Paul Ulrich, a GM engineer who is also in a wheelchair rightly said - "Nobody knows how important independence is until you don't have it".
They spent huge sums of money and put a lot of effort to design automobiles (Wheelchair vans) that can be used by wheelchair users. Financially too they have made it possible for a wheelchair user to own a wheelchair van or automobile through their different funding programs.
Any automobile can be converted to suit a wheelchair user. But wheelchair vans are more comfortable and a lot of options available to choose a perfect according to ones need.
Excellent hand control devices are available for wheelchair vans for a comfortable and easy driving.
split wheelchair vans into two basic types according to the users
1) Just a travel equipment The user will travel like a passenger and does not want to do their own driving.
2) Want to drive around and burn some rubber!
For the first case the equipment will be simple and the wheelchair van does not need a lot of alteration. A ramp or a lift to get in and out will be sufficient in most cases.
But in the second case some alterations are necessary. But nothing is impossible. The wheelchair van can be altered perfectly according to your need.
Driving wheelchair vans involves more responsibility. So, if you are qualified to drive, the authorities will surely provide a license and you can enjoy your ride. But if not, stay within your limitations and still enjoy the ride while someone else drives.
An assessment centre can absolutely help you in assessing your needs and prescribe a perfect wheelchair van for you. You will find professionals who have huge experience working with wheelchair users and wheelchair van vendors. Normally they look into
Wheelchair to van transfer ability
Ability to get the wheelchair into and out of the van
Ability to make quick decisions
to prescribe a best suited wheelchair van for you.
There are a number of assistive technologies and devices available to overcome most of the problems. For example, a person with hearing problems can use siren sensors or a person with little or no ability to transfer wheelchairs to the vans can use wheelchair lifts, which does the job completely by itself without any human assistance or drive the vehicle just sitting on a wheelchair!
Wheelchair vans are expensive but not unaffordable. The major manufacturers of wheelchair vans do provide plenty of schemes and funding programs to make it affordable. Please visit general motors, Chrysler corp or ford corp sites for more information.