In a rear-entry vehicle, the wheelchair occupant enters through the rear hatch. In a side-entry vehicle, the wheelchair occupant enters through the side-sliding passenger door. Although the side-entry conversion is more common, we have customers who prefer the rear-entry. Here are some facts about the two options to help you decide which will work best for you.
Rear-Entry Wheelchair Accessible Minivans
The rear-entry minivan has a lowered floor to make the ramp slope less of an angle when entering. To do this, the conversion technician cuts out the floor of the minivan from the back by the bumper to the middle bench seat or driver and front passenger seat (depending on where the wheelchair occupant prefers to be secured for transport). A new section is then welded 10" lower to the ground. The conversion is continued and a fold-out ramp is added to the rear bumper area where the floor was cut out.
Why People Prefer Rear-Entry Wheelchair Minivans
Price: The rear-entry ramp entrance is less of a modification, meaning it takes less work and time to convert because less of an area is affected during the conversion process. Since the conversion process is less complicated, the price of a rear-entry comes out to be slightly less expensive than a side-entry minivan.
Ground Clearance: Since accessible minivans have lowered floors, the ground clearance is sacrificed. Since the rear entry does not have lowered sides and has a raised rear bumper the clearance is better than that of a side-entry vehicle.
Easy Entrance: To enter a rear-entry vehicle, the wheelchair user drives straight into the vehicle from the back as far as they need to go to be in the desired travel position. No extra turning or maneuvering is required, which is especially beneficial to individuals who cannot bend their leg, require a tilted chair or have a longer than average chair.
Parking: The rear-entry accessible minivan can fit into a normal parking space and does not need the extra space on the side that side-entry vehicles need. A rear-entry vehicle is beneficial to customers who wish to exit and enter their vehicle in a garage or who need to double park for loading and unloading.
Why Rear-Entry Might Not Work For You....
Parallel Parking: Parallel parking is not an option unless you unload the wheelchair passenger in the road before parking or pull out of the parking spot before loading the wheelchair user. Parking on the end of a street is the only other way to parallel park in a rear-entry and still have access to the ramp.
No Pilot or Co-Pilot Seating for Wheelchairs: Since the rear-entry floor is only lowered to behind the middle bench seat or driver and passenger seats, the wheelchair occupant can not drive or sit in the passenger seat while in their wheelchair. Only if an individual is able to transfer into the factory seat can they could use the pilot or co-pilot seating options.
Side-Entry Wheelchair Accessible Minivans
A side-entry minivan is converted by lowering the floor 10" from the rear bench seat all the way forward or sometimes just before the pilot and co-pilot chairs. This allows an easier ramp angle for entrance and also the capability of driving a wheelchair, powered chair or scooter into the driver or front passenger seat position.
Why People Prefer Side-Entry Wheelchair Minivans
Parallel Parking: Parallel parking is no issue for side-entry ramps, which is helpful for individuals who live in a city or in a neighborhood where parking lots or driveways are not available.
Pilot and Co-Pilot Wheelchair Access: The side-entry allows wheelchair users to drive right into the driver or front passenger positions while still in their chair, which is not an option for rear-entry vans. A side-entry vehicle makes a huge difference for families with wheelchair bound parents and also anyone who wants the freedom to travel alone.
Why Side-Entry Might Not Work For You...
Double-Wide Parking: The side-entry ramp conversion needs extra space on the side of the vehicle in order for the ramp to deploy. Often times, this becomes an issue when parking in parking lots, even when there is handicapped parking available. When considering a side-entry, it is important to think about where it is you travel and park.
Inside Space: Side-entry minivans sometimes are limited in space especially if your wheelchair is larger than average or if you sit higher in your chair.
Trying out a side-entry minivan, or any van for that matter, is a good idea to make sure it's the right fit.
This guest post was submitted by VCI Mobility (vanconinc.com) which specializes in new and used wheelchair vans to give freedom back to disabled individuals - vanconinc.com