How Can I Modify A Vehicle For Disability?
If you are living with a lifelong disability or you become disabled, you need to think about the ways in which you can modify your life in order to be as productive and happy as possible. This can include making arrangements to modify a vehicle for disability. Depending on your disability and the modifications required, it may be easier than you think to make the necessary changes. There are also organizations and grants available to assist you in this process, depending on your location.
There may be many reasons to modify a vehicle for disability. People with limited mobility, including paralysis, may need special modifications. Changes can be made if you have coordination issues or judgment issues and need modifications to help you deal with them. You may think that vehicular changes are only for people with physical conditions, but those with mental or emotional conditions may benefit from certain modifications also. The important thing is to be educated and ensure that you get the best advice possible.
If you’re planning on investing in some changes to your car, it is worth going for a professional evaluation to determine what modifications may be best for you and your circumstances. You can visit a medical professional and they will speak to you at length about your condition, your life, and your other circumstances, which will allow them to properly assess what modifications you might need for your car. Depending on your situation, you can get a range of changes made to modify a vehicle for disability, including but not limited to:
- Steering wheel amendments
- Grip additions
- Floor steering
- Accelerator movement
- Joystick gearstick
- Key holders
- Seat amendments
This is not an exhaustive list, but shows just how variable the changes you can make are. This is why getting a professional evaluation can be so helpful. A professional will know more than you just through their experience, so will be able to give you unbiased and helpful advice so that your vehicle is perfect for you.
In getting your evaluation, you may learn that the vehicle you currently own is not really suitable for your needs. Think about it. If you need a full ramp installed, a zippy sports car is not really going to cut it. Depending on your needs, it may be worth upgrading to a larger car or van to fully accommodate you and the equipment that you may need to properly go about your day to day business. Your evaluator will advise you on this, but don’t be surprised if you’re told you’ll have to change your car for something a bit more functional.
An evaluator may also be able to give you advice on applying for a disabled parking permit, which will help you in navigating your day-to-day life. Depending on where you live, there are differing requirements, but you will usually qualify for a disabled parking permit if you have any kind of disability that limits mobility, sight issues, the need to carry oxygen at all times, or a range of other conditions. You may be surprised as to what qualifies you for a disabled parking permit, so it’s always worth investigating. Handicap parking permits are usually issued with an expiry date, so you will probably have to reapply if you are successful. In addition, you can also get a permit for use for a companion driver if you are still unable to drive yourself. The benefit is for you, even if you can’t actively drive. It’s about making your life more manageable and enjoyable, despite your disability.
If you’re worried about the cost of modifications, the good news is that there are many state agencies and non-profit charities that offer assistance to disabled individuals seeking to modify a vehicle for disability. Depending on where you live, there may be programs available that can help you partially or fully fund the changes you want to make to your car. Just be aware that they may require you to go to specific evaluators and modification companies in order to qualify for grants.
When you’re clear on what modifications you will need, it is important to make sure that you have the work carried out at a qualified and registered dealer who knows exactly what they are doing. You should ask if they are a member of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association or something similar, and ask how much experience they have in customizing vehicles for the disabled. Don’t be afraid to ask these questions, as a poorly modified car may pose a risk to your independence – as well as your life, in the case of an accident.
You may be surprised as to how much a modified vehicle will change your life. There is no monetary value that can be put on independence and the ability to live an open life, despite the limitations of a disability. Do your research and get all the help you can, then when you’re ready, enjoy taking to the open road!