Category Archives: disabled veterans

New Superior logo with tag line

BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica Power XT


 

Test Drive – BraunAbility Chrysler Pacifica Power XT Wheelchair Van

By Paul Erway, Superior Van & Mobility

BraunAbility 2017 Chrysler Pacifica Wheelchair Van

Conversion: BraunAbility Power XT Fold-Out with carpet

Added Options:  B&D 6 way driver seat base, and SureGrip Feather Light push-rock hand-controls

I recently had the honor of driving one of the first BraunAbility Pacifica’s that came off the line. I drove it on vacation and was really blown away at all the new features this vehicle brings to the wheelchair van market. I now drive this vehicle daily for work and personal business, and wanted to share some of the awesome new features and benefits that people may not be aware of.

First, the exterior redesign of the Pacifica incorporates smoother lines much like the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey vans. This is very different from the boxy look of the Dodge vans.

Second, the user-friendly remote control will open any door without hitting any of the buttons on the key fob as long as it is with me. Even the back hatch door is designed so that when you grab the handle, the rear power door engages and opens for you without lifting it as you had to do in the past.

BraunAbility Pacifica handicap van rampTo engage the sliding side ramp door, and deploy the ramp and engage the kneeling cycle, you simply press the key fob two times. Once the ramp is deployed, the kneeling system continues to pull down towards the ground to make the incline as low as possible. I tend to be a little impatient at times and ready to wheel up the ramp as soon as possible, but I was assured by BraunAbility that as long as the ramp is fully deployed, there should not be any issues that affect the full kneeling process, and it is recommended and best to wait so that the incline is as small as possible. Another huge feature of the ramp in the BraunAbility Pacifica is that the weight capacity of the ramp is now 1,000 pounds. Further, if you get the In-Floor Ramp conversion model, the ramp width is 32” wide! For some folks that thought a full size van was their only option, you may want to visit a Superior showroom to see if the new Pacifica will work for you! This is a big difference compared to previous models!

Once inside, you immediately notice the larger interior space. The rear bench seems to be forward a slight bit, but you have ample room for your back chair tires and a large turning radius. The interior changes also allow for a little more back storage space. For me, I often carry my racing wheelchair with me, and it definitely fits in a little easier. The other nice thing about the rear bench is the comfort of the seat. In the past, the seats were square shaped so that they could fold into the floor for Stow-N-Go seating. They are now more ergonomically correct, and have a flip down foot rest, which provides a much more comfortable ride for passengers.

The front seat has also been improved. They feel better, and you can now adjust the angle of the headrest. This was a help to me on the long spans of driving during vacation. I sometimes like to recline the seat back a little more than usual, and can now move the head rest forward to still give me a clear view of the road. Finally, if you need to remove either of the front Pacifica seats in order to remain in your wheelchair as a passenger or driver, the seat base has also been redesigned for easier pop-out/pop-in use.

Here are some other small features that make this vehicle very user friendly. You can start the vehicle with a simple touch of a button as long as you have the key fob inside the vehicle, and the brake is engaged. With key fob placed in my bag and under my chair, I just apply the brake and press the start button. The gear shift is now just a turn dial as well. Once you have the brake engaged, anyone with limited function of the hand or arthritis will find this to be a blessing.

Most of the dash controls are touch screen, allowing the driver to keep their eyes on the road. When in park, the touch screen acts very much like a computer and can be a handy tool to have when in a new city. Touch features are also available through the steering wheel. For example, if the dash light comes on to indicate a low tire, I can use my left hand to touch a button on the steering wheel and it shows exactly how much pressure is in each tire.

The cruise control on the steering wheel has also been improved. When setting the speed, there is a read out on the dash that tells you what the set speed is, and it holds that speed even when going up and down hills.

