Out on the Open Road: Purchasing an Accessible Vehicle

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on June 21, 2017 # Mobility

Driving offers freedom and a sense of independence, so it is no surprise that one of the most frequently asked questions received by the Information Specialists here at the Reeve Foundation’s Paralysis Resource Center is how to purchase and fund an accessible vehicle or van. It seems to be a simple question with a simple solution. Unfortunately, there is not just one answer or one source to go to for assistance.

First, in order to get back on the road, you will need to complete an evaluation that determines what type(s) of modifications you'll need to access the vehicle and drive it safely. The Information Specialist team can provide information on state resources as well as a list of other non-profit organizations that provide funding for individuals.

If you’re about to enter or re-enter the workforce, you may want to check with your state's department of vocational rehabilitation as well. While they don't usually help with the cost of the van, they may be able to help with the costs of any modifications you need to get back and forth from work.

For information on organizations that can assist you further regarding driver evaluations and vehicle modifications, you can visit the following websites below:

The National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration offers advice on driver training, vehicle selection and modifications.

The National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA) is a trade group of companies that sell adaptive driving equipment.

The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists (ADED) certifies driver trainers who are experts in adaptive driving and vehicles.

The Adaptive Driving Alliance is a nationwide group of vehicle modification dealers.


The Department of Veterans Affairs provides a one-time grant to assist with the purchase of a van for a veteran whose disability occurred during active military service.


The “Car Talk” website contains a comprehensive list of resources for purchasing and modifying an accessible van.

Once you identify the right van for you, check with the dealer to see if they offer a discount on modification or installing adaptive equipment—some do.

Tip for the newly injured: don’t forget to get your wheelchair and measure it before you purchase your van because not every wheelchair fits in every vehicle.

Choosing, funding and purchasing an accessible vehicle can be a difficult undertaking. Hopefully, this information can make the process a bit easier.

Click here for a fact sheet on cars, driving and a full list of places to purchase or rent accessible vehicle. You can also contact an Information Specialist about this or any paralysis-related question by calling (800) 539-7309 or by visiting www.ChristopherReeve.org/ask

Donna Lowich

Senior Information Specialist

The National Paralysis Resource Center website is supported by the Administration for Community Living (ACL), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $8,700,000 with 100 percent funding by ACL/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by ACL/HHS, or the U.S. Government.