Travelling, and journeying in general, can be challenging for wheelchair users. Getting into and out of a normal car can be difficult, uncomfortable and even painful, and many cars do not have a convenient space into which a wheelchair enters, even folded up. This means that many wheelchair users are reliant upon public transport, or costly taxis, to get out and about. While the bus and rail services both provide for wheelchair users sometimes there simply is not a public transport option going where you want to go to when you want to get there.
A vehicle which is able to accommodate a wheelchair and its user with little fuss can be a real godsend. These types of vehicles are known as WAVs, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles, and they come in many different shapes and sizes.
There are basically two types of wheelchair accessible vehicles. One type is designed for the wheelchair user to be the driver and as these are usually custom built they are very expensive.
However, wheelchair accessible vehicles which are designed for the wheelchair user to ride as a passenger are much less expensive. They can even be purchased used, rented or hired and you may be able to use your mobility allowance to help finance one. The only disadvantage is that you will need someone else to drive and some models also require the aid of another person to operate the ramp or to secure the chair in place. However, once you have the vehicle you are sure to be able to find family or friends who will be happy to help you out with this.
There are several models of vehicles which are commonly converted into wheelchair accessible vehicles as their general shape and door layout already lends itself to this. The most economical type of wheelchair accessible vehicle has room for the driver and one passenger in the front, and the wheelchair user in the back. The wheelchair accesses through a rear door via a ramp, which folds down, and the chair is the secured into place. Travelling in the back of the vehicle does not give the wheelchair user the best view, and if they are very tall they may find this position uncomfortable. So some vehicles are designed so that the wheelchair passes through the back of the vehicles and ends up in the passenger seat position.
Instead of a ramp, some vehicles have a lift which can be operated either by the wheelchair user or by an assistant. This makes getting in and out easier but does increase the cost and the lift also requires regular maintenance. All rear entry vehicles require quite a large amount of space behind to allow access, so some people prefer entering through a side door, but these too are generally more expensive.
Different conversions of the same model of vehicle can offer different features so check out the options that are available and assess which ones best suits your needs.