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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ice cream melting in the summer

9 Tips on Staying Cool and Hydrated in the Heat

While Fall and its cooler temperatures are on the horizon, much of the U.S. is still experiencing the hottest temperatures they’ll see all year. With extreme heat, the risk for dehydration increases significantly, not to mention simple overheating. It is crucial for everyone to regulate their body temperatures during this period, but for those living with a disability, especially paralysis, it is even more critical.

With you in mind, here are a few tips on how you can stay cool as we wrap up summer, with hydration being the most important.

Siblings walking disabled brother in wheelchair in water along beach to stay cool and hydrated

1. Stay Hydrated

If you do nothing else, stay hydrated. Water has many advantages; not only does drinking water help you cool down and regulate your body temperatures, but it also helps to replenish the water leaving your body through sweat. On average, adult males should consume around ten cups of water per day, while women should drink about eight cups to avoid dehydration. Dehydration is usually signified by dry mouth, thirst, headaches, and dizziness – and if it becomes a long-term issues, it can contribute to other health problems.

A couple tips on staying hydrated? Find a water-bottle you love and carry it with you at all times. Consider getting a cup-holder for your wheelchair if you don’t have one to carry your water. There are apps that help you track water intake, which can make it kind of like a game. There are even smart bottles that help track for you!

If you need a little flavor to drink more water, try adding some fruit, like lemon, orange or strawberry slices to your bottle. Or, check out some of these popular, all-natural flavorings that you can find at most grocery stores.

2. Pick the Right Clothing

Wear breathable material such as cotton because the fabric is known to allow better air circulation, which will help keep you cool because the air absorbs the moisture from your body’s sweat. The even make cooling clothing!!

3. Eat Lighter Meals

As most of us know, from our memories of Thanksgiving dinners, having large meals leave us feeling bloated, heavy and in a sort of ‘food coma.’ While that’s common during the holidays, having heavy meals in the summer is not advisable. This is because the high temperature already has your body working overtime to cool you down, adding the work of digesting a heavy meal will leave you with low energy levels. Save your body the extra work and stick to lighter meals. There are also specific foods that are said to cool the body, according to Chinese Medicine, including lettuce, celery, cucumbers and many types of fruit!

4. Try Some Fruit Ice Blocks

Treat yourself by trying out fruit ice blocks. Blueberries and raspberries in diluted apple juice is one of the mixtures you could try out. It’s like making homemade popsicles! If you make them in ice trays, you can add them to your water, too!

5. Get Wet

Taking multiple cold showers or baths during the day not only helps to relieve the heat and humidity of the summer temporarily, but it leaves you feeling clean and fresh instead of fatigued. Or, take a dip in a pool or lake – whatever you have available! If submersing yourself in water isn’t doable, try laying some wet rags around your main arteries, like your neck, underarms and thighs. You could also soak your feet or hands in cold water.

woman floating in pool

6. Protect Yourself From the Sun

Prolonged sun exposure can cause health problems like heat strokes. Avoid staying too long in the sun, and when exposed to sunlight, use sunscreen or cover yourself with clothing to protect your skin from sunburns and prevent overheating. Bring a hat, and don’t forget to protect your eyes with some shades!

7. Cool Your Home

There are a lot of ways to make sure your home is cool. Try placing a tray or a bowl of ice in front of the fan in a room. As the ice melts, cool air is spread throughout the room, in the end, leaving you with a nicely chilled space. It’s also helpful to let cool air in at night through windows and close them when the sun comes up.

8. Stay Informed

Make sure you stay updated on weather forecasts; especially the temperature. Knowing the expected weather changes makes it possible for you to plan your activities. Being prepared for extreme heat is the best way to protect yourself.

9. Listen to Your Body

This is one of the most important things to remember. It is vital to listen to what your body is saying. If you feel unwell, have a headache or a fast pulse, it could be signs of heat exhaustion which if not checked, can lead to heatstroke. If you have these symptoms, move to a cool place, have try to relax and consume plenty of fluids.

You can always stop by one of our AMS showrooms to get out of the heat, too, and check out our selection of wheelchair accessible vehicles! We have locations in Atlanta, Houston and Phoenix

Celebrating 29 Years of the Americans With Disabilities Act

Disabilities are nothing new. However, the fact that the country has been helping people with disabilities is still relatively new. This month, we celebrate 29 years of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Developed in 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act was a milestone that has created equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

It Started With the Capitol Crawl capital crawl where people with disabilities climbed the steps of the U.S. capitol building

In March of 1990, there were dozens of activists with disabilities who got out of their wheelchairs in order to “crawl” up the steps to the Capitol building to protest that the government wasn’t sufficiently advocating for those with disabilities.

