The introduction of new technology continues to broaden opportunities for people with disabilities to drive vehicles with hand controls and adaptive automotive products and devices. As we’re all unique, one specific product rarely suits the needs of everyone. This is true when it comes to mobility vehicles as every person with a mobility issue has individual requirements and will need specific features to make them feel confident and comfortable when they drive.
In recent years, technological advances have introduced automotive adaptive devices which either reduce the physical effort required to control and/or operate a vehicle or alter the way in which driver control initiatives are applied to the vehicle control systems. These adaptive devices provide the possibility of driving a vehicle for many drivers with disabilities.
There are two main types of automotive adaptive controls, those that provide an external source of power to actuate existing vehicle controls and those that modify OEM components to alter the operation of vehicle control systems. Generally, these are referred to as servo-type motion control systems and reduced effort or zero effort control systems, respectively.
Adaptive vehicle control products are commonly prescribed by rehabilitation centers and installed by mobility equipment dealers and installers who specialize in vehicle modifications for persons with disabilities, seniors, and persons who have a need for greater mobility.
Driver rehabilitation specialists perform comprehensive evaluations to identify the adaptive equipment most suited to your needs. They assess the type of seating needed and the person’s ability to exit and enter the vehicle. They provide advice on the purchase of modified vehicles and recommend appropriate wheelchair lifts or other equipment for a vehicle you own. The use of wheelchair car and van hand controls usually requires the driver to take and pass a special training class which educates on the nuances of driving with the controls.