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Famous Wheelchair Users

A wheelchair, alone, cannot keep men and women from accomplishing their heart's desire, because the human spirit is capable of transcending life's most debilitating tragedies; its power and potential cannot and should not be underestimated. In this infographic, AMS Vans celebrates the lives of famous disabled people who succeeded brilliantly from a wheelchair. We've chosen ten famous people who use a wheelchair and whose achievements have had a dramatic impact on the world to remind everyone that each of us, for better or worse and regardless of circumstances, sets our own limits in life. The illustration captures the highlights in the life of these individuals, but here are a few more interesting facts about them.

Stephen Hawking Stellar theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking suffers from a motor neuron disease related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). From his wheelchair, he proved Einstein's theory of general relativity, developed a mathematical proof for black holes, redefined the Big Bang theory through math and science, and proved the universe has no boundaries. Hawking's paralysis, while almost complete, retains enough muscle-control to allow him to operate his wheelchair and other electronics by pressing a button with his right hand to operate a computer screen where he controls his wheelchair, doors and appliances in his house--and Hawking's book, A Brief History of Time, stayed on The Sunday Times best-sellers list for a record-breaking 237 weeks in Great Britain.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt President Franklin D. Roosevelt contracted polio at 39, losing the ability to walk on his own. He is the only person elected president of the United States more than twice--in fact, he was elected four times, and he did it all from a wheelchair he designed himself. He was president when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and Hitler declared war on America, which prompted America's entry into World War II, and he helped lead the Allied forces to victory. FDR was the first president on television; since then, he been portrayed on stage and screen by Ralph Bellamy, Kenneth Branagh, Edward Herrmann, John Lithgow, Jason Robards, David Ogden Stiers, Robert Vaughn, Jon Voight, Christopher Plummer, and Bill Murray.

Christopher Reeve Famous for far more than his breakout role as Superman in four successful films, Christopher Reeve stayed in the spotlight as an actor and director after a horse-riding accident in 1995 resulted in a spinal cord injury and his quadriplegia. To operate his power wheelchair, Reeve used sip-and-puff technology to move and tilt the chair any way he chose. This method sends signals to a device using air pressure by "sipping" (inhaling) or "puffing" (exhaling) on a straw, tube or "wand." An onboard respirator and a tube delivering oxygen sustained his breathing. His experience motivated him to establish the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, dedicated to curing spinal cord injury.

Frida Kahlo Despite contracting polio at age six and sustaining a broken spinal column at 18, Frida Kahlo became an internationally revered artist, most famous for her self-portraits, which include a painting of Kahlo in her wheelchair. Viewed by many as an icon of female creativity and a feminist icon, the politically active artist was portrayed in a 2002 film starring Salma Hayek.

Itzhak Perlman World-renowned violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman wanted to enter Israel's Shulamit Conservatory at age three, but was not even big enough to hold the violin, so he taught himself how to play. When he was old enough to study, he entered the conservatory and gave his first recital at the age of 10 before moving to the United States, where he attended the Juilliard School. He was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts by the National Endowment of the Arts, and he received Kennedy Center Honors in 2003.

King Phillip II of Spain When his severe gout made walking too painful, King Phillip II used what might be the world's first wheelchair. He ruled Spain when it was the foremost Western European power, and he also ruled England as the husband of Mary I, until she died.

Nick Vujicic World-famous, Australian motivational speaker Nick Vijicic was born without arms and legs due to a rare disorder called tetra-amelia. He started his first company when he was 17, started public speaking at the age of 19, and starred in the 2009 short film The Butterfly Circus, which won several film festival awards.

Barbara Jordan A leader in the American civil rights movement, Barbara Jordan was the first African-American elected to the Texas Senate after reconstruction and the first southern black female elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) shortly after, she continued to serve her state and spoke eloquently from her wheelchair. President Bill Clinton stated he wanted to nominate her for the United States Supreme Court, but by the time he could do so, Jordan's health problems prevented him from nominating her.

Tanni Gray-Thompson Born with spina bifida, Tanni Gray-Thompson began using a wheelchair at age seven. A wheelchair did not prevent her from becoming a college graduate, world-class wheelchair racer, Paralympics gold medalist, and member of Parliament. Seize the Day, her autobiography, was published in 2001.

