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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Diverse & Inclusive Toys for Kids Who Roll

Lego boy in wheelchair playing ball with his friends in the park as disability-friendly toys.

Lego boy in wheelchair playing ball with his friends in the park

Playing is one of the most important parts of any child’s healthy development. In the past, kids with special needs didn’t have access to many toys or heroes that represented disabilities – and that can impact a young person’s self image. Thankfully, it’s now much easier to find inclusive toys that represent people with disabilities as major toy manufacturers begin to think more inclusively.

We put together a list of cool, inclusive toys and books for kids who roll! #AMSVans #SpecialNeedsKids Click To Tweet

Hot Wheels Wheelie Chair

This cool chair was created to resemble extreme adaptive athlete Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham‘s WCMX wheelchair. You may already know, Aaron Fotheringham is an extreme wheelchair athlete with spina bifida who was the pioneer of WCMX riding, in which people perform tricks and flips with their wheelchairs, similar to the way a skateboarder uses his board.  Aaron travels the globe with groups like Nitro Circus – and has landed amazing tricks, including the world’s first double backflip in a wheelchair. If you get this toy for a kid you know, be sure to pull up some YouTube videos of Aaron doing his thing! But, be sure to mention not to try this at home (at least, not without proper instruction and gear)!

hotwheels wcmx wheelie chair

Photos of the Hotwheels Wheelie Chair in action, courtesy of Aaron Fotheringham.

Lego Wheelchair Minifigure

What kids doesn’t love legos? Fans celebrated in the summer of 2016, when Lego introduced a minifigure in a wheelchair as part of its City line. The tiny figure features a detachable wheelchair in the same style as other Lego accessories. The achievement was in response to an online petition by Toy Like Me, which had over 20,000 signatures and encouraged toy companies to represent more diversity. The petition urged many toy companies to start creating disability-friendly, inclusive toys.

Wheelchair Barbie

Amidst lots of hype from the media, Mattel has plans in June, to introduce a barbie in a wheelchair and a Barbie with a prosthetic leg. Although Mattel has sold wheelchair Barbies in the past, such as Becky Barbie, there are none currently being sold. This summer, these dolls should be available everywhere to promote inclusiveness and raise the visibility of people with disabilities. Kids can expect the traditional Barbie look that they’v grown to love, with long hair and large eyes – but with the diversity we’ve been missing.

barbies fashionistas line including barbie in wheelchair

Soon, Barbies will represent better diversity! Image: Mattel

American Girl

These classic dolls, which are based on the equally popular American Girl books, can represent a wide range of disabilities. American Girl dolls are fully customizable, so you can get a doll that looks just like your child. Then, you can choose from a number of accessories associated with disabilities, including a wheelchair, crutches, hearing aids, diabetes kits, glasses and a walking stick for kids that have seeing impairments. American Girl has long been cherished as a company that provides inclusive toys with diverse representation. The books are also fun, too. They’re full of adventures featuring girls from all over the world and many time periods.

Books for Kids in the Disability Community

In addition to inclusive toys, there are quite a few children’s books about characters with disabilities. A popular one for kids who roll is called Don’t Call me Special: A First Look at Disability. Some other good ones include Meet ClaraBelle Blue by Adiba Nelson, about a little girl living with cerebral palsy, or Mama Zooms by Jane Cowen-Fletcher, about having a parent who uses a wheelchair. This is just the tip of the iceberg for diverse children’s books. For more, search Google or ask your librarian!

mother and baby reading

There are tons of children’s books out there featuring characters with disabilities!

 

Do you have a favorite inclusive toy or children’s book celebrating disability that we missed? Let us know and we’ll include it in a future blog!!

Synthetic Motor Oil vs Regular Motor Oil: Which Should I Use?

Hand mechanic in repairing car,change the synthetic motor oil close up selective focus

Motor oils are primarily responsible for keeping the engine from premature wear. When you find the right oil, your engine will serve you for longer. Choosing the right oil for your vehicle might seem like a simple job. However, engines are designed with a specific type in mind, and the more complex the engines become, so are the oils they require.

Choosing the right oil can become challenging when you begin examining the vast array of options available. But, we’ve come to the rescue! A little education goes along way. Understanding the basics of synthetic motor oil can help you make the right choice for your vehicle’s needs.

The API Symbols

API uses two symbols; the “Donut” and the Certification “Starburst.”

The “Donut.” This symbol, shaped like the sweet treat, has three parts. The top half describes performance levels, the center identifies viscosity, and the bottom informs you about the oil’s energy conserving potential. Performance levels are shown with an ‘S’ (which stands for Service) for gas engines and a ‘C’ (which stands for Commercial) for diesel engines.

