Mobile Apps to Get You Moving

If you’ve ever gone on a local outing or vacation and attempted to navigate the streets in a wheelchair, you know how difficult it can be to conquer the terrain. From curbs to stairs, dips or sidewalks in disrepair, it’s hard to predict what your barriers may be. For that reason, two mobile apps have been developed to show you the best routes and rides all over the globe.

Navability: This app’s algorithms use the wheelchairs maneuverability, the environment (gradient, surface and obstacles) and the user’s ability to calculate the best route through the landscape. Navability selects paths to keep your travel within your ideal zone, which aims to preserve your physical energy or power chair battery life. Whatever path you choose, you can continually assess throughout the day how your travel is impacting you. Every Navability map and/or path reflects your travel ability and effort as a distinct color. That way, you always know how a path will affect you so you can make an informed decision where you will travel.


SafeTrip: Think Uber, only more accessible. Taxi cabs and apps like Uber aren’t equipped well enough to provide transportation with convenience and comfort for wheelchair users. SAFETRIP has bridged the gap with the world’s first healthcare transportation app. A perfect option for local trips, health checkups and prescription pickups, the SAFETRIP app provides convenient means of transport for those that are experiencing medical issues both short-term and long term. The emphasis at SAFETRIP is on comfortable and specialized travel for those with disability needs, and these previously unmet needs are now fulfilled with specialized EMS vehicles, wheelchair accessible vehicles, vans and premium cars that are accessible to app users for prescription pickup and delivery. All users are free to choose from Premium Cars, Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles, Large Vans, and Ambulances for emergency purposes.

So whether you plan to travel near or far, for fun or necessity – and you need a better way to get around – there’s an app for that.

Article originally posted on NMEDA’s site 01/19/2018
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Accessible Parking & Other Mobile Apps

You or your caregiver may have memorized the accessible parking spots at schools and grocery stores, but for the likes of airports or beach trips, finding accessible parking may be more of a challenge. Accessible parking is scarce enough as it is — use your phone as a compass to point you in the direction of your next parking spot. Here are three accessible parking mobile apps to help on the next outing or trip, whether that’s to the grocery store or to another country:

Find the Nearest Accessible Parking with Blue Badge Parking

Blue Badge Parking was originally created as a website that provided detailed disabled parking maps in a centralized, user-friendly database. Now, all of this information is available on your iOS and Android. Using a phone’s GPS, the app tracks the user’s location and identifies the nearest disabled parking space. If an area has incorrect or non-existent data, users can simply add or revise locations for other app users to find.

What makes this app stand out is that its users can easily search the locations of accessible spaces by address, zip code, or even landmark. After identifying the desired location, you are able to view the space in a few different ways: street-level view, map, and satellite views. This is especially helpful for double checking there’s enough space to enter and exit from a side-entry wheelchair accessible vehicle.

If you expect the GPS to be  spotty, you can prepare beforehand and print out screenshots of the map or directions to the spot.

Accessibility Improvements on Google Maps

Google has rolled out an update where anyone is able to edit the details of a location and add in accessibility details. This makes it possible to state whether or not a business location is actually wheelchair-accessible.

When you want to share accessibility information about a place or add details about many places quickly, follow these instructions:

  • open Google Maps,
  • open the main menu,
  • tap ‘Your contributions’
  • tap ‘Uncover missing info’ and sort by ‘Accessibility’

Doing so reveals places around you that are missing accessibility information. It’s up to the user to begin editing listings and add in new accessibility details. Google Maps offers four different accessibility descriptors to select from:

  • wheelchair-accessible entrances,
  • wheelchair-accessible elevators,
  • wheelchair-accessible seating,
  • And wheelchair-accessible parking.

If you’re unsure about how to accurate answer these questions, Google recommends reviewing this guide. Overall, it encourages everyone to be cognizant about accessibility in every place they visit.

Having this information more readily available should enhance any maps app that uses Google Maps technology. Caregivers and people with disabilities may also integrate directions with accessibility details as they move from location to location.

Use WheelMate to Find Accessible Restrooms

The WheelMate app’s mission is to design a free app to make finding clean, accessible restrooms and parking spaces easier and more convenient. This app uses a mobile device’s GPS location to search, identify, and easily navigate to accessible parking spaces. It’s incredibly useful for both emergencies and planned trips.

A special feature of Wheelmate is its ability for users to add, rate, and comment on not only parking spaces, but accessible restrooms as well. This rating system will help drivers make on-the-fly decisions when looking for parking spots.

