Tag Archives: Wheelchair Accessibility

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.

Should I Get a Used or New Wheelchair Van?

Should I Get a Used or New Wheelchair Van?

Buying a wheelchair van is essential to getting around with mobility limitations. With the right van, any handicap parking area or open pavement is a place you can deploy from. For the adventurous and very busy, you may spend a great deal of time in your van traveling from mission to mission. Your van can become a home base, a road trip vessel, or your personal tour bus to enjoy the city depending on how you configure and use it.

One of the most important choices whether to by a new or used wheelchair van. This choice will guide your further selections. In fact, there are five aspects to this choice. We’ll explore the pros and cons of each one.

New Wheelchair Van

  • The latest guaranteed, warranted, off-the-line van.
  • A new van on a lot manufactured some time in the last three year

Used Wheelchair Van

  • Certified pre-owned, like-new van
  • Pre-modified wheelchair van, used with perks
  • A used van that can be modified

Brand New Van

If budget is no object, you can order the latest model of your favorite type of wheelchair van. You can order it with your favorite trim and features or pick a nice standard model and finish the modifications yourself.

A brand new wheelchair van comes with a lot of pros. The quality and performance is guaranteed, and it likely comes with a very nice warranted for the first few years. The downside is also clear. A brand new wheelchair van will be your most expensive option and has the second-most requirement for personalization to make it right for your lifestyle.

New Wheelchair Van Off the Lot

Your next option is to pick an available wheelchair van off a new vehicle lot. These new vans will have been manufactured sometime in the last 3 years, including the most common models and colors. Off-the-lot vehicles, especially from previous years, are more likely to come at a lower price and cycle through available discounts. If you have your eye on a specific model or color, look around at dealerships in your surrounding area and let them know of your interest. Dealerships eager to sell can sometimes source you what you’re looking for.

New vans off the lot are usually high-quality, guaranteed performance, and come with fair to exceptional warrantees. But they can have small defects (and discounts) due to lot events like bad weather or a year in the sun. These vans are the most likely to need modification (no special trim) but are more reasonably priced than the latest models.

Certified Preowned Wheelchair Van

If you’re buying a used wheelchair van, the best place to start is with certified pre-owned vehicles. These have been checked out by certified mechanics, often repaired and touched-up before they are sold to a new driver. Certified pre-owns tend to have lower mileage than other used vehicles and are guaranteed not to be lemons.

A certified pre-owned van will be like-new with maybe a few fades, scuffs, or missing floormats. The benefit is that the price will be significantly lower, by a few thousand at least, and the quality will be just as good. Most dealerships that sell certified pre-owned also offer good warrantees for the first few years of ownership.

Used & Pre-Modified Wheelchair Van

An interesting and affordable alternative is to buy a used wheelchair van from someone who has already modified it for their optimal use. If your driving or riding styles are similar, you could reap the benefits of a pre-modified wheelchair van. These vans tend to have more miles on them, but they can also be more comfortable, easier to use, and include personal innovations that no new van would have.

There are many used wheelchair vans on the market because needs and lifestyles change and there’s always someone looking to buy. Both the discount and the modifications can be beneficial, but it’s also a personal choice whether you’d rather a new unmodified van instead.

Used Van to Modify

The final option is a used van that might not be ideal, but can be modified. Whether you’re on a shoestring budget or can’t find the right wheelchair van, remember that you don’t have to start with the perfect design. It’s okay to think outside the box when it comes to used wheelchair vans. In fact, if you have a unique idea for your wheelchair van, it’s sometimes easier to start with a cleaner slate, like an empty cargo van with the right kind of doors. If this is your goal, you can save a bundle by broadening your used van search criteria for the best body at the lowest cost.

Learn More About a Used vs New Wheelchair Van

Should you buy a new or used wheelchair van? The answer will come down to your budget, your plans, and the vans available in your area. New and certified preowned vans come with guaranteed performance and warranties. At the same time, used wheelchair vans are easily modifiable and in a more comfortable price range. The choice is yours.

woman in a wheelchair being pushed in an airport

Tips for Airline Travel With a Wheelchair This Holiday Season

The holiday season is almost upon us – and for many, that means some holiday travel. If you or a loved one uses a wheelchair and plan on airline travel, it’s helpful to know what to expect. To make your experience easier and more enjoyable, keep these tips in mind.

