Tag Archives: wheelchair accessible

dog taking a treat from a person's hand

Giving Thanks Series: Mobility For Our Furry Friends

a dog walking with the help of his wheelchairOur pets can be a source of unconditional love and endless joy. It can be heartbreaking when something hinders them from being active and playful. However, just like assistive technology that give humans mobility freedom, there are also devices for pets!

November is all about giving thanks. We wanted to start off our four-part Giving Thanks series by showing some appreciation for our furry friends. Below is an overview of some cool and creative assistive devices that can help our pets live their best lives.

Pet Wheelchairs

In the past, it wasn’t easy to find furry friends with mobility issues the help they needed, but now pet wheelchairs are widely available from a variety of retailers. And it’s all thanks to a pioneering WWII vet turned veterinarian, Lincoln Parkes. In the 1960’s wheelchairs for animals just weren’t available. Parkes, driven by a passion for animals, set about creating a simple device. It was made out of planks of wood and toy wagon wheels. These prototypes for his first dog wheelchairs evolved into the more advanced wheelchairs that we see today. These wheelchairs are now lighter, more comfortable, and more mobile than ever, and available for not only dogs, but cats, goats, pigs and chickens.

cat with a wheelchair

Photo: handidappedpets.com

Pet wheelchairs come in two basic types, rear wheelchairs which have two wheels, and quad wheelchairs, which have four wheels for added support. Wheelchairs are designed to be adjustable for to fit a variety of sizes, but can also be custom made for individual pets. The list of available attachments is growing, with slings for belly and back support, slings for leg and foot support, and even ski attachments for pets that live where it snows.

You don’t have to look very far to find heartwarming stories about pets that have been given a second chance by caring humans that find or build them the wheelchairs they need. Check out these adorable and resilient animals that are making strides in their carts and wheelchairs.

Braces and Splints

white dog wearing a splint on back leg

Photo: handicappedpets.com

Sometimes our pets just need a little extra support for a portion of a limb or a joint. That’s where braces and splints come in. If a pet has a temporary injury or needs long-term support, braces are a great solution. Quality pet braces are made with strong plastics and non-porous foam lining so that bacteria will not be a problem. Pet braces are most often designed for the lower part of an animal’s legs. Though, there are designs that aid the elbow joints as well. Finding the proper brace can be a little complicated but veterinarians are a great resource to help and My Pet’s Brace has made this handy guide for a little more information about the different types of braces.

Prosthetics

Prosthetic limbs are available for dogs and other pets as well and require the most customization and care of the devices. A snug and comfortable fit allows for proper weight distribution so walking can be easy and painless. Prosthetics come in different sizes, shapes, and colors and can even be found in the cheetah leg design similar to those worn by famous athletes such as Aimee Mullins and Kim De Roy for pets that really like to stay on move.

Conclusion

Whether walking on paws, hooves, or wheels, pets can be an amazing source of love, devotion, and just plain fun. For the disability community, sometimes pets are more than just companionship – they actually aid in their owner’s independence. When something happens to our animals, helping them regain mobility freedom and a happy life is the least we can do to repay all they do for us.

Like what you’re reading? Check out our blog for more great articles! And you can view our large selection of wheelchair accessible vehicles here.

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!

happy black woman in wheelchair wheeling down the sidewalk in a red shirt

Disability Awareness Tips to Make Public Environments Inclusive

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to discuss how to make the workplace and other public environments more inclusive. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 61 million adults with disabilities are in the United States. Since people with disabilities form such a large segment of the country’s population, being inclusive is good for business and, simply the right thing to do.

Whether your organization is looking to hire or currently employs people with disabilities, or if you serve the general public, some disability awareness and etiquette can go a long way. In fact, you can become part of the solution by doing your part to making our world more inclusive for all.

Use Appropriate Language

The language we use can become habit, and often we underestimate the power of words. Many people with disabilities prefer inclusive language that puts the person first, versus the disability. Examples of person-first language include:

  • a person with a disability
  • a person who uses a wheelchair
  • the individual has a disability

Terms that convey pity such as “handicapped”, “crippled”, “wheelchair-bound”, “suffers from”, and “the disabled” are considered outdated and offensive to some individuals. Others may use these words themselves, but it helps to be sensitive.

Be Aware of the Physical Environmentlong wheelchair ramp

Being ADA-compliant is not enough to qualify a physical environment as inclusive. Careless placement of trash cans and boxes can block wheelchair-accessible entrances or make corridors too narrow for a wheelchair to pass. Common items need to be located where everyone can reach them. For instance, in the workplace, office supplies should be stored where an employee who uses a wheelchair can get them independently.

Ramps are great, but be sure to check thresholds to ensure they’re smooth, and also check electric door openers from time to time to make sure they’re functioning properly.

 

Model Proper Social Interaction

When you’re communicating with an adult with a disability, always address the person with a disability directly. You want to avoid speaking through a caregiver. If your communication is through an interpreter, you should still direct your comments to the person with a disability.

When you meet someone with a disability for the first time, you should offer to shake hands as you would with anyone else. A person who is not able to shake with the right hand may extend the left hand. When a handshake isn’t possible with either hand, a fist bump could be an acceptable substitute. Learn more about greeting someone with limited upper-mobility here.

close up of a fist pound in an office setting

 

When you don’t know someone well, asking questions an individual’s disability is considered poor taste. An individual with a disability wants to be seen as a person, not as a disability. Plus, the details of someone’s disability could be sensitive or difficult to discuss. Respect for other people’s privacy includes the privacy of people with disabilities.

Ask Before Helping

You should never assume that a person with a disability has limitations that require your help without asking first. If you try to help without asking, it’s possible to do more harm than good. For example, suddenly helping a person who is pushing their wheelchair up a ramp can cause them to lose their balance. Or, you could accidentally touch a part of the wheelchair that could

Like most people, a person with a disability values their independence and will usually let you know when he or she needs assistance. 

A good rule of thumb is to help a person with a disability in the same way you would help any other person. If you would open the door for anyone, go ahead and do the same for someone with a disability. And, again, if it looks like someone needs help, but you’re not sure – just ask!

Don’t Touch Service Animals

In public environments, a service animal is there to work. That’s true even if the animal is not wearing a harness that asks you not to pet it. It’s never acceptable to touch or to interact with a service animal without permission. Keep in mind, too, that there are several types of service animals; not just dogs. It’s more rare, but miniature ponies, Capuchin monkeys and even potbelly pigs can assist individuals with disabilities.

service dog sniffing its master who is swimming in a pool

 

Accessible Transportation is an Important Part of Inclusivity

If your organization offers any sort of transportation to the public, even occasionally for specific clients, it’s important that that service is accessible, too. At AMS Vans, we offer a large selection of wheelchair accessible vehicles for purchase and rental (short- and long-term) with nationwide delivery!

To learn more, contact one of our knowledgable mobility specialists at 800-775-8267 or visit us online at www.amsvans.com

Remember the Golden Rule

You can summarize all of these tips with the Golden Rule – treat others the way you want to be treated. As you encounter people with disabilities, just remember they want independence and respect just like you and everyone else.

As public environments become inclusive, individuals with disabilities can be more involved in their communities. That’s a win for everyone!

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.