Ralph Braun: Pioneering Accessibility and Inspiring Resilience in the Mobility Movement

Ralph Braun was a famous and inspiring Specially Abled Person. He was born on December 18, 1940 in Winamac, Indiana. He was the founder and CEO of the Braun Corporation. He was named the “Father of the Mobility Movement” at BraunAbility. 

Ralph Braun was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of 6. Muscular dystrophy is a condition in which your muscles atrophy, or get smaller and weaker due to your muscle cell size decreasing. However, he did not let this stop him and started using a motorized scooter at the age of 14. At the age of 15, with the help of his father, he made a motorized wagon. 

At the age of 20, he created a motorized scooter which he dubbed the “Tri-Wheeler”. He worked with the car company, Jeep, to attach the Tri-Wheeler to cars to enable easy access. This would help Specially Abled People get in and out of their cars unassisted. It included remote hand controls and a hydraulic tailgate lift.

In 1963, he started the Save-A-Step foundation to begin manufacturing and create the first motorized scooter, and that too, out of a lawnmower!

In 1970, he worked with Dodge, another car company, to create the first full-sized, front engine van with a lift, called the “Lift-A-Way” van. This helped revolutionize adding wheelchair lifts to all vans. The Dodge Caravan was actually the very first fully-accessible vehicle. 

In 2012, Ralph Braun was named a Champion of Change by former president Barack Obama, thanks to Ralph Braun’s efforts and contributions to all Specially Abled People.