Tag Archives: wheelchair

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. 

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!!

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.