Category Archives: Accessible Vehicle

Everyday Quiet Heroes: A Story of Resilience, Art & Health

“Our society is celebrity driven. What is often overlooked are the quiet everyday heroes who work day-in and day-out, extending their fullest humanity to others in need, and these are the stories that need to be told. That’s what makes the world a better place.”

Reji Mathew, PhD, LCSW, said so well what many of us have been feeling these days, especially after nearly two years of unrelenting stress brought on by the global pandemic. As restrictions now finally begin to ease, we’re collectively at a critical crossroad: Will we each simply return to that same old life we had before or will we thoughtfully use this interruption of the mundane to perhaps change course for a more fulfilling future for ourselves and our communities?

People who contemplate questions such as these, and live exemplary lives, are the shining examples to us all. Enter Reji, a professor and mental health educator at NYU in New York City, an integrative social work psychotherapist, an expressive arts advocate, a digital artist, and a narrative journalist. Her work expands minds and opens hearts, as she focuses on human-interest issues that address health recovery, the arts, and resiliency. She’s someone who truly makes a difference in our world. Let’s get to know her a bit better…

Transitioning in the Shadow of Trauma

We were fortunate to meet Reji when she came to Bussani Mobility recently needing help with an accessible vehicle. She has had a neuromuscular disability since childhood. She had been driving for about 20 years using hand controls in her vehicle. As her condition progressed, she transitioned to a motorized wheelchair and found herself suddenly needing a fully adapted van.

“People typically go through these transitions in the shadow of a traumatic event or medical change, unless they were disabled from childhood,” Reji said. “When my condition progressed, I had to transition to a wheelchair overnight. The abrupt transition left me with only the option of taking a wheelchair transport service from Rockland County to and from campus in New York City, which I could only afford a few times a year. I was fully ambulatory in the city, but did not have the same independence in Rockland. Because my van was not adapted, I didn’t have my own independence anymore.”

Now, Reji drives a 2020 Honda Odyssey with adaptations. She purchased the van, and the technicians at Bussani Mobility’s auto shop implemented a full conversion, installed a wheelchair ramp, and fitted her with advanced hand controls.

Reji drives her Menox hand-controlled, adapted van to the bus stop in Rockland County and takes the bus to New York City. Driving from Rockland all the way to the NYU campus and back is too demanding for her, so this is the solution that works best.

“Not only can I travel back and forth to campus, but I also have my independence back in the county, and my independent life has been restored,” Reji said.

It Takes a Village

When Reji realized that she suddenly needed an adaptive van, she was distraught because she did not have the finances to purchase a fully loaded van. She explained: “Bussani came to the rescue. From the moment I called, I received exceptional care and mobility guidance. Jordan [a mobility specialist] explained the whole process, how to get funding, and how other customers found solutions in similar circumstances like mine.

“Funding took a village; I had to take another teaching job, and got partial funding through ACCES-VR, held a small fundraiser through my art, and it all came together. I would not have known how to tackle the financial challenges of van mobility adaption without the framework Jordan took the time to review with me on how to approach this.

“Once the van came in, the Bussani Mobility team brought me back and forth to the mobility center five different times to adapt the van, make changes to the ramp, and tweak the hand controls. This process of tweaking the mobility equipment to your level of ability is critical, especially when it comes to neuromuscular weakness. Safety was key to them, and I felt so cared for and supported and was amazed with the level of experience of the mobility technicians.”

Reji really made our day when she told us that she “had never worked with a place where I was treated with such humanity, where they heard my story, cared, made the commitment, and solved all the problems that arose. Through the whole process, I had to pinch myself, since I was not used to receiving such exceptional care. Unfortunately, when you have been a person with long-term health care needs, engaging with ‘the system’ is so challenging. Bussani Mobility of Westchester is a model of exceptional care for the disability community. To know that I will have the center, and it will be a reliable life-long relationship, is such a relief. I am so grateful.”

Reji said that we are quiet everyday heroes. And we are so moved by her words. But what we most want her to know is that, to us, she is the everyday hero, so generously offering her gifts, words, kindness, and inspiration to others as a teacher, activist and artist. 

When we asked Reji what advice she had for other people who are living with a physical disability and may need driver rehabilitation services, she said: “Know that this transition is a process, and it does take a village. Build relationships with people that leave you feeling safe and respected. Trust yourself. Ask yourself, ‘Am I being treated with the respect and dignity I deserve?’”

Live Out Your Potential

Another of the central concepts in Reji’s life work is accessing the arts as a multi-sensory processing tool for problem-solving, self-expansion, and personal growth. Expressive art therapies help use the arts as a basis for discovery and change.

