Transporting a Child with Disabilities
At Ride-Away, we believe that all children, including those with special health care needs, should have access to proper resources for safe transportation. We can help you understand the basic guidelines for selecting restraints, positioning children into them and securing these restraints in your vehicle. We have been helping families who have children with special needs, since first opening our doors in 1986. Every family is unique and we will take the time to listen and understand your needs.
There are many factors to consider when looking for a wheelchair van to transport your child, such as:
- The rear seat is the safest place for children under the age of 12, since the impact of a deploying air bag can severely injure or kill an infant of small child. We will work with you to find the ideal position to transport your child for safety convenience.
- For a child with special needs who requires frequent observation during travel, being close to the driver or attendant may be critical. We have many options to meet your needs and will work with you to determine which will be best for you and your family.
- A rear-entry wheelchair van might be a better option if you need a caregiver to sit next to the child or want them closer to the driver.
- If you have a lot of equipment or luggage you will need to also transport, a side-entry wheelchair van will allow for more room.
- The size of your family also will impact your decision of wheelchair van options.
- Do you require tinted windows so your child does not become too hot from the sun?
- When a child with special needs is in transit, ancillary pieces of medical equipment should be secured on the vehicle floor or underneath a vehicle seat or wheelchair in order to avoid them becoming projectiles during a crash and striking someone.
- Electrical equipment for use during transit should have a portable self-contained power source for twice the expected duration of the trip. Whenever possible, for improved safety, lead acid battery or electrically powered wheelchairs, or other mobile seating devices and respiratory systems should be converted to gel-cell or dry-cell batteries. To house and protect batteries during transportation, the use of external battery boxes is recommended.
The Perfect Fit For Your Child In Your Wheelchair Accessible Van
At Ride-Away, we believe that your child should have access to proper equipment for safe transportation. Finding the perfect fit for your child in your wheelchair accessible van can be a daunting task if you are unsure of what to look for, or which questions to ask your Mobility Consultant. There are many factors to consider when transporting a child such as:
Safety & Positioning Inside the Vehicle
- The rear positions are the safest place for children under the age of 12, due to the impact a deploying air bag has. Ride-Away will work with you to find the ideal position to transport your child for safety and convenience.
- Being able to sit next to family and friends in the wheelchair accessible vehicle is important to your child. We know in situations where this is desirable, your child sitting shoulder to shoulder with their brother and sister can feel more like one big happy family!
- The Childs Physical Needs
- For a child with special needs who requires frequent observation/medical assistance during travel, being close to the driver or attendant may be critical. Ride-Away has many options to meet your need and work with you to determine which will work best for you and your family.
- Will your child be transferring from their wheelchair to a seat in the vehicle? If your child is able to transfer from their wheelchair to a seat in the vehicle, your mobility options may increase.
- Room Inside The Vehicle
- The size of your family could impact which wheelchair accessible van you purchase. For example, if you have a large family that travels, you may need more room for luggage or equipment. A side-entry wheelchair accessible van might be a better option for you in this case.
- You may also need enough room to make sure that any ancillary pieces of medical equipment are secured on the vehicle floor or underneath a seat. In this case, a rear-entry wheelchair accessible van might be a better solution for you.
- Does your child have multiple wheelchairs that he or she uses? If so, it is important to inform your Mobility Consultant that your child uses multiple wheelchairs, so that each wheelchair can be measured.
- Is the headrest on your child’s wheelchair adjustable, retractable, or flexible? This is an essential factor to consider during this process because the headrest could factor into how the wheelchair is positioned in the vehicle.
- The width and length of your childs wheelchair also is a major factor to consider. If your childs wheelchair is too wide, this can create an issue with 2nd row seating in some rear-entry wheelchair accessible vans. For some customers, we have gone to extraordinary lengths, even going back to the manufacturer of the wheelchair for adjustments to make it work. The length of your childs wheelchair could also present a dilemma with the use of side-entry wheelchair accessible vans because a longer wheelchair limits your childs maneuverability inside your wheelchair accessible van. We always work with what you have to in order to determine the best situation for you and your family.
After you have taken into consideration each of these factors, the next step will be to measure your child’s wheelchair. The measurements that need to be taken include the following:
- The height from the top of the person’s head (when sitting in the wheelchair) to the ground.
- The width of the wheelchair, from the outside of the wheel’s hubs.
- The length of the wheelchair from the back of the rear wheels to the tip of the person’s toes (when sitting)
Having these measurements available are very important when you are deciding on which wheelchair van will work best for you. Believe it or not, communication between you and your Mobility Consultant has a lot more to do when it comes to measuring a wheelchair than you might think. If you are not sure that your measurements are correct, contact one of our highly trained and knowledgeable Mobility Consultant to schedule an appointment to have your wheelchair measured for a wheelchair accessible van.
Additional considerations can be found on our wheelchair van checklist.
Funding for wheelchair vans used by families of children with disabilities can sometimes be easier to obtain than for adults. Contact a knowledgeable and trained Ride-Away Mobility Consultant to help you navigate through the funding process.
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