The electronic improvements overall seem to help get better gas mileage as well. For example, on the previous models of vans that I have driven, MPG hovers around 20 to 21 for my style of driving. The window sticker of this model of Pacifica reads 18 MPG for city and 28 MPG for highway. While on vacation, I actually had an average of 28.2 MPG, and upon returning, I am averaging around 24 MPG (with air conditioning on)! Finally, the system will automatically shut down when you come to an extended stop, like a red light. When you let off the brake and apply the gas, it automatically restarts the vehicle and off you go, thus saving on gas even more. So, even though purchasing a newer vehicle is a larger investment at first, you are going to save in the long run on gas costs alone, while enjoying a more pleasurable ride.

Speaking of gas, at the gas pumps you will notice that the fill hose has a small ring on the nozzle. The gas lid of the Pacifica is press-to-open, and I immediately noticed that there is NOT a gas cap. The hose nozzle fits right in, and is designed so that the ring on the hose clips in place, eliminating the chance of it slipping out and pouring gas everywhere. This also prevents evaporating fumes coming out as the tank fills.

Overall, the Pacifica was impressive enough to make a regular driver of wheelchair vans write a blog and share this story with everyone! Other things that caught my attention were the nice looking tires, the built-in vacuum cleaner, the parking sensors that allow for hands-free parallel parking and the Forward Collision Warning that can be programmed to warn you of any potential collisions. Should you have small children you may want to have the Surround View Camera System upgrade as well. You are able to see right up next to the vehicle, and all around it, to be clear of any toys or children that may be in harm’s way before you start to drive.

The reason vehicle manufacturers keep making vehicle model changes is to improve the vehicles safety, and convenience offerings, in an effort to provide a higher quality of life for people. The conversion companies have the same goal, and it really shows with the new BraunAbility Conversion.

Industry’s First Chrysler Pacifica Wheelchair Accessible Minivan

All New Chrysler Pacifica Handicap Van

VMI Introduces Industry’s First Chrysler Pacifica Wheelchair Accessible Minivan

 

VMI 2016 Pacifica
Vantage Mobility International (VMI) recently unveiled the all-new 2017 Chrysler Pacifica wheelchair accessible van conversion at the Dealer Council Executive Committee in Chicago, IL. In addition to exclusive guests from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), VMI’s dealer council and the VMI’s new spokesperson, TEAM USA wheelchair rugby player and Paralympian, Joe Delagrave, many dealers from around the country attended.

The all-new Chrysler Pacifica has been big news in the auto industry, and VMI wanted to be part of its success by being the first mobility conversion company to bring the wheelchair accessible version to market. The new conversion will begin full production the first week of September, with dealership around the country receiving their first shipments in October. Production will be limited at first, as inventories are built, so most dealers will only receive a small number in 2016.

VMI 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
The new design from VMI will feature a power side-entry in-floor 30 inch wide, 800 lbs. capacity ramp, industry first interchangeable front seats, and a new third row footrest that increases the interior floor space by 2 additional inches. When coupled with the Pacifica’s 100 safety and security features, the VMI Pacifica wheelchair accessible conversion will surely be one of the top choices for consumers.

VMI Northstar Access360™ Features Include:

• A larger in-floor ramp that conveniently stows under the floor, creating more room for wheelchair maneuverability
• An obstruction-free doorway that allows able-bodied passengers to enter and exit the vehicle without deploying the ramp
• A full 30″ wide ramp with 800lb capacity accommodates large power chairs

How to Determine Career-Fit: A Guide for People with Disabilities

 


This is a guest post by, Patricia Sarmiento Who blogs at Publichealthcorps.org.

career clock

Photo by Flazingo Photos via Flickr

What kind of career would be ideal for you? If you’re living with a disability, the answer to this question may seem incredibly difficult to answer. Not only must you weigh your interests, passions, background, and skills, but also your abilities — and in such a way that many other job seekers don’t have to consider.

