Disability Resources

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!

The Many Types of Assistive Technology for Disabled Persons

Woman with disability working from home in her Assistive Technology wheelchair

We live in a world where anything is possible thanks to technology. Today, we have technology that makes it possible for people with disabilities to achieve unimaginable feats. It is a fantastic thing to see and be a part of. AMS Vans is very happy to be a part of the forward progress, not just with our vans, but in other ways as well. Join us as we take a look at the many types of assistive technology for disabled persons that technology has given us.

The Daily Struggles Stop Here

For years, people have felt that disabilities could possibly hold them back. Then, there are others who prove that disability does not stop anyone. Consider how Sylvester Stallone overcame birth complications that resulted in paralysis of his face. Even though it left him with a perennial snarl and slurred speech issues, he still one of the world’s sexiest men.

Chris Burke, a man that we all know from the sitcom “Life Goes On” is another example of overcoming obstacles. Although born with Downs Syndrome, he appeared in this very popular television show from 1989-1993. He has been in a music band that created four albums and won a few Golden Globe Awards despite doctors saying when he was born that he would never walk or talk.

These two did it without the help of technology. Today, we don’t have to. We have access to assistive technology. It is this technology that makes it easy for a writer to overcome blindness, a paralyzed veteran to access the internet, and wheelchair-bound people from all walks of life to be more independent.

How Technology Helps Everyone

From Smart Home technology allowing us to use Alexa or environmental control devices, and other types of things; to adaptive tools that make it easy to use utensils, keyboards, and more. We have it all within our reach in today’s world.

If you look up “handicap home solutions” you will find a variety of tools that can make your life easier. We hear often how people may still struggle to use a keyboard. It takes precision to hit the right keys. Autocorrect can help some, but what if you are unable to see the keyboard or have trouble controlling your fingers? There is a solution available. It can be found through searching for “adaptive keyboards” on Amazon. These devices simplify using the keyboard so that you can search the web for necessities or wants that you may have.

As another option, you can also search for the term “smart home” on Amazon.com. This will allow you to find a large variety of products that may help you in your day-to-day life as you embrace the technology we have available.

Increasing Mobility and Convenience

Mobility is one of the easiest things to deal with. You have a lot of options. Depending on the disability you face, you may use canes or walkers, or be wheelchair dependant. Although difficult, this does not mean you are ever restricted. We have too many different types of mobility aids available, including scooters or our customized, wheelchair accessible vans.

In the words of Chris Burke, “It’s not your disabilities, it’s your abilities that count.” This is our mission. Our hope is that as technology continues to improve, we can do even more for those who struggle with simple things. We have the dream of becoming a world where there is no such thing as being “unable” to live your life on your terms.  In this world, the one that makes anything possible, disabilities and handicaps should not hinder your ability to be the independent person you want to be.

Learn More About Assistive Technology for Disabled Persons

If you are ready to show your independence, we encourage you to contact us. We will be happy to help and with three convenient locations and nationwide support, we are always here for you.

7 Accessible Bathroom Modification Tips

Working together with disability in the bathroom.

The right bathroom design is an essential part of living with a physical disability. This is where your most complex and potentially risky self-care activities take place. The bathroom is where we all want to be the most independent. Of course, most bathrooms are not initially designed for wheelchair safety or access. If you’re looking to make a bathroom more wheelchair accessible, we’ve put together a helpful collection of tips.

Room to Roll

Spacing is incredibly important for an accessible bathroom, especially for wheelchair accessibility. The ADA has some great guidelines for how many inches are needed between bathroom fixtures to allow a wheelchair to get around. Grab your tape measure and find out if your bathroom as-is is big enough for wheelchair accessibility or if there are a few renovations that can make it more accessibly spaced.

In addition, you should also think about picking things up off the floor like hampers and bathmats that might serve as obstructions to wheelchair mobility in the bathroom.

