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Wheelchair Accessible Vans: Rear Entry Vs Side Entry

One of the most important decisions you will ever make when investing in a wheelchair van is whether to put the ramp on the side or rear end of the automobile. Both are excellent options but like everything else, they have their pros and cons. The environment you live in and the personal preferences of the wheelchair bound person will have the greatest impact on your choice. Apart from this, budget may also be a consideration.

Side Entry:
Side entry vans are more popular of the two choices. They essentially involve lowering the vehicle floor and allowing for head space for fitting the chair into the automobile. Side entry vans come with removable front seats, helping the patient ride in the front spot. They have the ability to house both in-floor ramps and fold-out ramps.

Advantages
  • One of the biggest advantages of side-entry wheelchair vans is that they are not affected by parallel parking. Wheelchair bound passengers can easily get in and out of the automobile parked parallel to the curb. This is helpful for people who reside in neighborhoods where parking is not available.
  • Side-entry gives wheelchair operators the ability to ride in the passenger seat. Hence, couples who wish to sit in the front together can do it in such vans.
Disadvantages
  • The side-entry van requires extra space when the ramp has to be deployed on the vehicle’s side. In case someone parks in the extra space, the van has to be moved to deploy the ramp.
  • Space is extremely limited for long or large wheelchairs to move around once they are inside the side-entry wheelchair vehicle.
Rear Entry:
Rear entry vans feature fold-out ramps and are built with lowered areas for the wheelchair. This feature provides more space, permitting bigger machines to fit. However, the chair cannot get in the front seat, i.e. the patient cannot drive the van or travel as a front-seat passenger.

Advantages
  • Rear-entry method affects a very small area of the automobile and has lesser affect on the structural integrity of a van. Due to this, such conversions are comparatively less expensive than side entry conversions.
  • Even though the floor has to be lowered there are absolutely no alterations made to the sides. Moreover, rear-entry conversions are raised higher at the back. Hence, greater ground clearance leads to more space than a side-entry vehicle.
  • When the patient enters a rear-entry vehicle, there is absolutely no turning needed to get the wheelchair in the traveling position. All the patient needs to do is simply move as far up as needed to get to the device that secures the chair.
  • A rear entry minivan can easily park in regular parking spaces. With the ramp at the back, no extra space is required at the side. A rear-entry van is also useful in places where double parking is needed for unloading and loading.
Disadvantage
  • Rear-entry vehicles make unloading and loading wheelchair passengers impossible when parked parallel. Unloading or loading on the street before parking or parking at the very end of the street are the only options.
  • Rear-entry vans do not allow the patient on the wheelchair to sit next to the driver because the surface is only lower behind the front seats. Instead they have to sit in the second or third row of the vehicle unless they can manually transfer from the wheelchair to the front passenger seat.
Buying a wheelchair accessible van is a huge investment, and you must consider all aspects before taking the decision. Every entry has its drawbacks and benefits.

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