The world is not friendly to wheelchair users or people with other types and levels of disability.
Thankfully things are slowly changing. Wheelchair ramps are a great ally, recently supported by the law.
A wheelchair ramp is an inclined surface built as an alternative to stairs, which can be placed on top of an existing stairway or by its side or even completely replaced.
Ramps allow not only wheelchair users but also people pulling or pushing carts or strollers, people on crutches, canes or rollators, or any person with walking disabilities or difficulties to transit from a lower an upper surface level vice-versa with ease.
What are the ADA requirements for ramps and curb ramps?
According to The Americans with Disability Act, ramps or curb ramps must follow strict specifications. Business facilities and residential applications are subject to the ADA regulations over ramps and curb ramps.
This is the space utilized by the wheelchair user, from side to side, between leading edges of the handrails. It has to be 36 inches minimum.
According to the ADA regulations, the rise determines the height of a run, which cannot be any higher than 30 inches.
So, as soon as the elevation hits the 30 inches height mark, it would be the end of the run (mission accomplished!), or another landing just reached out for more runs.
There is no limit to the number of runs on long ramps, which can represent a huge challenge for some wheelchair users.
So, the longer the ramp, the more intermediate landing areas you will see, but unfortunately, the more challenging the path will be despite the number of intermediate landings you will encounter.
Please keep this in mind when considering riding on long ramps.
They are also known as level landings or intermediate landing son long ramps.
Landings are required on both the top and the bottom of each run.
Level changes of 1:48 are permitted within landings, and its construction has to be made to allow the water to run free, avoiding accumulation.
Intermediate landings you see connecting runs on long ramps must be a minimum of 60 inches wide clear x 60 inches long clear if the ramp has multiple runs that change direction (zig-zag).
Please pay close attention to these intermediate landing areas as they cannot obstruct the 60in x 60in the clear area (no handrails, edge protections, posts, etc.).
Do wheelchair ramps need handrails?
Handrails are not mandatory for every type of ramp. It will depend on its rise and length.
Ramps with a rise greater than 6 inches are required to have handrails built on both sides. Suppose the ramp is built on play areas for children.
In that case, it will require a lower handrail, with a height of 28 inches maximum and separation of 9 inches minimum between the upper handrail and the lower one to help eliminate the risk of entrapment.
Standard ramps not installed on play areas do not require a lower handrail unless it has risen over 6 inches or a horizontal projection (length) greater than 72 inches.
What is a Semi-Permanent Ramp?
These are usually short-term solutions for facilities or homes if the owner plans to move the ramp to different places from time to time.
Semi-Permanent wheelchair ramps are inclines designed to provide a temporary solution to help wheelchair users, people riding with mobility scooters, or any people pushing carts or strollers.
Typically, these ramps are installed in commercial facilities, workplaces, or even homes where possible changes can occur (moving, facility or home layout changes, etc.).
As a result, the ramp has to be moved or uninstalled.
They are designed to rest over the pavement, concrete pads, grass or any other surface to make transit in and out of buildings and homes easier to perform.
It is called a semi-permanent ramp because it is not bolted or cemented to the ground, allowing it to be disassembled at any time.
It can be seen in various formats, from a single piece to modular, with or without curves, and in different materials from aluminum to galvanized steel or wood.
What is a Permanent Wheelchair Ramp?
The picture shows you a ramp made from aluminum, but you can have it built-in wood or galvanized steel as well.
Permanent wheelchair ramps are inclines designed to provide a permanent solution to help wheelchair users, people riding with mobility scooters, or any people pushing carts or strollers.
It can also be installed in commercial facilities, workplaces or even homes as long as the facility owner or homeowner does not plan to change the landscape to a point where the ramp must be moved.
It works just like the semi-permanent ramp.
The main difference is that permanent ramps will be attached to the ground with heavy-duty bolts or concrete for projects where the user does not intend to make changes over the years.
Not friendly if you plan to store it or use it temporarily.
But this is by far the best solution for a permanent project in your house.
A reputable store can help you with the project, layout around the house and types of approvals you may need before installing it as well.
What are Portable Ramps?
These are very useful support items that every wheelchair user should keep, to either promote a better quality of life at home or carry it over to any trip somewhere.
Portable wheelchair ramps help users bypass obstacles like small curbs, single steps or even short stairways with a few steps.
In most cases, the wheelchair user can place the portable ramp on the desired spot, use it, then get take the ramp back to continue the journey with no problems.
Usually very light and easy to carry, you can have them stored anywhere in the house or in the car to help you out there.
Depending on the size, portable ramps can be foldable, helping a lot when storing and carrying around.
What are Vehicle Wheelchair Ramps?
Vehicle wheelchair ramps are inclines designed to help wheelchair users easily access vehicles or assist in storing scooters into a vehicle for a trip. Normally seen installed on trucks and SUVs.
A technician can quickly install them, and most of them require maybe 3-4 screws to have it attached permanently to the car for your daily use.
These ramps can be installed for use through side or back doors, and you can buy online if you do not want the hassle of having to go to a store to pick your vehicle ramp.
But there are more affordable options in the market that do not require complex installation processes.
What are Threshold Wheelchair Ramps?
Threshold ramps are short, installed at small obstacles, such as interior door thresholds or even small stairs with a few steps.
They are very affordable and easy to install.
But these ramps, despite being a great help, can still be challenging for some wheelchair users, so make sure you choose the right one if you plan to purchase.
There are numerous types and sizes of curb ramps available in the market. Some are short and wide, for doorways, for example.
Others can be longer for multi-level surfaces in homes or sidewalks.
Texture, type of material, grip power, use outdoor or indoors are some of the items you have to consider.
Options are available in rubber, aluminum, galvanized steel, wood, and even lightweight foam.
What are Multi-Fold Wheelchair Ramps?
Multi-fold ramp. The name already gives you a hint.
Multi-fold wheelchair ramps help users to bypass stairways or other so-called obstacles.
The idea behind folding the ramp is to make it easy to transport and store.
It can be placed over the steps if necessary.
Multi-fold ramps are very versatile and are available in the market in many sizes and styles.
Depending on the size of the multi-fold ramp you need, you can even carry it in your vehicle everywhere you go.