pandemic and the fact that we’re still learning about this virus, different states have taken drastic measures to curb the further spread.

The primary aspect is to avoid close contact with anybody, and this has led to the imposure of quarantine in different states. In fact, most countries are advocating against interstate travel at the moment. If you have to travel to states like Wisconsin, Connecticut, New York, or New Jersey, among others, you’ll have to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving.

If you still wish to travel during this period, here are seven actionable travelling tips to help you and your loved ones stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. Stay Home If You’re Sick

First things first, if you’re sick, it’s vital that you simply stay home. This virus spreads between people just in the same way as the common cold.

Therefore, if you’ve been experiencing any flu-like symptoms, for example, fever, runny nose, cough, and others, be sure to check with your local health center clinicians first. Describe your symptoms to them and be tested for COVID-19.

That’s not enough, still. Even if you test negative, but still feel sickly, consider postponing or even better canceling your travel plans for now. This is because if you’re sick, it means that your immune system is weakened; hence you’re more susceptible to the virus.

2. Visit the Local Government Website First

Governments and institutions are making daily adjustments to deal with this scary virus. Because of this, other new changes could have been put in place and may impact your travels.

To avoid any nasty surprises, be sure to check the state’s official website before departing from where you are. For example, you may not be able to travel to some municipalities in New Jersey, Newark, or nearby towns of Orange, East Orange, and Irvington if the municipalities suspect that your travel is nonessential.

3. Maintain Hygiene Always

The basic rule of thumb is to disinfect surfaces you get in contact with; before, during the journey, and after. This is especially crucial if you offered to give someone a lift or you’re sharing your car.

Here are some of the car’s interior parts that you should regularly disinfect; the steering wheel, door handles, steering column stalks, the door frame, gearstick, elbow rests, handbrake, and seat position control.

If you’re traveling with a person with a disability and use a wheelchair-accessible van, be sure to regularly disinfect the wheelchairs, especially if you need to continually transfer the person to their seat when using the van. Optionally, you may also make new arrangements to get standardized mobility cars with lifts, which will automatically load the wheelchair to the vehicle.

4. Keep Your Hands Clean Throughout

Fortunately enough, the Coronavirus cannot get directly to your bloodstream through your skin. To reduce the chances of contracting it if you touch your eyes, nose, or mouth by mistake, ensure that you wash and disinfect your hands regularly.

5. Wear Facemasks

You need at least FFP3 class respirators to get the best level of protection from the Coronavirus. Nevertheless, you should still have at least the non-medical grade masks. While the non-medical grade masks may not protect you from the infection, they will at least prevent you from touching your face.

6. Fill up Safely

It’s highly probable that you’ll have to buy fuel during the journey. Still, you have to maintain hygiene even at the petrol stations. If possible, go for the self-service stations. However, if you’re going to use the regular stations, be sure to maintain distance with the staff.

For payments, it would be better to use the contactless payment methods, for example, payments with your mobile phone or card. If you have to use cash, sanitize them too.

7. Drive Safe

Your overall safety is also crucial. Don’t forget about the necessary road safety standards. Be sure to maintain focus when navigating the intersections, pause and look twice before driving through intersections and stop signs.

We Will Get Through the Coronavirus Pandemic Together

We acknowledge that some of these safety measures are too drastic. Nevertheless, our health comes first. Drugs and vaccines will be made available, but before that, let’s minimize the risks of spreading the infection by observing the important safety guidelines.

How to Choose the Right Type of Accessible Van

How to Choose the Right Type of Accessible Van

A wheelchair-accessible van has modifications that enhance the mobility of people with disabilities. Such vehicles have general conversion steps that make them suitable for individuals in wheelchairs. However, different people have different requirements, and some are more specific than others. If you are a person who likes tailored options, then you need some criteria when choosing your next wheelchair-accessible van. Here is more insight into selecting the best accessible van that covers all your needs.

Type of Wheelchair Van

Manufacturers adjust the accessible van depending on whether the individual in a wheelchair is the passenger or the driver. If you intend to drive the wheelchair van, you should opt for one with a full floor side entry. You can easily modify a side-entry wheelchair van. It works well with parallel parking. Such a design enables you to access the driver seat quickly without needing extra help.

If you are sure about never having to drive, you can choose a rear-entry van. Rear-entry vans can only accommodate little modification. They are suitable for perpendicular parking.

Look at the Dimensions

Considering the fit of the wheelchair-accessible van is essential for providing the appropriate amount of space for any of its occupants. Keep in mind the measurement of your wheelchair when deciding on the width of the van. For instance, a wide wheelchair requires wider ramps than regular. When you pay attention to such measurements, you can avoid buying an extra-large vehicle that surpasses your budget or a narrow one that doesn’t give you enough room.