Some of Reji’s digital art, a multi-sensory processing tool she uses for problem-solving, self-expansion, and personal growth.




She shared: “Everyone in society gains when each person finds their place and lives out their full potential. We are all meant to be equal and contributing members of society. Now that I’m back to having mobility, I am able to contribute fully to my community. And accessibility is a critical part of a framework of universal design.”

When we think of the people that Reji touches in her daily work, we’re proud that we played a part in helping her solve her mobility challenges and live an independent life. We say back to you, Reji, “100 thanks” for all you do.

To find out more about Reji’s artivism (where art and activism meet) – and to experience her digital artwork, expressive arts workshops, and writings –  visit her website at http://www.rejimathewphd-writer.com/about.html.

BussaniMobility-accessible-van

What Is an Accessible Van?

Accessible vehicles have come a long way since they first became available for personal use about 50 years ago. Bussani Mobility knows all about it, because we’ve been involved since the dawn of the modern mobility vehicle. 

We’re here to help you understand that the right mobility equipment can support you to move about your life with more independence and freedom. The features of today’s accessible vehicles bring you style, comfort, and ease ─ and your own way to transport yourself or your loved one with a physical disability to take care of everyday tasks, go to doctor’s appointments, enjoy family events, spend time with friends, or go on vacation. 

Here’s what goes into the making of an accessible van…

Ramps for Easy Entry and Exit

There are a few types of ramps to choose from, and each has its own advantages. The most popular side-entry ramps are positioned on the side of the vehicle, allowing passengers to safely enter and exit the vehicle from the side. Rear-entry ramps give you the ability to park just about anywhere, without requiring extra space on the side for getting in and out of your vehicle. Manual-entry wheelchair ramps (which are not automated) are not used as often as side- or rear-entry ramps, but their main appeal is that they are generally less expensive.

Room for Family and Friends

Accessible vans have higher roofs and larger door openings to allow the needed space for a person to wheel in and out and sit comfortably while remaining in their manual wheelchair, power wheelchair, or scooter. Removable seats also allow you to change the configuration of the van inside, so the person using the wheelchair can sit in the back, the passenger side, or in the driver’s seat. And, there’s plenty of room for your friends and family to join you.

Transfer Seats

Whether you’re driving or riding, an automated transfer seat is another option to help the person using the wheelchair to safely get in and out of the vehicle. They no longer need to rely on someone else to lift them from their wheelchair or scooter into the seat and vice versa. It’s also very helpful for a senior using a walker. This provides another level of independence when needed.

Restraint and Docking Systems

Every reliable accessible vehicle has a good restraint and docking system (also called tie-downs) that keeps the wheelchair from shifting while the van is in motion. Certain designs allow you to secure yourself from your wheelchair on your own.

Driving Aids

If the person using the wheelchair will be the driver, we further customize your vehicle as needed to fulfill your exact needs. Driving aids can include hand controls, foot controls, steering aids, and high-tech driving controls.

Wheelchair and Scooter Lifts

Lifts can also be used to conveniently raise and store your personal mobility device (manual folding chair, wheelchair, power chair, or travel scooter) inside your vehicle at the touch of a button. For a smaller car, a lift can store the mobility device outside at the back or on top of the vehicle.

Little Luxuries

Many accessible vehicles are available with all of the little luxuries found in top-of-the-line standard vehicles, including theater sound packages, deluxe lighting, sound deadening, privacy shades, and more for your comfort.

Larger Size, More Variety

The most popular mobility vehicles today are minivans manufactured by Toyota, Honda, Chrysler, and Dodge. The latest accessible SUV from Ford, the Traverse, is also getting a lot of attention. But sometimes you need a larger vehicle with more interior passenger and cargo space, larger entry points, and all the amenities found in luxury vehicles ─  and that’s when it’s time to go with a full-size accessible van from Ford, Dodge or Mercedes. If none of these options fit the bill, the team at Bussani Mobility can convert any car, van or truck into a mobility vehicle for you, even a sports car if that’s what you want.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to buying an accessible vehicle. And it’s not only about the vehicle itself. You’ll also be making important decisions about funding, financing, and insurance. The mobility specialists at Bussani Mobility can help you find the right vehicle for your needs and budget. We also provide maintenance services and rental vehicles. If you’re new to the mobility vehicle market, or you’ve been around for a while but you want to know about the latest-and-greatest developments, call, click or stop by to see us. 