Wheel-Friendly Bathmats

Normal fluffy bathmats are not wheelchair-friendly, as you may have already discovered. That fluff tends to catch on wheels and sometimes stop rolling entirely. Fortunately, there are more rollable alternatives to traditional bathmats. Firm rubber bathmats with holes allow the watershed from a bath or shower to evaporate without a mess while making it easier for a wheelchair to roll across the bathroom.

Lowered Floating Sink

floating sink is a sink that has no cabinet underneath, so it looks like it is ‘floating’ against the wall. Crafted properly, the plumbing is tucked behind the drywall or inside much smaller cabinetry. Indeed, without cabinetry in the way, the sink becomes much more accessible to those in a wheelchair. Floating sinks make it easier for handwashing, tooth brushing, hair styling, and other sink-based activities to be done from a seated position with the knees comfortably under the sink basin.

Grab Bars Around the Toilet

Most wheelchair users can lift themselves between chair and toilet as long as there is sufficient grab-bars to support them. Installing grab bars ad the right height around a toilet can be essential. For toilets that are not in a nook, installing a second bar on the other side can add additional support and ease for the transition from wheelchair to toilet and back again with full independence.

Curbless Shower Stall (or Gated Tub)

It’s well-known that shower stalls are more wheelchair-friendly than tubs, but not all shower stalls are equally accessible. What you need is a curbless shower stall, one without a small ledge between the drain-surface and the floor. This way, a wheelchair can roll directly into the shower without having to be pushed over the lip or threshold.

However, for those who need a bath-tub for physical therapy reasons, some people choose to go with a gated tub instead. The outer wall of a gated tub is a water-tight door that swings open that a physically disabled person can step carefully into the tub without having to climb.

Dual-Mount Handheld Showerhead

An essential piece of wheelchair-accessible bathing is the handheld showerhead. The hook-and-hose design involves a shower head at the end of a flexible hose. Thus, bathers can bring the water down to their level and focus the spray anywhere it is needed. To make the shower versatile and welcoming to all, consider installing two mounts for the showerhead. One in a reachable position for someone in a wheelchair, and one in the usual raised position for someone standing to shower.

Shower Chair or Seat

Not every wheelchair user bathes in a chair. Though they may need to be seated, many leave their wheelchair. For this reason, having a foldable shower chair is a great addition to an accessible bathroom. A foldable shower chair can be tucked into a corner when not in use. Further, it provides a convenient seat for those who cannot comfortably stand through the bathing process. Many luxury-designed showers also include a foldable shower seat, often of bamboo or teak, that folds down from the wall for a relaxing/accessible seated shower.

Conclusion

Building an accessible bathroom can be a complete transformation or just a few small adjustments. For more great insights on how to increase accessibility in your home or facility, contact us today!

bright orange pumpkins in a pumpkin patch

10 Creative Halloween Costume Ideas for Wheelchair-Users

It’s hard to believe that Halloween is almost here and will kick off the holiday season. This first fall holiday is all about having fun – dressing up for trick-or-treating, costume parades, sweet snacks, scary movies and parties are common pastimes. If you’re incorporating a wheelchair into your costume, it’s an opportunity to bring some extra creativity. Many creative kids and inventive adults have truly taken this task to the next level.

If you’re still trying to decide on your costume or helping out a loved one, check out these cool costumes.

Master of the Seas

Building a ship around a wheelchair for Halloween gives way to all sorts of fun costume ideas. Dressing up as a generic pirate is a classic costume, but other options include more specific choices, such as Captain Jack Sparrow, Blackbeard, the famous female pirate Anne Bonny, Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid or, for kids, Moana is a great option.

