Hand Controls Put You in the Driver’s Seat of Your Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle

The desire for independence is part of our nature. Regardless of our circumstances, we all strive for as much independence as possible, and nowhere is this more evident than in the community of people with disabilities.

Many wheelchair users live rewarding, active lives thanks, in large part, to the advancement of assistive technologies. In 1954, a serious auto accident gave Jerry Kittle 13 months to conceive and design the first hand controls for cars before he was released from the hospital. As life-changing as it was for Jerry Kittle, that accident has given previously unimaginable independence to millions of people with disabilities.

Wheelchair van hand-control technology has come a long way since Kittle introduced his invention. Basically, hand controls installed on the steering column operate the gas and brake pedals of a vehicle. You do have several options (single lever, multi-lever, push-button, slot machine handle, etc.). Some hand controls include a mounting bracket that enables the user to adjust the controls and transfer them from one vehicle to another.

If you’re considering hand controls for your wheelchair accessible van, you must have an automatic transmission. Most hand controls are tightened to the steering column and use levers attached to the upper part of the gas and brake pedals to move and stop. You also have the option of a horn and headlight dimmer attached directly to the lever. These controls still allow able-bodied drivers to operate the vehicle when necessary.

Those who live in hilly or mountainous regions should consider hand controls that allow you to apply the gas and brake pedals at the same time. With this type of hand-control system, the driver pushes “down” to press the gas pedal and “forward” to apply the brake, while other systems use “forward” for the brake, and the driver pulls the lever toward him to press the gas, so he can’t apply them at the same time.

When you shop for hand controls, remember to include the cost of installation as part of the overall price. Happy motoring!