Emmie Roberts at Courtside Conversions, a customer of ours who supports WAV (wheelchair accessible vehicles) users across the UK, discusses what to consider when choosing a WAV and the benefits that can be enjoyed.

Having the vehicular provision to travel brings a new dimension to the lives of many wheelchair users. It restores a sense of independence that may have been temporarily inhibited and for many can permit the return to a more independent lifestyle.

Many people living in rural locations are not serviced by regular public transport routes and can become more isolated and find it difficult to get reasonable connections for basic activities like shopping or going to a barbers/hairdresser. Courtside Conversions supply vehicles to Community Transport groups across the UK, these fantastic organisations which are often supported by volunteer drivers offer an invaluable service helping to create a positive impact on individual wellbeing by reducing loneliness and isolation and improving general quality of life for those which otherwise would not be able to get out and about.

But what do you need to consider when choosing a WAV?

Depending on the use of the vehicle there are a few fundamental considerations that must be made. For example, a vehicle which is going to transport a couple of disabled school children every day is likely to require a very different specification to a vehicle which will be transporting patients on a stretcher bed, perhaps to and from hospital. Different platform lengths and safe working loads are an important consideration.

Many vehicles can be adapted now to support wheelchair travel providing they offer enough space and enough access through the rear doors. When a smaller vehicle is adapted perhaps for individual use, due to the low roof, the floor of the vehicle is lowered to increase headroom for the wheelchair passenger and to ensure that the ramp is not too steep.

Courtside do offer vehicles already adapted for sale but prefer to build each vehicle to the customer’s exact specification and requirements. There are other companies in the industry which offer strict specifications which cannot be changed, but having the flexibility to make changes to things is likely to result in a wheelchair accessible vehicle that fits the purpose rather than making the purpose fit the vehicle, which can have negative effects on the wheelchair users.

When choosing your vehicle, you should consider the type of wheelchair access you would like installed. Courtside can fit wheelchair ramps, internal lifts or under floor lifts but some models are only suited to particular access options. Manual ramps for example, are only suitable for a handful of front-wheel drive vehicles. If a ramp was fitted to a rear wheel drive vehicle the ramp gradient would be far too steep. When fitting a ramp we normally accompany this with an electric winch to help pull the wheelchair into the saloon of the vehicle. The type and weight of the wheelchairs being transported is also an important consideration.

Courtside can recommend which type of vehicle would be best for you. These days almost all vehicles can be converted in some form or shape, however there are particular vehicles which are more suited to a wheelchair accessible conversion.

Safe and Secure

Safety is also of the highest consideration and securing the wheelchair during travel is imperative. This can be achieved with restraints and a range of system components can ensure the correct solution is found for differing requirements and vehicles.

This of course can differ between domestic and commercial use vehicles and the team at Courtside Conversions is on hand to offer support and guidance pertaining to individual and legislative requirements.

Conversion companies are also well placed to offer advice on the types of lifts, ramps, hoists and vehicles available and the configurations that can make vehicles work for a whole host of needs.

Ongoing support

As with your vehicle, it is important to ensure the ongoing maintenance of all components of vehicle support equipment. Each manufacturer will have individual servicing requirements to continue the validation of the guarantee but we, along with other conversion operators can support this process to ensure your vehicle continues to offer the support and assistance you demand from it.

The Lifting Operations Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) are a set of regulations created under the Health and Safety at Work Act and is legislation which covers the use of lifting equipment. The purpose of the regulations was to reduce the risk of injury from lifting equipment used at work

Owners or people responsible for the safe operation of a lift at work are known as ‘dutyholders’ and have a responsibility to ensure that the lift has been thoroughly examined and is safe to use. Lifts when in use should be thoroughly examined every six months if, at any time, the lift has been used to carry people.

Immeasurable benefits

The benefits that WAV’s bring are immeasurable in terms of independent or supported travel, the ability to enjoy employment and social experiences and revoke the perceived limitations that being a wheelchair user has.

The conversion process is simple and straightforward and by choosing an experienced company like Courtside Conversions it can be just a matter of weeks until a whole new world of travel and accessibility is unlocked.

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