It took quite a while for the ADA to pass through Congress. It was introduced in 1988 with bipartisan support. Since it took so long to pass, the Capitol Crawl was used to garner support and show that our community wouldn’t be ignored. After that, Congress pushed it through, becoming law in July of the same year.

What the Americans With Disabilities Act Offers

The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits people with disabilities from being discriminated, including in such areas as public accommodations, transportation, employment, access to local and state government programs, as well as communications.

A variety of different federal agencies will enforce or investigate claims surrounding ADA. This includes the US Department of Labor, US Department of Transportation, FCC, US Equal Employment opportunity Commission, the US Department of Justice, the US Department of Education, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and even the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board.

Developed in 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act was a milestone. Indeed, it ensures that people do not discriminate against the disabled.

Confident business owners planning new business strategies.

Since the ADA was passed, communities have become more and more accessible. This includes everything from mandatory wheelchair accessible parking to curb-cuts. Almost all buses today are wheelchair accessible. Employers can’t discriminate against someone because of a disability. Government buildings have gone through renovations to allow access to all. Service dogs are protected and allowed to serve their owners, regardless of where they are.

The Timeline of Changes

Although the ADA was first developed in 1990, changes have been ongoing, providing even more rights to those with disabilities. For example, in 1991 there were more laws that focused on public accommodations. Then, in 1992, the ADA expanded to include employers with 25 or more employees. In 1999, there were two rulings by the Supreme Court that helped ensure that more people were covered by the Americans with disabilities act, including those taking certain types of medication. Even in 2006, there were updates to transportation regulations.

President Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990

President Bush signs the Americans with Disabilities Act on July 26, 1990

By 2008, there was the ADA Amendments Act, known as ADAAA. This was signed into law by Pres. George W. Bush as a way of counteracting the Supreme Court’s narrow interpretation of disability. It provided broader protection from discrimination. Further, it ensured that the definition of disability included having a mental or physical impairment that significantly limits one or multiple areas of life.

While the ADA and the following amendments have gone so far to ensure access and protect the rights of Americans with disabilities, there is still much work to be done. Attitudinal barriers and enforcement of the law continue to be a challenge for many people. We’re proud at AMS Vans to be a part of the fight!

Learn more about becoming a disability rights advocate from United Spinal Association here.

A Solution for Those With Disabilities

At AMS Vans LLC, we have been helping those with disabilities for over 20 years, all across the nation. We’ll work directly with you to provide quality wheelchair accessible vans that provide you with the mobile freedom that you desire. We offer a number of conversions – and you can find long and short-term rentals as well as direct sales to meet your personal needs. With AMS Vans, you can count on nationwide delivery and service, leasing and financing options and unmatched customer service.

Inclusive Technology: 5 Smart Devices That Increase Independence for People With Disabilities

smart phone controlling colored philips hue lights in home

Philips Hue Lights (photo: Engadget.com)

For people with physical disabilities, smart technology is more than just a convenience; it can be the key to increased independence. Today, smart technology is available for almost every aspect of our lives. It has been integrated into homes, vehicles, and mobile phones – and it seems new technologies become available everyday.

Here is some common smart technology that’s available:

1. Smart Speakers

Devices such as the Amazon EchoEcho Spot, and Echo Dot act as virtual assistants, making it possible for you to use your voice to control certain devices in your home. Those with limited hand mobility can now turn on the television, change the channel, and create a shopping list with a few words.

Devices like Alexa and the Apple Home app let you do more than just control devices; you can set up automated scenes as well. These give you the option of controlling multiple devices at once.

2. Smart Lights

The Philips Hue Light Bulbs, for example, can be controlled by the use of your smartphone and their compatibility with Alexa and Google Home allows you to control your lights by voice command as well. It is now possible to adjust brightness, schedule when the lights go on and off or even change their color. So, these cool lights not only improve independence for folks with limited mobility, but they can also change to suit your mood.

3. Smart Plugs

The VOCOlinc power strips make it possible for you to switch off or on appliances that are plugged into the socket. This is done either by a speaker or phone. This proves helpful, especially since most sockets are low and often difficult to reach.

4. Smart Doorbells

Doorbells today such as the Ring Doorbell come fitted with motion-sensor cameras that display footage of whoever is at your door on your phone’s screen. This provides the added security of knowing who is at the door before opening it. Others have the option of letting you speak to whoever is at the door through your phone.

