Wheelchair Van or Handicap Van?

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Handicap Van or Wheelchair Van? In Accessible Vehicles, It Is Both. 

At Braunability we make wheelchair and scooter accessible vehicles serving all sorts of customer needs. Some of our customers use our vehicles to retain their level of mobility as they adapt to aging. Others are younger, having suffered a spinal cord injury or disability from birth.

Something that's common among all of our customers is that no one seems to agree on what to call our vehicles. Are they wheelchair vans? Or are they handicap vans? A wheelchair van makes the product sound as though the vehicle is made of wheelchairs, or that it is only made for wheelchair users, which is incorrect. Conversely, the word "handicap" is a term that isn't considered by most activist groups to be appropriate as a description of people with disabilities. This is called disability-first speak, and more people are moving toward a person-first language approach, as in, "a person with a disability" versus "a disabled person." 

Some other names for our products include lift vans, mobility vans, and conversion vans. But we've never made a handicapped van. Phrasing it that way implies that the van itself is "less-than" in some way and we avoid using this term when possible. BraunAbility conversions enable our customers to do everything from the ordinary to the extraordinary, just like any other vehicle on the road.

So, what's with all the different titles? Well, many of our customers with disabilities do not like the word "handicapped." The term tends to have negative connotations. Many people believe its derivation is from "cap in hand" used for begging. Snopes.com, however, points out the more likely derivation is from a 17th-century game called "hand in cap," which makes more sense.

Andrew Imparato, President, and CEO of the American Association of Persons with Disabilities (AAPD), one of the country's largest advocacy groups, noted: "There is a strong consensus among the disabled community that 'disabled' should be used."

Our research has indicated that many people who are unfamiliar with our vans or the disability community as a whole use this term when searching for our products on the internet. So in effect, "handicapped" also has a positive power in that it allows people to find our website and see all of the lifts, ramp vans and other good things we have to offer. When you see this word on our site, we hope you'll understand it is a way of meeting people where they are and we are doing our best to educate groups of people on the correct language to use as they get more acquainted with the disability community. 

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