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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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.

How to Get a Handicap Parking Permit

The handicap parking system is an important public consideration. Anyone who has mobility or health limitations understands how important short walk distances are. Here at AMS Vans, we often discover that customers seeking vans for handicap situations don’t yet have their handicap parking permit or know how to get one. Handicap permits are not hard to get. You simply have to follow the right procedure with a qualifying condition or situation.

Today, we’re here to share how you can get your handicap parking permit temporarily or permanently.

Couple parked in handicapped parking space. Handicap parking permit.

Couple parked in handicapped parking space.

How Do Handicap Parking Permits Work?

The handicap parking permit gives you permission to park in spaces marked with blue and white as handicap spaces. They often have van unloading spaces designated next to them, and all handicap spaces prioritize shorter distances from your vehicle to your destination. Anyone with an eligible medical condition or physical limitation can work with their doctor to be approved for a permit. When you have a permit, vehicles you drive or ride in that display the permit will be able to park in these spaces.

Who Qualifies for a Handicap Parking Permit?

There are many conditions that allow someone to qualify for a handicap parking permit.  Needing a handicap space is considered to include people with visible mobility limitations and people with health problems that make long walks difficult or impossible. This means that far more conditions can qualify for a permit than most people expect. However eligible conditions vary state by state, so check your state handicap eligibility to be sure.

You can also get a handicap parking permit for a temporary condition. Those recovering from surgery or a recent leg injury, for example, can qualify for a temporary parking permit. Pregnant women can also get a handicap permit for the duration of their pregnancy.

The best way to know if you qualify is to talk to your doctor. They can tell your condition qualifies in your state. Here are the most commonly accepted conditions that will qualify for a handicap parking pass:

  • Leg Injuries, Loss, or Impairment
  • Loss or Impairment of Both Hands
  • Lung and Heart Disease
  • Post-Surgery Recovery
  • Arthritis
  • Severe Vision Problems
  • Inability to Walk Without an Assistive Device
  • Brain Injuries and Tumors
  • Chronic Pain
  • Seizures
  • Cancer Treatment
  • Short-Term Memory Loss

How to Apply for Your Handicap Parking Permit

Applying for your permit is a lot easier than you might think. There are usually very few hoops to jump through, you just have to fill out a little paperwork and get it submitted. If you qualify by state standards, your permit will be issued.

  • Verify with Your Doctor
  • Get an Application from the DMV
    • At the DMV
    • Online on the DMV website (print it)
    • From your doctor
  • Complete the Form with Your Information
  • Ask Your Doctor to Complete Their Portion of the Form
  • Submit the Application by Mail or in Person
  • Pay Fee If Required
  • Renew On Time
    • Renewal rate will depend on the nature of your condition
    • Temporary permits usually last 6 months, or until the date noted by your doctor

If you are going to travel out of state, you may want to apply for a temporary handicap parking permit issued to visitors.

Options for Displaying Your Handicap Parking Permit

There are a few different ways to display your permit, and you can choose whichever works best for you. The one everyone recognizes is the tag or placard. This is the tag that hangs on your rearview mirror when you park. Tags usually need to be renewed every 6 months to 2 years. They are also incredibly useful if you aren’t always in the same vehicle. A tag can be stowed in your bag and hung so that any vehicle you drive or ride in can park in handicap spots. Tags are also the most common for temporary handicap situations.

For a vehicle that is the primary transport of a handicap person, driver or passenger, a windshield sticker is a second option. Windshield stickers tend to have longer renewal cycles and don’t have to be hung and taken down. You can get a temporary sticker if you don’t want a tag, and simply remove it when you are well or your handicap passenger is riding with someone else.

Finally, there are license plates with permanent handicap symbols on them. These are usually for the primary vehicles of handicapped drivers. They ensure that your vehicle can always park in the handicap spots.

It should be noted that for vehicles with stickers or license plate permits, the permit is still only valid while the handicapped person is using the vehicle. The permit-holder can be a passenger or a driver, but they must be present for the permit to be valid.

Learn More About Receiving a Handicap Parking Permit

AMS Vans has been dedicated to helping handicap drivers and passengers for over 20 years, and having a handicap parking permit is an important part of that. Once you have your permit, look for the handicap spaces with van unloading areas so you’ll always have the room you need to get in and out of your vehicle. For more information about parking permits or finding the handicap transportation you need, contact us today. The AMS Vans team is here to help.

5 Important Questions Answered About Uber & Lyft Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

Uber and Lyft have become an exceedingly popular alternative to public buses and taxi cabs. Both of these companies are most notably known for allowing riders to choose their ride preferences and certain customizations. What about options for those who require wheelchair accommodations? Let’s take a look at the 5 most frequently asked questions when it comes to Uber and Lyft’s services to those who need wheelchair accessible vehicles.

What is a WAV (Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle)?

A wheelchair accessible vehicle, known more commonly as a WAV, is a vehicle which has been modified to easily accommodate a wheelchair. Typically, the interior is adapted in order for a wheelchair to fit as well as either a wheelchair ramp or a power lift for convenient access.

Does Uber or Lyft Have Wheelchair Accessible Vans?

Uber offers UberWAV which connects riders to drivers with vehicles which can accommodate wheelchairs. UberWAV drivers have completed a special training course in order to help you or a loved one safely enter and exit the vehicle. It is important to note that in areas where WAV services are not available, Uber will send alternatives directly to your phone.

