Mobility solutions for disabled people
The dynamic South Korean automaker, Kia, owes its success to many things, not least its ethos of responsibility and respect for people. Perhaps they call their popular little crossover the Kia Soul because the company displays a lot of soul in how they value people and human capital. In many ways, Kia Motors is demonstrating how modern companies are reinventing themselves and adopting more sustainable and wholesome philosophies in order to stay relevant, and inspire meaningful change in a world now living the ‘new normal.
Cars For Real People
The manufacturer’s approach can be seen in the lineup of Kia carmodels they offer for sale to the public. Like some other carmakers, the company has realized that, before it can start to boast about its vehicles’ features, horsepower figures, cargo space, and fuel economy, its heart has to be in the right place. It has to build cars for real people – and the reality is that some people require something different from their cars in order to function normally in society when it comes to their transportation needs. And it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with size; even the smallest-size hatchbacks and crossovers sold in the USA can meet the needs of people with disabilities.
Many challenges are presented in daily life for people with disabilities, but luckily, driving doesn’t have to add to the frustration. With the right vehicle, some special modifications, and a little bit of know-how, there is no reason that an adult with disabilities cannot safely, and conveniently, commute.
Firstly, protection against discrimination is enshrined in US laws, and as such, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is in place to ensure no one can be denied a driver’s license solely based on a disability. Similarly, all public buildings need to have parking spaces with appropriate dimensions to make it easy for those with disabilities to access them. Each state also has its own unique set of laws pertaining to disabled drivers, and a special permit or license is required from the DMV for adults with disabilities to be able to drive. There are also laws for vehicular modifications that are different, depending on the state.
The following are typically accepted medical conditions that will allow you to obtain a disabled parking permit, although variations between states can be expected:
- Limited mobility due to a medical condition
- A serious injury
- Limited (or no) use of any of your limbs
- The use of a prosthesis
- Respiratory conditions (such as lung cancer, asthma, COPD, etc.)
- Problems with your vision
- Inability to walk without assistance, e.g. a cane, walker, or wheelchair
- A cardiac condition, such as high blood pressure, stroke, or heart attack
Cars For People With Disabilities
In terms of the best vehicles to meet the needs of disabled buyers in the USA, there is something in every size class and of every type of vehicle. But some are better than others and have just a little more to offer. Keep in mind that your selection criteria for a car will not be the product’s hp or MPG figures, performance, and engine choices in comparison to rivals, but whether it is the right mobility solution for you with your specific physical needs. While miles per gallon ratings and the opinion of the car in the review are certainly important, they are not all-encompassing. So, what cars are good for people with disabilities?
- Mid-size sedan. Certain mobility problems such as joint issues or chronic pain require a low, yet spacious car with comfortable seats, and there are still many great examples, such as the Hyundai Sonata and Honda Accord that are easy to access and comfortable to be in.
- Compact SUV. If you need something higher off the ground, but with the footprint of a compact car for easy parking, a compact SUV like a Subaru Forester, Jeep Renegade, or Ford Bronco Sport is higher off the ground and easier to slide into if you use a cane or walker. They often offer added features such as AWD and a passable off-road ability, too.
- Crossovers are higher off the ground than sedans too but are very car-like to drive and if you are simply not interested in off-road ability and the disadvantages of cumbersome SUVs, something like a Toyota RAV4 or Honda CR-V could be just right for you. The Kia Soul, for example, might be a compact crossover, but its square shape makes for excellent interior space and big door openings and is incredibly convenient and ergonomic on the inside.
- People mover. MPVs or minivans are big inside and easier to convert with ramps and swiveling seats than normal cars. Unfortunately, they’re a dying breed, but some excellent examples are still for sale, like the Kia Carnival, Honda Odyssey, and Toyota Sienna. Some can be specified from the dealer with easy access passenger seats that power-rotate and lift for ease of use.
- Hatchback or small car. Small or compact cars can do the job, but you have to try before you buy to make sure that access and space are up to scratch. If you don’t require the low ground clearance of a car, consider a crossover instead.
Features To Consider
When shopping for a car, you have to keep in mind what features you need.
- Automatic transmission. Having an automatic gearbox can be useful for those who require less interaction with pedals and a manually-shifting gear stick.
- Keyless entry and start. Makes it even easier and more convenient to enter, start, and stop your car.
- Automatic locks and windows. One-touch auto-up and auto-down windows are very convenient, as well as auto-door-locking upon driving off.
- Seating configurations. In cars that offer different seating configurations, you should be able to find something that suits your needs best. If you need more support, you may want to opt for certain types of chairs. Heating and ventilation can be helpful too, or you may want a longer bench over a separate seat.
- Door openings. These should provide ample space and freedom of movement to access the cabin – it will be much harder in small vehicles with limited ingress/egress.
- Driver-assistance features. You probably need some additional controls to make life easier and many cars have plenty of driver-assistance features nowadays, such as radar cruise control, blind-spot and lane-change assist, automatic parking, cross-traffic alert, and even automatic braking. The right car will be able to reduce the stressors on you substantially, so make sure to confirm standard and available features.
Navigating The World
It can be difficult to get around if you have special needs, and unfortunately, it may seem that the world favors able-bodied people. While many public spaces are not yet rigged to make access easy for those with disabilities, this is a trend that seems to be changing. In terms of finding the right mobility solutions, there are many after-market modifications that can be made, too, should you struggle to find the right vehicle for you. It remains vital that we continue to educate people on the needs of disabled people and find the best solutions to make life just as accessible for everyone.
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