Report Accessible Parking Spot Abuse

Parking Mobility is a free app on iOS and Android that enables people to report disabled parking abuse and improves accessibility within the community.

If you sees a vehicle parked in an accessible parking spot illegally, you simply launch the app and take the following photos:

  • a photo of the vehicle’s backside showing the make, model, and license plate,
  • a wider shot of the parking spot, showing that the vehicle is clearly parked there,
  • and one of the car’s windshield, proving that there’s no disabled parking tag.

Then, hit submit. The app sends this information to the city and they may even ticket the vehicle owner.

Additionally, this app allows the user to mark the location of accessible parking spaces anywhere in the world within 30 seconds. This means that other people with disabilities are able to easily find accessible parking, number of spaces, ramp access details and cost, if applicable.


Article was originally posted on VMI’s Blog 12/26/17
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Top 5 Tips To Buy the Best Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle for You


When deciding between wheelchair-accessible vehicles and lift options, choosing the best one is easier with the right tools. Whether you’re sticking to your favorite car brand or you’re willing to try something new, each option has its perks and there are a lot of steps before making a vehicle purchase. Here are a few tips to make the process easier and make a worthwhile decision.

1. Decide On Your Mobility Vehicle Needs
Buying a handicap-accessible van is a long-term solution, so it’s critical to think about the future as you make your decision. Functionality is the first step to explore. Depending on your preferences, you’ll need a different mobility product. Making a few key choices will narrow down options and ease the vehicle buying process in the long run. During this phase, it’s important to consider not only your current needs, but also your future needs. Ask yourself the following:

  • How many people will typically travel in your vehicle?
  • Will the primary driver be the caregiver or the wheelchair user?
  • Do you need extra room for height, weight, or a large power wheelchair?
  • Do you prefer a rear-entry vehicle or a side-entry vehicle?
  • Do you prefer a slide-out ramp or a fold-out ramp?

Once you have a solid idea of your must-have features, you can create a list of potential vans and shop with confidence.

2. Research Key Features
After creating a list of needs, it’s time to begin building a list of wheelchair accessible vehicles that fit your requirements. The best way to do that is by exploring the cars that have each of the features you need. Exploring the different conversion type and lift options should be the first place to start.

When comparing your options, take your time. Do your homework on each key feature and, if you can, list them in order of priority. Take what reviews, friends, and any bloggers or influencers have to say about the wheelchair accessible vehicle too — it can help narrow down your options early on.

For instance, try exploring the different wheelchair conversion types to further hone your choices. There are fold-out ramps and wheelchair lifts available. Depending on whether the primary driver will be a person with disabilities or their caregiver, an in-floor ramp may be of utmost priority. This will help you narrow down your options to include the Dodge Grand Caravan, Toyota Sienna, and Chrysler Pacifica.

3. Take Notes On Your Vehicle Options
Take the time to explore more about the carmakers. Start with learning how a wheelchair conversion is built. Make the time to visit manufacturer websites, learn the benefits of each mobility product, and explore car reviews. Take the time to research the manufacturer, and closely examine the make and model of your vehicle choices.

This is also a good stage to prioritize your wheelchair accessible vehicles. Even if your favorite is a Chrysler Pacifica, it’s good to know that a Toyota Sienna is another option worth exploring at a dealership.

4. Assess Your Budget
Before you ever visit a dealership, there’s one last step to take: assess vehicle price ranges.

Check out nearby dealerships, and take the time to check out their vehicle inventory before making a trip. Even if you’ve decided on the make and model, looking at available inventory will help you decide between manufacturing years. For example, the difference between the Chrysler Pacifica 2017 and the Chrysler Pacifica 2012 base models will be extremely different.

Research financing options to help you make a vehicle purchase more affordable. Take a look at what kind of loan, promotions, insurance, and rebates are available through each manufacturer. For example, if you are a veteran who was injured in the line of duty, you may be eligible for service-connected benefits.

5. Trust Your Instincts
There’s nothing quite like exploring your car options in person. For many people, this is where the car buying journey begins and ends. For anyone that’s done their car buying homework, they’ll save a lot of time and money when entering a dealership for the first time. You’ll know the wheelchair accessible vehicle you’re looking for, and should be ready to take it for a test drive or request a demo. Simply fill out the request form and you can get some insight on seating, weight capacity, and other logistics.

