NMEDA is a non-profit association dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities using wheelchair accessible vehicles & adaptive equipment. Discover the best mobility vehicles, wheelchair vans, and cars for disabled people by reading the NMEDA handicap accessible blog.
Children with special needs often need to use wheelchairs for mobility. Vehicles with special features are available or vans can be converted to accommodate them. The most important step is to start with an appointment with a mobility specialist.
Since your child’s safety should be ensured at all times, your dealer should be a member of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) and accredited by the Quality Assurance Program.
What the mobility expert will need to know:
The number of people and pets in your family, as well as the amount of luggage or equipment will help determine the size of the vehicle needed.
How tall is your child? The mobility expert factors this in when recommending which van or vehicle is best.
Is the wheelchair headrest adjustable, retractable or flexible? This tells how the wheelchair should be positioned in the vehicle.
How big is the wheelchair? Too wide or too long and you lose part of all of the 2nd row seating or prevent maneuverability inside the van.
Does the child need a caregiver to sit next to him or need to be close to the driver? If so, a rear-entry van should be considered.
How old is the child? Due to the impact of a deploying air bag, the rear positions are the safest place for children under the age of 12.
Does your child get too hot in the sun or are your child’s eyes light-sensitive? The vehicle may need a darker window tint.
This mobility safety update has been brought to you by NMEDA – the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Need some information on how to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible or upgraded with the latest and most convenient features? Contact a NMEDA dealer in your local area. Your local NMEDA member is an expert in mobility equipment and accessibility!
It’s officially spring, and as the temperatures start to climb outdoor adventures should be at the top of your “to do” list. The National Parks Service is a great agency and resource for accessible parks and nature trails, abiding by the Americans with Disabilities Act (and other laws) while advocating for accessible trails for all. For accessibility, it helps to know what types of trails there are to ensure a successful visit.
Wheelchair Accessible Trails
Accessible trails are newly constructed and/or altered to be up to federal accessibility guidelines. Multiuse trails, or shared use paths, are designed for pedestrian, bicycle and non-motorized wheeled use, such as wheelchairs. Multiuse trails can also be accessible trails. Knowing what kind of trails to ask and look for is useful when planning a trip with your wheelchair accessible car. If your car is not yet equipped, NMEDA can help. Simply check out our how to buy guide and locate your nearest NMEDA mobility equipment dealer.
Accessible National Parks
If you’re planning on traveling for Free Entrance Day, Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona would be a treat to experience. In addition to the option of renting out a wheelchair, you can go on a wheelchair accessible tour. If you’re farther north, Olympic National Park in Washington has paved trails and ramps for a pleasant park experience. If you needed to take a break, the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center has great exhibits too. A park truly unlike any other, Great Sand Dunes National Park offers sand wheelchairs especially designed for over-sand movement. No need to worry about being unable to do activities—this park offers many accessible trails along with a shaded picnic area.
Find a national park near you in time for Free Entrance Day to appreciate the great outdoors. Through accessible trails, ramps and your mobility vehicle, you can take a fresh breath this February. But, if you do miss out this month, be sure to take your handicap van to a park another time this year.
How a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist and Mobility Specialist Can Help You
Getting on the road to independence can be a long and twisting journey, but there are individuals, businesses and organizations ready, willing and able to help make it a smooth ride. Working with a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist (CDRS) and a Mobility Dealer who is Quality Assurance Program (QAP) accredited is one of the first and most important steps to take when purchasing mobility equipment or a new or used handicap accessible vehicle. Below are just some of the ways these specialists can make it easier for you to get behind the wheel.
Assessing Your Needs
Before taking to the road, you must complete a driving evaluation to determine your abilities as a driver. A CDRS-conducted evaluation will not only asses your driving skills as a driver with a disability, but will also match you with the most appropriate and best solutions for your mobility needs.
