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Scottsdale family whose daughter has cerebral palsy gets new wheelchair accessible van

The Stedman family of Scottsdale is no stranger to adversity. They’ve triumphed over cancer, ADHD, Dyslexia and Cerebral Palsy. Their eight-year-old daughter, Sage, has cerebral palsy and is non-mobile. She was diagnosed at the age of four months.

Not having a safe and accessible vehicle to transport a child in a wheelchair can cause isolation, discouragement, frustration, and depression. That’s one of the many reasons the Stedman family wanted to get an accessible vehicle for Sage.

“Sage has a power chair and it is a joy to see her enjoy this newfound independence, but we’ve been unable to transport it,” said Mrs. Stedman. “Although she can take her chair to school on the bus, her schedule does not allow her to take the bus every day.”

Where to Start

The Stedman family has been searching desperately for the best wheelchair accessible vehicle for their daughter. “But, in addition to the large expense of such a vehicle, we have extra medical bills due to her father’s stage 4 cancer diagnosis,” said Mrs. Stedman, who added that her family has also been working hard to raise funds to help pay for it.

Thankfully, the Steelman Family Foundation, which assists families in need who are trying to purchase their own wheelchair accessible vehicle, has chosen to help Sage Stedman and her family.


Today, the Stedman family will be driving home in their new, safe, and reliable wheelchair accessible transportation.  Their 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan VMI Verge II Rear Entry accessible van from United Access in Scottsdale (14885 N 83rd Pl Ste 105, Scottsdale, Arizona 85260), will make everyone’s life a little easier. United Access is the second largest provider of customized accessible vehicles and equipment in the nation.

“The stories we hear every day and the smiles we see on our customers’ faces when they drive away for the first time, fuel our passion for the work we do,” said John Beering, president of United Access. “Serving others is, and always has been, at the heart of what we do. We believe that the Steelman Family Foundation shares our same mission and values and that’s why we chose to partner with them.”

Marcos Castillo – Back in the Driver’s Seat

Marcos Castillo was injured in an accident nearly 20 years ago. Marcos life has been a journey. After 18 years, Marcos is finally back in the driver’s seat! Watch how all of his hard work has paid off. Marcos, his driving instructor and United Access in Chandler, Arizona worked together to get him back on the road to independence.


Don’t Buy Before You Try: The Trouble with Buying Cars Online

Online shopping has changed the way we buy products in every industry. It can be quicker, more convenient, and sometimes it’s even cheaper. But not every purchase is best made virtually.

For example, the last time you bought a car, you probably went to a dealership or met the seller in real life. Though your research for a new vehicle may have started online, you probably don’t want to spend thousands on a car without looking it over in person.

A Craigslist seller or dealership may not describe the vehicle completely accurately, intentionally or not. And you probably want to test drive it and look under the hood to make sure your potential new car is as great as it seems in the description.

Naturally, the same can be said of buying a wheelchair van online.

Wheelchair-accessible vehicles are an important part of independence for people who use wheelchairs. But as you likely know, choosing a wheelchair van is more complicated than buying a non-adapted vehicle.

As convenient as buying a car online might seem — no haggling, right? — you won’t know what the car is really like until it’s in front of your house.

And if you shop for an accessible vehicle online, you’re losing the benefits of shopping in person—like a mobility specialist explaining the different options available to you and customized personal demonstrations. Depending on your needs, we can help decide whether a rear-entry van is necessary, or if a side-entry van would better fit your lifestyle. Unfortunately, you don’t get that level of personal service when you’re buying from what is effectively a car vending machine.

Keep reading to find out why it’s better to buy a wheelchair van in person from a local dealership that knows your needs and how United Access can help you find the right wheelchair-accessible vehicle for you.

1. United Access offers live, customized demonstrations.

No matter your needs, the mobility specialists at United Access can help you find the right accessible vehicle for you. Not only that, though, we’ll show you how to use every single feature on your potential new van. When it comes to ramps, lifts, handbrakes, and other hand controls, you have many different options depending on your particular needs. 

While some online car dealerships may have these options available for sale, they won’t be able to give you a personal demonstration of how to use them in your new wheelchair van.

 2. We bring the van to you.

Can’t come into the dealership yourself? We’ll come to you. Our mobility specialists will speak with you one-on-one to find a vehicle that we recommend for you and then bring it to your home. There, we’ll show you the ins and outs of the vehicle and answer all questions you have, no matter how small!

One of the biggest draws of online car shopping is the promise of door-to-door, white glove delivery. But what happens when that car shows up and you don’t like it after all? Back it goes to the dealership and the process has to start all over.

Instead, when you buy from United Access, you’re getting the benefits of a brick-and-mortar car dealership with the convenience of home delivery. The car-buying experience has never been easier!

3. We offer trade-ins.

Some online car-buying companies don’t deal in trade-ins, making that MSRP a little harder to swallow. Doesn’t sound like a fair price to us.

If you already have a wheelchair-accessible vehicle but are looking for your next car, we’re happy to give you an appraisal for trade-in value to help you get the best price for your new car. 

Once we do an in-person inspection and test drive, we’ll give you an appraisal for your car’s market value. This appraisal is valid for a full 30 days, giving you plenty of time to find the new wheelchair van of your dreams, regardless of sticker price.

4. You can actually test drive our wheelchair vehicles.

You wouldn’t buy a house you’ve never walked around in. Why buy a vehicle you haven’t test driven? Unlike some online wheelchair van companies, we expect that our customers will want to test drive their potential van before you buy, and we’re happy to offer that service.

