Staying mobile is an important part of being able to live an independent life, and many people prefer to have a personal car for maximum flexibility and ease. Of course, standard cars present some obvious barriers for wheelchair users.
Fortunately there are specially adapted wheelchair accessible vehicles or WAVs that can give you that independence, so long as you know how to find and acquire one.
WHERE AND HOW TO GET ONE
WAVs typically take the form of a unique configuration of an existing model of car, like the Ford Connect Freedom or the Peugeot Boxer Spirit, and are generally only available from specialist dealers. The largest of these is Allied Mobility, who deals in both used and new WAVs.
Of course, a car is a big purchase and not one that everyone is in a position to make but there are systems in place to make these vehicles more affordable and independence more achievable. The most well known is the Motability scheme, a non-profit that makes WAVs available through leasing or hire purchase, and finding out if you qualify is as simple as visiting their website. There is also the Access to Work scheme that can cover up to 80% of vehicle costs over £300 if you are in or about to enter the workforce, as well as VAT Relief, whereby if you meet certain conditions you can purchase a WAV without paying any Value Added Tax on it.
GETTING THE RIGHT CAR FOR YOUR NEEDS
The other major question is what kind of vehicle you need. Most WAVs are built to accommodate passengers in wheelchairs, meaning that you would still need to be conducted around by a carer. If this suits your circumstances and you have no desire to travel alone or out of hours then this is a good option, as they are more readily available.
However, for that extra measure of independence there are also vehicles adapted for disabled drivers in various ways, such as the adjustment of pedals or the inclusion of hand controls. Obviously, the option that is best for you will depend entirely on your own circumstances, but its worth thinking about whether you want to be able to travel on a whim or at unconventional hours before you commit one way or the other.
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Photo Credit: Allied Mobility