Viscosity is all about temperature. It determines how well the oil flows at 0 degrees Fahrenheit and 212 degrees Fahrenheit. This is used for the oil’s designation; 5W-20, 5W-30, 10W-30 and 0W-30. It’s important to follow your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations on SAE oil viscosity, which can be found under the hood or in your owner’s manual.

The “Starburst.” This certification shows that an oil displaying this mark meets the current engine protection standard and fuel economy requirements of the International Lubricant Specification Advisory Committee (ILSAC), a joint effort of U.S. and Japanese automobile manufacturers, according to API.org

motor oil certification and service symbols

What’s the Difference between Regular and Synthetic Oil?

There are a lot of differences between synthetic and regular motor oils. Synthetic oils being more refined and distilled means they have no impurities. The refinement also allows the oil to be tailored to the specific demands of modern engines. How do you determine whether regular or synthetic is the right type of oil for your vehicle?

There are two main differences between synthetic and regular motor oils. The first difference is in how they are made. Second, their functionality and how they affect your car. When it comes to performance, synthetic motor oil is better. Synthetic oil engines perform 47% better than engines using regular motor oil. Synthetic oil’s low level of friction protects the engine while the additives help clean engine deposits.

Further benefits of synthetic motor oils include; fewer emissions, longer oil change intervals, reduced engine drag, better all-weather protection, and a quicker engine start time.

Your manual should be the first reference point if you want to know what type of oil is right for your vehicle. Some advise the use of regular motor oils while others specify the use of synthetic motor oils. Click To Tweet

Other Factors to Consider

Although synthetic motor oils can often provide better performance while helping your engine maintain a longer life-span, that’s not always the case. Some older engines run better on conventional or regular oil. Other factors affect the efficiency of motor oil in use, including the following.

External Conditions

External conditions such as weather and driving habits and distance play a role in determining how efficient your motor oil will be. Low temperatures affect the start time of your engine while high temperatures cause motor oils to break down or even evaporate which exposes your engine to wear.

Longer driving distance means a prolonged running engine. This prolongs the exposure of heat your motor oil will have to endure. Longer distances also imply longer running time which could increase the amount of sludge deposited in your engine.

Still not sure which oil is best for your accessible vehicle? Check out this comparison from idrivesafely.com.

AMS Vans side-entry wheelchair accessible van

Budget

Also, with synthetic motor oil being six to ten times the cost of regular oils, budget is also essential to consider. If you can afford it, and it’s right for you vehicle, go for synthetic motor oils. If full synthetic motor oils are out of your price range, and you have the option to choose something else, consider going with a high-quality regular oil. Visit our site for varied accessible vehicles with different motor oil needs. We will help you identify the right oil for your vehicle engine.

Need service on your AMS Van? We offer nationwide service and repair!

Gaming Companies Making Efforts to Create More Inclusive Games for People with Disabilities

Boy is playing inclusive games on mini computer

More than half of the sixty million people living with disabilities turn to the world of gaming to meet the need for friendship, belonging and self-esteem. According to Mark Barlet, founder of AbleGamers, gaming is a way for them to free themselves from their disability. They can present themselves in a manner that has fewer stigmas.

The reality is, there is a huge market for accessible gaming for people with disabilities and with the advancement of technology, the options are growing. More than ever, developers are considering people of all abilities as they create their virtual experiences. 

PC is the Most Flexible 

While there may be objections amongst the disability community, developers believe that in terms of gaming platforms, the most flexible is the PC (Personal Computer). This is due to the many plug-and-play devices that can be used. While consoles offer more cutting edge games, they are often not suitable due to their closed systems.

There are, however, initiatives meant to make the inclusive games more accessible to a broader range of people, with everyone playing an equally important role; from the developers to the caregivers. This article looks at the initiatives being put in place and how they have helped more and more people with disabilities get into the world of gaming.

man playing video game with hand controls

AMS Vans’ Dallas Crum tests out some hand controls connected to a driving game.

Game Design

Game engines are the tools used in the creation of video games. More and more developers have understood why the element of inclusion should be considered from the beginning; at the game design level. This has been the case recently with specific game engines already encouraging accessibility. An example such as Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4, which enables developers to see the appearance of their game with various forms of color blindness, allows developers the opportunity of addressing disability in their game design.

Accessibility Features

Certain major brand consoles have also joined in on the push for more inclusive games. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 accessibility features allow the player to redesign the controller layout to one that would suit their needs.

There is also the Xbox Co-pilot option found on Xbox One. This feature allows a player to pair a second handset to the first one which allows the player to recruit a friend or caregiver to help with certain buttons or with multi-tasking.