Doing research about different careers is an excellent way to see what they can offer you and how compatible the job requirements are with your specific abilities and limitations. While looking into these jobs you can learn what the general requirements are, including what kind of education is needed and if work experience is necessary. Below are some suggestions for conducting career research to determine if your top career choices are a good fit for you.

Are You Qualified?

It’s always a good idea to flex your research muscles when searching for a job. Check out the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, for instance, where you can find out all kinds of information on different careers, such as employment projections, which indicate the outlook for different professions in the coming years.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also includes data on median salaries, how many people are employed in a specific career, and 10-year projections on those individual data points. Other helpful information to be found here includes how much experience is needed, what kind of education is needed, and if on-the-job training is commonly offered for certain jobs, which is helpful for planning your educational goals if you have a specific career in mind.

Job boards are another way to examine different careers and what kinds of jobs are available. These Internet sites allow you access to job descriptions and required qualifications such as education and work experience. Sometimes employers also list salaries or salary ranges for certain jobs, which can give you an idea of what to expect if you enter that field.

Is Telecommuting an Option?

A very helpful way to find out about a company is to go to their website, where you can uncover a plethora of information in many cases, such as the company’s vision, what the company does in detail, services offered, contact information, and press the company has received. Then there are the “jobs” or “careers” links, which can usually be found at either the bottom of the page or somewhere near the top of the page, underneath the name and logo of the company. These listings are an excellent way to find jobs as companies sometimes list openings on their own sites without making use of job boards at all. On a company website, you can see specific jobs available all over the country (for national organizations), and the listings will usually disclose if telecommuting is an option. There are more telecommuting job opportunities than ever, which is convenient for most people but can be particularly useful for people with disabilities who may not be able to travel readily to an office every day.

Is The Company Disability Friendly?

There are ways you can research how disability-friendly companies are. One way is to check the Disability Equality Index (DEI), a joint initiative of the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), and the US Business Leadership Network (USBLN). The DEI is “a national, transparent benchmarking tool that offers businesses an opportunity to receive an objective score, on a scale of zero (0) to 100, on their disability inclusion policies and practices, and identify opportunities for continued improvement.” The DEI breaks down the survey into 4 categories (with subcategories) including:

● Culture & Leadership
● Enterprise-Wide Access
● Employment Practices
● Community Engagement & Support Services

What Are You Passionate About?

Have you always loved writing? Do you have a knack for computers and technology? Do you enjoy working with your hands or spending time with the public? When you’re choosing a career path, don’t forget to consider what makes you happy. The great news is that today’s sharing economy offers many ways to do what you love from your home while creating your own schedule. For example, if you love writing or graphic design, there are many platforms, e.g. UpWork, that allow you to find clients and opportunities easily. Or if you think working with animals would make you happy, consider pet sitting or dog walking. You can find clients in your area online and grow your own specialized business. Think carefully about what you love doing and figure out a way to incorporate it into your profession…then, as the saying goes, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

Put these ideas to use to research potential job opportunities and determine whether your skills and abilities are a fit for the career you have in mind, and you’re sure to find the perfect career for you.

For a list of current job posting at Superior Van & Mobility, click here. Equal opportunity employer.

 

Patricia Sarmiento loves swimming and running. She channels her love of fitness and wellness into blogging about health and health-related topics. She played sports in high school and college and continues to make living an active lifestyle a goal for her and her family. She lives with her husband, two children, and their shih tzu in Maryland.

New Hands-Free Wearable Device Support For Wheelchair Users


If you are one of many who have limited mobility and have every ever wished there was an easier way to manage your tablet, mobile phone, or other device, you’re in luck! A new, innovative device will soon be on the market that has been exclusively designed for this purpose, and it has wheelchair users excited.

Sospendo-500x277

 

The product is called Sospendo, and it is being advertised as, “Hands-free wearable support for all kinds of devices.” The Sospendo was the result of a recent Kickstarter campaign where the developers homed in on the disability market as one of their target audiences.

