Ralph Braun is not all work. He enjoys the excitement of radio controlled planes like his A-10 Warthog. Photo / Fort Wayne Flying Circuits, Inc.
Forty years ago society didn't expect much from folks with physical disabilities because they didn’t think they were capable of contributing much. That's no longer the case.
The Braun Corporation is a company that enables personal mobility, aiming to give those with physical limitations greater opportunity to live a full, mobile life. It manufactures a full line of mobility products for a variety of accessible vehicles.
Ralph Braun, founder of BraunAbility, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy and was left unable to walk at age 15. Freedom and independence were his motives behind building his first three-wheeled scooter. “I was determined to find a way to be less dependent on others for the rest of my life,” says Braun.
The Vista 2 series lift. Photo / Braunability
After Braun built his first chair, people in his community began to take notice. He then built one for a young boy in a nearby town, and more people after that. “When I saw the reaction from other wheelchair users and their families, I realized that this was bigger than just my personal mobility,” says Braun of the initial take-off of the Braun Corporation.
Experience, quality, and variety set the Braun Corporation apart from its competitors. Its founder being an actual wheelchair user benefits the corporation in ways that cannot be taught. More than 40 years of mobility product manufacturing adds to the experience and expertise of the Braun Corporation.
Quality is not compromised; paying special attention to materials used to build their mobility products and to the processes in which they’re made sets the standard of quality high within the Braun Corporation.
BraunAbility offers a wide variety of accessible vehicles for customers to choose from. “Mobility isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution,” says communication manager Megan Wegner. “Our customers have different preferences.” This is exhibited in The Braun Corporation’s newest, most innovative product, the Toyota Rampvan with an in-floor ramp. Depending on the user’s preference, the ramp is stored underneath the floor as opposed to the traditional fold-out ramp, says Wegner. It can be used by a variety of people with different preferences.
As the author of Rise Above, Braun shares the story of how one man’s disability led to a better life for thousands of those who were unable to walk. “I started thinking abut how so many more opportunities exist for wheelchair users today,” says Braun of writing Rise Above, “Especially compared to when I started out 50 years ago.” Braun dedicated the book to his parents, claiming they inspired him to build a successful life without making excuses for himself.
One of Braun’s proudest accomplishments is the formation of the Ralph Braun Foundation, which helps those who can’t afford mobility equipment find a way to purchase it. “I decided manufacturing a quality product wasn’t enough,” says Braun. “I needed to instill a legacy of generosity in our industry as well.” The Ralph Braun Foundation has completed two grant cycles so far and has helped more than 20 individuals afford the equipment they need.
Braun also aims at changing the perception of those with physical disabilities. “Forty years ago society did not expect much from folks with physical disabilities because they didn’t think we were capable of contributing much,” says Braun. BraunAbility has set out and succeeded in changing this perception and is continuing to do so.