The Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 protects individuals with disabilities against discrimination. In the early years, wheelchair lifts were widely used on public transit vehicles to comply with this landmark ruling in the US.
These days, ramps have replaced lifts on low floor buses. And modern wheelchair lifts are designed primarily for use with smaller capacity vehicles like cars and vans, more than for buses or other forms of public transport.
What are Wheelchair Lifts?
If you want to gain access to hard to reach locations like the inside of a van while still seated in a wheelchair, a wheelchair lift is what you need. These are devices that make it possible for disabled individuals to access and use wheelchair vans with consummate ease!
Things To Consider While Choosing Wheelchair Lift for Truck
As is the case with most purchases, you have several factors to consider while picking the ideal wheelchair lift for you. Do you need a lift to access the van through the passenger doors? Or do you want to use the rear cargo doors?
Modern wheelchair lifts are available in different configurations that can be installed in different parts of your car. But most are one-trick ponies in this regard: you will have to choose either a side mount or rear mount. Single/sliding arm lifts have a capacity of only 600lbs and have a one are fixed, or one arm sliding design.
The advantage of this setup is the fact that it can slide out of the way to accommodate non-wheelchair users. In contrast, dual arm designs are sturdier but do not allow front passenger seats to recline backward.
The weights involved also need to be factored. This includes the actual deadweight of the wheelchair/mobility scooter, and the weight of the user. Based on weight lifting capabilities, wheelchair lifts can be divided into two: single arm lifts and dual arm lifts.
1. Single Arm Vs. Dual Arm Lifts
Along with the above mentioned key points, there are other notable differences between these two kinds of lifts. Single arm lifts are more space saving, and allow other passengers to use the van entry doors with ease.
These lifts are also designed exclusively for use with side passenger doors. You cannot use them on rear cargo doors. And with limited lifting abilities, these are not the best options if the person and wheelchair involved are on the heavier side.
With dual arm designs, you get double the strength and double the lifting capacity. These are much better suited for bulky wheelchairs and users. They have a carrying capacity more than 800lbs, which is a good 200Lbs more than most single arm wheelchair lifts.
But on the flipside, all that performance also translates into a bulky frame that takes up more room inside your van. They will also result in limited internal space and mobility for co-passengers. And they also block side entrances. As a result, these lifts are often used on the rear entry of the vehicle to mitigate the space and comfort restrictions.
2. nternal Mounts Vs. Under Vehicle Mounts For Wheelchair Lifts
As suggested by the subheading, you have two major mounting options to choose from, once you have decided the arm design. Internally mounted wheelchairs have several definite advantages.
They tend to be much cheaper and are easier to access as well. This means that routine maintenance and servicing will be much more comfortable with the design. And they also happen to be capable of handling heavier weights.
But they are not without flaws either. They will obviously take up more space inside your van and can block access to exits as well. If you don't mind the extra expenses involved, under-vehicle mounts are a much more discreet option.
They don't take up any space inside your van, and nor do they block the doors., when compared to internal mounts. But the under-vehicle mounts also negatively affect the ground clearance of your vehicle and cannot be used to carry heavier weights.
But in actual real-world driving, this does not cause any severe hassles. Access and maintenance can involve more work in these mounts, as they are housed in a special protective cartridge.
3. Safety and Convenience: Lift Interlocks
A major safety issue when using a wheelchair lift has to deal with unsafe operating situations. For example, if the van is moving, using the lift can be dangerous. The opposite is also true when the lift is being operated, moving the van can lead to accidents.
To minimize this risk, most wheelchair vans come equipped with a special safety feature. Called a safety lift interlock, they are designed to block the operation of the vehicle or lift when the other is in an unsafe position.
The device will emit an alarm to provide a warning to the user. This is a safety feature made mandatory by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
4. Additional Safety: Lift Control Pendants
Wheelchair lifts also need easily accessible controls for smooth functioning. You can find models with handy control panels or pendants. They can control all aspects of the wheelchair lift with the press of a button.
For instance, you have to move a lift up or down to use it to access or disembark from the van. Stowing and deploying the lift is also a very potentially complicated procedure.
But since these are products aimed at disabled individuals, additional accessibility and safety features have to be incorporated into the design. In conjunction with the safety lift interlocks, control pendants provide a vital extra layer of safety and convenience to wheelchair lifts.
When looking for the best wheelchair lift for your van, try to ensure that the lifts sport these vital features and functions. And also make sure to learn how wheelchair lift for truck works.
5. Some Practical Concerns Regarding Wheelchair Lifts
The wheelchair lift can be a godsend for families with a disabled wheelchair user in their midst. It can save a lot of time and effort when traveling by car. The long and convoluted process of getting a wheelchair user into the car can be sheer agony when done by hand.
And it also raises the dilemma of stowing away and storing the wheelchair in the car. A wheelchair lift just makes all these issues disappear. If you have been putting off short trips in the car due to the extended processes involved in getting the disabled individual and wheelchair safely on board, you can stop doing so.
The lift will take care of the whole process in a matter of seconds, with minimal physical or mental agony involved. But to have a completely hassle free user experience with these lifts you need to shop wisely and pick the right product for your needs.
Since these wheelchair lifts are available in a range of prices, try and get one that ticks all the boxes for you including the one about budgets. If you have a small or medium-sized car, external lifts are the better option.
They do not take space inside what is probably already cramped interiors. But they are not suitable for larger and heavier wheelchairs. But then again, if you have those large wheelchairs, they wouldn't fit inside small cars anyways.
Always be careful when dealing with external wheelchair lifts, as they are not suitable for lifting across longer distances. The internal wheelchair, though sturdy, is more of a permanent addition to your car interiors.
They take up more space and cannot be dismantled at will. But when it comes to dealing with real-world conditions like rain and snow, the internal placement makes this lift more durable and better protected.
Due to space restrictions, the internal version is better suited for larger cars, vans, and SUVs. Regarding operating mechanisms and controls, electrical and mechanical options are available. While the latter is cheaper, they need more effort to operate. Electric powered lifts offer smooth and automatic functioning, but at a premium price.
They are suitable for disabled users who have no bystander assistance of any kind. But if you have family around, you can opt for the more affordable mechanical devices.
Wheelchair lifts are essential accessories for senior citizens and disabled individuals. They help to effectively remove the pain associated with transferring from a wheelchair onto a car.
There are numerous modern design options available in the market. Depending on the size of your car, and the size and weight of the wheelchair, you can opt between different mount designs and arm lift configurations.
While models are available in various budgets, you should always try to ensure that the model you purchase has all the NHTSA mandated security features.
With moving parts and vehicles involved, you can never be too cautious. Understand all the details of how wheelchair lift for truck works for maximum safety and ease of use.