What is a WAV? Well, you’ve probably seen one in the carpark, they generally have a sticker on the back asking you to leave access for a wheelchair. So, yes, they are a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle.
I don’t have one right now but it may be something I’ll consider in the future. It would certainly be useful to get my wheelchair in the car. We did take a look at some of the WAVs on show at the Naidex Exhibition and they are very impressive. You can also get a WAV from Motability if you are in receipt of a disability benefit for mobility.
Having access to a wheelchair accessible vehicle has literally changed the lives of many wheelchair users, and their families or carers. Having a WAV allows a wheelchair user to enjoy a more diverse, safer, and more satisfying way of life.
The most common, and the cheapest type of WAV is one that can accommodate one wheelchair user, the driver and up to two other passengers. The vehicle is normally entered through the back doors via a ramp and the wheelchair user travels in the rear section of the vehicle. In most conversions, the floor level of the vehicle is lowered so that the incline of the ramp is gentle enough for the wheelchair user to propel themselves up and into position unaided, and to provide sufficient headroom. The ramp folds up and down quite easily and is normally hinged in the middle so that when it is folded up the driver still has a clear view to the rear.
This type of vehicle needs to be parked with enough room behind to deploy the ramp, and the wheelchair user has to descend from the pavement into the road, and vice versa in order to mount and dismount. For this reason, some people prefer a side-entering arrangement so that the wheelchair enters and leaves directly onto the pavement. These, however, are more expensive and not so common.
Instead of a ramp, some WAVs have a remote controlled lifting platform which can be operated by the wheelchair user or by an assistant. These require less operating room but are again more expensive and they require regular maintenance to ensure that they remain functioning correctly.
Once inside the vehicle, the wheelchair is firmly anchored into the correct position for safe travel. In most standard WAVs the wheelchair user travels in the rear part of the vehicle. If the user is exceptionally tall this may be uncomfortable as there is not much headroom in smaller models and also all-around vision is sometimes restricted. Some WAVs are designed so that the wheelchair user can pass all the way through and into the front of the vehicle, either as the passenger, or as the driver, and some WAVs have interchangeable front seats so that the wheelchair user can accommodate himself on either side.
WAVs can be purchased new or used, rented or leased. To help you to decide which might be the best way for you to obtain a WAV visit the website WAV Compare which contains all the information you need about each of these different options. It also has listings of vehicles for sale, and registered converters if you need to have a customised adaptation done to accommodate your particular needs. The site contains loads of useful tips and information about things to consider before purchasing a WAV, and as it is written by a fellow wheelchair user, you will find that it covers many relevant points which will help you to make the right decision.
So as you can imagine, choosing the right kind of WAV is really important and it’s vital that you get the right information and help before you purchase one.
Disclosure: this is a collaborative post