Accessible Vehicle

9 Things to Put in Your Accessible Vehicle Emergency Kit

Emergencies can occur at any time, and there is nothing worse than being unprepared in a time of need. Put yourself in a better position now by creating an emergency vehicle kit for your accessible vehicle. Be sure to include these essentials in case of an emergency.

1. Flashlight

If you experience an emergency at night or on a stormy day, you’ll want ample light to guide you through the situation. You can use a flashlight to flag down passing vehicles or locate important materials like a map or spare tire.

2. Toolbox or Multi-Tool

Be sure to include scissors, a screwdriver, pliers, and a wrench. Consider investing in a multi-tool, which will allow you to have access to multiple tools within the one small device. 

3. First Aid Kit

Make sure your first aid kit has bandages, gauze, antibiotic cream, and any essential prescriptions. 

4. Vehicle Escape Tool

Place a vehicle escape hammer and a box cutter (to cut the seat belt) within arm’s reach of your transfer seat or wheelchair.

5. Bottled Water and Snacks

When you’re stuck in an emergency for an undetermined amount of time, it is essential to stay hydrated, so keep a 12-pack of water in your vehicle, just in case. And a few protein bars to munch on as needed.

6. Jumper Cables

Always keep a pair of jumper cables in your vehicle. Consider purchasing a jump starter box, which will allow you to jump your vehicle’s battery if there are no other vehicles nearby.

7. Cold-Weather Gear

If you live in a region where it snows, you’ll want to keep extra blankets, jackets, and gloves on hand to avoid potential hypothermia. Hand warmers are also a great option for your emergency kit.

8. Carjack, Lug Wrench, and Spare Tire

Keep the needed tools on hand with instructions for changing a tire. If you’re not able to change it yourself, perhaps a passenger with you or a good samaritan who passes by can help out.

9. Compass and Map

You cannot always rely on technology to get instant directions. What if your vehicle stops running or your cell phone battery dies? You’ll need a physical, paper map to orient yourself and find help.

Keep these nine essential items in your accessible vehicle emergency kit so that you can be prepared and safe no matter what happens on the road. And remember that Bussani Mobility provides our customers with a 24/7 emergency service by calling 866-524-8267. Even if our auto shops are closed, we’ll get help to you when you need it out on the road. Travel safe!

Accessible Vehicles

7 Things You Need to Know About Warranties on Accessible Vehicles

When you purchase any kind of vehicle, it’s important to make sure that you have good warranty protection, which can also be called an extended service contract. At Bussani Mobility, we believe this is especially true for accessible vehicles. Here’s what you should know when you’re looking for accessible vehicle warranties.

1. What Does a Warranty Do?

Warranties protect you from unexpected expenses if your vehicle needs replacement parts or other major repairs. There are different levels of coverage available. It’s easy to purchase a warranty through your mobility dealer, and they’ll make sure that you get the best warranty to meet your needs.

2. Do I Need More Than a Standard Warranty?

The standard warranties cover the vehicle but usually not the mobility components of the vehicle. We typically recommend that you consider purchasing a mobility warranty.

3. What Do Mobility Warranties Cover?

This type of vehicle service contract is a good idea for a wheelchair van because it covers the original vehicle equipment as well as all of the mobility components. It will also help you with roadside assistance and rental vehicles while your vehicle is being repaired to make sure you get back on the road as soon as possible. 

Although some of these options are also offered by some OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) warranties, they don’t include the mobility conversion. With a standard warranty, for instance, the rental coverage of a standard warranty typically won’t cover an accessible vehicle rental.

As is the case with standard warranties, mobility warranties have limits, generally three years and 36,000 miles.

4. Why Should I Get a Mobility Dealer Warranty?

One benefit of a mobility warranty is the peace of mind. Knowing that your conversion vehicle’s most important components are covered by your warranty is reassuring. 

By having one in place that helps cover repair work, replacement parts, and the cost of labor, you won’t have to worry about having to pay bills for unforeseen repairs all on your own.

Mobility warranties are also relatively easy to finance, as most of them can be paid through a payment plan.

5. Which Vehicles are Eligible?

Most manufacturers offer warranties on new models. Generally speaking, manufacturers consider a vehicle to be new if it has less than 50,000 miles and it is less than four years old. Before purchasing a warranty, always check the accompanying terms and conditions.

6. Do Warranties Expire?

Yes, the warranty on your conversion vehicle will expire. There is usually a limit on vehicle age or number of miles that dictates when a warranty expires. For instance, you may add a warranty that covers 10 years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Be aware that you can buy a mobility warranty at the end of the standard OEM warranty, but the price will be higher as the vehicle gets older and closer to the factory warranty expiration date.