This phase is the best time to bring caregivers, loved ones, or friends along for the ride — they’ll help you make the decision that’s right for you with their own instincts. After all, intuition is one of the most reliable tools in your arsenal at the dealership.

When in the car, simply trust your feelings. Take as long as you need and compare the vehicle to other cars on your list.

Purchasing a wheelchair-accessible van can be an exciting adventure that opens up a new world of mobility. Use these tips to make the process as productive and enjoyable as possible.


Originally Posted: 12/11/17 on VMI’s Blog
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Holiday Hours


Access Options would like to wish all our customers a world of good wishes. One of the real joys this holiday season is the opportunity to say thank you to our wonderful customers and wishing you the very best for the new year.

Access Options Holiday Hours

Friday December 22, 2017: Open 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Monday December 25, 2017: Closed
Friday December 29, 2017: Open 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Monday January 1, 2018: Closed

We will be back to our normal schedule Tuesday January 2, 2018.


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Office Hours – Thanksgiving


Autumnal Thanksgiving Arrangement

Our offices will be closed Thursday November 23 and Friday November 24 in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. We will reopen on Monday November 27, 2017.

We here at Access Options, Inc. want to wish you the best and safest holiday. May the Thanksgiving holiday bring you good things in abundance that stay with you all year long.






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Is your vehicle ready for cold spells?


Frigid temperatures not only slow us down, but can slow our van and accessible equipment. For example, if you use a hydraulic wheelchair lift, you may have noticed that the colder the weather, the slower the lift reacts. The cold thickens the fluid, making it move slower through hoses, valves and cylinders. There’s not much you can do about that, but preparing other equipment for cold weather is important to help avoid accidents and breakdowns.

If you live in northern climates, get an oil change, tune-up, and/or semi-annual lift service and have any other accessible equipment checked before the temperature dips. A professional should also check the battery, antifreeze level, heater, brakes, defroster and thermostat.

Now is the time to prepare, not in December when the snow may already be here.

Do It Yourself:

  • Purchase winter wiper blades that cut through snow and ice.
  • Keep the gas tank at least half full. It reduces condensation and makes your vehicle easier to start on cold mornings.
  • Buy tires that have MS, M+S, M/S or M&S on them, meaning they meet the Rubber Manufacturers Association guidelines and can bite through mud and snow.
  • For better traction and control, rotate tires so the best ones are in the front.
  • Get an electric engine block heater. It warms the engine so the motor can start. It connects to normal AC power overnight or before driving. In extremely cold climates, electrical outlets are sometimes found in public or private parking lots.
  • Cold weather is tough on accessible van batteries. Buy one with greater starting power, higher cold cranking amps and reserve capacity for energy when the engine isn’t running.
  • Use synthetic oil to make starting a cold engine easier.

Before you drive:

  • Clear the head and tail lights for best visibility.
  • Scrape the ice off mirrors and windows.
Originally posted on NMEDA’s Website on 10/17/17
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Abilities Expo Bay Area 2017


If you are going to this year’s Abilities Expo in San Mateo, stop by Access Options’ Booth (630). You can meet our great staff and spin the wheel for a prize!

Abilities Expo Bay Area Info

October 27: 11 am – 5 pm
October 28: 11 am – 5 pm
October 29: 11 am – 4 pm
San Mateo County Event Center, Expo Hall
1346 Saratoga Dr.
San Mateo, CA 94403
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Safety Tip: Know the Weight of Your Vehicle


How much weight can your accessible SUV or van bear when fully loaded? Because SUVs and vans have a higher center of gravity than sedans or minivans, they are more prone to rollover accidents. It is vital to know the weight load before stuffing your vehicle with a wheelchair, luggage, family or friends and vacation equipment (like a canoe or bicycles). Just because there is room for everything doesn’t mean it’s safe for everyone.

Braking hard to avoid a possible accident or carrying too much weight in a sharp turn can up the odds of an accident. Plus, an overloaded vehicle can adversely affect braking, steering and your ability to safely control the vehicle.

To find the maximum allowable weight of your vehicle when loaded, look for the label on the driver’s side doorjamb. It tells the allowable weight of the vehicle plus fuel, passengers and cargo. (The information may also be in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the underside of the hood.)

A large SUV can weigh 6,000 lbs. or more before the conversion. A smaller one will be in the 4,000-5,000 lb. range.

To figure out how much weight the vehicle will actually be carrying, get out the calculator. A power wheelchair can weigh about 200 lbs. Add 300 lbs. or more for the wheelchair lift and you’ve already added 500 lbs to the vehicle’s weight capacity. Add 150 lbs. for each passenger and the driver.