Supplies:

  • Cardboard for ship
  • Tall stick and sheet-flag
  • Markers and paint
little girls in power chair dressed up as Moana

Photo: thislittlemiggy.com

I Am Batman

Over many decades, boys, girls and adults have adored the popular Batman franchise whose heroic characters may lack superpowers but have gadgets galore including the infamous Batmobile. Parents of eleven-year-old Gavin truly enjoyed going all out building Batman’s ride to transport their son around their neighborhood in style on Halloween. You can try to build something similar to them, or create a less-complex version with cardboard. One thing’s for sure – this would be a costume to remember!

Cruising in a Kayak

boy incorporating his wheelchair into a halloween costume of him riding in a kayakSpeaking of water, the creative minds over at the Fine Craft Guild have showcased a boy riding inside his rowing vessel with the namesake “Toddler Tour Kayaks.” This watercraft Halloween costume almost completely encompasses the tiny tot’s wheelchair and comes complete with oars as trim. Paint any name you want on the side!

Supplies:

  • Large pieces of cardboard
  • Paint
  • Clear packing tape
  • Straps or zip-ties to attach the “kayak” to the chair
  • Small oars for props

Princess Power

Little girls have been dreaming about being Disney princesses for decades. Thus, a four-year-old from Minneapolis made headlines with her Princess Sophia-inspired carriage complete with lights and trim. Kudos to the design team behind this transformed a motorized wheelchair. All you need is a princess outfit, then decide how elaborate you want to decorate the “thrown.” You could go all out by attaching cardboard or just tie some cool streamers and bows onto the chair to make it fancy.

 

Seated on The Game of Thrones

Adults can get in on the Halloween fun, too!  If you’re willing to put some time and energy into a bit more of an elaborate costume – and if you’re a fan of the show – this Game of Thrones-inspired throne could be a perfect choice. Although “winter is coming,” the person who shows up in his costume should get more than a warm welcome this Halloween.

guy in a power chair in a game of thrones halloween costume

 

Super Smart Mario Kart

Super Mario and all the related games are iconic across generations. Mario Kart is a fun and creative option for a Halloween costume incorporating a wheelchair. Standard supplies are below, but images and full instructions for re-creating Mario’s Kart can be found on the blog from Wheelchair Costumes. Just pick your favorite Super Mario character costume to top it all off!

Supplies:

  • Cardboard Vehicle Frame
  • Styrofoam Booster Jets
  • Tissue Paper Flames
  • Paint

Rocking and Rolling

boy in a wheelchair with a halloween costume that looks like he is playing the drumsAnother fun costume idea from Fine Craft Guild, is a rock star. While the drummer is commonly seated at the back of the band, with this costume, percussion takes center stage. With a little imagination, this musician is seated behind a sweet bass drum and smaller drums, and symbols, too. Throw on some rock star attire, and this costume is ready to roll!

Supplies:

  • A hula hoop
  • Cardboard
  • Solid-colored gift wrap (shiny for more effect)
  • 2 coffee cans
  • 2 disposable pie tins
  • A stick or pole for the symbols (pie tins)
  • Drum sticks for props

Race Car Driver (or other cool car)

For those who like to go fast, there are so many possible designs to turn a wheelchair into a super cool fast car. From an Indie 500 car to the Delorean, to your favorite sports car, there are lots of options. Similar to Mario Kart, all you need is cardboard and paint, plus a helmet for the full effect. You could even attach some battery-powered LED lights on the front for a cool effect!

Life on the Farm

Another creative costume for kids and adults involves transforming the wheelchair into a tractor! With similar supplies as we’ve mentioned above, and a little green or yellow paint, it’s easy to become a full-fledged farmer this Halloween. Grab a cowboy hat, a bandana and a piece of straw to chew on, and you’re all set! Yee-haw, ya’ll!

little boy in a wheelchair with a tractor costume

 

 

If you’re in the market for a new wheelchair accessible vehicle or need a rental to make this Halloween special, be sure to check out our huge inventory of new and used vans. From all of us here at AMS Vans, we hope that all who celebrate enjoy safe and happy Halloween festivities! If Halloween’s not your thing, then we wish you a Happy Fall!