7. What to Do When a Warranty Expires

If your vehicle warranty expires, you still have other options. Since an accessible vehicle has many moving parts and added components, it is a good idea to invest in an extended warranty.

A mobility specialist at Bussani Mobility will happily provide additional information on warranties, to help you decide what’s best for you and your vehicle. Feel free to contact our team for answers to all of your accessible vehicle questions.


Service Tips for Accessible Vehicles

Did you know there are specific things you need to do to keep your accessible vehicle running smoothly? What are they and how often should you do them?

We have all the answers, and we’ll take you a tour of Bussani Mobility’s auto shop to learn why regular maintenance is so important. It ensures trouble-free conversion operation of an accessible vehicle, and it can increase the life of the vehicle. We look closely at mobility ramps and doors…talk about electrical and cooling systems…tell you what happens during a multi-point inspection…and talk about warranties and extended warranties, as well as our 24-hour emergency service program.

At Bussani Mobility, we have more staff working in our service department than on our sales team. That’s how important our commitment is to safely maintaining your accessible vehicle. To find out more about servicing your vehicle or to make a service appointment, call 833-998-2172 or visit https://www.bussanimobility.com/car-s….


Take a Virtual Tour of the New Chevy Traverse Accessible SUV!

The long-awaited new Chevrolet Traverse Accessible SUV is here! It’s converted with the BraunAbility Power In-Floor ramp and has tons of space. The two front seats can be removed for those who want to get behind the wheel of this awesome new truck. The tow package will handle up to 3500 pounds.

There’s a lot more to see. Check out the video.

And see it in person at any of Bussani Mobility’s three locations (Bethpage and Smithtown on Long Island, and Mamaroneck in Westchester).


Press On & Savor Life … Inspiration From a Vietnam Veteran

You know how some people always have an encouraging word? And they stay upbeat no matter what happens? Well, if you ever need some inspiration, Dario Diaz (a disabled Navy veteran with an E-4 rank) is the guy to talk to. Here’s his story …

After serving in Vietnam, Diaz returned home and started a plumbing business with his dad in the mid-1970s. Life hummed along for quite a few years, and then in 2001, he was in a car accident. A few weeks later, he started to feel a twitch in his leg, and it turned out that the accident had stretched his spinal cord. A private doctor diagnosed him with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), a condition that weakens the nervous system and impacts physical function. He decided to go to the VA (Veterans Affairs) for a second opinion, and the doctor there concurred, marking the diagnosis as “service connected,” which means they attribute the injury to the fact that he was in the military.

Diaz’ condition worsened over the years. Today, he can’t stand without holding onto something, and he uses a scooter to get around.

He was first introduced to the world of accessible vans when he bought one from Bussani Mobility nearly 10 years ago for his mom, who had MS. Eventually, he needed the vehicle for himself as well.

Accessible Van Means Everything
Now, Diaz drives a converted accessible 2017 Toyota Sienna, paid for by the VA. The van has a six-way seat that allows him to easily transfer in and drive from the original seat. And as he says, the vehicle has “a lot of goodies in it.”

Always active in his life, Diaz used to race motorcycles, ride horses, and the like. These days, he goes out with his buddies from the military, most of whom are in their sixties and still going strong.

“If I didn’t have this van, I’d be in trouble,” said Diaz. “My buddies would pick me up and drive me around, but I prefer to do things on my own, like I do and have always done. This van is equivalent to my being able to walk and jump up and down. It means everything to me.”

He went on to explain that, even for a veteran who can’t drive, having an accessible van is so important. It allows their family to get them out of the house, take them to a movie, or out to eat.

And for those family members who may be in their last days, “you want to shower them with as much joy and opportunity as you can,” he said.

Have a Purpose in Life … And See the Good in People
Not only has Diaz found a way to deal with his physical disability, but he has used the happenings in his life to grow personally and find his purpose. Namely, he offers a powerful Christian ministry specifically for men.

About his personal inspiration to start the ministry, he says: “Jesus was a fisherman of men. And I have a ‘heart for men.’ I have an interest to talk to men about the problems all men face. I conquered a lot of things that I used to do, in a Biblical and loving way, so I can talk to men and break through to them. In order to do that, I need my van and my scooter to get me around.

“I’m happier now than when I was moving around before having a disability. And I have a testimony. Everything hinges on the fact that I do have a disability. Thank God that ALS didn’t affect my cognitive ability.”

Diaz described how he approaches the everyday: “I savor life. I savor people, more than before. I go birdwatching with my wife. And I savor all the good that God created. And I don’t judge. If you’re an alcoholic, I love you. You’re being yourself. I’ll say things to encourage you, but I focus on the good. My son says, “My dad always sees the good in people.’”

