Interior Handicap Driving Features for Ford E-Series Wheelchair Vans

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Ford’s been making their E-Series vans for years and consistently finds a receptive audience. These full-sized vehicles provide a great deal of space and flexibility for anyone in need of a wheelchair van. The E-150, E-250 and E-350 are amenable to the installation of a large number of interior features that can transform these big vans into top-notch mobility vehicles.

Getting into the E-Series Wheelchair Vans

Before one looks at other issues, it makes a great deal of sense to surmise whether the disabled driver will be able to open and to enter the vehicle safely and conveniently.

Opening and closing the doors of a full sized van can be challenging. The doors are heavy and they (and their handles) are designed for use by average buyers who don’t work from the angle of someone in a wheelchair. Fortunately, it’s possible to maximize access by having sliding side doors in place and powering them with a motor and remote control.

ford_e350_2006 rear entryE-Series vans do set rather high off the ground. That can be a problem with respect to effective entry and exit to and from the vehicle. One way to handle that is by installing an auto kneel system. These devices allow the vehicle to drop close to the ground when parked. That makes the Ford wheelchair van easier to access when a ramp is used (by decreasing ramp slope), or when a lift is used (requiring less altitude and effort).

It’s also possible to lower the floor of an E-Series van. That’s generally done as a way to increase interior clearance. In many cases, the height of the E-Series van may be adequate to avoid that adjustment, but many wheelchair users find that lowering the floor creates a more comfortable experience and improves access.

Seating in the E-Series

Seating ford e-series 2008The seating configuration of the E-Series van will depend upon the specific model purchased. Most of the available seating plans suffer from the same problem, though. They don’t work well for a wheelchair van.

It’s often necessary to remove center passenger seating on side-entry models to provide enough access. In many cases, a wheelchair-bound driver will want to drive the vehicle, but won’t want to do so from the driver’s seat. In these cases, a removable drivers’ seat can allow the vehicle’s owner to drive from the chair itself.

In other cases, interior modifications may involve the installation of specialty seats designed to make the process of moving from one’s wheelchair to the driver’s area easier. These include transfer seats, swivel seats and seats on powered bases.

Other E-Series Interior Modifications

Wheelchair Tie DownsOnce inside the van, wheelchairs must be secured before the vehicle moves. This can involve the use of tie downs (manual or electric) or a wheelchair docking system like the impressive models produced by EZ Lock.

In many cases, it’s essential to modify actual vehicle controls. For instance, some disabled drivers are unable to use foot controls. The accelerator and brake pedals can be replaced by hand controls. Drivers who can’t make use of traditional steering may find that special adaptations can put them on the road safely.

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