Wheelchair accessible vehicles-The interiors
Posted: Apr 16, 2015
As wheelchair vehicles are in high demand among the disabled people for mobility, the safety, the easy accessibility and special driving options are taken into serious consideration.
People with disabilities cannot operate the normal gears, brake and accelerator pedals which require the use of both hands and feet simultaneously. These vehicles are modified with customized hand controls like a single push/pull control for accelerator and brake or a modified steering knob with buttons for clutch and gear etc. These controls operate on one of the two principles – ones that externally adjust the basic control systems of the vehicle like a steering mounted hand lever that mechanically connects to the brake pedal. The second type of controls takes a more sophisticated approach by tweaking the stock transmission and drive systems through techniques like drive-by-wire or electronic servo mechanisms.
Foldable ramps are added to the lowered floorings of the vehicles in order to provide easy accessibility of the wheelchairs into the cars. Automated ramps are higher in price and are powered by remote sensors. Detachable ramps too are found in the market which are manually operated and are cheaper in price. If a person wishes to be self-sufficient he or she chooses the automatic ramps but in case of external assistance one can opt for manual ramps.
The ramps have frictionless surface to provide better grip while loading and unloading of wheelchairs.
Flooring and raised tops
For craving out extra space for the wheelchairs and to provide gentle slops for the ramps the flooring of the vehicle is lowered. The roof is raised for facilitating better head clearance during the entry and exit of the wheelchair from the vehicle.
The lowering of the floor also leads to the modification of car suspension, exhaust pipes and fuel tanks. Raised tops are usually added to the rear entry vehicles where the person in wheelchair is a passenger. In side entry vehicles where the disabled person is the driver, along with floor lowering the front door of the car is modified. Detachable ramps or manually assisted lifting mechanisms save the cost of modifications on the chassis of the vehicle
Doors and seats
Wheelchair accessible vehicles can have either side entry or rear entry. In rear entry vehicles the handicap person is a rear end passenger while in side entry vehicle the handicap person can either be rear passenger or front passenger or driver. In rear entry vehicle the normal swivel doors are replaced by hatch type doors. While in side entry systems the normal doors are modified with sliding doors. In this the B-pillar is shifted back to provide larger space for better accessibility.
In rear entry the additional seats are foldable in nature while in the front seating arrangement the seats are removed in order to provide space for the placement of the wheelchairs. Additional shoulder straps and seat belts are added for the safety of wheelchair bound person. Special grip locks secure the wheels of the chair and keeps the wheelchair at one position.
Todd Dawson Is a freelance writer