Preparation and Packing Tips

Managing Luggage

While it’s important to be prepared, the least amount of luggage you’re able to travel with, the easier things will be – especially if you’re traveling independently. Suitcases with wheels can be pushed by a wheelchair user (similar to a shopping cart) or “towed” behind the chair with some sort of strap or bungee cord. A duffle bag can also be a good option when carried in the lap or secured to the front of the legs with a strap.

Pro Tip: You can bring all the medical supplies you need on your trip, which, unfortunately, can increase the amount of luggage you’ll need to bring along. If you’re forced to check a bag or bring an additional suitcase for medical supplies, be sure to let the agent know when you’re checking your bag. Some airlines will wave the bag fee!!

Come Prepared

Plan to bring a carry-on, such as a backpack, with essential items. Pack your carry-on with anything you may need for the flight, including snacks and drinks (which must be purchased in the airport, after going through security), medication, and entertainment. If you get cold easily, bringing a small blanket or wrap along can come in handy, as it can sometimes get chilly on the plane. Remember that you’ll be first to board and last to disembark, so books and phone games can help pass the time while you wait.

It’s easy to get dehydrated in flight, so be sure to hydrate in the days leading up to the trip. Also, keep in mind that using the restroom on the plane can be pretty challenging, so try to use the restroom before boarding.

mom in wheelchair and daughter with a suitcase inside van

Arrival and Boarding Tips

Arrive Early

Using a wheelchair can make your airport experience take a little longer than usual, so it’s best to plan ahead and arrive at least 1.5 to 2 hours early. This gives you time to find wheelchair accessible parking (which can be extremely limited), get through security, use the restroom, manage logistics, and arrive at your gate in time for early boarding. If you’re not familiar with the airport you’re flying out of, even more extra time is recommended.

The TSA gives some information about disability and security screening procedures here: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures 

Request an Aisle Chair if Needed

It’s pretty rare for even a small wheelchair to fit down the aisles of the airplane, so if you aren’t able to walk on to the airplane, you’ll need to request a “transport chair” or an “aisle chair.” You’ll transfer to a narrow chair and airport agents will assist you on to the plane and into your seat. One of these is stored on the plane, too, in case the restroom is needed in flight.

Be sure to ask for the aisle chair when you check-in and get your tickets. Then, ask again at the gate if the chair is ready because sometimes the request can be overlooked. If the aisle chair and agents aren’t on hand to assist when preboarding starts, you’ll have to wait until last to board, which can be awkward with a plane full of passengers.

Prepare Your Chair

When you trasnfer to the aisle chair to board the plane, your personal wheelchair will be stowed under the plane with the luggage. Don’t forget to grab your seat cushion, armrests, bags, and any fragile or removable accessories so they aren’t broken or lost on the trip. Also, consider taking a photo of your wheelchair before they take it away to use as a reference in case there is damage done during the flight.

airplane being loaded with luggage

Throughout the Trip Tips

Communicate Your Needs

Every step of the way, be prepared to be vocal about your needs and comfort level. If at any time you aren’t able to do what an agent asks, you feel unsafe or uncomfortable, just say so in a clear and respectful manner. When going through security, for example, passengers that aren’t able to walk through the metal detector will have to have a physical pat-down by a TSA agent. They should offer you a private screening as well as avoid any sensitive areas on your body during the inspection, however, if they don’t offer those things, it’s perfectly within your rights to ask.

Have Your Airline’s Disability Number On-Hand

Just in case the airline staff aren’t prepared or don’t know how to help, call up the airline. Most airlines have a number dedicated to travelers with disabilities, so having this number on hand is very useful. Often the wait times for this number are much, much less than the general phone number. Also, if you have a bad experience with your airline, be sure to reach out to them after the trip to report the incident. Some airlines will compensate travelers with points or vouchers to keep their business.