The device is constructed of a lightweight, flexible aluminum which is used to adjust the holder into a comfortable, usable position around the user neck, waist, or it can be made into a stand and placed on a table, etc. allowing for easy device usage. Its hands-free design allows for ease of watching videos, taking photos/videos, and using applications. This close device proximity to the user, even allows for those who require the use of a mouth-stick to manipulate their devices on their own. It is a device that will surely help many regain independence.

To learn more about this innovative new device, or to pre-order one of your own, visit www.sospendo.com.

They’re Handicap Parking Violators Too!


We’ve all seen them, the handicap parking violators that seem to take up all the handicap parking spaces just when someone who really needs one drives about. We’ll today, I saw something that took this problem a step further, and quite frankly made me even angrier than seeing some regular-Joe park in a space illegally.

It was the other morning, when I stopped off at a local gas station to get my morning (Kickstart), I happened to notice a vehicle as I walked to the front door. First, because it was a handicap accessible vehicle, a medical transport vehicle in fact, so I took a glance. Second, it was actually parked in the designated handicap parking space instead of some other “Yahoo” taking up the spot. So, my Initial thought, it looked like a win/win! Until I happened to take a closer look… Yep, to my surprise, there was no specialized license plate, no rear-view mirror placard, and no disabled passenger. Only the driver, sitting there consuming her breakfast.

It was to my disbelief that this person, whose job is to assist the physically disabled, had in-fact purposely parked in the only handicap accessible parking space, even when they didn’t have any passengers. To me, a person of industry, this was a blatant slap in the face! It’s not like this isn’t a hot topic that anyone in the industry isn’t aware of. In fact, being a driver of medical transport, I’m sure more than once, they have gotten angry themselves that someone was parked in a handicap space illegally while they were trying to drop off one of their passengers. Yet, here is this person abusing the system and right.

I couldn’t help, but to keep thinking about this as I made my beverage. “What should I do? Should I confront them? Should I make my point and cause a scene, or should I remain calm and expose this issue on a much bigger platform?” I chose the latter… Mainly because they were leaving at the time I exited the building, but I also figured polite confrontation would not get me anywhere except more upset and who knows how they would react; best to take the high road.

So, here I am, sharing my story to further expose the problem of handicap parking violators, and the abuse that obviously exists by some of those in the industry. Note: I said SOME of them, not all of them. I want to go on record that the majority of those in the industry do respect this area and are not part of the problem. In fact, they are champions of the issue. Also, keep in mind there isn’t any one single gender, socioeconomic status, age, or ethnicity that can be used to profile a violator. They might be your neighbor, sibling, or spouse. Only through continued exposure of the problem and tougher penalties, can we can make a difference. Do the right thing… help the cause where you can, but DO NOT take matters into your own hands, and while hard to do, turn the other way and report it appropriately if able.  Confrontation is not worth it…

Calling All Veterans – Your Help is Needed Now!

Calling all Veterans!

From the Desk of NMEDA President – Dave Hubbard:

NMEDA needs your help and assistance to write your Congressional Representative to further support our upcoming bill aimed at ensuring our Veterans are taken care of when they return from serving our country.  Please follow these steps:

1. Using the following letter (NMEDA-VA-COMMITTEE-LETTER-HR_2) please personalize it with your information, or copy and paste on your own letterhead.

2. Send it to your Representative via mail or email. A list of all Congressional Representatives can be found here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find

3. IMPORTANT! Email a copy of the of the letter to the two VA Committee staffers below and bcc my office at (dhubbard1@nmeda.org).

Christine.hill@mail.house.gov

Samantha.gonzalez@mail.house.gov

If we can get 5 letters – OK. If we can get 10- that’s better. 15 are better yet. 25 would be great. Personal letters from Disabled Veterans would add value to the story, and these letters will be infinitely more valuable than the generic letters we generated. I know this is asking you to step a little out of your comfort zone, but we need the help. The nay-Sayers are trying to dilute our bill…

In Addition:

Pass along to other Veterans and feel free to post this information on your Facebook page and any other social media site to ask for additional help and support.