Lyft offers Access Mode, which puts riders in need of a WAV in touch with drivers who have a WAV. As with Uber, in areas where this service is not available, alternative transportation methods will be sent to you.

How to Request an Uber or Lyft WAV?

Requesting a WAV with both Uber and Lyft is quite simple. For Uber, you will simply use UberWAV to schedule an on-demand ride that meets your needs, schedule, and location. When utilizing Lyft, users will need to enable Access Mode, by tapping ‘settings’ on the app and making sure the ‘wheelchair access’ toggle switch is green. Next, you will type in your destination and access wheelchair mode to find your perfect ride.

Does Uber or Lyft Offer Any Discounts?

From time to time Uber offers promotional discounts for both first-time passengers and loyal customers. The type of discount and expiration dates are constantly being updated, so be sure to search for any eligible promotions before you pay full price.

Lyft offers a few different kinds of promotional discounts. These include:

  • Percentage discounts – Receive a certain percentage off of your ride.
  • Fixed discounts – Remove a certain amount from the total cost of your ride.
  • Flat rate – This means a set fare for rides that would typically cost up to a certain amount.

Lyft credit is a system in which Lyft users earn credit each time they take a ride. These credits can then be applied to a qualifying ride.

How Do I Identify an Uber or Lyft Driver?

Both Uber and Lyft take safety very seriously and have measures in place to ensure you are able to confidently identify your Uber or Lyft driver. Once you have been assigned a driver by Uber, you will be sent information about the make and model of the vehicle, name of the driver and a photograph of both the driver and the vehicle. Upon arrival of your Uber ride, verify the information and pictures match the approaching vehicle.

Lyft offers similar safety measures by also sending passengers detailed information and photographs of both the driver and the vehicle. Passengers can verify the vehicle that pulls up matches the information received.

For both Uber and Lyft, thorough background checks are conducted before they are allowed to become drivers for either company.

The Possibilities are Limitless

When it comes to transportation. It’s all about convenience. Wheelchair accessible vehicles are specially designed to allow for comfortable and convenient travel. With the WAV services of Uber and Lyft, transportation is easier now than ever. AMS Vans understands the needs of those who require wheelchair accessible accommodations and have over 20 years of experience in the industry. Contact us today to learn more about our services!

Type of wheelchair used in The Upside

What Wheelchair Does Bryan Cranston Use in The Upside?

The film The Upside has been the first sleeper hit at the movies in 2019 so far, earning over $76 million at the box office. In the film, Bryan Cranston plays a disabled billionaire named Phillip looking for help with his day to day functions. He hires a man named Dell Scott (played by Kevin Hart) as his caretaker.

As a quadriplegic, Cranston’s character’s wheelchair plays a pivotal role in the film as it is featured in nearly every scene. Let’s take a look at an overview of the film’s plot, what kind of wheelchair Cranston’s character Phillip Lecasse uses, and also what the film’s real message is.

What is The Plot of the Upside?

When we meet Phillip at the beginning of the film, it doesn’t seem as if he’s been confined to a wheelchair for long. He’s deeply depressed at the outset, clearly not adjusting well to his new lifestyle after a tragic hang gliding accident he suffered and his ex-wife’s passing. He’s looking for an assistant with the help of his caring and kind executive Yvonne, played by Nicole Kidman.

Enter Dell Scott. A down on his luck parolee who’s estranged from his wife and son, he’s bouncing from job interview to job interview without as much as a callback. After multiple unsuccessful attempts to get hired, he shows up at Lecasse’s swank penthouse apartment, desperate just for that signature that proves he’s actively looking for work.

Dell’s desperation and lack of respect for the process trigger something in Phillip. He hires Dell mainly because of how incompetent he thinks Dell will be in the role, almost hoping he fails due to his depression. Dell is overwhelmed in the role at first, though he greatly appreciates the large paycheck and luxury, live-in apartment with state of the art amenities.

The two spend the majority of the film learning each other’s worlds. Phillip takes Dell to the opera. Dell takes Phillip out for hot dogs. They come to respect and even like one another. As Dell and Phillip grow closer, Dell also begins working his way back into his son’s life.

Late in the film, Dell learns that Phillip has a pen pal to whom he writes romantic letters. Due to Dell’s antics, he ends up agreeing to meet her in person. Though the dinner goes well at first, she ends up saying they should remain friends. A heartbroken Phillip goes into another sad spell and fires Dell in misdirected anger.

In the end, Dell gets a new job manufacturing wheelchairs and buys a new home for his family. He reconnects with Phillip and takes him hang gliding. Phillip rediscovers his passion for life and strikes up a romance with Yvonne. Phillip and Dell remain friends to the present day.

What Kind of Wheelchair Does Bryan Cranston Use in the Upside?

Phillip’s wheelchair is known as an F5 Corpus. It features fully independent suspension, a 14″ seat elevator, and lowered seat to floor height for improved accessibility. It also features enhanced tilt functionality, with optional 10º, 20º, and 45º anterior tilt. It maintains 50º posterior tilt.

The wheelchair plays a big role in the movie, as it allows Phillip to perform a number of functions he wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

What is the Film’s Message?

The film’s message was that no matter what life throws your way, it’s important to cherish it and try to roll with the punches. Phillip’s character had been dealt a tough hand, but by connecting with Dell and learning more about his predicament, he understood that everyone has their separate battles to fight.

While living with a disability is a challenge, it doesn’t have to stop anyone from living a rewarding life that includes recreation, fulfilling work, and deep, meaningful relationships.