By ensuring your mobility needs are met, a driving evaluation from a CDRS can help ensure you’ll be safer while on the road. These comprehensively trained specialists work with NMEDA QAP Dealers that are extremely knowledgeable about mobility solutions, provide individual, in-person evaluations and with their support and guidance, you can feel confident knowing that your time behind the wheel will be as secure as possible.
Adapted Driving Programs
A number of organizations also offer Adapted Driving Programs designed to help drivers with disabilities feel confident behind the wheel. Under the guidance of a CDRS, drivers can get hands-on training on how to stay safe and in control on the road. Some programs, such as senior safety driving courses, even help individuals find the best driving routes to common destinations and assist in learning rules and regulations affecting their driving environments.
CDRS assessments are crucial if you’re thinking of getting behind the wheel of an accessible vehicle. For more information watch this video or to find a qualified evaluation provider in your area, be sure to contact your local NMEDA dealer and make the first move towards a more independent future.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck, or van, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.
Gym memberships for individuals in wheelchairs can be expensive and many gyms struggle to provide accessibility options for getting around. Many gyms do not offer classes, provide equipment, or have accessible facilities for individuals in wheelchairs to fully utilize and achieve a good workout.
Fortunately, an alternative exists that solves these issues. Chair fitness is an affordable and accessible form of exercising for individuals in wheelchairs. Even better, it doesn’t require a trip to the gym; individuals can complete workouts in the comfort of their own homes. Essentially, chair fitness involves arm and torso movements that target the upper body. Workouts can include cardio, aerobics or strength training, and can vary from a beginner level to an advanced level. Here are a few of the many options available:
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
With HIIT, you perform fast, intense spurts of exercise with rest periods in between. With this “No Equipment Beginner HIIT Workout for Wheelchair Users,” Ben Clarke for Adapt to Perform shows you 4 exercises you do for 30 seconds each with 30 seconds of rest after each (4 repetitions for a total of 16 minutes of workout).
“Wheelchairgirl2018 R” is a YouTube vlogger who is paralyzed from her T12 vertebrae down. She is super real with her audience and shares funny stories as well as fitness and workout tips like these easy core exercises using resistance bands and dumbbells.
Hand controls allow people with physical disabilities the ability to drive accessible vehicles independently using alternative methods. If you want to drive safely, hand controls may be an option for many people.
Hand controls allow the driver to operate both the brake and gas pedal using levers that are typically mounted below the steering wheel and attach to the pedals themselves. There are many types of hand controls and it is important to speak to a NMEDA dealer to find which best suits your needs. Here are some basic types to get you started:
Push/rock style – When the driver pushes the handle forward the vehicle will brake and when the lever is rocked back it will accelerate. People with no finger dexterity can operate this model.
Push/right angle style – Allows the driver to push the handle upward toward the instrument panel to brake and downward at a right angle to accelerate. This method is operable for persons with limited finger dexterity.
Push/pull style – By pushing the lever forward on the handle the vehicle’s brakes will engage and when it is pulled backward the vehicle will accelerate. A three-post hand interface can be installed to allow the user to maintain contact with the handle giving the driver greater control. This operation model is good for persons with limited finger dexterity.
Push/rotate style – The driver pushing the handle forward causes the vehicle to brake and when the lever is twisted the vehicle will accelerate. Full or limited finger function is required for this type of control.
Electronically assisted hand controls – offers two types of controls. Primary controls manage gas, brakes and steering while the Secondary driving controls are designed to operate other vehicle functions.
Manual driving controls – You can get controls that work the clutch and allow you to shift gears but they can be hard to find. In place of the push-pull or right-angle control arm a ring mounted inside the circumference of the steering wheel controls the acceleration, while a lever mounted next to the gear shift/clutch stick controls the brake.
You should expect to take lessons from a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist before getting the OK to operate a vehicle with hand controls.
