Wheelchair Access Technologies
For a wheelchair to enter a vehicle, it needs to do so in a safe, comfortable manner that meets ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements. There are two main methods for wheelchairs to enter vehicles: Wheelchair Lifts and Wheelchair Ramps.
Found almost exclusively on full-sized vans, wheelchair lifts are designed to safely lift the passenger from ground level and raise them into the vehicle body. Once in the vehicle, the wheelchair and passenger are secured with wheelchair restraints and a passenger lap shoulder belt. The lift is stored inside the vehicle, stowed in a folded, upright position. Lifts can be operated by anyone, they raise and lower with a handheld remote and raise with hydraulics. A person in their 70s can just as easily operate a wheelchair lift as a person in their 20s. Wheelchair lift platforms come in a few sizes, all of which meet ADA. They also come in 800 and 1,000 pound weight capacities.
Ramps are most common in minivans, and to meet ADA, the ramp is required to have a slope of 1:6. This means that the floor of the minivan must be lowered at the entry point to get the ramp to meet ADA. Ramps have less moving parts than lifts, but require more vehicle conversion to lower the floor. A wheelchair ramp allows a passenger to navigate themselves into the vehicle. If the wheelchair passenger requires assistance, though, you may need a driver who can handle the physical requirements of pushing the chair into the van. There are two types of ramps:
Fold-out ramps can be operated manually or electronically with remote control. The ramp is stowed on the inside of the vehicle in a folded position and extends outward when deployed. They work well when placed over impediments such as curbs. These ramps are durable and strong and swing out of the way of the side entrance when not in use to allow for ambulatory passengers to enter the vehicle.
In-floor ramps are stowed under the floor of wheelchair vans. It makes for obstacle-free doorways, more cargo storage, lowered floor angles, a cleaner interior, and quiet rides. Because of these features, it gives users more space inside the van for 360-degree maneuverability. The ramp slides out from under the floor, like a cassette, when deployed and slides back under the floor when not in use.
Whichever mode of wheelchair passenger loading you are thinking of purchasing, make sure you consider your fleet’s loading situations. Also, consider whether your vehicle will be on a time-sensitive route when you select your van. If you have further questions or would like to purchase a van, our representatives at Schetky Bus & Van Sales are here to help. We’ll happily assist you with your purchase and provide you with a top-quality vehicle at a competitive price.