Father of the Mobility Movement

Our Founder, Ralph Braun (1940-2013)


Who was Ralph Braun?

Ralph was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy as a young boy in 1947. Doctors told his parents he’d never be independent, but both Ralph and his parents were determined to prove them wrong. In the next few years, Ralph lost his ability to walk.  At a young age, he set his mind to engineering the first battery-powered scooter. From there he designed the world’s first wheelchair lift, installed in an old postal jeep and complete with hand controls. Necessity is the mother of invention, and Ralph’s physical limitations only served to fuel his determination to live independently and prove to society that people with physical disabilities can participate fully and actively in life.

What started as a personal drive to keep independent evolved into BraunAbility, the leading manufacturer of mobility products across the globe. Ralph passed away in 2013 at the age of 72, but not before he launched the mobility movement. BraunAbility proudly carries on our founder’s legacy today.


5 Lessons From Ralph

Rise Above

Ralph has left a permanent legacy in the mobility community and will be remembered as a true pioneer of accessibility. He wrote his autobiography, Rise Above, to tell the story of the challenges he faced as a young man – not only from his physical challenges, but from the limitations society placed on individuals with disabilities as well. All proceeds from the book are donated to the Ralph Braun Foundation to help make mobility more affordable to those who need it.

Ralph Braun Biography Rise Above

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Ralph Braun’s early life helped build the mobility industry as we know it today. It all started with a diagnosis of muscular dystrophy at the young age of 6.  His parents instilled in him the will to overcome the challenges his disability presented him.  When he could no longer rely on his own two legs and he’d outgrown piggyback rides from his dad, he began using a wheelchair.

First Motorized Wheelchair by Ralph Braun in 1962

First Motorized Wheelchair

Ralph Braun built his first motorized wheelchair in his cousin’s farm shop in 1962, never dreaming his company would turn into a world-renowned industry leader and improve thousands of lives.


Ralph began building Tri-Wheelers in his parents’ garage under the name Save-A-Step Manufacturing Company.

Save a Step is founded by Ralph Braun in 1963
World’s First Wheelchair Lift and Wheelchair

World’s First Wheelchair Lift

Ralph equips an old Post Office Jeep with a custom-built hydraulic tailgate lift along with homemade hand controls.


Lift-A-Way Wheelchair Lift

Chrysler introduces the full-size van. Ralph builds the precursor to the Lift-A-Way wheelchair lift to fit this revolutionary vehicle.

The Lift-A-Way Wheelchair Lift
The Braun Corporation

The Braun Corporation

Save-A-Step Manufacturing Company incorporates as The Braun Corporation with just five employees.

Growing Demand

Braun expands its main production building and additional buildings are constructed to meet the growing demand of lifts and Tri-Wheelers.

Handicap Scooter Tri-Wheeler Growing Demand
Fire Tragedy at Braun Corporation

Fire Tragedy

A devastating fire sweeps through Braun Corporate Headquarters.


Upward and Onward

Shortly after the fire of ’79, the manufacturing facility is rebuilt and new corporate offices are constructed.

Upward and Onward
Swing-A-Way Wheelchair Lift

Swing-A-Way Wheelchair Lift

An innovative Swing-A-Way wheelchair lift is introduced – the first new lift product of the decade.

Demand and Expansion

To meet the growing demand, Braun invests heavily in new manufacturing technologies and facilities. A third plant opens, dramatically increasing Braun’s capabilities.

Handicap Van Demand and Expansion
Americans with Disabilities Act

Americans with Disabilities Act

Americans with Disabilities Act is made law, opening the door to public transportation for people with physical disabilities.

The Entervan Arrives

The Braun Entervan is introduced, offering unparalleled ease of access for wheelchair users. This revolutionary vehicle soon becomes the flagship of Braun’s mobility line.

The Flagship Wheelchair van Entervan Arrives
Modern Manufacturing for Handicap Vans

Modern Manufacturing

A modern vehicle assembly building is opened, housing production lines for the Entervan and Paratransit vans.


Strict Quality Control

Braun continues to invest in state-of-the art manufacturing technology, building the majority of components in-house for strict quality control.

Strict Quality Control for Handicap Vans

Brand Evolution

The BraunAbility brand is introduced as the name of the consumer mobility products, now available at over 200 dealer locations nationwide. In 2013 the name will extend over all divisions, including commercial, international and taxi markets.


International Expansion

BraunAbility made two important acquisitions: one adding a new category of rear-entry wheelchair vans; and secondly an investment in Autoadapt, further expanding the company’s international outreach.

BraunAbility International Expansion
Carrying on the legacy of Ralph Braun

Carrying on the Legacy

Ralph Braun passed away at the age of 72, but leaves behind a hand-selected leadership team and dedicated staff who share his vision and his values.

The future...

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