With a goal of bringing greater comfort to people traveling in wheelchairs, Winnebago recently debuted three new “accessibility-enhanced” motorhomes at the 2019 Florida RV Supershow. Intended to increase the comfort and privacy of wheelchair-using travelers, the motorhomes feature accessible spaces as well as features such as wheelchair lifts and roll-in showers, with additional options including a ceiling track mobility system, customized beds, handrails, and wall-mounted lighting.
customers are looking for the same freedom from home that many RV owners seek
and in many cases the ability to travel is much more meaningful. Over the past
four decades, we’ve optimized our accessibility enhancements to take them
beyond simple add-ons, to developing them into design features founded in
countless real-world experiences and with Winnebago’s legendary construction
standards,” said Ashis Bhattacharya, Vice President, Strategic Planning and
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, check out our dealer locator to find a QAP certified dealer near you.
Increased freedom and mobility are two of the main reasons to purchase an accessible or customized vehicle. These benefits are even more pronounced when the liberating features of a converted vehicle are coupled with devices like wheelchair or scooter carriers. These additions make loading heavy mobility equipment into your car, truck or van a breeze, and limit the amount of manual lifting those with disabilities or their caregivers must do in order to get on the road. Here are the main types of electric wheelchair carriers available.
Powered by the vehicle’s electrical system, car-top carriers are designed to work with manual, folding wheelchairs. Taking the place of a luggage rack, they are enclosed spaces, perfect for shielding your chair from inclement weather, that remain flat against the car’s roof to preserve the vehicle’s aerodynamic shape. These models can be either fully automatic or require you to guide the chair as the carrier does the heavy lifting.
Bumper-mounted carriers are some of the least expensive options when it comes to mobility equipment. As simple carriers designed to transport manual wheelchairs, these additions hold the folded wheelchair flat against the back of the vehicle. With this type of carrier, however, there are many things to take into consideration before making a purchase, such as rear window visibility, weight and type of chair you need to lift. In order to ensure you make the right choice and that it is then installed correctly, it is recommended that you visit a NMEDA dealer and review your best options.
When it comes to transporting scooters and power wheelchairs, hitch-mounted carriers are the solution. These hook to the trailer hitch of a car or van and have a platform like lift onto which a wheelchair or scooter can be easily maneuvered. With fully automatic options, hitch-mounted carriers are convenient for those living with disabilities and caregivers alike, as they require minimal effort.
As always, we recommend stopping by a NMEDA dealer to further review these options and ensure you go home with the perfect carrier for you or your family member.
The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is an advocate for mobility and accessibility for drivers with disabilities. If you need help with converting or buying a handicap accessible car, truck or van, please consider one of our mobility equipment dealers.
The colder months have a tendency to leave us feeling sluggish and craving extended naps. Although getting enough sleep is important for all of us, keeping our bodies and minds active, especially in the winter when our bodies are running slower, is essential. Here are a few ideas to keep you engaged this holiday season.
Change It Up
Don’t fall into the Netflix void this winter. While the online streaming service can help you host the perfect movie night, complete with hot chocolates and warm blankets, you know what they say about too much of a good thing.
Learn Something New
Master your camera’s manual functions or brush up on your own cooking skills by adding a few new recipes to your repertoire. With endless video tutorials and online resources, winter is the perfect time to pick up a new skill.
Out and About
Just because the temperature’s dropped doesn’t mean you have to be stuck indoors. If you have access to a wheelchair accessible car or van, you can go check out that new restaurant you’ve been eyeing, go explore a museum or even attend a play or concert. Some zoos even offer indoor exhibits. If you are in the mood for something a bit wilder, get out and discover all your city and neighboring towns have to offer.
Staying active doesn’t mean spending hours upon hours at the gym. Joining a bowling league or going for a stroll or ride around the neighborhood on days when the snow’s cleared can help you keep yourself warm this winter. You can also check with your local YMCA or other recreational centers to see if they offer accessible swim sessions or wheelchair basketball or wheelchair rugby leagues. If they don’t, talk to management about starting your own!
Frigid temperatures not only slow us down, but can slow our van and accessible equipment. For example, if you use a hydraulic wheelchair lift, you may have noticed that the colder the weather, the slower the lift reacts. The cold thickens the fluid, making it move slower through hoses, valves and cylinders.
