Minivan Conversions | Full Size Conversion Van | Handicapped Vans
Information on Minivans Conversions, Handicapped Vans, and Wheelchair Accessible Adaptive Equipment
ADED Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists: Supports professionals working in the field of driver education / driver training and transportation equipment modifications for persons with disabilities through education and information dissemination.
Alterer: A person or business making changes to a certified vehicle. These changes do not include the addition, substitution, or removal of readily attachable components, such as mirrors or tire and rim assemblies. Nor do they include minor finishing operations such as painting. "Alterer" also means a person or business who alters a certified vehicle in such a manner that its stated weight ratings are no longer valid. All of these changes are made before the first purchase of the vehicle in good faith for purposes other than resale. See "Modifier".
ANSI American National Standards Institute: Mission is to enhance both the global competitiveness of U.S. business and the U.S. quality of life by promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems, and safeguarding their integrity.
CDRS: A DRS certified through the ADED accreditation program.
Clinical evaluation: A series of tests given to a person during a driver evaluation prior to the on-the-road assessment. Typically consists of at least strength/movement, cognitive and visual assessments.
Conversion: vehicle modified with a drop or lowered floor in a minivan or full size van or with a raised roof/raised doors in a full size van. For minivans; the conversion includes the ramp, ramp controls, and kneeling suspension system. For full size vans; the lift, lift controls, and automatic door controls are typically not part of the conversion and are installed locally by the dealer for a specific client.
Drop floor: Another name for a lowered floor conversion. The vehicle’s floor is lowered to accommodate the additional head height required by someone located inside the vehicle while seated in their vehicle. For minivans, the standard drop floor is around 10”. There are now 14” drop floor packages available for minivans. For full size vans, the standard drop floors are 6” and 9”.
DRS: driver rehabilitation specialist. One who plans, develops, coordinates and implements driver rehabilitation services for individuals with disabilities.
Driving evaluation: A comprehensive assessment of the driver's ability to safely operate a motor vehicle including vehicle, adaptive equipment, and training requirements. Includes both a clinical evaluation and an on-the-road assessment.
Driving evaluator: Another term for a DRS.
Eyebrow: Only available in full size vans and not minivans. This modification is done on non raised roof full size vans when only a slight amount of additional head clearance is required through the full size van’s door. So the door frame is enlarged only in the existing roof area. The door is also elongated. Usually the person in the wheelchair will then transfer to 4-way or 6-way seat. This modification gives more head clearance as a person in a wheelchair enters and exits the vehicle so they don’t have to do so while tilted or ducking their head. This modification is related to a raised door modification.
FMVSS Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard: Federal laws that stipulate how components or systems in a vehicle will be designed, built, and tested. Requirements are enforced by the NHTSA.
Hand Controls: Products designed to allow the driver to operate the accelerator and brakes controls of their car using their hands when they cannot do so safely using their feet.
High Tech driving controls: Servo motors operate the vehicle's steering and/or gas brake systems. The driver input is transferred electronically to the operating servo motors, i.e. there is no direct mechanical linkage as is employed in most hand controls. This driving control system is used by those individuals who lack the strength or the range of motion to operate standard hand controls even with reduced or no effort steering and or braking.
Kneeling Suspension System: Available in minivan conversions. The right rear suspension of the minivan is controlled with hydraulics so that when the passenger door is open and the ram deployed, the right rear of the vehicle is lowered. This minimizes the angle at which a person in a wheelchair would have to climb into or exit from the vehicle. The angle varies by manufacturer and vehicle type.
Left foot accelerator: A device that effectively moves the accelerator pedal to the left of the brake pedal through a linkage linkage. Usually built in combination with an accelerator pedal guard. Designed to allow the driver's left foot to operate the gas and brake pedals without having the foot in a crossover position.
Lowered floor: Another name for a drop floor conversion. The vehicle’s floor is lowered to accommodate the additional head height required by someone located inside the vehicle while seated in their vehicle. For minivans, the standard drop floor is around 10”. There are now 14” drop floor packages available. For full size vans, the standard drop floors are 6” and 9”.
Make Inoperative Exemption: Became law in 2001. Provides limited exemptions to the "Make Inoperative Prohibition." These exemptions are available to businesses and individuals who modify vehicles to accommodate persons with disabilities either as drivers or as passengers.
Make Inoperative Prohibition: Legal clause that manufacturers, distributors, dealers and motor vehicle repair businesses have been prohibited from knowingly "making inoperative" any part of a device or element of design that has been installed on or in a motor vehicle in compliance with a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS).