Thank you!

Dave Hubbard

NMEDA.com

The ‘smart’ wheelchair of the Future?


Coming soon… the smart wheelchair, as recently demonstrated at this year’s CTIA wireless industry conference in Las Vegas, NV. Built by Permobil, this wheelchair has cellular connectivity for an endless array of use. It demonstrates the concept while embracing the notion that one day virtually every product will be online or communicate with us in one way or fashion.

While it’s just the beginning, one day this chair may have the ability to send diagnostics, alerts in-case of an accident, and even track the chairs whereabouts, but the endless function doesn’t just stop there. Permobil expects big things to come, as the potential for this advanced technology is staggering. Permobil expects a version of their wheelchair, integrating this technology, will be available in 2016.

permobil1

ADA Celebrates 25 Years – Still a Long Way to Go…

July 26, 1990, George H. W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); a law that paved the way for equal rights and treatment for millions of Americans with disabilities.

ADA 25 Year Anniversary

ADA 25 Year Anniversary

It’s now 25 years later, and yes, a lot has improved; curbs have been reduced and ramps have been built. You’ll even find Braille on  signage and wheelchair lifts on city buses among the thousands of other improvements that have taken place as a result of the ADA. However, as many of the 38 million Americans with a disability can tell you, there is still a long way to go. Not only among the governing bodies of the United States, but among the public and private sector.

Many of the complaints still coming in from disabled Americans continue to revolve around lack of amenities, or amenities that just don’t function. Take for example a hotel chain with accessible rooms. Many of these rooms have what they call a roll-in shower and if you are lucky bars next to the toilet, but what many are still lacking are beds that sit lower to the floor. It’s still to this day far to common to see a business try to be compliant, but fail to wholly deliver, and airlines are not any better.

Don’t even get me started on all the stories circulating around the Internet regarding the experiences disabled travelers have experienced; from blatant disregard of their well-being to  downright humiliation. There are far too many…

As we look forward to celebrating this monumental occasion, we still have come a long way none-the-less.  An American with a disability is far better-off today than prior to the ADA, and things are only to improve as more and more advocates get involved to bring to light the shortcomings of the public and private sector.

If you would like to learn more about the ADA, please visit: http://www.ada.gov/ada_25th_anniversary/

 

Get Involved, Make a Difference – 3rd Annual KCSCI Conference is Coming

KCSCI Logo

SAVE THE DATE

The 3rd annual Kentucky Congress on Spinal Cord Injury (KCSCI) is taking place June 18, 2015 from 9 AM to 4 PM at the Marriot Griffin Gate Hotel in Lexington, KY.

A Few of the Featured Invited Speakers and Preliminary Agenda for the 3nd Annual KCSCI (June 2015):

• Heidi Johnson-Wright and Steve Wright are experts in Universal Design, ADA in built environment, advocacy for Inclusive Design – as it relates to rural communities. Johnson-Wright is an ADA compliance professional and attorney with over 30 years of public speaking experience. Steve Wright has expertise in universal design, master plans, zoning codes, walk-ability, sustainability, architecture, transportation and public policy.
• Lindsey Mullis will present on fitness for people with mobility impairments. Mullis is the Health & Wellness coordinator for the Human Development Institute at the University of Kentucky.

This is a great opportunity for those in the surrounding area to be part of an organization dedicated to legislation and advocacy of the SCI community of Kentucky.

To learn more, or to register for this FREE event visit

http://tinyurl.com/qdzn8vv

Why This is Important

Just like anything else, focus of organized effort usually congregates around large metropolitan areas, leaving the smaller, urban areas exposed to unlawful practices, lack of quality assistance, organized care and support programs, but this is where KCSCI comes in.