Jean Driscoll Rounding our our list of famous disabled people in wheelchairs is Jean Driscoll. Also born with spina bifida, she served as the Easter Seals poster child for Milwaukee County in 1976, and remains the first and only person to ever break the course and world record five times at the Boston Marathon. She was inducted into the Wheelchair Sports, USA Hall of Fame in 2002. These famous people all have something in common, and it isn't a wheelchair, nor is it being disabled. They followed their passion, believed in themselves, and they succeeded, as would anyone who does the same. Be inspired. Find your passion. And be an inspiration. Sources:

  • wikipedia.com
  • hawking.org.uk
  • fdrlibrary.marist.edu
  • christopherreeve.org
  • fridakahlo.com
  • itzhakperlman.com
  • lifewithoutlimbs.com
  • tanni.co.uk
  • jeandriscoll.com

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

2020 Handicap Van for Sale - 2020 Toyota Sienna LE Standard Wheelchair Accessible Van VIN: 5TDKZ3DC3LS056939

Toyota Sienna LE Standard
VMI Northstar Conversion

$59,499 $59,999

  • Stock #: 20110125
  • Mileage: 25,320 Miles
  • Color: Silver
  • Ramp/Lift: Side Entry In-Floor Pwr
  • Location: Houston, TX
  • Features: Backup Camera, Bluetooth, 3YR/36K Conv Wrty, Driver Pwr. Seat Base, Kneeling, Lowered Floor
2019 Handicap Van for Sale - 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan GT Wheelchair Accessible Van VIN: 2C4RDGEG8KR784091

Dodge Grand Caravan GT
AMS Vans Legend II D Conversion

$44,499 $44,999

  • Stock #: 21030124
  • Mileage: 49,256 Miles
  • Color: White
  • Ramp/Lift: Side Entry Bi-Fold Pwr
  • Location: Phoenix, AZ
  • Features: N/A
2019 Commercial Wheelchair Vans for Sale - 2019 Dodge Grand Caravan SXT ADA Compliant Vehicle VIN: 2C4RDGCG9KR622537

Dodge Grand Caravan SXT
AMS Edge Conversion

$33,499 $33,999

  • Stock #: 21020063
  • Mileage: 47,748 Miles
  • Color: Red
  • Ramp/Lift: Rear Entry Short
  • Location: Call For Details
  • Features: Backup Camera, Bluetooth, Leather, 3YR/36K Conv Wrty, Remote Start, Driver Pwr. Seat Base, Lowered Floor, ADA Compliant

Wheelchair van exterior and interior quality inspection

Vehicle Exterior

Exterior Appearance Inspection

  • Panel alignment/fit
  • Headlamp, taillamp/lens condition
  • Windshield/glass condition
  • Paint chips and scratches
  • Body damage/dents/dings
  • Trim and moldings

Vehicle Identification

  • In place and matching
  • Inspect certification label (federal requirement)
  • Check VIN label to paperwork
  • Check for non-completed recalls

Exterior Lights Function Properly and Illuminate as Designed

  • Headlights hi/low (including aim)
  • Parking lights/fog lights
  • License plate lights
  • Side marker lights
  • Tail lights / backup lights
  • Turn signal and cornering lights
  • Brake and high-mount stoplights
  • Emergency Flashers


  • Vehicle has 2 master key with remote entry (if applicable) and 2 valet key, flat key
  • Programmed to immobilizer

Door Lock System

  • Door opens/closes smoothly using interior and exterior door handles
  • Doors cannot be opened when lock button is in lock position
  • 2-turn unlock feature functions properly
  • Remote entry system operates properly
  • Theft-deterrent system functions properly
  • Child safety locks
  • Wireless door lock operation

Vehicle Interior

Interior Appearance Inspection

  • Seats: front/rear
  • Steering wheel/airbags
  • Armrests/door handles
  • Lower door and sill plates
  • Gearshift selection handle
  • Radio/AC control markings
  • Headliners/sun visors

Seat Belts

  • Extend/retract smoothly
  • Free of twists, cuts or signs of wear
  • Buckles lock securely

Seat Operation

  • Lumbar support operation
  • Memory control operates properly*
  • Headrest functions properly
  • Heaters function properly*
  • Seat cushion angle and height adjustment
  • Seatback angle adjustment

Power Windows / Locks

  • Function Properly

Trunk/Fuel Lid Release

  • Functions Properly (interior)

Glove Compartment

  • Contains portfolio, owner's manual, supplement

Steering Wheel

  • Tilt/telescopic functionability
  • Horn functions properly
  • Steering wheel controls
  • Steering wheel locks
  • Warning chime (key in -- door open)

Windshield Wiper

  • Functions in hi/low/intermittent
  • Wiper blades clean properly
  • Rain sensing wipers*

Dashboard Lights Illuminate as Designed

  • Turn signal: left/right
  • High beam indicator
  • Emergency flashers
  • Instrument panel control knob
  • Waring lights: oil pressure, brake, fuel, charge, seatbelt, open door, engine check, rear light failure, ABS, SRS
  • Check operation of guages