With the increased popularity of Virtual Reality, it has opened another alternative to how gamers can enjoy the different products. However, there is still a way to go. Virtual Reality Headsets can be bulky and when they require head movement, that can be a challenge for some individuals. The opportunity they present for vast and diverse experiences for a user with limited mobility, though, can’t be ignored.

man wearing virtual reality headset

Virtual reality could be the future for gaming for people with disabilities.

Disability-Friendly Companies

Companies such as Special Effect are creating inclusive games and developing all new ways to enable people to play. Furthermore, they are crafted on a case-by-case basis to meet the specific person’s needs.

AbleGamers develop solutions that game developers can implement to make their products more accessible. Remappable keys; which would allow users to reconfigure controls, color-blind options and closed captioning are a few recommended solutions. Tutorials are essential for players with cognitive disabilities since they will allow players to learn the game without fear of failure.

AbleGamers educate content creators, hardware and software developers on how to develop accessible games. On top of that, they also teach and support caregivers on the advantages gaming has to those with disabilities. Events such as Accessibility Arcades help show disabled gamers the technology that helps them enjoy gaming like everyone else.

According to statistics, there are roughly thirty-three and a half million of gamers with disabilities in the United States, two-thirds of them being male. Click To Tweet

Find More Inclusive Games

Able gaming can be fun for people of all ages and abilities! The more accessible gaming is made, the more inclusive it will be. For more information on how this is being made possible, head on to AbleGamers.

Speaking of accessible equipment, we install a variety of hand controls for wheelchair accessible vehicles at AMS Vans! You can read about some of the options we offer here.

7 Spring Maintenance Tips for Your Accessible Vehicle

For most people, the arrival of spring means merely taking off their snow tires. It is, however, much more than that. A harsh winter can take its toll on your vehicle. Here are just a few tips on how to not only get your accessible vehicle ready for spring but also repair the damage that might have been done by the harsh winter conditions.

Minibus accessible vehicle for physically disabled people.

Minibus with wheelchair accessibility.

1. Vehicle Spring Cleaning

Winter can be tough on all vehicles. Your vehicle has been through a lot. From salt and brine to the potholes. Road salt helps against ice, but it causes a lot of damage to cars. It can even cause brake failures. Salt-filled brine coats your vehicle’s underbody, and if left unattended, it will begin to erode. It is therefore recommended to take your car for an undercarriage wash.

2. Check Accessible Features

Pay attention to the door, ramp, and kneeler. Ensure the sliding door is free of debris. Fix any exposed, frayed, or damaged wiring on the sliding door. If your vehicle has a folding ramp or an in-floor ramp, spray hinges with a silicon-based lubricant. Ensure you can operate them without any issue. Contact AMS Vans service department to find out how to have your ramp, hand controls, and other accessible features serviced.

3. Check the Brakes and Tires

During winter, the vehicle usually deals with a lot of slippery conditions. In addition to that, the bumps from snow and ice will cause vibrations that loosen the alignment over time. Wheel alignment extends your tires’ life, steering control, vehicle performance and improves fuel efficiency.

When removing your snow tires, also check for feathering. If the feathering is too bad, it may require replacing of your tires. Ensure proper inflation of your warm weather tires. The impurities picked up from gritted roads might clog the brakes. Abrasions that usually appear in winter could lead to bodywork rust. Ensure you have your chassis checked during service.

4. Check A/C

To get ready for the heat, you should double check the air conditioning as well. Turn the AC on and make sure that max chill effect is achieved. Look out for any strange odors or noises coming from the system.

5. Check Windshield and Wipers

Winter conditions can damage your windshield and wiper blades. Repair the wiper blades if you notice they are frayed or torn. Run them across your windshield, looking out for streaking or other signs of malfunction. To avoid a complete windshield replacement, repair the chips that might appear on your windscreen. Lastly, top up the washer fluid whose levels might be a bit low after a winter of clearing away the grime and salt deposits from your windshield.

6. Check Engine and All Fluids

Start the engine and listen for any abnormal noises; rattling, grinding or clicking. Check to make sure your oil level is topped up. Take the accessible vehicle for an oil change if you feel it’s necessary. Look at your coolant and brake fluid. If your brake fluid is low, it is a sign the brake pads could be worn down.

7. Check the Battery

Check the battery for corrosion on the terminals. Clean them off with a toothbrush, a little baking soda, and elbow grease. Disconnect it first. Checking the shape is more complicated since it requires a battery tester. Take the car to a garage to find out if the battery needs recharging or replacement.

Find More Tips for Your Accessible Vehicle

The better you take care of your car, the longer it will last. AMS Vans is committed to supporting our customers throughout the process. However, if you feel that it’s time for a new look for a new season, we’ve got you covered! Why not trade in your accessible vehicle for a newer model? We offer a wide range of new and used cars. Browse our inventory here.