Access to transportation is a top priority for many individuals with disabilities. Transportation is a lifeline to accessing employment, education, healthcare, and community life. Access to transportation allows people with disabilities to live independently in their communities. While federal and state laws provide discrimination protection and accessibility to most public transportation to people with disabilities, transportation options are still very limited for these individuals, creating significant barriers for inclusion in society.
Basic Information on Personal Transportation
Purchasing and modifying a car or van is an involved process. Since vehicle modifications can be expensive, it is well worth your time to be prepared and to research all options. The following are some suggestions.
- Evaluate your needs: Have your needs evaluated by a professional, such as your doctor, physical therapist, or occupational therapist. They can recommend types of adaptations would best suit your needs.
- Conduct research: Conduct research on the general safety and recommendations of accessible vehicles. A good place to start is at the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s website in their Adapting Your Vehicle section, which provides information about current regulations and standards, as well as access to reports and other consumer information.
- Find funding resources: There are various funding resources that you can check into, such as grants from non-profit organizations, car manufacturer rebate programs, private insurance or Medicaid (for adaptive equipment), and Family Support Services funding through your county board of Developmental Disabilities (DD). Also check with your bank or credit union to see what special loan options are available.
- Choose a vehicle: One of the best resources is other families. Ask them about their experiences. They will be able to provide you with valuable tips and ideas. Check with companies that do vehicle accommodations to see what they recommend.
- Choose a dealer to modify the vehicle: Once you have chosen the type of vehicle that you would like to purchase, find a dealer that has experience in adapting vehicles or that has a relationship with companies that do modifications.
Disability Parking Permits
There are two types of disability parking permits available: Identification placards and license plates. Both permit the vehicle to park in parking spaces marked with the international symbol of access for people with disabilities. Applications for disability parking permits are available at your local DMV customer service center or by mail.
- Disability parking placards: Placards are plastic cards that hang from the car mirror. The application must be completed by the person with the disability (or their guardian) and the person’s physician. The application must be accompanied with a prescription from the physician. More information can be found on the Wisconsin DOT site: Disabled parking identification permit (permanent disability).
- Disability parking license plates: Permanent license plates are often requested when a vehicle has been altered for a person with a disability. The fee for the disabled parking license plates is the same as for other types of license plates. More information can be found on the Wisconsin DOT site: Disabled parking license plates.
Disability Rights Wisconsin provides information, referral, advice, investigation, and in select cases, legal representation to assist people with disabilities in securing equal opportunity to transportation.