Rear Defogger

  • Functions properly

Air Conditioner / Heater

  • Climate control system functions properly for both heating and cooling

Interior Lights

  • Dome/map/vanity mirror/courtesy lamps/foot function properly

Audio/Navigation System

  • Power/volume switch functions properly
  • Preset station indicator
  • Cassette/CD function (scan, seek, rewind, fast forward) operates properly
  • Navigation system operates properly*
  • Speakers sound clear
  • CD cartridge (if applicable)


  • Tilt/slide operates properly

Clock/Cigarette Lighters/Ashtray/Cupholders

  • Function properly

Outside/Inside Rearview Mirrors

  • Power controls function properly

Luggage Compartment

Luggage Compartment

  • Spare tire size, sidewall condition, tread depth and air pressure
  • Spare tire and attaching hardware, cover, jack, jack tools and wheel lock (if applicable) are present, properly installed and secure
  • Manual fuel lid release operates

Under The Hood

Engine Hood Release

  • Interior release operates properly

The Following Fluid Levels Meet Industry Standard

  • Engine oil replaced and proper level
  • Automatic transmission fluid level
  • Brake fluid level
  • Power steering fluid level
  • Engine coolant fluid level
  • Washer fluid level

Engine Mechanical

  • Excessive fuel pump noise
  • Cooling system (radiator, overflow tank, hoses, coolant level)
  • Water pump (noise/leaks)
  • Air filter (replace as necessary)
  • Inspect oil for contaminants
  • Engine noise (knocks, rattles)
  • Transmission noise (whines, clunks)
  • Belts (wear or damage)
  • Check engine diagnostics


  • No damage or leakage and proper group size/amp rating
  • Tests to standards

Engine Fans

  • Function properly

Under the Vehicle

Tires (Minimum tread depth 5/32")

  • FL: _______/32"
  • RL: _______/32"
  • FR: _______/32"
  • RR: _______/32"
  • Sidewall condition
  • Proper size, type and match
  • Tire pressure


  • Condition/size/fit
  • Check wheel lug-nut torque

Brake Inspection (Minimum 6mm of pad material required)

  • FL: _______mm
  • RL: _______mm
  • FR: _______mm
  • RR: _______mm
  • Rotors show no signs of excessive wear, warpage or heat damage
  • Calipers, lines, and hoses show no sign of excessive wear or leakage
  • Parking brake assemblies, cables, and attaching hardware show no sign of excessive wear or damage

Chassis Inspection (No sign of damage or excessive wear)

  • Frame rails and floor pan
  • Subframe
  • Engine mounts and oil pan for leaks
  • Brake lines and couplings
  • Transmission case/pan for leaks
  • Drive shaft boots and CV joints
  • Fuel lines, fuel tank, hoses and protectors
  • Steering rack, linkage, bushings, control arms and dust boots
  • Differential assembly, drive shaft and related components
  • Exhaust system (including leakage)
  • Transmission mounts
  • Tie rods, ball joints, idler arm
  • Catalytic converter
  • Struts/shocks for operation/leaks

Under Vehicle Fluid Levels

  • Differential lubricant level -- check for contaminants

Road Test (Vehicle Operation)


  • Start-up
  • Idles normally
  • While driving, engine performs normally
  • Starter system operates normally
  • Shift Lock


  • Brake and parking brake function normally
  • Brake and clutch pedal height, free play and travel meet specs.

Indicator Lights

  • No warning lights illuminate during road test


  • T/M shifts properly (both power/normal mode)
  • TRAC/VSC and ECT control functions and indicator lights function properly


  • Steering operation is normal
  • Off-center psecifications meet standards
  • Handling, straight-line operations

Cruise Control

  • Functions properly

Noise or Vibration

  • None present

Squeaks or Rattles

  • None present

* -- If Applicable

Service Guarantee

AMS Vans promises to deliver the best wheelchair accessible van available on the market today..... simply put if you are not fully satisfied with your wheelchair accessible van upon delivery---you can refuse it at no cost to you.

With nearly two decades of experience; manufacturing, selling, and delivering over 12,000 vans nationwide, our dedicated team of certified technicians will not allow your van to leave our Atlanta facility until its right!

Please contact one of our experienced Mobility Specialists today and ask about our three step quality control process.

AMS Vans looks forward to serving your family by providing you with a van that is worthy of our own.

Contact AMS Vans

Get Financing for Purchase or Leasing

AMS Vans is an automotive dealership for people who need an affordable accessible vehicle and financing options. If you have bad credit, low credit, no credit or have been turned down in the past due to bankruptcy, we can help you get a car loan through a special finance lender.

We advise calling first for details at 1-800-775-8267. Otherwise, click the link below to start the credit application.

Click Here to Get Started

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