RVs: Where Automotive Access Meets Home Access

Driving an accessible recreational vehicle isn't just about lifts, ramps and driving controls. In fact, this is one area of mobility where auto and home access meet. An accessible RV offers features typically found in universally designed homes, like roll-in showers, roll-under sinks, additional floor space for turning around, conveniently located switches, handles and cabinets, and a host of other home access needs that make driving and living a possibility.

"Travel is a big thing with a lot of people," says Roger Lunning, senior sales representative for the Specialty Vehicles division, Winnebago Industries, Forest City Iowa. "When you go to a hotel or a motel, (however) 90 percent of them are not designed for a person who is disabled. The motor home is designed for them, so that they can get in, out and around."

The company established the Ability Equipped program 35 years ago to meet the accessibility needs of people with disabilities who wanted to travel. Winnebago custom builds RVs to suit the varied needs of its customers.

"The customer describes what their need is and then we go ahead and custom build a vehicle to their specifications," explains Fred Vinci, sales representative.

The many upgrades available to Winnebago customers include roll-in showers with vent seats, roll-under sinks, platform lifts, super arm lifts, toilet risers, grab bars, brake hand controls, wheelchair lockdown systems, electric beds, overhead track systems, six-way B&V electrical seat bases that swivel 180 degrees, remote control roof vents, electrical patio awnings, electric water hose reels and more.

Even with all of these options, says Kelli Harms, public relations specialist, some people still don't know accessible RVs are available.

"They think, 'Oh a motor home is a motor home and I have to be able to climb steps,'" she says. "Fred and Roger and Sonya (Kobriger, sales representative) work to make sure that they can do whatever they want to do in an RV and not have to lose that freedom."

"One of the bosses that I had back a few years ago summed it up in a few words: The handicap division is the best kept secret in Winnebago," says Lunning.

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