KCSCI released the following statement:

“Organizations, outreach programs and specialized medical care providers for individuals living with chronic spinal cord injury (SCI) in the Commonwealth of Kentucky have traditionally been unorganized and without a common mission. Importantly, while current outreach efforts appear to have some impact for SCI individuals in urban areas, we wish to build cohesion among this community of individuals throughout the commonwealth by expansion into the more rural areas. We envision congress participants, sponsors, healthcare providers and care givers all exchanging information about programs available to those in need throughout the commonwealth. The community of individuals with SCI and their support systems can be a strong advocacy group given the right organizational structure.”

THEIR MISSION

The mission of the Kentucky Congress on Spinal Cord Injury (KCSCI) is to gather individuals with SCI from around the commonwealth to join in the discussion of critical issues that are important to them and to help draft agendas to be used to legislate changes in our commonwealth for people with SCI. The members of the KCSCI should be strong advocates for the rights of all people with disabilities and be willing to provide peer mentoring for newly injured folks who may need additional support.

RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF KCSCI

•    We have formed an Advisory Board Committee Meeting whose charge it is to identify the top principal concerns of the SCI community that the KCSCI can help (for more information, visit www.karrn.org)
•    Based upon expert advice and careful thought, we have chosen not to file for nonprofit 501c3 status.
•    Our recognition is expanding as we continue to increase our network of people with SCI in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. We have an interactive Face Book page and we’re developing a website.
•    After the recent snow storms, we collectively contacted local councilmen and businesses to bring to their attention that the inadequate/improper snow removal from handicapped parking spaces was in violation of laws, in particular for vehicles with ramps requiring room. Fellow member David Allgood also helped us advance this legislation in the Capitol.

For more information you can contact KCSCI President, Jason Jones at jpjones@twc.com or visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KCSCI

Would You Like to Win a NEW Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle?

NMEDA National Mobility Awareness Month

NMEDA National Mobility Awareness Month

Of course you would, and here’s your chance! May is National Mobility Awareness Month sponsored by, National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA). It’s the 4th year for their campaign that is designed to raise awareness of the many life-changing vehicle solutions available to those 18 million Americans with mobility issues. This year NMEDA will be giving away four wheelchair accessible vehicles to well deserved local heroes in the following categories: one to a caregiver, one to a senior (60+), one battery powered for in-town driving only, and one general use. (no purchase necessary)

So, you may ask, “How Do I Enter?”

Here are the particulars…

LOCAL HEROES: A Local Hero can be defined as anyone in your community, whether a caregiver, or a person with a disability who has persevered through the obstacles of living with a disability and strives to lead an active, mobile lifestyle. We are looking for
inspirational stories of how they overcome challenges and are triumphing, whether it be through volunteering, advocating, educating, persevering or achieving.

ENTRIES: People must send NMEDA their stories online at MobilityAwarenessMonth.com.  Local Heroes, caregivers, and loved ones may submit a video OR an online story with photo.

• Video entries must not exceed two minutes and be no larger than 50 MB.
• Written entries must not exceed 400 words and must be accompanied by a photo of the Local Hero, preferably in a wheelchair, that is no larger than 5 MB.

VOTING: Spread the word! People may log in with their Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or directly through  MobilityAwarenessMonth.com to vote daily from May 1–May 31, 2015.  You will need a dealer code to enter. You can contact any one of Superior Van & Mobility’s nine locations for the code. One vote will be accepted every 24-hours per email address. At the time of voting, visitors will be asked a different question regarding mobility options and the promotion. If the question is answered correctly, the Local Hero will receive two votes. If the question is answered incorrectly, the Local Hero will receive one vote and the correct answer will be displayed.

Earn 1000 Bonus Votes!

Want to earn 1000 bonus votes? It’s easy, just visit any one of our nine locations during the voting period for a FREE needs assessment and the bonus votes will be posted to your entry within a few days.

Winners will be announced June 18, 2015, and wheelchair accessible vehicles will be delivered between July and Sept.2015.

Good luck!