Steering Developments are experts in mobility, and one of the areas of our expertise is in making vehicles more accessible to wheelchair users. This takes the form of both adaptations and conversions.
But what are adaptations and conversions, and how can they help you retain your independence, access your vehicle safely, and make your life easier?
The Difference between Adaptation and Conversion
Simply put, the primary difference is that adaptations are generally additions that make your car easier to drive, or more user-friendly if you’re in a wheelchair. Conversions involve making changes to your vehicle to make it possible to transport you while you are in your wheelchair.
For example, an adaptation might be a steering control to allow you to drive with limited movement in your arms, while a conversion might involve moving the seating around inside a vehicle to make it possible to dock a wheelchair within.
Retaining Independence, One Adaptation at a Time
Disability, age or illness can make driving a standard car more difficult than it should be, leading to plenty of people giving up on driving. This can
be a real blow to independence, and driving aids and adaptations are there to make it easy to continue driving safely.
Being able to get in and out of your vehicle, being able to handle the controls safely, and being protected in the event of an accident are all vital components in maintaining your independence, and there are plenty of adaptations to enable you to do this.
Adaptations fit into a few categories - driving aids and controls that adapt your vehicle to your individual needs, and seating or stowage solutions that make it easy for you to get your wheelchair and yourself in and out of the car.
Within those categories, there is a wide range of different products and solutions, all designed to meet the wide-ranging needs of our clients. At Steering Developments we don’t provide “off the shelf” solutions - instead we work with you to make sure you get a bespoke solution that works the way you need it to.
For example, if you have difficulty transferring into a car seat, you might choose a Car Seat Raiser, or a Swivel seat. Once you’re in the car, you may want something like the Abi Loader automatic loading system that stows your wheelchair in the boot at the press of a button.
Alternatively, you may want to transfer into your vehicle in your wheelchair, with a Carony transfer system.
Different solutions work for different people, and it all depends on how you want to use your vehicle.
If you’re a driver but a limited range of motion is making it hard to steer, the Joysteer or SpaceDrive joystick and mini steering wheel systems can help. Or perhaps you have lower leg weakness - an electric brake and accelerator make it possible to operate the vehicle’s controls without using the pedals. You can even drive with one hand using infra-red driving controls, if that’s what you need.
A variety of vehicles on the market today are suitable for conversions, and different ones are suitable for different needs. When you have a vehicle
converted for use by a wheelchair user, the main thing to consider is how well that conversion will suit your lifestyle.
Steering Developments don’t use a template of set conversions, instead we work with you to figure out how best to match your vehicle to your needs.
Vehicles like the Mercedes V Class have sliding doors on each side of the vehicle, making access easy, while the VW Caravelle has a range of models including manual and automatic, depending on your preference.
Ramps, lifts, and hoists can be included in your conversion, to make access and transfer as simple as possible, and adaptations such as an electric head and back rest support provides additional safety and security.
Tailored to you
Using a vehicle when you’re in a wheelchair needn’t be an impossible or arduous task. With the right adaptations and conversions, you can travel in safety and style, under your own steam or with friends and family.
Steering Developments offer free home demonstrations of a range of our solutions, so that you can see what might be most suitable for you, and our team have over 30 years’ experience in the industry, so they’re a wealth of information and advice.