He had his faith before serving in the military and experiencing that car accident, but he proclaims that he has much more faith now.

Press On
When asked one thing that he most wants to share with others who are living with a disability, Diaz said: “Press on. There are so many things available to help, like a grip bar in a handicapped bathroom or a chair that takes you up the stairs. And if you have a family member that becomes disabled — like grandpa starts falling and needs a scooter — you do the research for them. And press on.”

Sounds like good advice for all of us these days. Thank you, Dario, for being a shining example of all that’s good. Let’s all press on, whatever that may mean in our individual lives.

To find out more about Dario’s Christian ministry for men, contact him directly at dario457@gmail.com.


5 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Wheelchair Van

Most of our blogs focus on helping you get the most from your wheelchair accessible van. This time, we’re tackling the subject from a slightly different angle. We had a chat with Dan Walsh, co-owner at Bussani Mobility, who has spent two decades helping our customers with their mobility needs through our Service Department. He told us the five worst mistakes you can make with your mobility vehicle. Here’s his advice and what to avoid, in his own words…

1) Lending Your Van
I’ve seen many people use their wheelchair accessible vehicle as a moving van, resulting in damage being done to the lift or ramp. I don’t know about you, but I can think of at least five different rental companies that provide vans for moving, just off the top of my head. Your vehicle is way too important to be used this way.

2) Not Securing Wheelchair Properly
It’s essential to have a securement system properly set up for your wheelchair in your van. If you don’t do this, you risk your own safety and that of others with you in your vehicle and on the road that you share.

3) Not Insuring Your Investment
Now that you’ve purchased your wheelchair van, don’t you want to protect it? Your mobility dealer should have connections with reliable insurance brokers to help you with this, but ultimately, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your vehicle is properly insured. We recommend having a copy of your bill of sale sent to your insurance company (and request a certified receipt).

4) Accident Damage Not Reported to Mobility Dealer
I tell all of our customers, “If you have an accident, CALL ME FIRST!” Because I know what should and, most importantly, what shouldn’t be repaired after a collision. Bussani Mobility is a NMEDA/QAP-certified dealer, and we offer 24-hour service for both mobility emergencies as well as any unfortunate accidents that sometimes occur. I’ve personally spent hours undoing what an uneducated appraiser has offered as payment on a van because they didn’t know the true value or the protocol for repairs.

5) Letting the Dirt Build Up
Simple as it may seem, if you don’t keep your wheelchair accessible vehicle clean, debris can build up in the door tracks, lift barriers, and motors. This is the cause of a major part of the repairs we handle for our customers. It’s easy to fix – just keep it clean.

Everyone at Bussani Mobility is standing by, ready to assist you whenever you need or want help. Contact us or stop by one of our locations for answers to all of your mobility questions. You can also easily schedule a service appointment online.


How to Prep Your Accessible Vehicle for the Holidays

Aerial view of red car driving through the white snow winter forest on country road in Finland, Lapland.

The holiday season is a time for family, friends, and feasting. Although this year will be a bit different with all the masks and social distancing because of COVID-19, many people will still travel to visit family members and celebrate together. 

With the upcoming holiday hustle-and-bustle and the looming cold winter weather, it’s more important than ever to have an accessible vehicle that you can count on. Follow the steps below to make sure yours is ready to go when you are.

Vehicle Maintenance

Regular maintenance improves the longevity of your accessible van or SUV. Ensure the tires have adequate pressure and tread. Check fluids such as coolant, oil, and washer fluid. A fresh battery can help a vehicle start better on chilly mornings. The easiest thing to do is to schedule an appointment with the Bussani Mobility, and our expert technicians will take care of everything for you.

Mobility Equipment Maintenance

As with vehicle maintenance, caring for your mobility equipment is essential. Make sure all the bolts and screws are tight. Lubricate hinges so they move freely. Emergency preparedness should include checking straps and placing a belt cutter in an easy-to-reach area. For peace of mind, our qualified professionals will inspect and tune up your mobility equipment.

Added Comfort

After vehicle and mobility equipment maintenance are checked off the list, prepare for the holiday season by making the journey more comfortable. Check the cabin air filter and replace it if needed. Store a blanket for personal warmth. Keep the gas tank more than half full for worry-free driving in case of inclement weather or heavy traffic.

With a little preparation, your accessible vehicle can be ready in no time for holiday travel. We encourage you to schedule a routine vehicle maintenance visit now before the holiday rush starts. Remember that we provide free pick-up and delivery for added convenience. Learn more about our one-stop auto shop, here.