There’s not much you can do about that, but preparing other equipment for cold weather is important to help avoid accidents and breakdowns.
If you live in northern climates, get an oil change, tune-up, and/or semi-annual lift service and have any other accessible equipment checked before the temperature dips. A professional should also check the battery, antifreeze level, heater, brakes, defroster and thermostat.
Do It Yourself:
Purchase winter wiper blades that cut through snow and ice.
Keep the gas tank at least half full. It reduces condensation and makes your vehicle easier to start on cold mornings.
Buy tires that have MS, M+S, M/S or M&S on them, meaning they meet the Rubber Manufacturers Association guidelines and can bite through mud and snow.
For better traction and control, rotate tires so the best ones are in the front.
Get an electric engine block heater. It warms the engine so the motor can start. It connects to normal AC power overnight or before driving. In extremely cold climates, electrical outlets are sometimes found in public or private parking lots.
Cold weather is tough on accessible van batteries. Buy one with greater starting power, higher cold cranking amps and reserve capacity for energy when the engine isn’t running.
Use synthetic oil to make starting a cold engine easier.
Before you drive:
Keep rock salt on hand to melt ice off walkways for a safer wheelchair ride.
Clean the snow off the roof and hood so it doesn’t “avalanche” onto the windshield and block your vision.
Clear the head and tail lights for best visibility.
Scrape the ice off mirrors and windows.
This mobility safety update has been brought to you by NMEDA – the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association. Need some information on how to make your vehicle wheelchair accessible or upgraded with the latest and most convenient features? Contact a NMEDA dealer in your local area. Your local NMEDA dealer is an expert in mobility equipment and accessibility!
Brisk air, shorter days and finding a pumpkin patch on every corner can only mean one thing—holiday season is upon us and with it come delicious feasts enjoyed with loved ones. For some of us, this also means lots of time spent in the kitchen. Whether you’re cooking, washing dishes or just gathering in the house’s social center, a kitchen that’s accessible to all family members makes for an inviting place to enjoy time together. Making your kitchen space more wheelchair-friendly can seem overwhelming, but with a few adjustments and considerations, you, and any other wheelchair user in your circle, can feel comfortable taking part in holiday traditions.
Because the typical height of a wheelchair armrest is about 29”, a recommended countertop height for a person using a wheelchair is a minimum of 28” and should be no higher than 34”. There should also be a space of at least 24” in height and 30” in width to accommodate the wheelchair underneath while working at the counter. This way, you, or any person with a disability in your family, can easily reach the counter for food preparation, storage or sneaking a bite of that side dish before it’s quite ready.
An important tip to keep in mind when installing a wheelchair accessible sink is to place the drain near the back of the sink. This keeps a space clear of obstructions under the sink where a person using a wheelchair can move into without issue. Also be sure any hot water pipes are insulated to prevent burns. Finally, accessible kitchen sinks should be only 5” to 6 ½” deep with a single lever faucet to make for simple operation
Lowering wall cabinets by about 3” (from the standard 18” above the counter to 15”) would make the second shelf accessible for persons in wheelchairs. By also including pullout cutting boards and drawers with full extension glides, your kitchen could be transformed into an accessible haven. An alternative solution would be to install shelving lifts inside cabinets. These will lower the shelves, and their contents, to an accessible height for those with disabilities.
Installing or lowering wall ovens, microwaves or other mounted appliances to approximately 31” from the floor can make them more convenient to operate from a wheelchair. When it comes to a stovetop, positioning control knobs at the front of the appliances eliminates the need to reach across a hot cooking surface and makes it easier for those with mobility limitations to feel more comfortable cooking up something yummy.
These adaptations can help make your kitchen easy to navigate and give you the perfect space to try those holiday recipes you’ve been eyeing. Want to be even more prepared for the upcoming season? Fire up your appetite for cooking with culinary tips for wheelchair users and make your entire home accessible and welcoming with these accessible home recommendations.