Top tips for choosing a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle Part One
Choosing a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) can be a daunting process. There are many different models available, all with their own considerations depending on your individual needs. Different factors to think about include access options, adaptations and the number of seats. Below are some top things to consider when selecting a WAV. You may also want to check out Part Two in our series of top tips .
Around half of our customers tell us they may have avoided problems if they had spent more time researching what WAVs are available and what different conversions can offer. Talking to our WAV suppliers about the options available to you in plenty of time will help you make an informed choice.
Some people find that making a checklist of what is important to them is a great starting point when selecting their WAV.
If you are a renewing customer, it’s a good idea to make a note of the things that are working for you with your current vehicle and anything that is causing you difficulty. This can help you stay focused on what you need when looking at new WAVs.
It’s really important to think about what you need now, but also what you might need throughout the course of your lease (for example, is it likely that you will need to change your wheelchair?).
Size is key when making your selection. We classify our WAVs as small, medium, or large. The four key things to think about when deciding what size WAV you need are:
- The size and weight of your wheelchair
- Your seated height in your wheelchair
- The number of people you regularly travel with
- The amount of equipment you need to take with you on journeys.
All WAVs are fitted with either a ramp or a lift, and depending on the conversion, access will either be from the back or the side of the vehicle. It is important to think about whether your carer will be able to manually lift the ramp, or if they’ll need some assistance.
Sometimes a spring loaded ramp is sufficient, but if not, an automatic ramp (where the ramp folds and unfolds at the touch of a button), or a lift, might be the best solution for you. Automatic ramps and lifts tend to be more expensive than manually operated ramps.
You also need to consider where you park your WAV. Would you need the ramp fitted at the back of the WAV or on the side, and is there enough space for the solution you’re considering? Your supplier will discuss the options with you.
In order to allow for enough headroom for a wheelchair user, the floors of WAVs often have to be lowered. To account for this, you need to consider the following points:
- Ground clearance in your area – you may need to take more care over speed bumps and be careful on high kerbs
- Fuel tank – sometimes the lowering of the floor can impact on the size of the fuel tank so you might need to go to the petrol station more frequently. This only applies to some vehicles and your WAV supplier will be able to give you more information if it applies to your vehicle.
There are even more helpful tips covering seating, safety and space considerations in Part Two of our series on top tips on choosing a WAV .