Budget

Exploring choices that are strictly within your budget is necessary for avoiding extra costs. Before making a purchase that strains your pocket, be sure to check out all the vehicles you can afford. You can request quotes from several sellers then analyze all of them. Ensure that the features are worth your money.

Which Brand Should You Choose?

There are different models of wheelchair-accessible vans in the market. Below you’ll find some high-quality options.

Dodge Grand Caravan

One of the earliest wheelchair-accessible vehicles is the Dodge Grand Caravan. It gives users more accessibility for different wheelchair positions. Also, the latest models have a power ramp system and a low-lying floor to ease entry into the van. Some Dodge Grand Conversions are the AMS Legend, AMS Edge, and AMS Edge II. Depending on the seller, prices range from $43,179 to around $55,000 for both rear-entry and side-entry models.

Chrysler Pacifica

This wheelchair-accessible van comes from one of the most trusted car manufacturers. Chrysler’s conversions use the most recent technology to offer luxury with their adequate interior space and high accessibility quality. The VMI Chrysler Pacifica provides 360 degrees of maneuverability, a stylish in-floor ramp, and interchangeable front seats. Models include the Touring Plus, Touring L, and Touring L Plus with prices starting from $50,480.

Toyota Sienna

The Toyota Sienna van is convenient for anyone who needs advanced mobility.  You can enjoy the removable seats, extra head space, and keyless remote control. If you decide to go with the Toyota Sienna, you can choose either a side-entry or rear-entry model to serve your desires. There are several conversions of Toyota Sienna wheelchair vans, including the Toyota Power In-floor, Toyota Power Foldout XT, and Toyota Rear-Entry Manual. The conversions have a price starting from $58,535.

Learn More About Wheelchair AccessibleVans

With the right wheelchair-accessible van, you can stay mobile and enjoy your wellbeing. Ensure that you test drive or practice how you can access the vehicle to determine if you are comfortable. The van you choose should have most, if not all, the features in your list. For top-notch consultation and advisory on how to choose the right type of accessible van, contact us, and we will be more than willing to assist.

Driving Safely During the Pandemic

Driving Safely During the Pandemic

 

Our world is going through a tough time right now. This Coronavirus pandemic has levied restrictions as we have never anticipated. Although most of us are observing CDC and WHO guidelines, there are times that we have to leave our homes. Regardless of the reason for your travel is to pick up food or medicine or if you are an essential worker that has to commute to your workplace, driving during this time presents some new challenges.

1. Minimize Travel

Decide what errands are actually essential during the pandemic. And look at other ways to complete tasks that you would normally drive to.  For example, instead of going to the supermarket to purchase groceries, consider shopping online and picking up in the parking lot or having them delivered. And consider one-stop shopping. Maybe a supermarket that also can fill your prescription or one that offers postal service within the store. If you are an essential worker, do your errands on the way to or from work. If you must run an errand, call your neighbors and ask if they need anything picked up to avoid additional exposure.

2. Minimize Passengers

Buying groceries does not have to be a family affair. Fewer people equate to less exposure, as well as less distraction. If you must rideshare, take precautions to sanitize the vehicle before and after the riders get in and out.

3. Carefully Follow Traffic Laws

Just because there are fewer cars on the road, does not mean that you should relax your focus or ignore traffic laws. With first responders working harder than ever, a traffic accident would put additional strain on an already overloaded work force. Hospitals in many cities are full and it might be difficult to receive treatment. Make sure that you treat intersections with special attention, looking for vehicles, pedestrians, or wheelchair occupants.

4. Sanitize

Keep the sanitizing wipes and gel in the vehicle at all times.  It’s a great idea to wear gloves when you stop at a gas station or shop, but if you don’t take them off before getting back into your car, you are bringing any exposure with you. Clean all surfaces, including the dash, inside windows, and headrests. Keep a bag for gloves, tissues, etc. in your car and dispose of it each time you get out of the car. If you have passengers, ask that they use sanitizer and follow the same precautions that you do.

5. Know the State Laws

If it is necessary to travel between counties or states, do a little research before you leave home. Many counties and certainly many states, have their own orders and laws in the way they are handling transportation during the pandemic. There may be road closures, detours, or mandatory quarantine for someone coming from across state lines.

6. Limit Distractions

As previously mentioned, limiting passengers will cut down on the amount of distractions. In addition, limit the use of your phone, radio, or any video equipment while driving. Certainly, no texting!

7. Make a List

Or make several lists. By listing the errands you must run, you can optimize the time spent traveling in your car. By listing what essentials you need from the store, you can fulfill your list quickly and limit exposure.  And by planning a menu for the upcoming week, you can minimize the number of times you have to travel.

Learn More About Driving Safely During the Pandemic

Someday soon, our lives will get back to normal. Or maybe we will have a new normal.  Regardless of our future, planning, caution, and focus will continue to have us travel safely.