A car cannot be wheelchair accessible to the extent that a ramp or lift allows the person sitting in the wheelchair to enter and exit the vehicle, but a car can be equipped with mobility equipment so that a wheelchair user can either drive or be a passenger. The suitability of an accessible car often depends on the physical ability of the wheelchair user.
Adaptive equipment for accessible cars includes hand controls that allow paraplegics to drive, power seats that turn and lower for easy access, and lifts, which assist in storing the wheelchair behind the car (a platform carrier), in the back seat, or trunk of the vehicle.
Hand controls are easy to use and come in a number of designs. The independent wheelchair user who will be using the accessible car with no help available for storing the chair must be physically able to place the folded wheelchair either in the adjacent seat, the back seat, or the trunk. Some people with disabilities have a wheelchair that easily dismantles for storage and can be reassembled quickly. Others are sufficiently ambulatory to make their way from the trunk or back door to the driver’s seat after storing the wheelchair. Of course, an accompanying caretaker or companion eliminates this concern.
You’ll find dozens of adaptive automobile seating options, so you’ll have to do some research to find the one that works best for your situation. To accommodate a driver or passenger with disabilities, a power seat typically rotates out over the doorsill and lowers to the height required for the wheelchair user to easily transfer from the wheelchair or mobility scooter into an accessible car. The power seat then elevates and gently rotates the seat back into the car, placing the driver or passenger with disabilities into the optimum position for travel.
Wheelchair Storage Help
Wheelchair and scooter storage assistance is available in several designs, too. A motorized external platform lift may ride outside the rear of the vehicle, so that the wheelchair or power scooter—if not covered—is exposed to the elements, though it leaves room in the trunk for additional cargo. Other external lifts enable you to hoist the wheelchair from the ground into the trunk of the car for safe storage.
In terms of fuel efficiency, a car is hard to beat. Ultimately, an accessible car’s usefulness depends on the wants, needs and physical ability of the person using the wheelchair.