Airline travel in a wheelchair may not always be easy, but it can be done. If you are prepared and know what to expect, the experience can be far more like an adventure then a hassle! Whether you’re traveling to the next state or across an ocean, your holiday airline travel can be made much smoother by keeping these tips in mind. Don’t miss out on all the awesome things this world has in store to see and do!

view from a person's seat on an airplane of passengers and flight attendant

Renting a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle for Your Holiday

Don’t forget about accessible ground transportation when you arrive at your destination! If you’re traveling by airplane, that means you left your wheelchair accessible vehicle at home. At AMS Vans, we offer short- and long-term wheelchair accessible vehicle rentals. Plus, if you happen to be in the market for a mobility vehicle, spending some time in a specific model can help you determine if it’s a good fit!

Learn more here or call 800-775-8267 to reserve. 

three male wheelchair basketball players taking a selfie

Five Awesome Apps for Wheelchair Users and Friends

One of the greatest things about owning a cell phone is that it can connect you to the world through apps. Indeed, millions of apps are available, and many of them are tailored to your unique lifestyle. Apps can assist you if you or someone you know uses a wheelchair. They can help you accomplish various tasks and improve the quality of your life. Here are five apps that can help.

1. Parking Mobility

accessible parking playing cards by VMIThe Parking Mobility app is an app that helps you locate accessible parking so that you can navigate your errands and tasks safely and comfortably. You can use the app to find accessible parking in your area. Furthermore, you can use it to report accessible parking violations if you see someone parked in a reserved accessible parking spot. Some communities in Texas even recognize reported violations using the app as actual parking tickets – and they’ve seen a substantial decrease in violations! The more people that use the app, the more data there will be, so download it today!

Have you seen our #ParkSmart playing cards that educate people about accessible parking? Play a game of cards or leave one on a car when they’re blocking your access! Order yours for FREE here (quantities are limited)!

2. Talkitt

Tallkitt is an amazing application if you care for someone who has experienced a stroke or suffers from a condition such as cerebral palsy. The app is a highly advanced speech recognition program that can understand non-standard words and communications. In other words, it can decipher dysarthric speech to bridge the communication gaps between wheelchair users and their caregivers, family members, and other loved ones.

3. Brettapproved

The Brettapproved app is an app that helps people find the best accessible places to dine, shop, entertain themselves, and spend the night. The app is very easy to use, and it shows you all aspects of the places people intend to visit. They can see consumer ratings and reviews as well as a myriad of pictures that show where they will have wheelchair access. They can then decide which place is best for them to visit. As a member of the community, you can sign up on Brettapproved and rate various places that you visit. You can supply potential visitors with information about accessibility, customer service, cleanliness, and more. Other people will appreciate your efforts to let them know about places that they will potentially visit. The site works as a two-way review site that opens up a world of opportunities for wheelchair users across the country.

brett heisting from Brett approved

4. WheelMate

The WheelMate app is a life-saving app for people who use wheelchairs. It’s available for Android and iPhone devices, and it helps to pinpoint wheelchair accessible bathrooms and parking spots. Further, by using the app, you can cut your traveling time down by knowing exactly where to park. You can prevent bathroom emergencies by locating places that have room for wheelchairs. The app has a 3.0 rating on Google. The users who liked it enjoyed it for the convenience.

5. Reachout

man in a wheelchair using apps on his phone

Reachout is a social app that can improve the quality of your life by connecting you with potential friends and caregivers. You can use the app to exchange stories and strategies or to find other people that you can talk to who understand your life. Alternatively, you can use the app to find a caregiver if you need to do so. Many people who use the app appreciate it because it eliminates the feeling of loneliness. Conversing with other peers and people who understand is soul-soothing – and it can help you discover new products or services that you need. You can download the app today and see if it helps you in your journey.

Now you know of some great apps that you can download immediately to make your wheel life a little easier. Let us know if there’s an app we missed that you love!

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Browse AMS Vans Inventory From Your Smartphone!

With your smartphone or tablet, you can visit AMSVans.com to browse a large selection of new and used wheelchair accessible vehicles, starting at $13,999. Choose from a variety of platforms, including Toyota, Honda, Ford, Chrysler, Mercedes and Dodge, with side- and rear-entry conversion options. Enjoy the convenience of shopping and ordering online, with risk-free nationwide delivery and service!