Earlier this week, I came across a tweet from Emily Ladau. Her family sold her old wheelchair-accessible van to another family. The family was so grateful to finally have a wheelchair van. They were planning to take a surprise trip.
Wheelchair accessible vans aren’t affordable for most people. I use a power wheelchair. I cannot transport my power wheelchair in a standard vehicle. A wheelchair lift or ramp is required. You might expect to pay $60,000 for a new vehicle. $30,000-$40,000 for a used one.
If you’re lucky, the used van will last five years. The new van will most likely last 7 to 10 years. My options would be even more limited if I didn’t have an accessible van. I’d have to rely on my transport chair. I only use the transport chair when it is absolutely necessary. Someone has to push me around.
I am very fortunate to have a wheelchair accessible van that my mother purchased when I was a senior in high school. She knew I would need it at college that fall. The van was used, but wasn’t cheap. Still, I am fortunate to have a van.
Braun Mobility hosts a contest every year where people submit their stories in hopes of winning an accessible van. Family and friends vote for people, and the three people with the most votes win a new van. It is heartbreaking to me that this contest even has to be held. Accessible transportation should be more affordable.
The same is true when it comes to accessible housing. Accessible housing is very difficult to find. In February of 2020, Apartment List conducted a study utilizing data from the American Community Survey and the American Housing Survey. Only 9% of households with a disabled person live in an accessible home, according to the survey. Even though more than 15% of households have a physically disabled member, just 6% of homes in the United States are accessible.
Finding an accessible apartment was very challenging. I was fortunate enough to find an apartment that works well for me. I’m able to move around and I use a bath transfer system to shower. I am hoping to install a roll in shower by the end of the year. Home modifications can be very expensive as well. The shower will cost me several thousand dollars, but more independence is priceless.
Accessibility isn’t a luxury, and it saddens me that accessibility often comes with a hefty price tag. Disabled people deserve to have access to transportation and homes that work for them. Accessibility shouldn’t be seen as a privilege, but rather as a right.
Warnock, Rob. “How Accessible Is the Housing Market?” Apartment List , Apartment List, 19 February, 2020, http://www.apartmentlist.com/research/how-accessible-is-the-housing-market.