How to Make a Minivan Wheelchair Accessibleby Tatyana Ivanov
Making a minivan wheelchair accessible is a multi-step process that requires a certain amount of planning. Not all minivans can be converted into wheelchair accessible minivans. Minivans must have a lowered floor, generally allowing about 57 inches vertically, to accommodate the additional height of wheelchair-bound passengers. If your van does not have this amount of head room, a professional can drop the floor to allow for conversion. Additional steps for minivan conversion include attaching an entry ramp and providing safety locks for the wheelchair-bound passenger.
Remove the center seats from your minivan if you plan on using a side-entry ramp. Most minivans allow for easy seat removal by pulling up on a latch located on the floor of the van.
Remove the rear seats from your minivan if you plan to use a rear-entry wheelchair ramp.
Measure the height of your minivan from the ground and the width of your minivan's door.
Purchase a wheelchair vehicle ramp that fits the specifications of your vehicle. If you plan on installing a rear-access ramp, purchase a ramp with extenders to allow it to clear the bumper.
Installing the Ramp
Open either the front or rear door of your minivan and remove excess dirt and debris from around the door opening.
Drop eye-hooks into the floor of the van, the same distance from each other as the width of the ramp you are installing. Most manufactured wheelchair ramps come complete with customized eye-hooks for securing the ramp to the vehicle.
Attach the ramp to the eye-hooks using the built-in attachments, and unfold the ramp. Most manufactured ramps come with a spring-mounted system to allow for easy folding and transportation.
Installing Wheelchair Tie-Downs
Measure the distance from the front of the wheelchair to the back, or place the wheelchair in the vehicle and mark the distance from the front of the wheels to the back.
Place a track fitting at the front of the wheel and secure it into the floor plate of the car with a power drill and screws. Most tie-down kits come with a track fitting and corresponding screws.
Repeat Step 2 for the rear of the wheelchair.
Attach the tie-down strap to the track by inserting the strap's hook into the eye of the track and securing it. Do this with the front and back tracks.
Items you will need
- Drop-floor minivan
- Wheelchair vehicle ramp
- Tie-down kit
- Tie-down tracks
- Family van image by Avesun from Fotolia.com