With all that weight, make sure the tires can handle the load. Inspect the tread and check the air pressure. All new vehicles from 2012 onward are equipped with a tire-pressure monitoring system (TPMS). This system monitors the air pressure inside the tires and alerts the driver if the tire pressure is too low.

Slim down your odds of a rollover by slimming down the vehicle. No overloading!


Originally posted on NMEDA’s Blog: Here on 9/25/17
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Wheelchair Accessible Van Rental FAQs


Did you know that Access Options, Inc. is part of the national network for Wheeler’s Accessible Van Rental Dealers? Our rental fleet consists of late-model, low mileage lowered-floor minivans and are available for pick up or delivery at both the Watsonville and Fremont locations.


All rentals reservations require a deposit of $100.00 

Rental Rates*
1 day rental (24 hrs) $125
1 week rental (7 days) $100/ day $700
1 month rental (28 days) $75/ day $2100
*100 mile per day allotment, additional miles $.50/per mile

Vehicle delivery or pick up from airport?
*Pricing is each way*
SJO $100
SFO $150
Oakland $150

Vehicle delivery and pick up is available Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Please note that we can make special arrangements outside of these hours for an additional charge.

All of our rentals have side entry.
We do not provide hand controls or transfer seats. Wheelchair user will not be able to drive.
Front passenger seat can be removed upon request.
Customer must provide copy of driver’s license and proof of insurance (Insurance must cover rentals ).
Drivers must be 23 years or older to rent and drive vehicle and have a Visa or MasterCard

We have a 72 hour Cancellation Policy.  If renter cancels reservations within the 72 hours (3 days) of pick up, renter will be charged $100.  If renter cancels in advance of 72 hours (3 days) of pick up, no charges will incur.

Please call for further information or submit your request on-line and one of our representatives will contact you. When submitting an on-line request, please specify your needs on our Rental Form.

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Tips on Properly Anchoring Wheelchairs in Mobility Vehicles

**Posted on August 15th, 2016 in Living With a DisabilityMobility EquipmentWheelchair Accessible


Vehicles that are not accessible are designed with a safety bubble comprised of firmly anchored seats, seat belts and a belt restraint system to protect the upper and lower torso, and air bags to protect you in the event of a crash. This “cone of protection” does not exist for those with disabilities riding in wheelchairs, but there are ways to ensure your vehicle is adapted to keep you safe.

Protect Yourself
To get such protection in a wheelchair accessible vehicle it must be modified by a mobility equipment manufacturer or Quality Assurance Program (QAP) dealer. Mobility equipment dealers know that transferring to the vehicle seat offers the highest level of protection.

The next best option is a WC19 compliant wheelchair, which is designed for use as a seat in motor vehicles, because regular wheelchair frames and seats are not as strong to withstand crash conditions.

The Risks of a Quick Fix
The pricing for each vehicle varies depending on each individual’s specific needs, the cost for a modified handicap vehicle can be anywhere from $20,000 on up. Today, some people are avoiding the cost of making their vehicle safe and accessible by creating unreliable gadgets that will allow them to drive.

While this method can be temporarily effective, the long-term repercussions and risks of operating a vehicle this way are massive, not to mention illegal in many cases.

Let The Professionals Handle It
Below are some reasons to let the professionals handle the installation of your seating and restraints on a vehicle with no modifications:

  • It is difficult to find suitable places on the wheelchair frame to attach wheelchair tie downs. Or it is likely that the places you find are not strong enough to hold up under a crash.
  • Tie down straps may be attached to the most accessible places on the wheelchair, which are often the weakest. (Attaching to detachable footrests or armrests is a really bad idea.)
  • Belt restraints should fit over the pelvis and shoulders. However, most wheelchair designs make positioning vehicle-anchored restraints difficult.
  • When wheelchair occupants are placed facing sideways in the vehicle, since this is easiest for getting a wheelchair in and out of the vehicle. But then occupants are in the least-safe orientation for a frontal crash. All occupied wheelchairs should face forward during transit.
  • The experts will tell you trays and tray-mounted accessories are rarely fixed to wheelchairs with safety in mind.
  • They should be stowed elsewhere during transit or attached securely.

Finding a licensed and trustworthy dealer/mechanic should be a number one priority when it comes to getting your car modified. Access Options, Inc, is an accredited NMEDA QAP dealer and  works to make your ride the safest and most comfortable possible.

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