NHTSA National Highway Safety Traffic Administration: Federal agency under the DOT Department of Transportation whose mission is to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce vehicle-related accidents. The agency administers the Motor Vehicle Safety Law.
NMEDA National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association: A non-profit trade association of mobility equipment dealers, driver rehabilitation specialists, and other professionals dedicated to broadening the opportunities for people with disabilities to drive or be transported in vehicles modified with mobility equipment.
NMEDA Guidelines: A set of industry best practices for vehicle modification installations that is put out by NMEDA for its members to follow. Updated yearly. Although non are strictly legal requirements, they have wide spread acceptance among the vehicle modification industry. They are now available on the internet.
No effort brakes: Sometimes called zero effort brakes or maximum reduced effort brakes. Braking effort is reduced to approximately 25% of OEM braking effort. A backup emergency braking system must be installed anytime a reduced effort system is installed. Required by drivers who do not have the strength to operate OEM brake effort.
No effort steering: Sometimes called zero effort steering or maximum reduced effort steering. Steering effort is reduced to approximately 25% of OEM steering effort. A backup emergency steering system must be installed anytime a reduced effort system is installed. Normally installed with a replacement reduced diameter steering wheel. Required by drivers who do not have the strength to operate OEM steering effort.
Pedal guards: Mechanical device that covers the gas or brake and gas pedals, preventing their inadvertent operation when using hand controls or a left foot accelerator.
Primary controls: Devices that control gas (acceleration), braking, and steering.
Raised roof: Only available in full size vans and not minivans. This modification gives the person sitting in their wheelchair more headroom while in the vehicle. NMEDA only provides its members a certified method of raising the roof on Ford full size vans; however most modifiers will offer raised roofs on other full size vans as well. Sometimes a consumer only needs a raised roof and does not need a lowered floor conversion in a full size van. This modification is usually accompanied by a raised door modification.
Raised door: Only available in full size vans and not minivans. The door frame is enlarged in the raised roof area. The door is also elongated. This modification gives more head clearance as a person in a wheelchair enters and exits the vehicle so they don’t have to do so while tilted or ducking their head. This modification is related to a door eyebrow modification.
Ramp: Ramp deployed in a conversion minivan that allows the person in a wheelchair to ride up in order to enter/exit.
Reduced effort brakes: Braking effort is reduced to approximately 50% of OEM braking effort. A backup emergency braking system must be installed anytime a reduced effort system is installed. Required by drivers who do not have the strength to operate OEM brake effort.
Reduced effort steering: Steering effort is reduced to approximately 50% of OEM steering effort. A backup emergency steering system must be installed anytime a reduced effort system is installed. Normally installed with a replacement reduced diameter steering wheel. Required by drivers who do not have the strength to operate OEM steering effort.
RESNA Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America: Their purpose is to improve the potential of people with disabilities to achieve their goals through the use of technology. They serve that purpose by promoting research, development, education, advocacy and provision of technology; and by supporting the people engaged in these activities.
Secondary controls: any device that operates a vehicle subsystem, other than those for steering, speed, and service braking. Examples are windshield wipers, headlights horns, etc.
Spinner Knob: Free spinning device clamped to the steering wheel which gives a person who is steering with only one hand a grip to adequately turn and control the steering wheel.
Tie down: Strap or belts used to secure a wheelchair or scooter in a vehicle. Term is used to differentiate the belts used to secure the wheelchair occupant.
Vehicle Modifier: A business making vehicles accessible to persons with disabilities. A modifier is considered a repair business by NHTSA which is important to know for legal reasons as it has implications as to what a modifier can and must do. NHTSA defines a motor vehicle repair businesses to mean a person or business holding itself out to the public to repair for compensation a motor vehicle or motor vehicle equipment. This term includes businesses that receive compensation for servicing vehicles without malfunctioning or broken parts or systems by adding or removing features or components to or from those vehicles or otherwise customizing those vehicles. So in essence, a "repair business" doesn't actually have to repair anything but it was a way to keep NHTSA from coming up with a separate legal definition for a modifier. See "Alterer".
WC-19 or WC19 or ANSI/RESNA WC-19: A voluntary industry standard for designing and manufacturing a wheelchair that will be used as a seat in a motor vehicle.
WTORS Wheelchair Tie down and Occupant Restraint System: System of belts used to secure both the wheelchair and seated occupant in a moving vehicle.
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