Transportation has evolved, especially for those with disabilities. In 1973 a rehabilitation act put “wheels in motion” for public transportation to be accessible for people who are differently abled. Shortly after was the introduction of hand controls in personal vehicles.
Hand Controls in Personal Vehicles
Slowly the evolution of hand controls changed and technology improved. Along with the hand controls, disabled drivers were given more options as to what types of vehicles they are able to operate and what modifications can be made for the operator’s access, safety and comfort.
Lots of car dealers these days have mobility programs. These programs are designed to show the buyers what options are available to them. For instance, drivers can ask for:
- Hand controls
- Options for the doors
- Power assist seats
- Assistive steering devices
- Wheelchair restraints
This is not an all-inclusive list; you can customize as needed.
Usually the first thoughts when buying a vehicle focus on cost. The addition of accessories to make it “disabled-friendly” adds to the worry. The options added to the vehicle could run the buyer anywhere from $200 to $2000 more for their vehicle depending on needs and what they choose.
Most mobility programs can and will usually help offset the cost of the accessories needed in the vehicles. Other options that can be utilized are grants and loans for people who are differently abled.
Different disabilities also have their own organizations that present grants to the disabled. Some of these organizations are:
- The Spina Bifida Association
- The Reeves Foundations
- United Cerebral Palsy
These are just a few of the organizations offering grants that are out there. They also can point you in the direction you need to go for the right grant or loan for you.
Along with cost, time may be a factor in the vehicle buying process. Unlike just buying a vehicle and taking it home right from the lot after doing all the paperwork, a driver with limitations has to wait until the equipment they need is installed. The time frame for installing equipment and making a vehicle accessible could take up to three or four weeks depending on where the equipment is coming from.
If you have ever dreamed or thought about riding a motorcycle but never thought it was possible with the limitations of a disability, there’s no worry. Released in 2006, automotive developers at a company called Conquest designed a motorcycle/trike for people in wheelchairs.
The design of the wheelchair motorcycle may look strange at first glance, but in some opinions it was very well planned and designed. The back of the trike opens into a ramp for a wheelchair to roll into and lock in. It also has a seat for a passenger to have a place to ride along.
When you are looking for an accessible vehicle, keep in mind why you need a vehicle. Do you really need your own vehicle or will trying to get a ride from a friend or family member or taking public transportation be an adequate option for you? As with buying any vehicle, pricing and affordability can make a big impact on your decision. Some other considerations during the process include what organizations you are able to get grant and loan assistance from and what kind of accessories the dealership’s mobility program can offer you. Keep these notes in mind the next time you go car shopping. Good luck and happy hunting.