5. Smart Locks

sebastian-scholz-nuki-IJkSskfEqrM-unsplash smart devices

Smartphone held at the door to auto-unlock it.

If you have visitors, you can give them access to your home without having to open the door. You also have the option of doing away with having to lock and unlock the deadbolt or fumble with keys.

The August Smart Lock, for instance, is a device that is attached to your door’s deadbolt and contains a motor that turns the deadbolt. Using either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, you can control the lock on your door. It is also compatible with Alexa, Google Home, and HomeKit, allowing you to operate the lock on your door with a simple voice command.

You are also able to grant people access to your home by sending an invite to their phone. This gives them access to your home but on your schedule. It notifies you each time the door is unlocked or locked and also records who entered your home and when. This could be really helpful to let in caretakers or visitors.

…And There’s More!

Smart devices do not just end there; there is also the option of getting a robotic vacuum cleaner like the Roomba 675 to help keep your home clean. A smart ceiling fan or wifi-controlled thermostat can help regulate your home’s temperature. Smart devices and their implementation in smart homes are continuously giving those with disabilities more independence than ever before.

Speaking of technology that increases independence, did you know we provide more than just wheelchair accessible vehicles at AMS Vans? We also offer adaptive driving aids, powered transfer seats and much more! Learn more here.

road sign that says are you covered

Tips on Getting the Best Insurance Coverage for Your Accessible Vehicle

In case you are wondering if car insurance works differently for accessible vehicles, you are not alone. Luckily, we’re here to offer some tips on the process.

If you are a driver with a disability, the focus of your insurance is substantially similar to that of standard car insurance; accidents. The protection afforded to your wheelchair van mainly varies according to the coverage you select.

Points to Note hand holding a car in a bubble to represent car insurance

The only stipulation needed to drive in public is that you can drive safely, regardless of disability; and if you passed your driver’s test, then the state considers it safe for you to drive. Before looking at premiums, it helps to know what insurance companies base those premiums on.

Insurance companies are not allowed to base their premiums on a driver’s disability. They do, however; base their premiums on several other factors, including the following.

  • Risk analysis – Moody’s Risk Analysis is a tool some companies use to measure the level of risk among drivers and determine insurance rates.
  • Credit history – This helps companies determine whether the driver can pay their premiums on time while also estimate the likelihood of the driver dropping their policy.
  • Driving record – Your driving record is vital for determining your risk while on the road.
  • Marriage status – Your marital status might be another factor insurance companies look at while determining your rates.
  • Age – On average, people aged between 18 and 25 often have high rates, so if you are within this age bracket, don’t be surprised if your rates are a bit high.
  • Criminal record – Some companies might run a criminal background if they feel it necessary.

The best thing to do when getting insurance for your accessible vehicle is to research and compare options, and consult insurance representatives. It is not necessary for you to share your disability, but doing so gives them more information about your current status and might enable them to recommend better quotes for you.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act enacted in 1990, it is illegal for anyone to discriminate in any way, against persons with disabilities; this includes car insurance companies that charge higher rates due to disabilities. Click To Tweet

When Applying

When applying for insurance, be sure to disclose your vehicle’s modifications because different types of changes can differently affect your rates. Be sure you get coverage for the adaptive equipment so it’s covered in case of an accident.

It is crucial that you request the details regarding the coverage you intend to apply for. When applying, also try to be as thorough as possible and ask all the questions, including the following. calculator, a pen and a list of numbers on a paper

Tips for the Best Insurance

Keeping this in mind, here are a few tips that will be sure to help you get the best insurance provider for your accessible vehicle.

  1. Look into the minimum requirements for your state.
  2. Keep your financial situation in mind; get a premium that is affordable and one that gives you adequate coverage.
  3. Review your driving record.
  4. If you have coverage already, look at how much you are paying and what is covered.
  5. Make a list of companies that interests you and get quotes from their websites or representatives.
  6. Contact them for further details about the coverage they offer.
  7. Ask about possible discounts and consider using the same company to combine coverage on multiple items (home, boat, etc.).
  8. Evaluate their reliability; read reviews, visit the website of your state’s insurance department. You could also talk to friends and family.
  9. After the last step, you probably have a shorter list; make one final review and pick the policy best for you.
  10. If you were previously covered, don’t forget to cancel your old policy.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this article has been helpful and will make getting insurance for your wheelchair van a lot less stressful. For more on accessible vehicles, feel free to visit our website.

Did you know that AMS Vans now offers one year of complimentary roadside assistance (including paratransit service) with the purchase of a mobility vehicle?! Learn more!