If you can’t make it into one of our dealerships, we’ll schedule a test drive at your home.

5. Our mobility specialists know our products inside and out.

We know that each of our customers has unique needs and want different things in their wheelchair vans. That’s why we make sure that our mobility specialists are trained in all the specifics of wheelchair-accessible vans. When you talk to a United Access specialist online or on the phone, you’re talking to a real person—no robots here! When you’re reduced to buying cars online, you’re at the hands of a robot to answer your questions about the inventory. We work hard every day to help our customers get the best accessible vehicle  for their individual needs. 

6. Our mobility specialists can you help find additional funding.

Need additional funding? Our mobility specialists can help with that! Our team can work with you to find the most reasonable vehicle within your budget. We keep track of which organizations offer resources and funding to individuals with special needs, including financial assistance for wheelchair vans. Additionally, our finance department can tell you about rebate programs and funding options to help you access the vehicle you need.

Want to get started on research? Take a look at our financing page, our and our list of resources for veterans. Our list of potential fundraisers might spark an idea, and you can learn how to raise money via GoFundMe with our guide to setting up a crowdfunding campaign that really works.

The wheelchair van buying process can seem intimidating, we know. But buying cars online isn’t your only option when you’re too overwhelmed to go straight to a dealership. Instead, contact one of our mobility specialists today to learn more about buying a wheelchair accessible van from United Access. We’ll explain the entire van-buying process and show you why United Access is where you can go to get the right wheelchair-accessible vehicle for you.

Non-Emergency Medical Transportation: What to Look for in NEMT Vans

In order to maintain the quality of life that most seniors have grown accustomed to, senior living facilities are finding ways to keep residents active in the local community.

One of the biggest barriers to socialization and independence is having a means of transportation. Many people with disabilities cannot drive or utilize public transportation and rely on friends or family members to transport them.

Not being able to get to and from medical appointments, visiting family and friends, or even to the mall can have negative effects on a person’s mental and physical health. That’s why it’s so important for your facility or organization to invest in non-emergency medical transportation services.

Here’s what to look for in NEMT vans to build a fleet of vehicles that meet your patients’ needs.

What is NEMT?

Non-emergency medical transportation offers accessible transportation to people with disabilities in non-emergency situations.

Most NEMT programs offer the following transport services:

  • Wheelchair vans or ambulettes
  • Appointed-based pick-up and drop-off
  • Door-to-door or bed-to-bed service

Keep in mind that not only is NEMT a great service to offer, it is considered a core Medicaid benefit in some states.


NEMT Benefits

In an emergency, an ill or injured person will typically utilize ambulance services from a local hospital. But when they aren’t in an emergency, they may struggle to access medical care, social activities, human services, and more.

Bringing non-emergency transportation services to your facility means you can remove barriers and increase access for your residents.

Additionally, it can actually reduce care costs across the board. When people can access health appointments and other medical services on a regular basis, that can increase positive health outcomes, which can save the patient and health care providers additional money in the long run.

Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Equipment

There are professional transportation companies who will provide NEMT services for you. However, assembling your own commercial fleet of NEMT vehicles gives you greater control over vehicle and service quality, transportation costs, and wait times and allows you to offer premium patient care services that your competitors may not.

You have many equipment options, including…

  • Ambulettes are the best choice for non-emergency medical uses, such as trips to offsite medical facilities. They are the same size as some ambulances but offer customized, flexible layouts.
  • Wheelchair-accessible vans can also transport passengers who aren’t in wheelchairs.
  • Van conversion options, including lowered-floor vans with ramps, allow you to convert a vehicle that your facility already owns.


Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Features

No matter what kind of vehicles you choose to start your fleet, you need to make sure that your vehicles have the following features to make them usable.

As a provider of NEMT services, you’ll need to make sure that your vehicles are compliant with ADA standards. That means that your vans must meet the following requirements:

  • The vehicle must have either a lift or ramp.
    • Wheelchair lifts must be at least 30” x 40”. Additionally, the lift must be interlocked with the vehicle’s gearshift to prevent the vehicle from moving when the lift is not stowed and to prevent the lift from operating when the vehicle is moving. There must also have mechanisms to prevent equipment failure (like falling) and for emergency operation if the lift fails. The lifts must also have handrails 30”-38” high.
    • Wheelchair ramps must support at least 300 pounds with the least slope possible; the slope must range from 1:4 to 1:12 depending on height.
  • The vehicle must have at least one securement attachment that secures wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Vehicles longer than 22 feet must have at least two attachments.
  • Vehicles must have a door height of 56” to 58” depending on vehicle length.
  • The floor of the vehicle, lifts, and ramps must be slip-resistant.
  • Any stepwell or doorway must have interior lights; the vehicle doorways must have exterior lighting.

There are also features you can find in wheelchair-accessible vans that offer an even safer and more comfortable experience for your passengers.

We recommend including:

  • Removable seats to allow for customized configuration of a vehicle depending on passenger needs.
  • Transfer seating to assist passengers in entering the vehicle comfortably.
  • A lowered floor and raised ceiling to provide more space for people in wheelchairs.
  • GPS to help track the vehicle’s movements and provide updates on travel time.

All non-emergency transportation from United Access complies with ADA requirements, and in some cases, exceeds the requirements, so you and your patients can feel confident in the safety of your new fleet.


To build a full NEMT fleet that meets your organization’s every need, talk with a United Access Mobility Specialist to learn about all of your options.


Contact us today for more information