Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Access to a WAV - side or rear entry

As well as the general questions you should ask yourself when choosing a wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV), you'll need to think about how you get your wheelchair in and out of your WAV.

Positioning the wheelchair on the lift to exit backwards - this vehicle is fitted with folding seats in the back

Generally, you'll have to choose between whether you enter at the back or through the passenger side of the vehicle, though there aren't as many side-entry vehicles.

Currently, the only other possibility is the InFront Doblo, which has a specially adapted front door and an extending ramp so you can go directly into the front seat area on the passenger side.

Which entry point you choose will depend on how you use the car and where you usually park. The most important advice is to try the type of vehicle you are thinking of getting before you buy. Try it around where you live and the places you usually drive (see How to get a WAV for more about test driving a vehicle).

Another factor to consider is that doors can slide across, open upwards or open to the side. This usually depends on the make of vehicle. Make sure you can operate the door safely and comfortably.

Side entry

Man in wheelchair exiting van by side door and ramp

  • Allows you to travel with passengers or luggage in the back - you can get in and out without having to move them.
  • Allows you to keep the rear seats in.
  • Generally better suited for use in town - you need to be able to park alongside the kerb.
  • Difficult to use in car parks - you need a lot of space alongside the vehicle.
  • If the road slopes heavily towards or away from the kerb (camber) or the kerb is not a standard height, the ramp or lift may not deploy correctly.
  • If the pavement is too narrow, you won't be able to get on to the ramp or lift (you can only get on a ramp at its end).
  • If you have to park on a slope, this will cause the ramp or lift surface to slope to the side.

Rear entry

  • Rear-entry WAVs can be difficult for on-street parking - you need to be sure you will have space at the rear.
  • Many WAV users (especially in drive-from-wheelchair WAVs) find a parking camera very helpful - you can see that you are leaving enough space behind to deploy the ramp.

Last updated: January 2017


Previous: Driver WAVs | Side or rear entry | Next: Ramps or lifts | See also: Wheelchair accessible vehicles usability research report