4 Top Methods to Access Ford Wheelchair Vans

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A disabled person can access a Ford wheelchair van in a variety of ways. Each has advantages and disadvantages and some are more popular than others are. Let’s review some of the most common methods and assess their popularity.

Helper

Many disabled drivers get into their Ford wheelchair van with the help from a third party. A helper can provide the support necessary for many wheelchair users to make a smooth transition from their chair to the driver’s or passenger’s seat. After the move, the helper can then place the wheelchair within the vehicle.

Advantages of this strategy include the fact that there’s little or no need to modify the vehicle to improve accessibility and that it allows the van to park virtually anywhere without fear of eliminating access. The most obvious disadvantage is that it creates a situation where the wheelchair user is dependent upon the helper.

Transfer Seat

A transfer seat will pivot out from the wheelchair van to ground level. The wheelchair user will move himself or herself from the chair into the immediately available seat. Then, the wheelchair user can retract the seat, putting him or her right behind the wheel.

Advantages of this strategy include avoiding the need for more expensive Ford wheelchair van modifications and decreasing the wheelchair user’s reliance upon a helper. This strategy also allows one to park their wheelchair van virtually anywhere without fear of being blocked from entrance or exit by other vehicles. Disadvantages include the lingering need for assistance, as someone usually needs to gather and load the wheelchair. Additionally, it’s only suitable for wheelchair users who are strong and agile enough to handle the transfer.

Ramp

Many Ford wheelchair vans feature a ramp. Some are manual pull outs and others are motorized, automatic aids. They come in a variety of sizes and designs, but they all serve the same function–providing the wheelchair user with a manageable means of entering and exiting the vehicle. Ramps can be used on either side of a vehicle or they can be positioned for rear-entry.

Advantages include a greater degree of independence, especially when an automatic ramp is combined with powered doors and the right interior modifications. Disadvantages include the cost involved in modifying the Ford for ramp use (often, floors are lowered and kneel systems are installed in conjunction with the ramp). Additionally, those who use ramps need to be cognizant of where they park. It’s possible to find oneself left in a position where space won’t allow for extension of, or access to, the ramp.

Lift

ford_e250_2010-d8aba70bf7c79214d92e4129fa372c60A wheelchair lift consists of a flat platform and a mechanism by which that platform can be raised to the vehicle’s entry height. The wheelchair user rolls onto the platform, activates it, and is delivered to the point of entry. Like ramps, lifts can be used in both side- and rear-entry configurations. Due to their size, they are more often found on rear-entry vehicles.

Advantages include ease of use and, if the right models are selected, the ability to effectively move heaver mobility scooters and powerchairs. Disadvantages include price considerations (installing a lift can be an expensive proposition) and possible parking limitations.

The Most Popular Methods

Even though ramps and lifts do create a need to be careful about parking choices, they are the two most popular methods of accessing Ford wheelchair vans. Of those two options, ramps are the most common due to their relative affordability and effectiveness. More Ford wheelchair vans use side-entry ramps than rear-entry ramps due to space considerations and because they afford quicker and more efficient access to the driving area.

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